Tarot: Trusting Your Intuition

Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot
Image by Victoria Constantino

When it comes to interpreting tarot, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend throwing out the guidebook, but trusting your own intuition above all is important. It’s best when you have a working knowledge of the usual meanings of cards and can then draw from that tradition as a springboard to further your understanding. A deepening of understanding comes when you tune into what your intuition is telling you the cards mean—for you in particular, or for the specific querent you are reading for. 

Decks that include symbolism (in contrast to minimalist decks) provide a rich tradition from which we can draw. The symbols themselves—which can be represented by figures or archetypes, animals, what we would traditionally think of as symbols (such as planetary representations), and colors—provide a rich depth of meaning we can use to create interpretations that are unique to us or the querent. Do butterflies symbolize something specific to you, or does the number four hold a certain meaning that only you would know? Those are influences that can factor into your interpretation of the cards. 

If the guidebook says X about a certain card, but you are feeling Y, always trust your instinct. Cards carry messages that impact us where we are, in the moment in which we are interpreting them. Whether a card is a reflection of your current energies or station, represents future possibilities, or what is at the end of the path you are currently on is something a guidebook cannot tell you. This is where your intuition becomes key. The same card could mean something completely different to you depending on when you draw it and where you are energetically at the time.

When you are first starting out with tarot or trying to strengthen your connection to your intuition, writing down your thoughts about each card in a journal can yield insights. Try doing this before consulting the guidebook—you may surprise yourself. When you’re done writing out your interpretation, you can then review what the guidebook says about the card and look for any common threads. This can assist you as you are learning about the cards and can help you develop your eye for symbolism as well as your interpretive capacity. It can also help you to trust yourself more as you confirm your insights with the guidebook’s interpretations, realizing, however, that you may produce deeper insights about the card and its meaning that the guidebook does not delve into.

Trust—that is, trusting our own wisdom and understanding—goes a long way toward improving our ability to obtain meaning and significance from a reading. As with most things, time, commitment, patience, and continued practice will help you to strengthen your connection to your intuition.

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