Do You Have To Believe in Tarot For It To Work?

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I have often heard people tell me, “Oh, but I don’t believe in the tarot.” I’ve heard that almost as much as I’ve had people ask me: “But how does tarot work?”

The idea that one has to believe in the tarot in order for it to work puts it on the same level as either 1) religion or 2) chicanery.

The idea that tarot either does or does not work implies that it sometimes can go right and sometimes can go wrong, much like a car or a computer, running smooth on some days and broken down on others.

In my opinion, there’s nothing inherent in the deck in which to necessarily believe. I think the declaration from people that they “don’t believe” in the cards comes from not understanding what the cards are about and how they can be used, and perhaps fearing them for that same reason. It’s a way to dismiss the cards as insignificant, unimportant, unworthy of faith, silly; and as such, reassuringly impotent, unintimidating, docile, unthreatening. We know that ignorance breeds fear. And doesn’t organized religion often require a firm belief in its tenets so as to keep the faithful in line (controlled, manageable, unempowered)?

Tarot doesn’t ask anyone to believe anything. It simply exists and is available as a tool, as a mirror, to those who wish to consult it.

There’s no need to associate belief with tarot. There’s nothing to believe in.

As far as how it “works,” that’s another story. When I asked that very question to my tarot teacher Enrique Enriquez, his immediate response was: “Who said it works?”

This one is a bit tongue-in-cheek, because obviously those of us who have a tarot practice wouldn’t spend time with the cards like we do if we weren’t getting some benefit. So I’m not dismissing the cards here as saying they have no use or no purpose. But the idea of them either “working” or not working is a loaded question.

I appealed to some of my friends and colleagues for an answer; if you haven’t read “Five Tarot Experts Explain How Tarot Works,” I encourage you to have a look.

It’s important to take the multiple layers of mysterious, imposed potency off of the cards. It’s important for readers to stop insisting that other people agree with them that the cards are useful, special, magical. Tarot is not a religion, it’s a practice. Tarot cards are not imbued with super powers. They don’t either work or not work.

What makes them so special, then? Why are people afraid of them? Why do people sometimes dismiss them, fear them, belittle them, or impose otherworldly powers upon them? Why do those of us who use them keep coming back to them, despite all the misunderstanding?

Well, let’s ask the cards themselves.

  1. What’s the most misunderstood aspect of tarot?
  2. What’s at the core of a tarot reading?
  3. What’s the best way to sum up the cards?

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In the 8 of Cups we see someone actively walking away from a set-up that seemed nearly perfect, but something was missing. No matter how hard this person tried to make things work, to fit the square peg into the round hole, it simply wasn’t going to ever be the way the seeker, the person walking away in the image, wanted it or needed it to be. As such, he or she is walking away from something that he or she invested heart and soul in, but is now letting go of. This person understands, even if it’s hard to acknowledge, that it makes no sense to keep devoting energy, time, heart, and soul to something that is clearly never going to change.

In my interpretation the most misunderstood aspect of tarot, then, according to this card, is that it isn’t about having all the answers tied up with a pretty bow and presented to you in a perfect gift box. It’s about seeking the answers and being honest about what you receive, and knowing when to take action, even if it hurts to do so, because it furthers your personal growth. It’s about knowing when to walk away, knowing when to give up, knowing when to let go. (In fact, I’d say this flies right in the face of the pop-culture notion of tarot as providing neat and accurate “hits” or predictions that give querents the answers and outcomes they desire, or, on the other extreme, cards that foretell of terrifying and unavoidable doom. Both of these concepts remove agency from the seeker. Tarot doesn’t show you what you want, it shows you what you need.)

At the core of a tarot reading is speed, and news. The 8 of Wands is about getting a message fast, about events moving at lightning speed, and about not having enough time to fully digest and comprehend everything that’s swirling around you. At its core, tarot goes straight to the heart of the matter before you even realize what’s happening. You either learn how to dance with this, or you resist it, or you try to rationalize your way out of it, or you try to control it. But at its core, it’s like a speeding bullet. You either consciously ride the fast current of the river, or you get swept up in it and carried away.

