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Working With the Tarot

A woman at a desk lays tarot canrds down in a spread beside a crystal ball.

I rescued my first deck of Tarot in grade five from my mother's junk drawer. They had lived there for years and were still in the cellophane wrap. Thankfully there were no instructions in the box. My mother was happy to let me have them as they held no interest for her.

I studied the pictures, paid attention to the feelings each card gave me and started a Tarot journal. After a while I began to ask the cards questions, pulling every ninth card until there were at least four cards on the table. The first told me about the question, the second told me about what I needed to know. The third card told me how it would go and the last card told me how I would feel about it afterwards.

I would draw out a diagram of how I laid the cards on the table. Then I would write down what I thought it all meant and why. I wrote down any points that my Guides made and at the end I would leave an equal amount of space in my book for later.

When I had the answer to my question, I would go back and lay the cards out as I had before. I would consider what was written and what I had missed. I looked for patterns, studied other entries that had pulled at least one of the same cards. Then I would write down exactly what did happen, how I felt about it and any comments my Guide had. I happily worked with my Tarot every night. I shared all of my problems with my cards and my journal.

In hindsight I think it was a fabulous way to learn Tarot. It taught me so much more than just the meaning of the cards. It got my brain out of the game, forced me to make connections, pay attention to details and feel in a calculated systematic way. It helped me grow into a more insightful person. I was watchful.

If you want to learn this way, look for a deck that lacks a theme. The world is not arthurian or made up of cat people. I need a deck that is colourful and has detailed pictures on every single card. This is very important!

You want an artist who understands the deeper meaning and symbology of each card. Many artists design a deck with no real knowledge of the Tarot. They just know that there should be six cups in this picture. They have a creative vision that they impose over the historical symbology of the craft. Their decks can be beautiful but they'll have gaps in their symbology. So, unless you have a canned meaning for each card in the deck, it's going to affect your work product. Tarot isn't about memorizing the meanings of cards and plunking the story in a particular order. It's about looking into the rich visual fabric of each card to see what pops out at you today, for this question. It's a leap point to engage the intuitive, a way of disconnecting from the mind.

Start by looking for a deck whose artist has also written the how to book. Go online and check out photos of the full deck. When someone is re-envisioning the Tarot they should have a passion for the subject that they want to share with others. They'll want you to know what their story is. If you can, read a card description from the how-to manual. Is the meaning in-depth, does it cover different types of situations, can you relate to it, does it feel right? 

If you can find an old paper deck from the 90's that hasn't been used, pay the extra money! They don't come cheap but they're worth every penny, especially for a beginner. Paper holds energy so much better than plastic cards do. Stay away from a used deck of cards. Even if they were passed down from someone I really loved, I just won't use them. My reasons are involved but essentially I want my energies in the cards, not someone else's.

Choose a new deck that you're drawn to hold and study

Never allow anyone else to shuffle the cards or to play with your deck. Clients will shuffle forth their fantasies, hopes and fears.

My Tarot are tuned to my energies and frequencies. Cards are turned based on my interpretation of them.

Blue tarot cards lay on a blue picnic table beside flowers and a key. There is also a ring to represent psycometry

The Forecast Reading

When I was in grade seven I began to read professionally for adults who heard about me from friends. Spirit suggested we do three spreads, one General spread, one specifically for Financial and Career, and a third for Relationship and Family. 

What I found was that many times, the same card would come up in the same place for each of the three spreads. Clients found this startling and comforting all at the same time. When I went on the road in my early twenties I dropped the first spread. I found it didn't add much to a session except extra time.

Using a nine card spread, I read for the year. From this layout each card becomes a six week period. If you want to know when your house will sell it will show up in the financial spread and from there you can calculate the date. Spirit talks in seasons, so tarot is much more time specific.

Tarot is also helpful when you have a bunch of clues or slivers and you can't put them together or if they could be put together in multiple ways. Be careful to ask the right question and to do so objectively. You don't want to read your hopes in the cards instead of the actual outcome. This is always a concern when your emotionally tied to an outcome. Focus on the question and let your heart and mind rest while you shuffle.

A deck of tarot cards laying face up with the sun and king of cups looking out.

I Have a Few Rules for My Tarot Practice

First I always use a prayer of protection for myself, my client and my space before I start. Then I make sure that I'm playing with a full deck and that all of the cards are facing the same way.

Shuffling should be a gentle yet thorough process. You don't want to bend or damage the cards. My first deck lasted about a decade. Shuffling wore the pictures off the front and backs of my Morgan Greer before I sadly had to retire them. I had used clear packing tape to hold a number of  them together but it was just getting silly at the end. All I can say in my defence is that you build a connection. I still have them in my reading room.

