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Doing the Tarot Reading
Using the "Third I" Method
"Teach Yourself Tarot" Series 3
(c)1998 by Michael Star
This page is copyrighted and may not be published, distributed, or sold without the permission of the author. All rights reserved.
Email Michael at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Internet Web Site: STAR SIGNS Astrology Zine http://www.AstrologyZine.com
- "Teach Yourself Tarot" with more of Michael's FREE articles in this series available at the |Teach-You| hyperlink,
- Learn to read Tarot cards in one evening or afternoon at Michael's inter-active "Teach Yourself Tarot" workshops,
- Get your own personal Tarot Reading done by Michael Star's own "Electro-Tarot" computer program.
Michael uses the popular and widely-available "Rider deck" (designed in 1910 by Arthur Edward Waite) in his classes, and highly recommends it to beginners as their FIRST deck, because it has many images on ALL 78 cards which help you see and remember the meanings. And its images are true to the original "occult" traditions - which means they may "work" better than some newer decks by artists who may have invented new images. It is inexpensive and available at most metaphysical book stores and some mainstream booksellers. Later on, you can get and use any fancy new decks which may appeal to you, after you have learned the traditional symbols in the decks designed by an occultist like A.E. Waite. (And don't rely on the often poorly-written and confusing little "instruction booklets" that come with the Tarot decks, especially the one accompanying the Rider-Waite deck from U.S. Games Inc.)
A more brightly colored version called the Albano-Waite Tarot has images identical to the Rider-Waite Tarot; but be aware - if you read "reversed" cards differently, which is recommended - that the gold design on the white back of the Albano cards is not vertically symmetrical like the Rider-Waite deck's "blue tablecloth" design; so that someone familiar with the Albano deck could see if the face-down card is "reversed" or not. Both are available in standard and half-sizes, but some of the darker images on the small Albano deck are difficult to see because of the highly intense coloration. (If you cannot find these decks, try the "Marseille" or "Wirth" or "B.O.T.A." decks. They have the true "occult" images on the 22 Major Arcana cards, but do not have "picture" images on the 56 "Minor Arcana" cards, only a set number of clubs, coins, cups, or swords. The BOTA Tarot deck is plain black-and-white - you must color the images yourself, which is a good learning experience.)
Using the Tarot Deck for Intuitive Card Readings
The following method for doing Tarot readings is one I have developed myself. Some of the steps may not be the same as other authors and card readers may use or advise, for they are designed specifically so that the client has full freedom (and also full responsibility) in the choice of which cards come up in his reading. The Tarot readings are not done to "impress" people or to make their choices for them - but to help them find useful insights to guide their own choices. As Tarot readers, we are messengers and perhaps advisors - but we are not the decision-makers. This method helps remind us, and the person we are reading for, just who is responsible for the final decision - and its outcome.
Conscious Choices and Unconscious Beliefs
The Tarot cards chosen are a reflection of the images the person (called "the querant" or "the seeker") holds in his own unconscious or sub-conscious mind; and the purpose of the Tarot reading is to bring those images to full conscious awareness. You might say that reading the Tarot cards is like reading someone's mind and then saying it to him. (How the cards happen to reveal what is in a person's unconscious mind is still a mystery, but you can prove to yourself it does happen simply by getting a Tarot reading done by an experienced card reader, or by learning how to do it yourself.) The first step is to find the images which hold the information the seeker needs to become aware of, and the second step is to interpret the meaning of those symbols in the context of the seeker's life experience.
Choices can only be made consciously (using the Will, which is your personal power to choose). But the unconscious mind is where previous conscious choices (e.g. what we chose to believe is true) are stored until we consciously "re-program" our minds. When we do not choose consciously, by being aware of our choices and using our Will to make the best choices for us, we end up choosing unconsciously - and our unconscious choices are based on pre-existing beliefs and habitual reactions (such as fear and guilt) which may not be appropriate for us now in making the best choices.
We all have some beliefs which we chose in childhood (whether they were really true or not) and still carry unchanged in our unconscious - and which still influence our unconscious choices. Our memories are not of "how things were", but of how we chose to believe they were. These deeply held beliefs may not be appropriate for us now, even if they seemed appropriate for us as a child. Childhood beliefs, and all our past beliefs, can be changed now, but only if we become consciously aware of their existence and make new conscious choices to replace the old ones. (You are not really "a product of your past"; but of your opinion of it - what you believed about it, and may still believe about it.)
Usually, we are not even aware when our choices are being made unconsciously; but those choices have the same powerful effect as conscious choices in creating the consequences which become our Future. You can unconsciously react to what you perceive; or you can consciously act after making an intelligent decision about what you perceive. Which sounds like the better way to create a happy life for yourself?
The Tarot is a Tool
The Tarot is a tool for finding the beliefs we are holding in our sub-conscious minds - ones we may not be consciously aware of at the time. Through some unknown process, when we use the Tarot we seem to select - sight-unseen, so that only our unconscious mind can influence the selections - the cards which best reflect the images we hold in our own sub-conscious minds. We do not think or store memories in words, but in symbols or images. That is why the symbols of the Tarot have such powerful connections to our unconscious mind - the symbols on Tarot decks designed by men and women who knew "the ancient wisdom" are a kind of "universal sign language" which have similar meanings in all cultures of the human race.