The best way to sum up the cards is the 4 of Swords – total silence and stillness. I’ve often had people tell me, after their first-ever reading, that they think “everyone” should have a reading, because it “puts you in touch with your inner self.” Let’s get quiet, and still, and listen, and stop. That’s what the cards can do for us. They can give us respite, a place to be silent and reflect, a place to recuperate and to regenerate, a place to completely stop and focus.

Your thoughts?

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How Tarot and I-Ching Work Together

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If you use tarot for divination, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t explore other systems of divination as well.

Although runic divination is on my bucket list (and if it’s on yours as well, enjoy this gorgeous post from Camelia’s archives, Renewed (M)antics), the complementary system I use most often with tarot is that of the I-Ching, or the Book of Changes.

Because my tarot practice is largely based on the principles of humanistic psychology, empowered decision-making and self-determination, it was only natural that I would discover the I-Ching in the course of my reading and research over the years. I came to this system of divination by way of the work of Carl Jung, who was working with the oracle some 30 years prior to meeting sinologist Richard Wilhelm. Wilhelm’s translation of the I-Ching remains one of the most well known.

For those of you who know not a thing about the I-Ching, let’s back up for a moment.

What is the I-Ching?

The I-Ching is a book that, according to my favorite I-Ching translator, the Taoist Master Alfred Huang, existed more than two thousand years before Confucius (ca. 551-479 B.C.). Just think about that for a moment. Ancient doesn’t even begin to describe this work.

Huang says the I-Ching was originally a handbook for divination, and only later, once Confucius wrote his commentaries, did it become a book of ancient wisdom. He goes on to say:

It is a book that not only tells one who consults it about the present situation and future potential but also gives instruction about what to do and what not to do to obtain good fortune and avoid misfortune. But one still retains free choice.

Hence it becomes clear that this system could complement a tarot reading quite well.

How does the I-Ching work?

The Book of Changes is divided into what we might refer to as chapters, each of which is called a hexagram (in Chinese called a gua), which is a symbol that is arrived at after a systemized ritual that provides six lines. I often think of each hexagram in much the same way as a tarot card, or perhaps even an entire tarot reading in and of itself, and the ritual, such as a coin toss, as the shuffle.

There are 64 hexagrams in all, and each is formed of two trigrams, of which there are eight in all. Each trigram is named such because it is composed of three lines. The readings go into numerous possible permutations because each of the lines can also be determined through the casting process to be “changing” and this adds more depth to the overall reading and also can comment on possible future outcomes.

How can I-Ching complement a tarot reading?

Rather than this being a tutorial on the I-Ching, which is far beyond the scope of this post, I’d like to share with you how I use the I-Ching as part of my overall practice.

I find that the tarot and I-Ching provide complementary messages that overlap only in how they are able to pinpoint and highlight different aspects of the same question.

The tricky part is when the client hedges in identifying the meaning or wants to avoid the message.

I was looking for a question and at the moment I was writing this post I got a text message on my desktop and started chatting with an acquaintance. I asked if he had any pressing questions, and he agreed to be a willing participant in my experiment, but didn’t give any details about his situation or context.

His question for the cards was simply:

“Which is stronger: my desire to change or my fear of leaving?”

I don’t know much about this person at all; he’s an acquaintance, but someone I recently met and who isn’t very forthcoming about his personal life, so there’s really no way for me to hypothesize much about the meanings of these cards as they apply directly to him. He didn’t offer up much by way of what resonated, either, so we’ll just have to go on theory and practice.

In any case, I decided to go for an old-fashioned A or B for this one. When you have two options, it’s a nice way to put it out on the table and get a baseline idea. A (left) being “desire to change” and B (right) being “fear of leaving.”

Here’s what came up:

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I tell him: look, your desire to change is stronger. And I go on a little bit about the element and characteristics of the Knight of Wands, which I won’t go into here. That’s just a whole lot of fire, so, that desire for change is literally burning strong.

But you want to know what really intrigues me about these two cards? The story. Right? Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

I go: “Here’s the thing. Who’s the woman? Because she’s tied to your fear of leaving.”

Now, generally speaking I don’t always assume court cards are real people, but when you’ve got two court cards of the same suit and close in age (woman slightly older or more mature here), you’d have to be blind not to make the connection, amirite?

