What You Can Expect From a Tarot Card Reading—And What You Can’t

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Skeptics dismiss the tarot as being totally arbitrary and subjective, and warn those who try to understand the messages the tarot reveals, or harness its revelatory insights as a guiding influence, that they are wasting their time. Those possessed of such a “tarot negative” mindset are generally the same people who ascribe to the belief that if you can’t see something, measure it, or explain it in logical, finite terms, then it likely isn’t true.

By the same token, those who approach the tarot as if it were a quantifiable scientific diagnostic tool–such as an X-ray, an MRI, or a psychological profile test, and expect it to be some kind of “psychic roadmap” to foretell the future, or a source that will neatly catalog the solutions to all of life’s problems–are doomed to disappointment and frustration.

Tarot Perception vs. Reality Check

While the tarot can shed critical insight into past and present events, as well as illuminate possible and even probable outcomes for current situations, tarot readings are neither a magic bullet nor a foolproof almanac to forecast the future.

This is where the naysayers will chime in with their satisfied chorus of “I told you so’s.” One “logical” argument I’ve often come up against when discussing the accuracy, or more likely, the inaccuracy of the tarot is the conundrum of why, if the tarot is to be taken as a true barometer of past, current and pending reality, don’t the same cards come up again and again when someone concentrates on a particular question at hand?

Mathematical probabilities aside, a tarot reading, like the weather, is impacted on a moment-by-moment basis by changing external forces and shifting conditions. Even with the most advanced scientific equipment available, weather forecasting can be remarkably inaccurate, especially in the long-term. The further out from an event, the less likely the weather conditions on any given day are going to reflect a forecast that was made weeks or even months earlier. And yet, those who are contemptuous of the tarot hold up the cards’ ephemeral and changing nature as “evidence” that the messages they divulge cannot and should not be taken seriously.  

Consistency Trumps Redundancy

Ironically, even with thorough shuffling and the passage of time, cards can and do repeat themselves in progressive readings for the same person. While every card appearing in the exact order, over and over again every time is the stuff of bad occult novels and horror films, those who find themselves truly connected to a particular reader and firmly focused on an issue without distraction, will likely see patterns emerge.

These patterns, rather than being static, are influenced by the changing attitudes, perceptions, and actions of the querent. As new probabilities are brought to light, possible outcomes evolve.

Getting Attuned

I sometimes equate a tarot reading to a musical composition. While the notes remain the same— the placement of the cards in a spread and their generally accepted meanings do not change—every time someone interprets a reading, they bring something new to the piece, just as every musical performance has its own distinctive flavor and variations.

The physical and emotional well-being of a player, as well as the atmospheric and social influences that surround them all have a direct impact on each individual performance. Now factor in the possibility of improvisation, something like adding a jazz riff, or blending in a new harmony, sampling a reference track to play in tandem or counterpoint to something familiar, or maybe even hearing a favorite piece of traditional music played on a totally unexpected instrument, like Bach on a banjo–and the possibilities for variation become limitless.

When music is played live, it’s filtered through the experience of the musician, as well as impacted by the level of their passion and talent–and at concert level, by the persuasive forces of the conductor and the synergy of the audience and fellow musicians. Unless something is pre-recorded, no matter how often you listen to the same piece, you’ll never hear the exact same thing twice, and so it is with the tarot.

Learning to embrace the changing messages tarot cards reveal is crucial to finding a path that’s truly your own. Why not let a KEEN advisor help point you in the right direction and better understand what the cards have to say?

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