[To buy Tarot and Oracle cards, see divination.]

In the shop, (un)Familiar offers Tarot, numerology and clairvoyance on a regular basis and palmistry and mediumship by arrangement. Readers can be booked to attend parties anywhere in reasonable travelling distance of Edinburgh. Tarot & numerology readings are also available by e-mail or on the 'phone, as well as face-to-face in the shop.

In the shop, Tarot readings are 15 and numerology 20 (10 and 15 respectively for full-time students and the unemployed; 12.50 and 17.50 for part-time workers), to allow for the extra work involved in writing up numerology reports.

For readings by e-mail, where Tarot must also be written up at some length, both types of reading are 20, or 15 for full-time students and unemployed, to be paid for in advance in the same manner as when buying stock (see ordering). We'll take your word for it that you are a student/unemployed: if you lie about it to get a cheap reading, no doubt the cards will have something scathing to say about it... You simply e-mail us your question, make a payment, and your reading will be e-mailed to you a few days later.

All numerology readings are done by Damien Suil-Levanne. He will need the following information:

Your date of birth. If using an "11/10/57"-type date, please state whether it is British format (dd/mm/yy) or US format (mm/dd/yy).

Your time of birth, as accurately as you can get it.

Your full name (without any typoes please, as the value of each letter counts).

Any other names by which you have been widely known, such as your maiden name, stage/professional name etc..

Any nicknames by which you have been known sufficiently commonly that you feel they are a part of you. This may include your net alias if it is important to you, and in some cases even the name of a rôle-playing character whom you have "been" and identified with for a long time.

Who will read for you, and how?

Tarot readings are done both by Damien and by Claire Jordan, using different spreads.

Damien usually uses the Circle of Life spread, which provides moderate detail about the different aspects of the question as they develop through past, present and future. This is the best approach for general overviews of your life or of major trends in your life, such as your entire career; or for any question where you need to see a progression through time beginning in the past.

Claire usually uses the Native Cross, which compares the consequences of two alternative courses of action and is ideal for questions of the "Which of these two job-offers will be better for me?" or "Should I stay here or move to Ireland?" type; and the Shining Star, which provides considerable detail on different aspects of the question in either the past, present or future (but not all three at once), depending on how you phrase the question.

[The Shining Star is ideal for personality/relationship analyses: but be warned - Claire uses the Native American deck, which is so brutally frank that it doesn't do character assessment so much as character assassination.]

She also does (reluctantly, because it's a pig) the Medicine Wheel, which takes any period of time, divides it into four parts and then shows in moderate detail the main events and influences in each quarter. For example, if you asked for a reading for the next 10 years, each quarter would cover 2½ years.

Which of us will read for you will depend on which spread we feel is most appropriate to your question. The price includes doing as many spreads as neccessary to answer the question.

We're also willing to do a simple spread on each of two or three different questions, provided it doesn't start drifting into multiple readings on totally different questions. Except the Medicine Wheel. If you want a Medicine Wheel, you just get the Medicine Wheel - because it's enormous and takes forever to write up...

Asking your question...

When reading face to face in the shop we often do the reading without knowing what the question was - although it's easier to fit the interpetation accurately to the question if you have at least some idea of what's being asked.

For readings by e-mail we'll need to know very roughly what the question is, if only to decide which spread to use; but there's no call to go into great detail unless you feel you want to. There's no need, for example, to say "I met this boy two weeks ago and I really fancy him but I'm not sure what he thinks about it because he seems keen one minute and cold the next" and etc. - just "I need to know what a particular person feels towards me/our relationship".

The only kind of question you can't ask is one like "What country should I live in?" because there isn't a card which means "Germany." If you have a question of that kind, where the answer would be a name, you have to draw up a list of alternatives and compare them. Most other questions fall into one of the following categories:

"What do the cards think I need to know?" (i.e. open-ended comments on your current situation - this is the commonest general question)

"What are the major trends upcoming in my future?" (generally in the next three or four months, unless you specify a longer period)

"What are the major trends upcoming in a particular area of my life?" (love-life, career or whatever)

"How will this situation turn out?" (this is how you ask "Will such-and-such happen?").