We were chatting online as I read the cards. I asked no less than four times who the woman was or if there was a woman in the middle of whatever this question was about, and it got DODGED and DODGED and DODGED like a mean game of dodge ball and let me tell you I could not get a hit on this guy to save my life. So I let it go. As an out, I suggested it could be “interior conflict” rather than a real person, and he latched onto that. But you see, we already know there’s inner conflict: it’s at the heart of the question itself. I just provided it as a comfortable place to rest. It’s not important for me to force a client to see what I see. I make suggestions, and like spaghetti on a wall, I let what sticks, stick. It’s their reading, not mine, and the bottom line is that clients will see what they’re ready and willing to see.

I say: “Look, your desire to change is so strong that you’re actually riding away already. And you’re not looking at this woman, and she’s not looking at you. You’re looking in opposite directions. But you’re actively moving away while she’s just sitting there, more stable, more calm, more mature in her inner fire.” (A note on the Knight of Wands, FYI, at least according to my experience with the RWS deck: if you ever get a question about love, this is your quintessential player. The Knight of Wands in a love context often really just wants to play the field and does not want to settle down to save his life. He needs freedom, and even if that’s a psychological hang-up a lot of times, it comes out in a perpetual string of affairs because there’s a restlessness and a need for adventure.)

I say: “Ok, let’s do an I-Ching reading. How about ‘What’s the best thing for me to do now?'”

In my practice, I write the hexagrams I cast on pieces of paper as I’m doing them. Here’s what came up:

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Without going into the specifics of method (I actually just used three US quarters I found lying on my desk), here are the themes that emerged:

What’s the best thing for me to do now?
This gua expands on the truth of avoiding contention. It talks about how conflict and contention is a part of life, but it must be resolved in order to move forward. Huang: “Generally, dispute arises from one’s mean intention and overly self-willed conduct” (italics mine: Knight of Wands, anyone?) “lacking flexibility in considering other people’s situations.”

The idea here is to find common ground, to try to see eye to eye, and there’s a special focus on trying to clear some sort of blocked truth.

I go back to this not seeing eye to eye, as we saw in the tarot cards, not seeing each other, not looking at each other. “Who’s the woman?”

(I imagine the conflict is with this woman.)

I say: “Didn’t you have a girlfriend? Do you still have a girlfriend?”

He says: “Yes, but we hardly ever see each other.”

I about die. I go “AH. Right.”

I mean, people, really?

When I point out that this is what the cards have been trying to show him, he says, “That’s too simple.”

[My greatest tarot teacher ever, Enrique Enriquez, taught me many things, but one of the recurrent themes of my work with him was this: “Shelley, you need to be dumb to read the cards.” Every time I’d complicate things, he’d remind me BE DUMB. Meaning: read what you see. Don’t embellish, don’t overthink, don’t complicate. Just read.]

Anyways, you get the point. It was like a dog chasing its tail.

If I had to craft a story based on these narratives, I’d say there’s some sort of decision going on deep in this man’s psyche and on the surface of his mind that he’s wrestling with, and this woman is part of the fear that’s attached to whatever it is he means by “fear of leaving.” It doesn’t much matter, though, this stated fear, because he’s already mostly out the door anyways. She seems pretty cool with it, after all, she seems to accept his restless, playboy nature. Perhaps she has her eye on someone else. (I should have and could have tried Isabel’s sight card trick here. Damn!)

At the heart of this, and where the I-Ching comes in with specifics, is in pinpointing this need to find common ground, resolve disputes, and “unblock” truth before moving on. It’s almost as if it’s a shame, as if these two people are two pieces of a puzzle that would have otherwise fit together, if he weren’t so intent on running away. In fact the man himself made an interesting unsolicited comment at one point: “But if the woman had come up first, they would have been looking at each other.”

Indeed. And there wouldn’t be any question then, would there?

Hilary Barrett calls hexagram 6 “Arguing” and states “You’re in dispute with how it is.” (Italics hers.) The two moving lines five and six show that this is coming to a head anyways (he’s already riding away): “you have truths to seek and aspirations to follow, so make yourself heard” (Barrett, line 5); and yet, line 6: “there is no such thing as a final victory.” I take this to mean that running away isn’t going to necessarily help you find what you’re searching for, but, as Barrett says (line 6): “This is not the way to leave Arguing behind; it’s the way to trap yourself in a struggle for scraps, constantly hampered by the fear of loss.”

