Whether reading for self or others, one challenge tarot students have is learning to speak about the cards that come up in a reading and to interpret them appropriately.
Often newer readers will see a card and simply say, “Well, that’s good,” or “That’s not so good,”
and that’s as far as they get. I often have to prompt students by asking “What can you say about this card that helps you answer your question?”
Sometimes even experienced readers will lose focus and become unsure about what exactly to say about the cards they see.
Sometimes we have an inherent understanding of what a card is saying, but putting it into words that make sense becomes a challenge. This can happen whether you are a new reader, an experienced reader, or anywhere in between.
Sometimes, too, readers are uncomfortable saying what they think they see, either because they lack confidence, or because they worry that what they see might offend or upset the client.
Here are five ways to talk about the cards you see.
Say the name of the card.
If you are confused, or unsure what to say first, simply start by saying the name of the card. This simple and profound advice comes originally from Mary K. Greer.
Point to the card and say, “This is the Hierophant.” You can mention the positional name, too, if you like. “Here, to describe events of your recent past, we have the Hierophant.”
Once you say the name of the card it becomes easy to speak about what the card means to you, and how it can apply in this context.
Use key words.
If you haven’t memorized key words for each card, it’s probably time to start. Key words are simple words and phrases that you associate with each card. Memorizing key words means that you will never forget the traditional meanings of each card. Include key words in your interpretation and see how those key words answer the question, or what statement they make about the situation.
Say what you see in the picture.
Sometimes a picture will speak very clearly. What do you see going on, and how does that relate to the situation? Let your intuition guide you. For example, once, when reading for a woman, the Two of Pentacles showed up when she asked about her health. Immediately the two pentacles made me think of breasts. I suggested she get a mammogram, just in case. The next week she called me to tell me the mammogram had detected a problem at a stage so early there would be no lasting difficulties.
Suggest multiple possibilities.
Cards can mean more than one thing, sometimes at the same time. If you are not sure what a card means in the reading, list all the things the card could mean generally. As you make that list something is sure to click.
Talk about how the card makes you feel.
As you open yourself to emotional resonance with the card, you will more easily feel resonance with the client, and the reading as a whole. Look at the card, or cards, and simply say what you are feeling, be it tired, confused, afraid – whatever it is. Chances are, that is how your client is feeling. If you are reading for yourself, the opportunity to acknowledge the things you are feeling can be very healing.
Say the question or position as part of your answer.
If the card you are interpreting is in a positional spread, use the position in your answer. For instance, if you are interpreting a crossing card you might begin by saying “At this time, your biggest challenge is…” If the question you asked is “What do I need to do to get a job?” let your answer begin with “In order to get a job you need to…” This will help you interpret the cards within the context of the questions they are answering.
Try these techniques the next time you feel stuck in a reading!