The famous Swiss psychologist, Dr Carl Jung, found that certain symbols appear in the icons, mandalas, religious symbols, and dreams of people from all races and cultures, and it is symbols like these which appear on the Tarot cards in decks such as the Marseille, Wirth, B.O.T.A. and Rider-Waite designs. For this reason, I would say that these decks are the best "tools" for divination using Tarot cards. For some, the more exotic designs of occultist Aleister Crowley (a contemporary and fellow "Order of the Golden Dawn" member with Arthur Waite) in "The Golden Dawn Tarot" may also be a useful tool. As with any tool, different people work best with different designs that suit them best. You will be drawn to the Tarot deck or decks which will work best for you as a seeker or a reader.
Aside from the unconscious mind, there is another part of your mind which the Tarot can bring to conscious awareness. Dr Carl Jung called it "the collective unconscious". It has also been called "the super-conscious". In many religions it is called by a word which means "The Divine" - and that is the purpose of "divination": to get in touch with The Divine. If there is a message for you from what I would call "Your Higher Self" or "Soul" or "Super-conscious", the Tarot is one way to see it in a form your conscious mind can understand.
If you choose to think of this as your connection to a Higher Power, then the Tarot is one way (not the only way) to get guidance from "The Divine" - but whether you believe you are connecting to your own Higher Mind or to a Higher Power, the Tarot can be a tool to tap into a wisdom you cannot access through the Intellect or Reason alone. Remember that it is only a tool. How this tool is used is chosen by the individual who uses it as a seeker or as a reader. When used selflessly in the spirit of genuine helpfulness, and not used selfishly to stroke one's ego or to control another person, the Tarot is a powerful and most helpful tool. When used for selfish purposes, it will likely give little helpful insight, or may even lead to undesirable consequences for those who misuse it. What you give out, you will get back - eventually (which is the basic meaning of The Wheel of Fortune card).
Two Tools For Tapping Into "The Truth"
When Truth cannot be found by using the Intellect, it can often be found by using Intuition. It is up to you to choose which of these "I's" (pun intended) is the best to use to see the truth in a given situation. They are equally valid methods of finding The Truth, but one may be more appropriate and useful in certain circumstances. For example, when you have no "facts" upon which to form a logical conclusion, then Intuition is your only option - and it may show you The Truth even when logic fails to find an answer. How many times have your "gut feelings" proven to be correct, even when they had no basis in "fact" or actually seemed to defy logic?
"Dreaming Out Loud"
The Tarot cards can reveal the same kind of guidance we sometimes get in our dreams. To my way of thinking, there is little difference between having a Tarot reader translate the images on the cards you chose, and having a psychiatrist like Sigmund Freud translate your dream images. In fact, Freud's partner Carl Jung studied the Tarot images in depth, and is the man who invented the word "archetype" to describe such universal images found in dreams and religious icons. (He also coined the word "synchronicity".) Personally, I like to call a Tarot reading a form of "dreaming out loud". And, since the images on the cards are very clear and consistent, once the seeker has selected the appropriate cards the interpretation of the message his unconscious mind is sending him seems much easier and probably more accurate than it would be when trying to interpret images that he can only describe verbally from his fading recollection of a dream. (I cannot be certain of this, since I am not a psychiatrist who interprets dreams; but I suspect that a psychiatrist or psychologist trained in Tarot symbolism and interpretation might get some more useful results by having his patients select Tarot cards than by trying to remember and describe their dreams.)
Revealing Your Sources
If one is open to receiving guidance from the Higher Self (or "spirit guides" or "angels" if you prefer those terms), then the guidance may come through the Tarot card images. This is why I usually say a silent affirmation just before I do a Tarot reading: "May the guidance given be from the highest Source, and for the greatest good of all concerned." As I mentioned, there are three levels of consciousness in your mind, and you are likely to get the best information into your Conscious Mind by tapping into the Super-Conscious Mind than just into the Unconscious Mind. As either seeker or reader, ask for guidance from the highest level of your Mind, and when you do, have faith that the guidance you receive will be for your greatest good. If you are a "religious" person, this is similar to a "prayer" for guidance from above. But even if you cannot believe in a Higher Power, then try to believe in the power of your own Higher Mind to guide you in making the best choices for yourself.
Asking the OracleThere is an old occult saying which suggests that if you choose to consult an oracle, you must be willing to follow his or her advice. Think about it... what is the point of asking for advice from someone you cannot trust, or if you are not going to use the advice you get? The Tarot acts, in a way, as a form of "oracle" in that it can give you guidance you cannot obtain by other means, even from the most intelligent human consultant whose advice is based on logic and Reason. If you choose to use the Tarot yourself, be willing to trust in the insights you receive from it. If you choose to ask a Tarot reader to interpret the Tarot cards you select, be willing to trust in the insights you receive from your reader.