There’s much to unpack here. If you can debrief with clients to get their honest and unguarded feedback, lots of stuff can come out into the open. If, however, your client isn’t willing to open up, this can be a run around. You may find, however, that the client despite their best efforts to the contrary does somehow inadvertently slip once in a while into dropping a tidbit or two almost against their own will. This one, as we were chatting, kept denying there was a woman, and then his autocorrect inserted a woman’s name where he meant to say something about how he’s “too demanding with the world”—where the female name popped in before “the world,” inadvertently changing his intended statement to read “I’m too demanding with [woman] world.” The name wasn’t his girlfriend’s though, as far as I know. :-p

However, he insisted the question “wasn’t about love” and I told him I wasn’t insisting the message was about love, either. Here’s something most tarot readers will identify with: the cards respond to the question asked. The querent knows what’s behind that, but, confused and/or vague questions can generate confused and/or vague responses. However, in this case I think it was the cards showing a message that needed to get out, intentions behind questions be damned. It happens.

I dunno, folks. This is our service. We offer it up, we tell people what we see. But we absolutely cannot be attached to what they see. Tell it like it is. Say what you see. But let your sitters do the heavy lifting of applying the message to their lives and finding meaning in it—or not.

Thoughts?

The Wrong Truth: On Knowing When To Lie (Which Is Never)

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What do you do when one job ends & you need to eat? You apply for another job! As I want to be a fulltime tarot reader from now on I decided, more or less on a whim, to have a go at a spiritual chat service. You know, one of those things where you can get a reading from a number of different psychics, mediums & fortunetellers, via phone or chat. As I like to write I reckoned that chat would be the best option for me. Never mind the New Agey website that talked about Twin Flames a lot (don’t get me started), a job is a job.

So I filled out an application, and the next day I got a phone call inviting me to do a test reading then & there, without even asking me if that would be convenient for me. I put that down to a flattering enthusiasm on my prospective boss’ part. We settled on an hour later.

In a brief preliminary Lenormand line, without a specific question, I got this: Man, Key, Coffin (see picture above). Uh-oh. Something ending, with a man turning the key. It looked like I would have to deliver some tough news.

My test client was a woman working at the spiritual website. She asked for a general reading for the next three months or so, with an emphasis on work & relationship. The cards showed a choice to be made, a change and/or an ending. This could apply to her work as well as her relationship in my view, but bearing in mind the Lenormand preliminary I decided to focus on the relationship. I did a second line specifically about that, and it became clear that the relationship isn’t that healthy, they keep each other bound, and the man will indicate he wants out first.

The To Do card was actually Death: best sever the knot yourself instead of waiting for him to give you the news! It won’t surprise you that this second spread was with the Noblet Marseille. Blunt as fuck. It brilliantly pointed out that that first general line of five wasn’t about the client’s job after all. So in total I now had THREE readings all saying the same. Clear as crystal, if not as pretty.

And so I told her what I saw, matter-of-factly but not especially insensitive. The thing is, when such a strong issue comes out of the cards, especially without even a question asked, almost always the client will admit they already know that things aren’t right. I therefore assumed that my sitter would at least have a feeling that her relationship wasn’t going all that well.

A complicating factor was of course that this was all a test. So when my client asked whether she & her partner weren’t Twin Flames after all, then, I wasn’t even sure if she was serious. With her relationship so plainly in trouble, could anyone calling themselves a spiritual counsellor really believe she & her partner were meant to be forever eternally?

But test or no, for me there was still only one answer possible. I therefore explained to her exactly what I think of Twin Flames, Soulmates etc.: which is NOT that they are meant to stick together all their lives. On the contrary, such significant others usually give you a Learning Moment (i.e. they break your heart) & then move on, leaving you to lick your wounds & grow tougher skin.

I refrained from pointing out that it’s downright irresponsible & dangerous to tell people they should stick it out with whichever Soulmate they are encumbered at any given point. From my own experience & what I have seen from other couples this is a recipe for disaster. Like I said, DON’T GET ME STARTED. Especially when that website actually makes money of this whole concept it’s better not. I thought I was being pretty diplomatic. Haha ARIES.

