The Niggles: Measurement Edition


I love doing the Menage A Tarot Podcast with David and Kate. Her light and lovely wisdom always reminds me of the better angels of human nature and David can articulate the the most profound ideas with more crystal clearly than anyone I know. Listen to  the next episode and you’ll see what I mean, in spades.

Talking with them always gives me a case of the niggles…which is an extraordinarily good thing. I love it! It pushes me to be a better Tarot reader, and often a better person too.

The thing niggling at me this time is the word “accuracy.” After much sputtering and dithering and a few day’s digestion, I’m beginning understand why the notion of  “accurate” derails the intuitive process for me a little bit.

It’s the science thing.

To my nerdy mind, accurate is all about objectively measurement, even if a standard deviation is involved (you know, the +/- on polls, laboratory values and the like.) In that context, accuracy in Tarot falls exclusively into the physical realm of things. My understanding of “accurate” in Tarot has always been external measurement meets side-show predicting next week’s lottery numbers, wedding proposals, job prospects and the like.

It never occurred to me to apply “accurate” to the subjective, dynamic and spiritual nature of a Tarot reading.

In a recent conversation, David posed an excellent question. If a sitter doesn’t agree with a reading, if it doesn’t seem to apply to them in any way shape or form, is that an in-accurate reading?

Internal subjective accuracy? Resonance with the sitter as a measure of accuracy? At that point the top of my skull falls off and a POOF of purple smoke comes out.

On one hand, sure. It’s commonly called a Likert Scale. It was the foundation of my dissertation on Reiki, and has a long history in clinical psychology. In this kind of measurement, people assign a numerical value to subjective feelingsthat can be compared over time or across many respondents. Subjective rating scales are considered accurate…but they are also an objective, external measure or comparison of an internal condition – not quite what goes on in a Tarot reading.

But on the other hand, what if the definition of accuracy depends on a purely internal assessment? What if the the things being said in a reading seem altogether wrong because the sitter is denying or avoiding an important lesson?  What if the reading doesn’t resonate at the time, but instead plants an important seed for later? What if the intuition comes in images and symbols that the reader understands one way but the sitter understands in another? In that situation is it a matter of accuracy or a matter of communication? If two people with two identical radios tune in to two different frequencies and have a hard time hearing a song being broadcast on a third frequency, does that mean the radio dials are inaccurate?

Is your brain tired from all this deep thinking yet?

If the scientific objective measurement definition of accuracy has a net around my Tarot view, then holistic health has a stronger hold. In a holistic context, Tarot isn’t about accuracy of any kind; internal, external, measured, subjective, precise or seat-of-the-pants. Holistic is all about big picture functioning.

If we define a reading in terms of measurable, external, precise accuracy then Tarot kind of sucks. As a whole Tarot isn’t very much of that kind of accurate at all. Sadly that part of the picture is all some ardent ‘scientists’ and skeptics see. But that is another story.

If we define accurate Tarot by how well it resonates with the sitter at the time of the reading, the Tarot is by and large very accurate. Most readings resonate most of the time. The small percentage of ‘off’ readings are likely only mis-communication or a simple mis-match of personalities between the reader and sitter/learner/querent.

If we define Tarot accuracy in terms of function, then it is more accurate still. If the function of Tarot is to inspire, instruct, comfort or guide, then they are very on-the-mark functional. A reading that seems way off now may prove valuable in time. If nothing else you’ll learn that isn’t the right reader or reading style for you.

As readers, we always want to be accurate because we want to be functional and above all helpful to those for whom we read. If you measure Tarot accuracy in terms of good will and compassion, based on my colleagues, I’d say Tarot accuracy is measuring close to 100%.

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Stay tuned for announcements when Menage A Tarot releases new episodes and hear the mind blowing goodness for yourself 🙂

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