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One thing that frustrates new tarot students is the way each card can have so many meanings. Some students wonder if the cards really mean anything specific at all, given the variety of possible interpretations.

Here’s simple way to understand the nature of tarot cards and why their meanings can vary.

Imagine a guy named Joe. Joe is married, and his wife thinks Joe is a wonderful dancer. He impressed her with his moves on their first date.

Joe and his wife have a son and a daughter. His daughter likes to go fishing with her dad and thinks that Joe is the best fisherman in the world.

Last Sunday morning Joe made pancakes for the family, which his young son really enjoyed. Joe’s son described his dad as the best pancake chef ever.

Joe is an attorney, and is considered a hard-ass in court. After work Joe meets his friends at the bar where he drinks Red Stripe, his favorite beer.

Who is Joe? Joe is a husband and father. Joe is a dancer, a fisherman, a maker of pancakes, a drinker of Jamaican beer, an attorney and a hard-ass. It all depends on who you ask. Joe has a different relationship with different people in his life.

Joe is like a tarot card in this way. How we see a tarot card will change depending on our relationship with the card, and on the context in which we see the card.

When we try to understand a person like Joe we learn about his different relationships and responsibilities, his talents and his likes and dislikes. To learn about Joe we develop a relationship with Joe.

To learn about a tarot card we must develop a relationship with that card, and learn about that card’s relationships with others. In many ways, learning about a tarot card is the same a learning about a person.