Okay, says she, apparently accepting my answer, my colleague will call you back & give you feedback. So the man I spoke to earlier calls, and of course it turns out that my boss-to-be is also my CLIENT’S PARTNER. Oopsie.

What then followed was a bewildering & slightly unpleasant discussion, in which I was told the following things:
-You are simply WRONG
-You don’t ask enough confirmation questions
-You don’t care enough about how the message may affect the sitter

When I cautiously questioned his impartiality (after all, he didn’t really need to tell me he was the partner in order to evaluate this reading! Also he sounded & felt upset to me), and that I got the same message THREE FUCKING TIMES (well I didn’t say fucking), he says that CLEARLY something is off in my energy or that there is some interference or other, making me ALL WRONG.

It was just all so absurd to me that I quickly ended the conversation for fear of laughing at him, which would have been unkind. I admit I was a bit rattled as to my accuracy, so I grabbed the Vera Sibilla for some extra confirmation :

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Obviously in three months time he’ll offer me the job again at a double rate…

The spiritual counsellor feels attracted to the idea of going away; the union will come apart. Sad, but nonetheless true. Interestingly the Sacerdote, being the King of Spades, can also mean an ex. So he’s attracted to becoming an ex.

I also gave the points he made some consideration, as this could well be a Learning Moment for me (oh dear gods IS THIS MAN MY SOULMATE). It is true that I am used to working mainly unilaterally, via audios & written reports, so I considered it possible that my customary directness might not work as well in this bilateral medium. As for not caring enough, believe me I do. I’m not good at the whole detachment thing AT ALL. I just don’t let it influence the message itself.

Of course I asked the cards: Should I change my style of delivery?

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Showing some tough love…

The answer is, a big NO. You shine a clear light with great authority, even if you bring an uncomfortable truth that forces people to make tough decisions. DO: keep everything as it is. DON’T: change a damn thing.

It would seem that if I had lied, or modified the message, I might have been hired. Is the lesson, always lie to your future boss? NEVER. In fact, at the moment I feel reaffirmed in my task of being a teller of Truth. I should toughen up more, not less.

Because, as long as we’re being brutally honest here: I do find it difficult to deliver this kind of devastating truth when sitting next to an unsuspecting stranger, and having to deliver this kind of message to their face instead of safely from behind my computer. Definitely something to chew on. After all, the Dutch word for ‘fortuneteller’, waarzegster, literally means ‘truth teller’. It’s all in the job.

What else did I learn? Well, not to work for this kind of channel which is aiming to keep people chatting endlessly! To which end giving such straight answers would be counterproductive. And that I may have been needed to deliver a Truth out of the blue…

As for those initial Lenormand cards: a man is the key to an ending. His relationship, but as it turns out, also my chatting career! See, and that’s why reading cards never gets boring…

Need some Truth Telling of your own? Visit my shop to book a reading!

How Tarot Cards Play Out in the Real World

If you’re new to the cards and haven’t built up much experience yet with readings, it can be a bit difficult to see how they relate to actual happenings in the real world. At least in terms of how I taught myself tarot, the images on the cards and the stories they could create when placed together all seemed theoretical and impersonal until I had years of real-world experience to relate to each and every one of them.

In an attempt to add a bit to the overall knowledge base regarding how readings play out in the real world, every once in a while I’d like to let you have a peek into my own personal tarot journal. The internet didn’t exist when I started teaching myself tarot, and I would have really liked to have been able to get a look at how experienced readers interpreted the cards and applied them to actual practical situations.

So, in the spirit of learning, I’ll let you in on one of my most recent practical uses of tarot for myself.

As you may or may not know, I am a single, divorced, working mother of three elementary-school-aged children (9, 7, 7). Needless to say, my romantic life has been stalled to non-existent for quite some time. Now, however, I feel happy and serene as a single person and I’m no longer looking for someone to fill up a void in my heart or emotional life.

Some girlfriends encouraged me to try online dating. So I put up a profile and started chatting with some men. One of them was really funny and attractive. We made plans to meet for a coffee. And then it occurred to me (I’m an American living in Italy, btw) – I had forgotten to ask if he was married or had a girlfriend.

