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Today’s question is from a serious tarot student. He writes:

I had someone tell me that as I grow more proficient with tarot, I’ll find that I can see patterns before I even have time to logically interpret the cards. It’s kind of like there’s less reliance on the concrete qualities of the deck itself.

This makes sense. In many ways, there are things that come up in readings that aren’t always pinpointed by the card, but seem to be right on point. What are your thoughts on this?

What a great question, thank you!

This brings up the ongoing discussion of intuitive tarot versus interpretive tarot. I have a lot to say about that, but I first want to address a less-often-discussed phenomenon of tarot reading referenced in this question.

Can we know our cards and our process so well that we are able to draw information from them without have time to think about the cards or their symbols logically? Absolutely, yes, we can.

However, I would not say that this process is necessarily less reliance on traditional interpretation. Practice, use and confidence allow us to interpret the cards quickly, without having to think about them cognitively. It is the difference between knowing two plus two equals four, and having to count it out on your fingers. Either way, you will arrive at the same answer.

Something happens in a tarot reading. Words seem to flow from us. Sometimes we seem to be channeling wisdom and information from another, higher, source. I call this occurrence “being in the zone,” and equate it to other “zone experiences” we have, perhaps playing sports or making art or music.

Something even more happens in a reading. This is something beyond being in the zone or knowing your cards super-well. Perhaps it really is channeling. Perhaps it really involves communication with the spirit world. I truly believe that the cards can function as a psychic gateway, allowing us to commune with those in spirit.

As you become more proficient with tarot, a few things can happen. You can know your cards so well that you won’t have to think to interpret them. You can enter the zone; a state where your energy is truly flowing and elevating your process to a higher level. You can also become an open channel for spiritual forces who speak through you, and through the cards.

Now, let’s talk intuitive tarot and interpretive tarot. There are many tarotists, even professional readers, who have never actually studied tarot, nor memorized a key word, nor learned a particular set of associations. Intuitive readers let the colors, images and psychic nature of the cards guide them.

This is a very effective reading technique. In fact, if you can’t allow that sort of flow to happen in a reading, you aren’t ready for professional reading.

There are intuitive readers who warn against the practice of tarot study, saying that memorizing interpretive values will confuse you, and take you out of your intuitive mind and into your logical mind where the flow doesn’t happen.

This is why I think what this person said is so smart. Tarot confusion doesn’t come from tarot study. Tarot confusion comes from not studying enough. When you know the cards cold, you can rely on your inner knowledge of their traditions and interpretations, and open yourself to the flow of the reading and the wisdom of Spirit.

A final point speaks to the comment that often information is revealed in a reading that doesn’t seem to correlate to any particular card. If I see someone might visit China, it is clear I didn’t see a “China” card within the tarot. Where did I get that information? A small element within a card image may have triggered a memory, or a thought, or an image in my mind. That’s how it usually works. That’s why I prefer colorful tarot decks with intricate designs.

That’s how my process seems to work, and how I interpret what you were told, based on my experience. Other people have different tarot experiences, I’m sure. The more we can talk openly about our experiences with the cards, the more we will learn about the seemingly limitless ways in which tarot can work.

Thanks for a great question. If you have a question about tarot, please email me.

Video of Christiana Answers a Question about Advanced Tarot Reading