When You Feel Disconnected from Your Tarot Cards
The biggest complaint I hear from newer tarot students is that they just don’t feel like they are ‘connecting’ to their tarot cards. I see this problem every day in tarot groups on social media. Sometimes it is a tarot deck, or a specific card, to which a person is having a hard time feeling connected. Sometimes the frustrated tarotist explains that a week ago, or a month ago, they were feeling very connected, and getting great readings with the deck, and now, suddenly, they are not.
Often this phenomenon leads to a tarot student feeling badly about themselves. Sometimes they spiritualize the problem to the point that they feel like the cards are punishing them by refusing to speak with them. Worse, students will sometimes use this perceived lack of connection to discount important messages from the cards because they feel their cards ‘don’t like them’.
Much of this problem comes from confusion because tarot works on so many levels, and can be so amazingly powerful. It is possible for a person who has never seen a tarot card before, and has no idea what the cards traditionally mean, to give a profound reading based entirely on what they see in the pictures and how the pictures intuitively make them feel. It’s also true that there are some very good pro psychic readers who use tarot in their readings without ever having studied the actual meanings of the cards.
Why is tarot such a powerful intuitive tool? I believe this is for two main reasons. The first reason, simply, is the brow chakra, or third eye. The brow chakra supports our eyesight, which views the tarot image. It also supports our imagination, which allows us to connect the image with a story. The third eye is also the seat of our psychic vision, which allows us to connect that story with something happening in life.
The second reason, from my perspective, is the unique thing that tarot has become over its six-hundred-year lifespan. Tarot began as a game which personified and illustrated characters and virtues of medieval spiritual thought. Over time, we found within those characters and virtues archetypes of human experience. Those archetypes can speak about us, and to us, on a visceral level.
The problem comes when we aren’t able to tune in intuitively, perhaps because we aren’t feeling well, or because we are too emotionally invested in the problem we trying to sort out with tarot. It could also be that the problem we are tackling is very complex. Lacking enough intellectual understanding of the cards, we feel disconnected from them, simply because we are, at the moment, disconnected from our intuition. That intuitive disconnection is an unavoidable occurrence from time to time. And, sometimes intuition simply isn’t enough to give a great tarot reading.
Something that exacerbates this problem is the rampant lousy advice that new tarot students should choose as their first deck the cards they feel ‘drawn to’. I have a huge personal dislike for this tired trope. In what other field of study are students told to choose a tool because they think it’s pretty? Imagine a carpentry student being taught that the right hammer for the job is whichever one they find most attractive!
Tarot art is a wonderfully diverse and powerfully evocative thing. Yet, your first deck should be the one you can most easily learn and understand, not the one you find the most attractive. The reward is this. If you develop a solid understanding of tarot archetypes, traditions, systems, associations and practices, you have a lifetime to collect all the beautiful decks you want and can afford. You will discover, too, that only some of the decks you find alluring, clever and beautiful are decks that you like using for readings. You may also find that some decks whose art you don’t really enjoy read magnificently for you.
When we emphasize art over archetype, we start to believe our connection to tarot is with individual images rather than the whole of tarot itself.
Objects, symbols and art all carry energy, and each deck has its own way of presenting the tarot archetypes. It’s also true, and a good practice, that tarotists ceremonially make an energetic connection with their decks. It would be erroneous to say that there is no such thing as a tarot reader’s connection (and therefore possible disconnection) with their cards.
It’s also true that we do make personal connections with individual cards; cards that become our stalkers, our significators, our magickal tools and expressions of our feelings, goals and experiences. This process of connecting with our decks is an important part of being a tarotist.
However, when we are having a hard time understanding a reading, lack of connection with your cards may not be the issue.
When you are giving a great reading, you are connecting with more than your cards.
A great intuitive reading may be informed or evoked by the images on the cards and the way they make you feel. Yet, there is a connection between you and something higher. However you see that mystical connection, be it with angels or consciousness, deity or higher self, I believe that tarot reading is a spiritual process supported by, and evoked by art, imagery, symbolism and the third eye. Tarot reading involves something beyond us and the cards.
I believe that a best-case tarot reading is really five connections. The first three are the connection we make with the images of our deck, the connection we make with the tarot archetypes, and the connection we make with higher consciousness, whatever we believe that to be. The final two are what many newer readers miss; the keywords and associations we connect with each card, and the way we connect what we see in the cards to what is actually happening in life. Without all five connections, your tarot reading isn’t everything it could be.
If you aren’t feeling the flow in a reading as you usually do, stop worrying about connecting to the cards, and think about your connection to spirit. Breathe, and invite your angels, ancestors, loved ones, higher self, or deities to speak through the cards. Consciously take a step away from your own attachments and be willing to hear truth, for yourself or for another.
Over time, take your tarot studies more seriously. Learn keywords for the cards and understand their archetypes. Work with more than one deck to see how the archetypes are expressed differently and add that to you understanding of each card.
Stop judging yourself or your cards for the lack of connection. Use that disconnected feeling to inspire your meditation and study.
Some tarotists will suggest that backing away from tarot is a way to cure this sense of disconnection. If you are anxiously reading on the same topic repeatedly, it might be good to take a break. Otherwise, the best advice is to lean in, study more, practice and expand your understanding of the cards. In each reading make an effort to make all five important connections. I promise you that the results will be insightful and informative.