Although I certainly don’t want to generalize, in my own personal experience in Italy, I’ve learned that men often don’t have any qualms about taking a lover on the side in addition to their steady girlfriend or wife. While I don’t pass judgement on their choices, I don’t want to be anyone’s other woman. 

Here’s where the reading comes in.

When it occurred to me that I hadn’t asked him, I figured I might as well perform due diligence. So I asked him outright in a message if he had a girlfriend, wife, lover, or was otherwise engaged with a significant other.

His immediate response was a flippant joke, which struck me as a way to deflect and avoid. 

That was suspicious to me, and no answer was forthcoming, so I turned to the cards. Situations like this, when you have a “hunch” but there’s an information gap, are excellent practice readings for learners. When and if you get more real-world information, you can compare it to the information you obtained from the cards and your interpretation of their message for you. The more you make these comparisons, the more your confidence and knowledge will grow.

I drew three cards: 1) What I need to know about Marco; 2) Advice/guidance for me re: Marco; 3) Outlook.

Here’s what came up:

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Three of Wands, Death, Seven of Swords

[Practice exercise: If you had to simply make a sentence out of this string, keeping it in context with the questions posed, what would it say?]

Here’s verbatim what I wrote in my journal:

“Oh, see – now that’s a real shame. I had this feeling smth was going on – like he’s not really single. This spread says he has his eyes elsewhere, let the whole concept and idea of him die, and you’ll see he had smth to hide. Boo! Now let’s see how it plays out…spill the beans, Marco.”

I left it at that and decided to follow the advice of Death – let it go, close it off, leave it behind. It wasn’t easy to follow this advice because my initial impulse was to respond to his jokey message and gloss over it and explain why I had asked. Instead, I stayed silent as a tomb. Death doesn’t utter a word, not even an emoji. Total crickets. 

It was only a matter of hours before I had my answer!

He later spontaneously sent a message admitting that yes, he has a girlfriend; but, and I quote: “she lives abroad and I hardly ever see her.”

Ah, tarot. How I love thee. Let me count the ways.

Let’s now look specifically at two of the cards that, in my own experience, have shown up repeatedly in specific real-life situations.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Three of Wands has come up repeatedly in my readings for clients in situations where there are long-distance relationships and in situations where one of the partners is contemplating a move overseas (or in any case across water or a long enough distance to require relocation) in order to be with the other. I didn’t touch on the overseas part in my own brief written analysis of this reading (because I already knew that part in my head), but I did make sure to note what the figure is doing on the card: he has his back to me. Thus, what I needed to know was that he certainly didn’t have his eyes on me, but rather elsewhere, across the water. In fact, I came to find out that his girlfriend lives in Spain.

Secondly, the Seven of Swords is a card that I’ve seen repeatedly for clients when there is a situation of cheating or getting away with (or attempting to get away with) something secretly. I generally dislike assigning specific keywords and situations to a card, since it’s better to be fluid enough to interpret every card uniquely for each unique reading. However, the Seven of Swords is rather difficult for me to extricate from the context of cheating when it shows up in a relationship reading, especially as it regards trust issues or secrets.

If you’re learning how to read the cards, I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping a journal. I’ve been reading now for nearly 20 years and as you can see, I still physically jot down notes with an actual pen on an actual piece of paper every single time I do a reading for myself. Documenting your readings has immense value for your learning, especially further on in the future when you have real-world findings, information and results of the situation that you can bring to bear on your initial interpretations.

As you grow in experience, you’ll begin to amass a substantial collection of actual situations that you can link back to particular cards, and this becomes a really important toolkit you can draw upon if and when you decide to start reading for others.

Your thoughts?

If you want to experience the power of a tarot reading for yourself, please visit me over at Sparrow Tarot (sparrowtarot.com) to learn how the cards can serve as a road map to help you navigate your life’s journey.

Flowing into tarot

Image from the Osho Tarot
Image from the Osho Tarot

When I was learning how to read the cards, I had a very hard time. No matter how much I struggled, everything felt very complicated, and I would get stuck on the meanings of the cards. I wanted to read so badly, that nothing flowed and I would grasp for something that would open the card for me. In the end, of course, I couldn’t read a thing. I ended up hating up card reading and all I wanted was to be done with it. To be done with having to face my inability to tell what I saw in the cards and provide an answer.

