If you missed the first part of this series please go to ‘Dump the Pull One Card a Day Advice’ first. It specifically outlines why this advice can overwhelm and confuse a new reader rather than help them build proficiency.
Some of my advice here may feel counter-intuitive.
Q: If we are immediately placing meanings on cards then doesn’t that mean we are not allowing our natural intuition to tell us what we need?
A: Not at all.
In fact, learning just one word per card is creating the scaffolding, the framework wherein your intuition will work with you and through the medium you are using. (I started a series on intuition, here is the intro piece to that.)
Here is what I know and have experienced:
If I am even the slightest bit anxious, puzzling over a meaning or feeling confused, then I am having strong feelings and over-thinking. Intuition does not come the more one ponders.
It just comes.
So we set the maximum conditions to allow it to come.
You will begin to use cards in new ways that are ‘off book’ and you will know they are accurate.
You will build that internal language between your conscious and intuitive selves, but first you have to begin somewhere.
One more thing about formulating a question:Half the work in a good reading (and yes, I know there is a philosophical difference in the tarot world regarding this) is doing the initial work of finding the ‘right’ question.
This work is invaluable to the process. What do I actually want to know? What is causing me concern, really? Why not just ask it directly for God sake’s rather than couching all of that into a mealy, tepid question?
It’s almost as if we do not trust our intuition or tarot to be direct and honest so we hedge our bets by open-ended questions. There is no need to do this! Your tarot and your intuition can handle it.
Open ended questions in general are great, too. But, for the beginner we need to focus on creating a tight enough space to work within.
A few more thoughts about this process:It is better to learn more cards with simpler vocabulary than fewer cards with 10 words of possible meanings. It is better to create conditions that will be successful, encouraging new students to gain immediate proficiency.
The students I have who struggle the most are those that usually carefully analyze something as their way of understanding new information. This kind of approach often can squash those quick, fast, quiet intuitive hits that come out of nowhere. Be on the lookout for this tendency.
Intuitive hits come quick. If you do not know immediately, put it aside, do not stress over it.
When it is ready it will ding! into your awake thinking, like a small interruption.
You have to let go and trust the process. The process you are creating. How magical is that?!
The Road Test
Today I have a meeting with someone concerning my cat. “Will the animal communicator give me a session that will help me understand and engage with my cat better?” See what I did there? I made the question specific and targeted. I even avoided the more nebulous, “How will the meeting I have with the cat communicator lady go?”
Q: Will the animal communicator give me a session that will help me understand and engage with my cat better?
Using the one word I have chosen for each card, I get:
Self-Imprisonment, Reward, and Intimacy.
Looking at the spread I am noticing how the images look together. I erase the borders until it all comes together. (Mary Greer has some excellent exercises that help with this in her ‘21 Ways to Read Tarot’
In my spread, the first two cards reveal two people are looking in opposite directions. One is afraid of the ocean, and one is looking at what she is trying to cultivate. One is fearful, and the other is looking to the garden she wishes to grow.
In the final image, we see two people joined together. The way this ‘comic strip’ narrative unfolds feels good to me. I do not feel the need to switch anything around, so I decide to move forward.
Using the tips above I come to this narrative:
“I am self-imprisoned and cannot see something very obvious about my relationship to my cat, maybe there is some kind of fear that is blinding me. The communicator will give me a reward (probably some kind of advice or insight) that will increase the intimacy and closeness of my cat and I.”
Can I say that this prediction I made was accurate? Was the tarot communicating effectively with me? Do I feel clearer about the reading and understanding what the cards were saying to me?
First, the person I worked with was excellent. She gets a big recommendation from me. The session was relevant, useful, and immensely helpful. A big component of the issues brought up by my cat via the communicator was how my stress was impacting my cat and she was feedback looping that back to me (Self-imprisonment being the major issue — the problems of my own making).
Second, the rewards of the communicator’s insights allowed me to understand how to become closer to my cat. Looking back at the cards after the session allowed me to deepen my understanding about the major take-aways reaffirmed by the communicator.
Not only did this three card spread answer my question regarding her competence, it also explained how her competence was going to influence the relationship I have with my cat.
And I only needed one word for each card to get here.
Looking back I want to make sure that my new technique is actually building the skills I wish to acquire which are:
Gain a simple yet workable vocabulary that (I) will build upon, learn how to apply that vocabulary to a grammatical framework that makes sense, and finally, learn how to apply both the vocabulary and the grammar towards a goal of communication.
Doing a three card spread accomplishes this very nicely in a way that one card pulls may not.
Ultimately, I am aiming to understand how tarot wishes to communicate with me, and how tarot wants to use vocabulary that will be a lexicon we share. But first, we need a simple bridge.
And we can only do that once we have established a tight enough rubric for meaningful exchange.
You still with me?
Have another cat pic, cause… damn she is adorable and we lurv each other.
My recommendation is to just do these three card spreads for a month or two. I know you will be hankering to dig into larger spreads but just keeping your work to this format will cement the lexicon you are building. I suspect that the intuitive insights you begin to have will be remarkable.
Stop reading for yourself.
Read for people on the news or about events you are not actually attached to. That way, you have no unconscious bias or anxiety impinging upon the reading. You will begin to feel when you get a hit and since you have no prior connection or ‘dog in the fight’ the perceptions will be clear. Again, remember I am giving very new timer advice for your first couple of months. You will read for yourself and others later. This is just about learning to build a tarot-intuitive bridge in your head.
