Tarot 101: Going Beyond The Book



Lesson Four: Going Beyond the Book

Soooooo…you’ve found your deck, gotten to know the cards, practiced the spread. You’re feeling pretty dang confident and would like to share your gift with friends, family, or even the occasional paying client, right? Get out those cards, shuffle away, lay down the spread and…what?

If you’re just learning the cards, the next step is usually to take out your guidebook and start looking up the individual cards.

I know from personal experience that this can be frustrating. As a reader, having to use the book for every card just feels unprofessional and slightly embarrassing. I mean, I’m supposed to be this all-knowing intuitive reader, right, yet I’m still using the book.

Well, the first thing you should know is that all readers need to refer to the book now and then. I have a friend, brilliant reader who’s been reading professionally for decades. It’s her day job. Even she refers to the book once in a while.

So, stop beating yourself up if you’re not “off book,” yet. This isn’t Broadway, and there isn’t a viperous understudy lurking in the wings trying to bump you off if you’re less than perfect.

Fostering Intuition

We are all born connected, to one extent or another, to our vast resources of inner knowing. As infants, unless we are faced with immediate and powerful trauma, we are still pretty in touch with that life before life. That’s why, as long as their physical and emotional needs are met, most babies and children are fairly chill. They still remember that we’re all there is, connected to all there is, and everything that happens is…well, all there is.

Almost as soon as they arrive on Earth, humans begin a process called socialization that seems designed specifically to cut of that connection to inner knowing. From our personal desires (“No, Sweetie, you don’t want that cookie…”) and preferences (“You can’t wear blue jeans to church. Put on something nice, dear.”), we spend the majority of our lives being told what is right, wrong, preferable, and acceptable. To the extent that our desires and preferences match the societal norms, we can spend a great deal of time in our formative years being told that what we think, feel, and desire is wrong.

Add to that the almost constant barrage of marketing propaganda those of us in the Western world. According to Yankelovich, a market research team, the average city dweller is exposed to up to 5000 advertisements…per day!

It’s understandable that with all this sensory overload, we can find it hard to remember who we truly are and what we truly feel, believe, and desire.

That Quiet Voice

Our modern society is extremely noisy. With very few exceptions, most of us are bombarded with sounds, images, and interactions from the moment we wake until the moment we close our eyes to sleep. People, advertising, social media, television, work, family—everything and everyone tries to lay claim to our time, energy, and spirit.

The human brain can only process a small percent of the data that bombards it from moment to moment, and most of the data processed is concerned with keeping our lizard brain safe, comfy, and fed. It’s a thing among creatures with physical bodies, minds, and emotions—we’re funny like that.

So, what is this intuition of which we speak? That quiet, little voice behind the voices in our heads, the quiet whisper that tells us that we’re living a dream, that we’re all connected, that it’s all good, that we’re gonna be fine?

The animating force that brings us to life, gives us awareness and energy and a sense of self, is sentient. It knows more than we could ever know, and it’s ready and willing to guide us on this crazy physical adventure our souls have jumped into. It remembers our spiritual selves, and it understands our purpose for being here.

Problem is, most of us are so ground into our physical lives of body, mind, desire, and fear, that we drown out the wisdom coming from that little voice. This is why so many spiritual paths suggest things like returning to nature, social media fasts, and mindfulness meditation in order to reconnect with our spiritual selves. As Michael Neill puts it, that little voice is a flute amongst trumpets, and you really have to pay attention in order to hear it.

Sneaky Spirituality

Kat always tells me that magic takes the path of least resistance, and the same can be true for intuition. Your intuition knows that you’ve incarnated into a smelly, tasty, noisy, fascinating world of distractions and the chances of you slowing down long enough to have a chat with it are slim. And since it wants to chat with you, that clever intuition will find any way it can to break through.

The easiest way to start developing your intuition is to look at trends and patterns in your life. Do you see the same number or word over and over again? Have you ever been struggling with a difficult question or choice, only to have the perfect song answer it as you scan through the radio stations? Or perhaps you’re watching television, and a character on a show you usually skip but decided to watch is dealing with the exact same issues you’re facing?

Coincidence, chance, symbolism—intuition is an opportunistic creature and will use any means necessary to get its message to you. As you practice noticing coincidences and patterns, you will see them more frequently. Eventually, you’ll start getting the message right away, instead of after the sixth or seventh attempt.

Facing Fear

I won’t lie to you. Learning to listen to and trust your intuition is not for the weak of heart. We live in a culture that benefits from you not trusting your instincts. Not trusting your instincts will allow companies to sell you things you don’t need, make you believe things you don’t believe, and do things you never wanted to do.

The act of learning to acknowledge and live by your inner truth is an incredibly brave and rebellious act. It means you no longer accept the opinions of others as authority over your life. You do your own research, make your own choices, and accepting your own responsibilities.

If you want your readings to go from a rote repetition of someone else’s opinions to a truly remarkable experience, though, you have to be willing to take that leap of faith. You have to be willing to trust your inner voice, take the risk of speaking your truth, and accept the responsibility that sometimes, your instincts will be wrong.

Scarier even? Sometimes…your instincts will be right.

When I was still a new-ish reader, Kat and I took at tarot class at a metaphysical conference. Part of that class was to read for strangers, something I’d never done before at the time. As I pulled the cards for the middle aged lady seated across from me, I began to get a very uncomfortable feeling. Her cards were reading loss and despair and tremendous emotional pain. It was obvious to me that the woman had lost someone close in the recent past. She confirmed that it was her daughter. Immediately after she said that, the words came out of my mouth unbidden, “Was she murdered?”

Now, at the time I’d never actually known anyone who had a family member murdered. It would never have occurred to me to ask such a thing. But it came out of my mouth, and the woman’s eyes grew wide. “Yes,” she said. “At first, we thought it was a suicide. But last month, the investigation proved her boyfriend had killed her and made it look like a suicide.”

How the hell did I know that? Where the hell did that come from?

I was so freaked out by that reading that I didn’t touch my cards again for two months.

Sometimes, you’re going to struggle with readings. Sometimes, things will come out of your mouth you never expected to hear.

The question is, are you going to be the kind of reader who is brave enough to trust the cards?

In our next lesson, we will explore Fate versus free will, or The Great Prediction Debate!

Until then, if you liked this post and would like to follow us on social media, please visit our Facebook page. We are also available to readings in person, over the phone, or online. As always, comments and shares are greatly appreciated.

Peace and Love,


P.S. If you like the image on this post, please check out The Enchanted Tarot by Amy Zerner and Monte Warner.  To access the entire Tarot 101 series, click here.

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