This went on until the day someone read the cards to me. All it said, was that I should just be myself and believe in myself and let everything flow. But it felt pretty much like a beating.

And here’s the interesting thing: when you’re honest with yourself and just do what you set out to do, the cards will just open like a book and everything seems so clear…Even if you don’t have that much knowledge of the cards. The cards will speak your own language and no matter your level of expertise, you will see what you need to see. But try to fool them, try to fool yourself into something you’re not and you will be blocked out. There is no access point.

Now this might seem like hocus pocus, or some new age thingie, but it’s just plain logic. To be honest with ourselves means to know exactly where we stand, where the facts are and what they are. There is no mistaking anything. There is no running around trying to figure out what is good and what is invented and how that is woven into your reading. Just simple plain facts laid out in front of you.

This came to full light when I made my first reading. As part of my tarot course, I had to read the cards to a complete stranger. Now this would function as a true reading with only one difference: my instructors would be there, in case anything was needed. My client wanted to know about her love life and how it would progress. And this is where it got strange. According to the cards, I had this soap opera story, about her and her two  relationships. She was seeing two guys at the same time, even though she was only interested in one of them. And, according to the cards, she was willing to get pregnant to get him to marry her… Now, you look at this, specially with your lack of experience and you go “This simply can not be!!! I must be seeing something wrong!!!” But there it was on the cards. And then my instructors started manifesting themselves and this might just be true and maybe it really was true and I just had to go on and say what I saw. And, well, it turned out to be true, as she ended up admitting as much.

This turned out to be a really enlightening reading for me. For the first time, I just believed in myself and let it flow. And there it was… the opening I searched for with the cards. And all it took was some cool thinking, some honesty, and, above all, a capacity to relax. To take the situation for what it was and to let it flow.

Today, I still get asked what can one do when a block occurs. Maybe it’s in tarot reading. Maybe it’s with something about our lives. And I still reach out to that first reading and give out some pointers. The same pointers I’m putting here. You’ve probably heard some of them, if not all, before. And here they are again. And the reason to it is that they actually work. From my experience, they are the most effective way to deal with a block. And with tarot readings. For what is a tarot reading if not a representation of our lives, laid out before us so that we can consciously acknowledge what’s going on with our lives.

  1. Be honest about yourself and your work. It’s not a matter of being able to do much or to do little. But rather of knowing where we stand and what can we do about it. By having this established, we can then proceed to work on expanding our limits. Of pushing forth and learn some more. But in the end, this is about us. This is not about our neighbors or the person next door who doesn’t have to work so hard and is at a higher level than us.
  2. Take the pressure off. So, you have a reading. You have someone who is expecting an answer. The sooner your querent will relax, the sooner you can relax and get down to business. This means getting him/her comfortable, putting him/her at ease. Offering some tea or something to eat are just some of the ways in which to do this. A preliminary talk explaining what will happen and inviting him/her to participate can also do wonders. Maybe even tell a little joke to lighten up the mood.
  3. In a reading you have as many entry points as you have cards in the spread. People often start their readings at the present. Or maybe at the first card drawn. But in reality, you can start your reading at any position. In a 3-card reading, you have three entry points. In the Celtic Cross (a 10-card reading), you have 10 entry points. And so on. So, instead of trying to figure out the first card, try to find the card that most calls to you and figure it out first. And then proceed to the other cards. Chances are, if you look at your reading from a different perspective, a different point of view, the block you thought was there, isn’t there after all.
  4. Simplify. Card reading is supposed to be fun. It is also supposed to be direct and frontal. So, if you’re grasping for meanings, chances are you will get esoteric. You will grasp at anything that might cast a glimpse of light on your cards. But, in front of you is a drawing and on the other side of the table is someone who simply does not care about esoteric or complicated thoughts. They want the story chewed, digested and ready to be absorbed. So, simplify. Go back to basics. Try to figure out what does that card mean. Why is it there? Why this card and not another one? Chances are, the answers is the drawing. Which leads us to…
  5. First thing seen, is all that matters. If you need to, just close your eyes, open it and the first thing you see is the one thing that matters. Forget everything else and concentrate on that detail you’ve seen immediately after you’ve opened your eyes. That’s where your answers lie.