I love getting question fodder from reddit. There are tons of people publicly posting and asking for advice there. I love going to r/relationships to get questions. These folks are asking for advice on a public forum (so I feel okay for reading for them) and they will follow up what whatever happened usually. Keep a journal of these and see how well you do.
Okay, that’s it! Thank you for reading and also I truly hope this helps!
The Art of Soft FocusRead Now
My husband and I like to forage for wild mushrooms and collect edible wildfood. It is a gentle way to sink into a place and learn local ecology.
It also provides us with some really delicious mushrooms and herbs as well as knowledge of local poisonous plants; for example, our front yard is abundant in snakeweed, which was what killed Abraham Lincoln’s Mother.
Cows can digest the plant but the poison will leak into her milk and kill people! Interesting, no?
So, what the heck does any of this have to do with Tarot? Well, actually, a lot, and from the practice of finding mushrooms I have become a better reader.
Being good at spotting things in nature requires the art of soft focus, soft focus is absolutely the opposite of what most of us do in our daily lives. Our lives are grounded in hard focus; on the road, on our phones, at our emails, etc. The beam of concentration is sharp, but pinpoint small. Soft focus is blurry with a wide field of view and increasingly, we as a society are engaging in soft focus less and less often.
So just as I begin a walk in the woods with soft eyes and alert and calm mind, so to do I begin a reading. The Tarot spread is like a patch of woods, and perhaps there will be mushrooms, edible nettle or even a fawn off the trail. The Tarot spread just might have an answer I am looking for, or it contain might something else. We are just taking a walk in the forest, open to what we experience. As a mushroom hunter, I have in mind a number of mushrooms I would like to see in the woods but I make no personal expectations about what will happen. That is the first very important tip, have no expectations. As a reader I begin a spread with no expectations about what I will see, including answers.
Once I have checked my own expectations, I spread the cards and I invoke soft focus. Those of you who meditate probably know what I mean by soft focus. We “soften” our eyes by allowing our vision to be less focused, we are not “looking” or “paying” attention to anything in particular. We are allowing the whole vision of the scene to be as it is.
So more concretely, what does it mean to engage in soft focus during a reading?
Here are some guidelines to help you :
And when you do that… YES!… there’s your shining mushroom all the sudden out of nowhere, as if it appeared. The message, the connection, the intuitive information hits you, usually out of nowhere. It is as if the information bubbled up between the cards. I am not sure how I can explain it more than that, but that is how it works for me… the information comes between the cards, and it is shining and by itself, and it is accurate, but I can never strain for it, or ask for it. I just sit without anxiousness and it will appear to my conciousness if it will.
The act of reading Tarot is truly an act of surrender.
This kind of soft focus reading can be extraordinarily challenging. Our rational/anxious/monkey mind wants to immediately set to work to figuring it all out. And you will engage the ordinal part of you later, but when you first lay out the cards have no expectations, do not “set to work” just walk in the forest of the tarot spread and allow the subconscious/intuitive part of you do what it does.
If I am actively trying to focus my attention on every tree and shrub I would never find my nummy num nums, there is too much information everywhere. So I stay quiet, I move slow and I look about but in that place of soft focus I am allowing the information to bleed past the line of sight and into something deeper. Like vision, you can either have a narrow and sharp focus OR a hazy wide field of vision, why not use both tools in your readings?
Give it a try, lay out your cards and refrain from the emphasis to make meaning. See if anything pops up, and if it does not, then go about your normal tarot reading, but do give it a chance first.
Gain the ability to consult the cards for just about any question you or your friends could think of. Knowing how to work Tarot is like always getting a sneak peek into the workings of the Universe... who wouldn't want to learn how to do that?!?
Tarot 101 One Day Intensive
September 14th, 2014 11am-4pm at the Cynwyd Station Cafe
Everything you need to know to jump start your Tarot skills with an info and fun packed day. This is the course you have been looking for! There are a lot of online Tarot courses but nothing beats doing this in real time with others face to face in a small group with the guidance of a master tarot professional. Join a small group (no more than 8 people) with highly individual help and attention as you are walked through each part of the process. Handouts are included. Sunday 10am-3pm (lunch will be an option or you can bring your own).
5 hours & $100 includes:
Ready to begin, darling?
Intermediate Tarot Class
September 28th 9am-Noon at the Cynwyd Station Cafe
Do you have the basic meanings down, are able to do small spreads and want to take your Tarot to the next level? This intermediate class will cover how to read many cards in combination to one another, master the Celtic Cross spread, Tarot card reversals and dignitaries, delve deeper into the court cards in readings, creating your own spreads and layouts, how to energetically open and close your readings, intuition tips and techniques and reading practice with a skilled Tarot professional to give you tips, tricks and tools for your Tarot Journey.
Ahh, I see the tarot Force is strong in this one...
Intermediate Tarot: Spreads Spreads Spreads!
September 28th 1pm-330pm at the Cynwyd Station Cafe
Are you mostly “off book” but want to learn a few more special Tarot spreads? Do you wish to have a bigger repertoire of spreads as needed for the situation? Tarot spreads can be predictive, problem solving or clarifying and choosing the right spread for the right question is half the battle. In this 2 and a half hour workshop we will cover and practice 4 spreads that will cover most of the question and situation types you will encounter. (Note this is not a beginners class, most participants should feel comfortable with having most of the deck memorized)
Watch out, Tarotista is on the loose!
Book all three classes and get $10 off!
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M.S. in Organizational Psychology and Leadership