Here is a universal struggle for tarot students.
We all know the joy of asking a question, pulling a card in answer, and having that card fit the question poignantly and precisely. But what happens when the card or cards pulled don’t seem to make sense in light of the question? This problem can also occur in a spread, when a particular card does not seem to fit with the position in which it falls.
The first thing to remember is that every card appears for a reason. In professional tarot, sometimes we need to find the answers right away. With experience, this becomes easier. Nicely, in a student’s divinatory practice, or in one’s own readings, it is okay to take time to find your answer. It is sometimes necessary to research, write, meditate, ask others, and puzzle it out over time.
Whatever the nature of your practice and experience, there are numerous methods to help you find the harder answers of tarot. One thing to consider is that, often, the more difficult the answer is to figure out, the more opportunity there is to learn and grow, both in your understanding of the card(s) in question, and in the situation about which you are divining.
One great technique that I learned from Mary K. Greer is to simply say the name of the card aloud. Very often that seems to jostle a memory or an intuition and allow the reading to unfold. Following that, a good tactic is to list off everything you know about the card. If you are new to tarot, read a number of references. By listing all the possibilities, you will often find one that fits. Very often this results in a ‘d’oh moment’ as everything becomes clear.
Sometimes traditional keywords in nontraditional uses will answer the question. Fr example, if the question is about what sort of exercise would be helpful and the Wheel of Fortune appears, it might be time to take a Spin class, because a keyword for the Wheel of Fortune is ‘cycle’.
Another technique is to look at the card image and see if there is anything in the picture as a whole, or within the picture, that strikes you as an answer to the question. This can work even if the answer you arrive at has no bearing on the card’s traditional interpretations.
Many times, newer readers expect all financial questions to be answered with Pentacles, all romantic questions to be answers with Cups, and so forth. Of course, this doesn’t happen in actual practice. It’s important to understand that any card can be interpreted in any context.
The trick is always to allow the time, energy, research, and intuition to find the answer.