Q: I did a Tarot reading for myself just to see if I’m headed in the right direction, but every single card is bad. What am I doing wrong? What does that mean?

A: Maybe nothing.

Time for me to put my big old yin-yang colored glasses on again. When you say “bad” how do you mean? “Bad” meaning the card doesn’t feel right, and it’s the wrong card for the message really trying to get through? Or “bad” in that it has some negative conventional meaning? Or is it news you really really were hoping never to get kind of bad?

Here is where I usually whip out that quote from the movie “The Craft” (Peter Filardi, writer) … “True magic is neither black nor white, it is both because Nature is both.” The same can, I believe, be said of Tarot. Any given card can have “good” or “bad” connotations depending on the context. Any given card position can be filled with encouragement or warning, depending on the situation.

How do you know what meaning to take? What context to use? How do you know if the card is really the “right” one?

That is where Tarot shows it shortcomings. After all, Tarot cards are just pieces of thin cardboard with nifty pictures on them. Period. There is nothing powerful or special about Tarot cards in and of themselves. The symbols on them are, by convention, imbued with the energy and intention of generations of Tarot readers and Tarot seekers. That makes them special, yes, but not powerful or intelligent. Many times we readers talk about “the cards” that way, but that is more a trick of language than any reality. Talking about “the cards” is like a passionate driver talking about “the car”.  Tarot cards are just tools. They are simple keys to unlock the real power here: You – your wisdom, your insight, your intuition.

Giving OR getting a Tarot reading is an exercise in hearing and trusting your own intuition. Think of a diving board or a springboard in gymnastics. They help the athlete jump higher and do a better job of somersaulting. In reality it still the athlete that has to actually do the tumbling and diving. It isn’t the springboard working the magic, it’s the effort and skill of the person that makes the performance magical.

Like the springboard helps the athlete, Tarot cards help us to do a better job of intuiting and understanding the situation for ourselves (or for our clients). The actual work of understanding ultimately falls to the person seeking the reading. Even if you are get a professional reading, it is still up to you to decide if what the “pro” said about the cards is really right for you or not.

If all of your cards seem “bad” that in itself might be a message. Is it a red lights and sirens message to change something now? OR is the message that these simply aren’t the right card for the message? Are you just not in the right frame of mind to do a reading? The only answers to those question are inside you. If the cards are exactly right – the answers are all only inside you. If every card is all sunshine and roses…the answers are only inside you. That’s the only place the answers ever are. Cards, runes, palm lines, chicken guts, “psychic readers”…they are all just tools to help you access your own intuition.

Ever have a cold and try looking at your own throat? Can’t do it without either a mirror or someone helping you. Doing readings for yourself is like looking in a mirror to see what was inside yourself all along. Getting a professional reading is like having a doctor look at your sore throat and make recommendations…but understanding and action are still up to you.

Are “all bad cards” a message? Of course they are. Is the message to totally change your life or is the message to take a break and reshuffle? Only you can decide. That self-trust and self-reliance is one of the many lessons that working with Tarot cards teaches us.

Tarot isn’t for the feint-hearted. Tarot is for a hard look in the mirror. Then it is up to you to trust what you see.



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