What Reading Tarot Taught me about Reading Tarot

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Hello All,
I realize I’ve been noticeably absent from the blog-o-sphere the last month or so. I was awash in accounting homework, putting the finishing touches on thetarotparlor.com and being very absorbed with some non-tarot creative writing projects. But now that the term is wrapped up I have a lot more time to write about tarot and so here I am. Hi. Missed you. 🙂

Today I wanted to mention a couple things that I’ve learned over the course of my tarot reading career. In the almost three years I’ve been reading, a handful of things have really stuck with me and I wanted to share.

  1. There is no teacher quite like experience
    No amount of book learning, studying tarot, or even journaling will teach you how to read tarot as well as just reading tarot. I believe that getting a solid foundation of tarot education is important, but as soon as you possibly can start actually doing readings. My own progress made leaps and bounds when I started doing readings with greater frequency and when I started reading for others. Even as I’ve gotten more experienced I’ve found that nothing brushes up my skills faster than some good old fashioned practice.
  2. Its ok to start a reading slowly
    I have a bad habit. When I first lay down the cards I feel this immense pressure to jump right in and start the reading, especially when I’m reading for others and extra especially during in-person readings. Sometimes that works, but usually it just makes me panic. What I’ve come to realize is that once the cards are laid down, its ok, nay, its a damn good idea, to take a deep breath, sit back and just look at the spread. What cards are calling to you? Do you see any patterns demanding your attention? Taking this time to observe the whole picture allows you to get centered, gather your thoughts and listen for those intuitive hits. I usually tell my client I’m going to take a minute to look at the cards before I start, so that they aren’t sitting there anxiously wondering what’s going on. Another advantage of this tactic is that sometimes a certain card will catch your eye and give you a starting point from which the reading can flow.
  3. A reading is as much about asking the right questions as it is about interpreting the cards
    This is the epiphany that’s been rocking my world most recently. Its obvious in a tarot reading that you’re going to interpret the messages that the cards are communicating, but what has really made a tarot reading come alive for me is when the cards make me ask myself, or my client, more questions. Its easy to say “The Chariot is indicating that you need to take control of your life,” its infinitely more helpful to look at the Chariot and ask “Where in your life do you feel like you aren’t in control? What could you do to reclaim your power in that area?”
  4. Intuit out of the box and go with the flow
    I’m a super swordsy, logical, analytical person. One of the hardest things for me to do as my tarot practice had progressed, is to release my iron grip on the book meanings of tarot cards and to let my readings flow. It never fails though, when I let the intuition lead, good things happen. I don’t abandon my intellectual understanding of the system and its always there for me to fall back on, but when I’m giving more attention to how the spread is making me feel and what the images are communicating I end up giving a more powerful and profound reading, pretty much every time.
  5. An easy reading doesn’t equal a good reading and a hard reading doesn’t equal a bad reading
    The value of a reading isn’t measured in how well it flowed, or how clearly the messages came through, but how helpful and insightful it was. Some of the most profound readings I’ve ever given or received required a lot of work. Its great when a reading flows and is also profound, that’s the best of both worlds, but if you find yourself struggling to understand your cards its not a sign that you are a bad reader or that your reading isn’t effective. It likely means that you’ve hit on an important, perhaps complicated issue that is going to require some dissecting.
  6. You have nothing to prove
    Giving a tarot reading isn’t about showing off your mad tarot skills, at least not primarily. Giving a tarot reading is about providing the most insightful and helpful information you can to your querent, whether you’re reading for someone else or yourself. Its totally great to give yourself kudos after doing a kick-ass reading, but keep it in perspective. Performance anxiety thrives when you let your ego drive…Ooo, I like that…I’m gonna tweet the heck outta that…anyway, take the pressure off yourself and keep in mind that its not about you, its about giving your querent the information they need.

What about you? What has reading tarot taught you about reading tarot?

Reading Different Suits in Relationship Spreads

relationshipsRelationship readings can be pretty straight forward when you are pulling all Cups cards and Major Arcana like The Lovers or The Devil, but what happens when you pull a spread full of Swords or Pentacles? Are you doomed to unending conflict? Does you relationship revolve around money? Maybe, but not necessarily. So how then do these non-relationship suits apply to relationship readings?

I’ve broken down the four suits with keywords that apply best to relationships and a little discussion about how those energies work within the context of a relationship reading.

Ace of Swords URWSSwords: Communication

Along with Communication, Swords can represent one’s mental state or indicate conflict in general, however with communication being one of the most important parts of creating a functional relationship, it stands out as the most important attribute of the suit in this context. The positive side of this energy represents open communication and being open to communication, understanding, being heard, working through conflict. Its negative attributes manifest as defensiveness, dishonesty, arguing and communicating in hurtful ways.

Ace of Wands URWSWands: Passion, Creativity

The fiery Wand energy is rooted in passion. It can be an emotional energy like the Cups, but unlike the watery more passive and sentimental Cups, its aggressive and active and sexual. In a positive way it can show up as sexual chemistry, the spark of attraction, creativity and spontaneity, actively being involved in keeping things exciting and interesting. In its negative aspect this energy becomes anger, willfulness, stubbornness or can burn so hot that its exhausting or overwhelming.

Ace of Cups URWSCups: Romance, Emotional Connection

Cups is the suit most associated with relationships, so why talk about it when most people find cups fairly easy to read in relationship spreads? I think it’s worth noting and comparing the romantic energy of Cups with it’s focus on emotional connection, with the Wands passionate sexual energy. At its best Cups represents emotional compatibility, tenderness, contentment, emotional fulfillment. Its darker side includes inconsistency of feelings, emotional turmoil and unhealthy attachment.

Ace of Pentacles URWSPentacles: day-to-day operating of relationships

Pentacles has become so strongly associated with money and career that it’s often overlooked as the suit of physical experience. Of course money can and does impact relationships, but it’s worth looking at the suit’s other applications. As a reflection of the everyday experience in a relationship I associate Pentacles most strongly with time, in a positive way a balance of time spent together and pursuing one’s own interests, or utilizing the time you have together in the best way possible, in a negative way the opposite can be indicated. It can also represent the logistics of a relationship, who takes on what roles or responsibilities.

This is just a brief overview of the way I look at the suits in the context of relationships. I realized when writing this up that there was a lot to say on the subject and I would like to go into more detail by suit and card in future posts. In the meantime I hope you find this helpful and would love to hear what you think.

Tarot on my friends