My First Tarot Reading: 5 Lessons Learned
I’ve been playing with tarot cards for a few months, trying to do my own readings using the books that come with the card decks. Unfortunately, I am very, very good at interpreting the cards to match my desires. Fortunately, I know about that about myself. And fortunately, I found an excellent tarot reader living less than an hour’s drive from me. So last Wednesday, off I went for my first tarot reading.
My first tarot reading takes place in a beautiful room just inside the front door of Freya’s house. The room is a library/office filled with books and sunshine. We sit opposite each other at a card table covered in a gorgeous midnight blue velvet cloth decorated with astrological symbols. Freya is dressed in casual pants and a summer blouse. There isn’t the slightest hint of the woo-woo of which I am often so skeptical. The reading lasts an hour and costs $60 Canadian. I learn so very much, and not just about myself, but about tarot. We’ll start with those learnings.
5 Lessons Learned About Tarot
1. The Reader/Querent Relationship
My experience with Freya isn’t at all like my experiences with Lucy, the psychic. Lucy had to prove her psychic abilities to me every time we met. I never made it easy.
Tarot reading is an art based on intuition, interpretation, and perception.Nikita Dudani
Tarot is different because the cards tell a story that can be interpreted in a variety of ways depending on what’s happening in the querent’s (client’s) life. From the beginning, Freya and I are collaborators in interpreting how the cards apply to me.
2. A Specific Question Helps
Many tarot readers will use card layouts that give a reading for an entire year of the querent’s life. Freya asks instead for a specific question, an issue that is front of mind. This focuses the reading and makes it much more useful. At the same time, the single question doesn’t feel constraining. We can still venture into other areas of my life as needed.
My question is — “Should I write another book or not?” It has been bothering me that I’m now three years into retirement and still waffling.
3. Pay Attention to Cards that Jump from the Deck
When Freya is shuffling the cards, one falls from the deck. Some tarot readers treat jumping cards as a moment of clumsy shuffling and ignore them. Others, including Freya, set them aside as important messages that apply to the entire reading.
In my case, the card is the Devil which is one of the Major Arcana. Major Arcana cards are super significant. They are archetypes belonging to the collective unconscious (Jung), and they represent where you are or will be on your spiritual path.
Freya jokes that if the reading had been about relationships, she’d be interpreting the Devil as “hot sex.” In my case, however, an interpretation I find in a book after the reading makes the most sense for me. The Devil is a fear card, representing being stuck in some destructive patterns of self-defeating behaviour.
4. The Choice of Tarot Deck Really Does Matter
In the past I’ve read, and dismissed, the argument that the best tarot deck for beginners is the Rider-Waite deck. Named after its first publisher, the Rider-Waite was developed back in 1910. It was a major departure from earlier decks because it used human figures and scenes rather than patterns of symbols.
I own three tarot decks. The Thoth deck, one of the oldest, uses symbols. The Voyager deck is modern-day symbols assembled in collage. And the Llewellyn deck has human figures and scenes based on Welsh myths and legends. I like all three and assumed they were equally useful for my readings. But now I want a Rider-Waite deck. That’s what Freya uses and I instantly see how much easier it is for me to understand the symbolism.
5. A Tarot Reading is About Connections
Novices like me interpret tarot cards by looking up the card’s meaning in a guidebook. Since there are often a dozen or more related meanings, it is tempting to pick the one that feels best. That leads to the problem of ‘bending’ the meaning of a card to fit my preconceptions.
Experts like Freya examine the relationships among the cards. For example, are characters in one card heading toward or away from the characters in an adjacent card? Is there a change in the landscape across several cards, suggesting movement from one form to another? Is there a predominance of men or women? How about of different suits? Repeat imagery? Freya points out a meniscus (infinity symbol) in two adjacent cards, explaining that it’s a symbol of balance. But because of the overall meaning of each card and their relationship to each other, the message for me is lack of balance.
I come away from my first tarot reading determined to learn how to read the cards properly. I have a book that I know will help – 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card by Mary Greer – but won’t be getting into it until at least September (see my metaphorical road trip post).
My First Tarot Reading — in Five Parts
Freya gives my reading as a sustained narrative. I’m arbitrarily sorting it under five headings for this post.
My work was my calling. I loved what I did, but was exceptionally hard on myself and lacked any kind of balance in my life.
I am in a time of transition from one chapter of my life to another. My new life is germinating.
My mind is very strong, but it is going a thousand miles an hour and I need to calm it. I want to pursue too many things, am carrying too much. The pervasive exhaustion I am feeling is, in part, from focusing on other people’s needs and wants, from not being able to set limits and boundaries. I’m stuck in some destructive patterns of self-defeating behaviour.
I am at a crossroads, a place where I can choose. My choice is between more burnout and exhaustion, even a breakdown, OR a golden future of feeding my mind soul and senses, of living an abundant, creative life close to inspirational sources.
This is a time for emotional rest, for going within, conserving energy to rejuvenate and revitalize. I need to slow down, focus, and meditate deeply to discern what one thing is right for me to pursue. Then, once clear, I need to move slowly, trust that I will be guided, and deal with any issues with a combination of tenacity and a sense of humour.
My first tarot reading has broadened and enriched my summer plans. You can read about that in this week’s companion post, 10 Keys to Your Metaphorical Road Trip.
Have you ever had a tarot reading? If yes, what was the experience like for you? If no, is it something you’d like to try?