For me interpreting the Tarot cards is an attempt to acquire knowledge of the past, present or future through insight and intuition. Being able to read the patterns from the card images is the key to revealing what is happening beneath the surface and what is likely to result from this.
Because of the complexity of the Tarot cards, card readings should not be hurried. It is important for the reader and the querent (person asking the question) that they feel comfortable with each other. I find that it is useful when reading cards by email to open up a dialogue before doing the reading, this helps to establish a connection. If the querent is sceptical, it will show in their voice, in their non-verbal cues and the way in which they construct their sentences. It is difficult for both parties to relax under these circumstances; the querent may be putting up an invisible wall around themselves which makes it hard for the reader to pick up on the correct cues. The reading may reflect this by showing a lot of negative cards or by not showing anything much at all and this will then reinforce the sceptical view point of the querent. On the other hand, the reader also needs to be aware that the querent may be nervous or anxious and they should do all they can to set the person at ease.
I mentioned earlier ‘the complexity of the Tarot Cards’ – although on the surface you may see an image which represents something familiar like the 6 of Swords – the person ferrying people over water – this seems fairly straightforward and would indicate that a journey will take place, possibly over water. On further investigation you may find that the journey may not be a physical one, it may be a spiritual journey that needs to be undertaken, or then again it could mean that you will be leaving difficulties behind or solving a problem.
‘The Empress’ card is another example of how involved readings can be as there are many ways to interpret this card. It can mean Motherhood and the abundance of nature, or it can mean a happy mature relationship, or it can indicate pregnancy and then again it might mean security and the guidance of parents. So how do we interpret it? This is where the skill of the reader comes in. We cannot assume it means one thing or the other until we have looked at the patterns in the cards of the spread. How do the cards relate to each other? What kind of theme do we see developing? What is the nature of the other cards surrounding The Empress?
It follows then, that if we are looking at pregnancy, we could expect to see other cards in the spread that show a young person (any Page or Knight cards) or a family card – the Ten of Pentacles or the Ten of Cups, and perhaps The Four of Wands (building something strong for the future – marriage etc.), but then again we might also see The Tower which could indicate that perhaps it is an unwanted pregnancy, that can spell disaster, and sudden change. If the 9 of Swords is also present this would show there is worry, guilt, anguish and sorrow present or surrounding the querent.
Readers need to build an on-going rapport with those who seek their guidance. I have found that many of my regulars constantly have the same or similar cards running through their readings whenever they are in crisis or they are experiencing a new romance. These cards are cues to what is happening and where they are placed in the spread indicates how their influence is changing or evolving and what is the likely outcome given what has gone before. Because of the special nature of the relationship that exists between reader and querent (trust, familiarity, belief) it becomes easier over time to interpret the cards for them.
I hope that this short article has been able to offer some insight into how we as readers attempt to interpret the cards. I feel that there is no right way or wrong way to interpret the cards and I should add at this point that one of the most essential ingredients for a reading is intuition and taking note of first impressions. Intuition is something that we all have but some of us have learned to develop our senses more keenly than others.