Always reach for a higher connection and pay attention to the messages you receive. My second Tarot deck of the same style lasted about six or eight years. When the time came, my Guide told me to replace them with a new style of deck. I had begun to use them as a crutch he said and I was getting lazy with them.

They were well worn and it was time for a replacement but I ignored my Guide and continued on, I was attached. I told myself that old cards look cool with their worn edges and faded faces. Flat out, no excuses, I was putting it off. Months passed.

I was at a very busy show on a Saturday afternoon in Winnipeg when my Guide said "enough" and went quiet. It was him or the deck. I needed to do my part and I wasn't, so neither would he. I was a bit shocked but I knew that no amount of begging would change his mind. I had my next client sitting down at my table and my guts sank as I excused myself. (Learn more about Mediumship here.)

I rushed over to my retail booth to grab a new deck of cards. I had about 10 people waiting so my choice needed to be quick, not the way I recommend someone choose a deck. I've never been fond of using six different decks for different things. I believe in learning to use a tool to the best of your best abilities. With a balanced deck, you don't need to change them out. 

I had recently helped a student select "The Tarot Of The Orisha's" so I knew it was a good choice but I was unfamiliar with what the cards looked like. They were based on the elements and the forces of nature. There was no King, Queen or cup in sight. I didn't have time to tune them, we just went to work. What an experience! I still use this deck today. It took about 10 years but I did even end up reading the book that came with them. I would recommend this deck to anyone, my only suggestion would be to get the larger original style of deck. There's a new smaller version that isn't the same somehow. They added borders to it, the pictures are smaller, not great.

No one touches my cards but me. I shuffle the cards for my clients. When they are not in use, I have a wooden box that I keep them in. When I was on the circuit I used to take them everywhere with me, even to dinner. People thought I used a box as a purse.

Take care of your tools. Treat them with respect. I would never read under the influence of alcohol or shuffle the same question three times in a row. I never put money against my cards as it's dirty in more ways than one. I wouldn't work in a space where my cards could get food on them or blow away. I worked the Fringe outdoors for many years in the summer, things can happen if you're not careful. I've seen readers panic as their cards were drenched in pop. I've had airlines and buses lose my luggage. My tools stay with me.

Set a sacred routine for working with Tarot. The preparation will trigger your intuition to wake up. Lay out your cards, do a short prayer and breathing exercise to balance and ground your energies. Prepare yourself for work. 

Learn to see and consider the symbolism in the world around you. This will develop your intuitive language. As you begin to think and receive in a visual language it will encourage the chakras to open for Clairvoyance. If you've learned Tarot as I have, and you can process symbolism and intuitive feelings together it creates a powerful instant language.

Pay attention, be open to a message in the moment. Don't assume that you know the answer. This just cuts off the energy that is speaking to you. Remember that a single Tarot card can have multiple meanings for different people, or the same person in different situations. There is no rule that says "this means this."

Don't be afraid to let go. After you've worked with Tarot for a while, focusing on using them to bridge the conscious mind to your higher self, you can reach a point where you don't need the cards anymore. You can just close your eyes, shuffle in your mind and see the symbols that carry the answer yo seek. It's not about reading cards, its about using them as you would training wheels or a climbing harness.

Go forward with grace! It is disrespectful to read for someone without permission, it's spying. Make a decision now, not to pass judgements on everyone and everything as you start your journey. It's the biggest mistake that new students seem to make and it's detrimental to your soul's growth. Focus on your own stuff first. Learn your own lessons and live with compassion.

My last tip is this. I use Tarot so that people feel comfortable around me. They can rationalize that all of my knowledge comes from the cards so they don't feel exposed when they're around me. I try not to comment on what I see or feel unless I am asked. I don't want to lose friends. People are vulnerable, they don't want other people knowing their deep dark secrets and insecurities. No one likes a know it all. It's okay to feel what's around you but take care of your own business first and show compassion.

Tarot Is Just a Tool

I still run into people who think of the Tarot as a demonic device and I must be an agent of Satan to use it. I've always found this belief odd because I spend a lot of time in prayer and try to live my life in service to God Source.

Tarot can be helpful to people in many ways, especially as a dedicated practice. It can help you work through your emotions, hold onto hope, build your faith and give you the strength to take necessary risk. 

We're all human and nobody's perfect. Tarot helps me gain perspective when I feel like my world is over because there's a storm brewing in my teacup.

I hope that you have found something interesting on this page today. I would love to hear from you if you have any questions.

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