"How will this situation progress through time?"

"When [as opposed to 'will'] such-and-such happen?"

"What is or was going on here?"

"What are the pros and cons of this situation or relationship?"

"Which of these two or more options will be better for me?"

"How should I behave in this situation?"

"What career would be suitable for me?"

"What spiritual path would be suitable for me?"

"What is this person like?" (including "What should I look for in a future long-term partner?")

"What does this person feel towards me?"

"What do I feel towards this person?"

"What are the gods/spirits trying to tell me?"

"What does a specific spirit [usually a dead friend or relative] wish to say to me?"

You need to formulate the question clearly in your mind

You need to formulate the question clearly in your mind. Don't try asking "What is going to happen in my career?" and "What should I do to improve my career prospects?" simultaneously, for example, as those are two different questions - though we are happy to do you a spread on each of them.

For questions involving the future, the cards normally cover a period of about three months, unless you specifically ask for a long-term reading. "What is going to happen at work?" covers roughly the next 3 months; "How will my current job pan out in the long term?" covers a much longer period, as of course does "What is going to happen to my career in the next five years?" But the longer the time period, the less detail - since you are still using the same number of cards to cover a much longer stretch.

For questions involving two alternative courses of action, the Native Cross shows the "present" path on the right and the alternative one on the left. The "present" path would normally be either continuing on your current course of action, if that is one of your options, or the choice which you strongly prefer. If you are evenly balanced between two course of action, and neither of them is your current one - or if one course is your current one but you strongly prefer the other - then you will need to decide in your own mind, before we do the reading, which course of action you want to come up on the right side and which on the left (and be sure to remember which way round they were!). Or tell us what the alternative courses are, if you don't mind doing so, and we'll decide which is right and which left.

It is of course possible to ask for a reading on someone other than yourself, such as "which of these two universities should my son go to?".

You don't have to have a specific question - you can ask for a general overview of your (or someone else's) life and where it is going, or for a general prediction covering all aspects of life rather than a specific area; or you can just ask the cards to comment on anything they may feel is significant in your life at present, and see what they come up with.

But don't keep on nagging the cards for answers about petty questions you should be able to work out for yourself; and don't ask for a second prediction before the first one has expired. E.g. if you get a 3-month reading on your career prospects, don't ask for a further prediction on the same area of your life until the three months are up, unless your situation has changed radically.

Seek only what you are willing to find

And remember - the cards tell it like it is. If you do have a specific question, don't ask unless you are sure you really want to know the answer. Especially, don't ask if the wrong answer would throw you into profound depression.

[Also beware of self-fulfilling prophecy. It's best not to ask questions like "Will I get the job I'm being interviewed for next week?", because if the cards say "No" that might cause you to to be pessimistic and unenthused at the interview and so not get the job when, who knows, maybe the cards were wrong and you would have got it if you hadn't been so downbeat.]

For questions like "Will I ever see my ex-girlfriend again?" it's usually better to ask for a set time, such as "Will I see her in the next year?" rather than "Will I ever see her again in this life?" That way, if the answer is "No" you can still hope for a better result later.

As it says in the song Tarot Moon (by Talis Kimberley): "Seek only what you are willing to find."

Also, bear in mind that reading Tarot is an art, not a science, and that goes double for the interpretation of a spread. In my experience, if you are experienced then the cards are accurate and truthful almost without exception, and often to a startling degree which convinces me they aren't just Barnum Statements: but often the meaning of a card only becomes clear with hindsight. For example, I asked Damien to draw a few cards on the near-future of myself in relation to the shop, and he got The Hermit (going it alone). This he took to mean that the shop was isolated, in the sense that people tend to walk past it without noticing it (on account of being so small and half underground). A few days later he turned bright yellow and went off sick with gallstones, and I ended up having to run the shop solo for months!