The Accidental Tarot Reader

The Accidental Tarot Reader

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  1. The Accidental Tarot Reader

    I never had a burning desire to become a tarot reader.  I remember the first deck of cards I received–my dad brought back a Rider-Waite deck back from a trip to New York and gave them to me.  I think I was nine or ten at the time.  I pulled out the cards, read the little pamphlet that came with them, and quickly lost interest in reading the cards.

    I was curious, however, and fascinated by the tarot.  I was amazed at how people could look at a bunch of pictures on cards and come up with exactly what’s going on in someone’s life.  I loved having my cards read, and was consistently amazed at how relevant the readings were to my life.

    It wasn’t until decades afer that first Rider-Waite deck that I purchased my own cards, a lovely deck called The Enchanted Tarot designed by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber.  In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, the deck came with a book that helped explain the meaning of the tarot in something more than simple phrases.  I studied that book, and many others, as I learned to give readings myself.

    I also got readings from professionals, who taught me more than just what was going on in my life.  They taught me that a good reader must be alert, intuitive, and responsive to the querant.  They also taught me that, when used like any other good tool, tarot can be an enormously helpful part of any life.

    I’ve been reading cards for almost twenty years now, and I have developed a personal style.  While I’m aware of and can use (if absolutely necessary) the various spreads that exist, I tend to be more simplistic with my readings.  Intuition abhors complication, and I find the best readings come when I don’t interfere too much.

    The Crazy Lady with the Tarot Cards

    Over the years, tarot has gotten some pretty bad press.  The two opposing camps fall into the general categories of "Tarot is Evil" and "Tarot is Bunk."  The heroine in the horror movie always gets the Death card (Evil), or a reader gives generic, interchangeable information (Bunk).  And most of the folks who don’t fall into either opposing category still manage to get a little freaked when they get a reading that is a little too on the money.

    My purpose here is not to convert the skeptics or wage a one-woman war on media misrepresentation of the tarot.  If you’re reading this introduction, chances are you have an interest in tarot, tarot readings, or learning to read the cards yourself.  You may have already picked up a deck or book and thought it was too complicated for you.  Maybe you’re beginning and just want to learn more.

    Finding My Own Rhythm.

    My biggest difficulty in learning to read the tarot was a basic one–I’m not a very visual person.  Most of the resources I found on tarot stressed the symbolism in the pictures when reading the cards.  They also taught difficult spreads that involved several cards in complex positions.  I would find myself so caught up in trying to remember what card meant what in what position that I’d stomp my instinct into the ground in the process.  Consequently, my readings were flat and pointless for the most part.

    My ability to read tarot improved exponentially when I stopped trying to force myself to read as others taught, using spreads and methods that didn’t fit my mind or personality.  I started thinking of the tarot not as a series of cards but as a story, and everything sort of fell into place.

    The Story of Us

    We are all on a journey, and the tarot represents that journey.  Each card of the Major Arcana represents a major chapter of that story, that grand destiny of growth and mastery and discovery that we call Life.  Each suit of the Minor Arcana also tells a story, with each number or royalty card representing a position on that journey to mastery of whatever skill the suit represents (Wands-Fire/Creative, Pentacles-Earth/Physical, Hearts-Water/Emotional, and Swords-Air/Intellectual).  How the cards fall in regards to your question can tell a lot about where you are in your own journey.  If you get a card from the Major Arcana, you can expect that your situation falls on the Big Picture scale of importance.  If you get mostly cards from the Minor Arcana, these are just lessons on the daily journey of life.

    For example, pulling The Fool card in a reading about whether to accept a new job offer or not is actually a very positive card.  The Fool is the very first card of the tarot, the adventurer setting off on a new path, clear and open and optimistic.  If, on the other hand, you picked The Tower, you might want to think carefully before accepting.  The Tower usually represents massive change, often chaotic and destructive, but necessary to move on to the next leg of the journey.  While no card in my deck is inherently bad, The Tower doesn’t indicate a smooth and easy transition from one place to the next.

    What’s in the Future?

    I’d like to invite you to join me as we take a guided tour through the tarot.  In the next series off articles, I will explore each of the cards in the tarot, both Major and Minor Arcanas.  In addition to giving you a basic understanding of what each card means at face value, I will attempt to put this into a context of our own journeys through life.

    I’m very excited to start this journey.  I hope you will come along as I start where all good stories start–at the beginning!

    Next Article: The Fool

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