How do tarot cards actually work? And are they really always right?
This is a question I get often when I tell people I read tarot. And while I do actually believe the cards are always right, how does that explain the readings we’ve gotten wrong?
How Tarot Cards Work
Tarot cards work by relying on the readers intuition while looking at the images. But the intuition doesn’t just start when the cards are drawn. It starts the second the reader picks up the deck and starts to shuffle. My personal belief is that the answers come from a persons higher self and spirit guides, as well as the signs a reader gets when they’re deciding which cards to pull.
How do we even know which cards to draw?
Each reader will have a different sign, but regardless of how you know, it’s your higher self and spirit guides helping you decide. For instance, once I shuffle a deck I know what cards to draw because I will sense a sort of magnetic feeling towards a certain card or part of the deck. Others say they feel tingling sensations. Some don’t have any feeling in their hands or body, they “just know”. It doesn’t really matter how you know what cards to draw, it’s only important that you learn to trust that feeling, whichever feeling that may be.
Our higher selves and guides know what cards we need to draw in order to get the right answer. Our souls are not bound by the same physical limitations that we as humans are on earth. Our souls are not physical, so who is to say they aren’t able to see the cards we need while our physical eyes only see a solid deck facing down? Trust that your soul knows where the right cards are located and listen to the signs you see, feel, hear, and know. That is how you choose the right cards for an accurate reading.
There’s always a reason you have chosen the cards lying in front of you. Now the hard part (and the reason some readings can be wrong) is deciphering what your higher self wants you to know without letting your mind overthink and get in the way. And that is where readings can go wrong. The cards may not be wrong, but the way you decide to interpret them might be.
So, are the tarot cards always right? The cards we pull? Probably. But humans aren’t perfect and we’re not going to interpret them right 100% of the time. With enough practice, reflection, and the ability to put bias aside, we can get pretty dang close though.
Bias in Tarot Readings
Now let's talk about bias and when it may not be a good time to read tarot.
Let me give you a hypothetical situation.
A client walks into a shop to ask for a tarot reading from me. I walk them back to a private room and ask want they want to know. They say “I’m cheating on my husband. Should I leave him or leave my boyfriend and try to make amends? Is my husband suspicious?”
Okay... I personally would have compassion for someone in this situation, but A LOT of people would not. What if I had just found out my husband was cheating on me? It would make it very difficult to be intuitive and not let my bias get in the way.
I’m here to tell you, that is okay. Not only is it okay, it’s absolutely better to not give that reading than it is to try to put your strong feelings aside. We are human, we have opinions, we have all had bad experiences that shaped those opinions, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with politely telling that client you aren’t comfortable doing that reading. It’s okay to explain you are afraid you're going to be biased. A referral to someone who would be better suited to handle the situation is always a good gesture if you know someone, that way the client doesn’t feel as though you are condemning them, but understands you just don’t feel like you could keep your feelings from interfering.
If you are the client asking a question that may be triggering to some readers, it may not be a bad idea to ask them before you actually pay whether or not they’re comfortable taking your question. That way you skip the awkwardness and don’t have to worry about bias getting in the way. After all, if you’re paying for a reading, you aren’t paying for a lecture from someone who’s bothered by your situation, you’re paying for accurate and intuitive insight.
Doing tarot readings for yourself and family
Another situation I’ve found myself in several times is when my husband asks me to do a reading about something we’re both heavily invested in. When I first started reading tarot I remember him asking about a potential job we both really wanted him to get. My reading was amazing, all the best answers came up, but later he didn’t get the job. When I went back to look at the cards after the fact it seemed so obvious. I was just picking and choosing the meanings I wanted, all the most positive aspects of every card, but not the meanings we both actually needed to hear.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with getting a reading from another tarot reader when you yourself are also a tarot reader. In fact, we all do this all the time! I have a favorite I always go to when I want insight on something, but I’m heavily invested in the outcome. That’s not to say you can never read for yourself or family. You just need to be able to recognize when your bias is coming up and when it could be interfering. With time and practice it gets easier to do readings even when you’re heavily invested in the outcome, but sometimes it’s just nice to get an outside opinion.
And that brings me to my next subject...
Why do Different Tarot Readers have Different Meanings for the Same Card?
This can be confusing and intimidating when you’re first starting with tarot. So, who on earth is right? Well, everyone.
Remember when I mentioned your higher self and guides know what cards you need to pull to get the right answer? To break that down further, your higher self and guides know what cards YOU need to pull in THIS moment in order to get the right answer. Since some cards have similar meanings and all the cards can be interpreted differently depending on what is around them, you will pull the cards YOU need to pull in order to decipher what YOU need to know.
We all look at each card from a different lens, with a different perspective, and different past experiences. The cards I need to get in order to figure out an answer to a question might be slightly different from the cards you need in order to come to the same conclusion. That is why when new readers come to me asking for advice on what a reading means I try to ask them what they see first. I will tell them my opinion, but then advise them to ask more than just me. Ultimately you need to go with the answer that resonates with you the most.
So how do tarot cards really work? I like to think of it like being an intuitive detective. Each card will bring up different feelings based on the imagery, the colors, the overall mood in the card, and how they make you as the reader feel. It’s up to you and your intuition to put all the pieces together to form the story. Trust the first story that pops into your head. As long as you’re putting bias aside, your first gut instinct is almost always going to be the right one.
How do you feel tarot cards work? Share with us in the comments below.
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