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Everyone once in a while it seems that tarot “goes awry.” The card may clearly indicate one thing and something else may happen. Or eight cards in a nine-card spread all point to one thing, but the ninth card says something different and incongruous.

We all know the old adage, the cards never lie. But once in a while they sure do seem to misbehave.

Here are some things to think about when tarot misbehaves.

  1. If you are using tarot predictively, it’s important to remember that nothing is ever set in stone. Things can change, even radically. Our readings are so constantly accurate that when a reading goes rogue we are surprised. Maybe that’s the point, to keep us on our toes and remind us that nobody can ever know the future all the time.

  2. Tarot is like a conversation between three people who all speak different languages. Sometimes things get lost in the translation. At the same time, the knowledge that is communicated is always valuable.

  3. Sometimes the cards answer questions other than what is being asked. A client may come with a question about career, but their family may be predominant in the cards. Sometimes it seems the cards try to direct us to what is most important.

  4. The energy we put into a reading is the energy we get out of a reading. The more focused we are, the more meditative we are, the more information we are able to get. It’s fine to do readings in the spirit of fun, but those readings may not be as deep, meaningful or accurate as those done with a more serious attitude.

  5. Sometimes many possibilities are at play at the same time. The rogue card may be a “minority report.” Sometimes the least likely possibility is the one that happens.

  6. Each card has many possible interpretations. Sometimes the interpretation you know and use is less appropriate than another traditional interpretation.

  7. Perhaps the reading itself changes possibilities. I’m not a physicist, but I understand that in quantum theory something is changed when it is observed. When I perform a tarot reading for someone I often hope that it will be change-making in their lives.
    What if the very act of reading on a topic opens up new possibilities?

  8. Tarot is an art, not a science. Divination has a margin of error. While we always need to be aware of this, it doesn’t change the incredible overall value of tarot and divination.

  9. Very little on the planet functions perfectly one hundred percent of the time. When something usually functions very well it surprises us on rare occasions when it doesn’t function as expected.

  10. When the cards go rogue it may be an indicator of something larger at play, something that will be revealed at a later date. The wise reader knows that sometimes when more of the story emerges the card will make more sense.

  11. Tarot seems to go rogue more often if we are focused on future predictions and yes/no answers. Tarot functions most reliably when we ask questions that seek to empower us to create our own future.

No one knows why tarot works; why the cards so often speak such truth. Neither do we know, on the rare occasions when the cards seem to not make sense, if there is not some greater meaning trying to present itself.

In a reading, it is sometimes difficult to say “This is likely to happen, but it is also possible that this other thing could happen instead.” People like definitive answers.

But here is the sweet, sweet truth in all of this. In many situations, more than one outcome is possible. This gives each of us a great deal of power to create wonderful things in our lives. Many times fate and destiny are not as important as clear goals, a vision, and direction. It is in working to build that vision and make a plan of action that tarot is a most effective tool.