Sunday, 3 October 2010

Reading Tarot for Yourself

In my last post I did a reading for myself because I was feeling nervous about something. This directly goes against what many people say about reading for yourself, that you should only do so when you don't feel too emotional about the subject. That, combined with readings on counselling that I've been doing recently, got me thinking.

The first thing I noticed is that I do quite different kinds of readings for myself at different times and in various circumstances. For example, last week I did a reading on a meeting where I was unsure if the meeting would take place, if I would receive documents before hand, if I would receive a follow-up appointment, and how I would get on with the person I was meeting. The reading I did accurately predicted the answer to all of these questions, which were all resolved within 24 hours.

On the other hand, the reading I posted was more about working through my emotions. In that sense, I see it as being related to counselling, in particular Gendlin's Focusing where he talks about a six step process of getting in touch with your bodily felt sense or implicit knowledge (= intuition?) around a particular issue:
Shuffling the cards = clearing a space/relaxing.
Framing a question = "felt sense" of the problem.
Examining the cards intuitively and trying to put into words what they are saying = getting a "handle" on "all that".
Going back to the cards and their relationship to the question = "resonating" between felt sense and words/images.
Trying to understand the relationship between the cards = "asking" for more information from the felt sense.
Accepting what you've got from the reading = receiving.

Although the parallels aren't exact, and though I'm sure a traditionalist would object to my comparison, I find it helpful in explaining how and why a reading for yourself when you are feeling emotional about the subject matter can work.

In this type of reading, I'm not trying to get to some objective truth or to predict the future. What I'm trying to do is better understand my own emotions, where they come from, and how I can best deal with them. So long as I don't get caught in narrow interpretations or believing the cards are telling me what to do or think, but rather see them as keys to help me unlock what is going on inside me, I think this type of reading can be very beneficial.

The point is to use the cards as a way of focusing on what is troubling you.  Then you look at what particular people or symbols in the cards suggest to you as you think of this issue.  You can use traditional meanings, completely intuitive understandings, or a combination of both.  The question is to use the images and ideas to work towards comprehending what is bothering you, why it is bothering you, and what you can do about it, if anything needs to be done.  Any kind of spread can be used for this, and any kind of deck.  You just have to feel comfortable with both, yet not trapped by them into a single way of seeing things.

And, despite the title, this approach can also be applied when reading for others.  The other person has to be willing to explore their emotions, and to get involved in the reading.  It's also best done face-to-face, or perhaps via Skype.  I think it could be done with a querent by phone given the right relationship between you. So far, I've only done this face-to-face, but it has generally worked really well.

Can you imagine doing this kind of reading, for yourself or for others? Or does it go against what you believe the tarot can do? I'd love to hear about your experiences...

Image is the High Priestess from Tarot of Vampyres by Ian Daniels.


  1. Hi

    I know very little about Tarot but stumbled upon your blog! It looks like reading for oneself, despite its obvious limitations in objectivity and perhaps slightly in creativity, must be an aid to decision-making. When these decisions are imbued by emotion, what better way to introduce some rationality!

    And goodness knows, every parent can do with a break from those emotions!

  2. Hi Emily, glad you stumbled over here ;-)

    I think a big part of it is just taking the space and time to focus on a particular issue - those being another couple of things that parents tend to have in short supply! But yes, I do find it helps with decision-making, or just getting a bit of clarity around all the different options.

    If you're quite a visual person (I would think from your ability to make a house into a home that's probably the case) then you might find tarot quite a beautiful and useful tool. If you're interested, you could click on the Readings link at the top of the page, then on Decks, and there're descriptions of decks, and links to card images, that let you think which deck might suit you best.

    Hope to *see* you here again :-D

  3. You know how I have a very special bond with this deck. I have had the same experience with reading for myself and discussing that topic with other readers. I quite often am able to do so for myself, but then there are those times when it is hard for me to detach. Today was one of those days. And then I made myself stop and allowed my higher Self to ask the question, "What if I weren't reading for myself? Then read it just as you would for a client." And in so doing, I was able to gain much more clarity and allow my intuition to do its job without the interference of my ego. I will have to click on the link you provided as it sounds most interesting and useful.

    I am really enjoying seeing your posts of this hauntingly alluring and glorious deck. xx

  4. Hiya Krysten,

    I'm really glad you went looking at these posts, as it was good for me to re-read this :) It is still my favourite "dark" deck, and I have quite a few ;) Love your description: hauntingly alluring!

    I shall pop over to your blog later to see what you came up with in your reading. Now, it's back to bed for me! Cxx