Believing Is Seeing
If you cannot trust the advice of this "oracle" called the Tarot, then perhaps you have no reason to seek it. In the end, as the seeker you will make the decision to use or ignore the advice you get; but be open to giving it serious consideration if you are going to seek that advice. Remember, you are seeking some truths you could not find by any other means, or why would you be bothering to use the Tarot? If you do choose to use it, then trust that it can tell you truths you could not know otherwise. Believing this will increase the chances that you will receive useful guidance. Not believing this will likely ensure that you will not.
His Story, Your Reading
The seeker has turned to you to help him interpret the images on the Tarot cards he has chosen - as a patient turns to his psychiatrist to interpret his dreams - but the images and the message they bring are his. You are the reader, not the writer, of his story. And he is the one who chose to write that story, and who is responsible for how it plays out. If he wants to re-write the script now, he is free to choose a new one. If he chooses to do nothing to change his script, or to ignore it entirely, he is free to do that - but he is also responsible for the consequences of that choice when that script plays out in his life. Choices always lead to consequences; and to choose not to make a choice is just another kind of choice - and it too has consequences.
Choosing the Cards is Choosing the Message
I have found that letting the seeker draw his own cards from the deck you have randomly shuffled and spread face-down before him - and even letting him decide (without looking at the image) whether to reverse any card top-to-bottom when he places it face-down in the designated position in the spread - makes it pretty obvious to him that he is the only person who has influenced the selection of the cards. As the reader, you were the agent who "randomized" the cards, and that is your part in the selection of the appropriate cards; but the final choice was under the complete control of the seeker. (If the seeker happens to see the image on the face of the card before you can warn him not to turn it over, then I would suggest you keep it in the same position it was in when he first saw it. Once he sees the image his Intellect can take over, and this will make it difficult to tap into his unconscious or super-conscious mind where you are trying to find the insights he needs to know. Trust in the upright or reversed position that was first chosen purely unconsciously, i.e. sight-unseen. Don't trust in choices that are made using the Intellect when you are trying to find insights using Intuition.)
Information on a "Need To Know" Basis
The message the cards convey to the seeker is the one he chose to hear - even though he may have chosen it unconsciously by selecting cards sight-unseen. I find it helpful to allow the Tarot to reveal what we need to know, not neccessarily what we consciously think we want to know. I think the best readings and the best guidance comes from trusting in your Higher Self; and that means you have to let yourself and your Ego "get out of the way" and let the cards tell you whatever "comes up". If you are the seeker, instead of asking a specific question, you could ask simply to be shown what you most need to know. You can get answers to specific questions from the Tarot too ...but what if you are asking the wrong questions? Try just listening to what your Higher Self wants to bring to your conscious awareness. You can always try asking questions later in a subsequent reading to get more specific advice.
The Truth Be Told
Allow the message revealed in the Tarot reading to be either a validation of what you (or the seeker) are already choosing (what is desired), or a warning that you may have chosen poorly (and should now choose again). Be willing to see the Truth, whether that is something you wanted to see, or something you were trying to avoid. Just trust that your Higher Self (or your Higher Power) always wants what is best for you in the long run. Remember, the Truth doesn't hurt - it is your resistance to the Truth that ends up hurting you.
Non-Attachment to Outcomes
As either a seeker or a reader, there is one more thing you should try to do if you want to find the Truth... be willing NOT to know. What I mean by this is to not have any preconceived notions about what the ultimate Truth will turn out to be. Do not prejudice yourself against the Truth you need to know by having any opinion on how the reading should turn out. Be willing to let the cards tell you whatever they may tell you, whether it is what you wanted to hear or not. Do not be attached to the outcome of the reading, or you will influence the outcome and not get the insights which would be most helpful to you or to the seeker for whom you are reading the cards.
Validation or Warning - What You Want vs. What You Get
When you seek insights from the Tarot, sometimes you really need to be warned that you are making a poor choice, so that you can choose a better one and change the future consequences to ones that are much better for you. Be as grateful for a "warning" of a bad choice as for a "validation" of a good choice. The Tarot can give you either one, whichever is most appropriate at the time. You may want a "positive" reading - but you have to allow and be willing to accept a "negative" reading too, or you won't get what you really need to know. Or you may get it, but you won't "get" it - meaning you won't accept the Truth when it is actually being told to you. Be open to the Truth and, as Werner Erhardt (the founder of EST) once said, "The Truth will set you free - but first it may piss you off!"
Suggested steps in doing the Tarot card reading:
Rituals | Shuffling | Selecting | Turning | Reading | Feedback | Refining |
- YOU MAKE THE RULES, so make your OWN rituals.
- BE CONSISTENT with whatever ritual or layout you use.
- DECIDE BEFOREHAND which ritual and "spread" (layout) to use.
- SAY a silent affirmation like "May the guidance given be for the greater good of all concerned."
- SHUFFLE FACE-DOWN, so no one SEES the cards.
- DO NOT BEND the cards by fancy shuffling.
- REVERSE HALF the cards end-to-end at first, then reverse half later, so some return to normal.
- STOP shuffling and reversing when you FEEL it is time to stop, or after a card "accidentally" drops from the deck. Take note of any fallen card, for it has some meaning which may be apparent later on; and then return it or set it aside, whichever feels right at the time. If you choose to remember the card and then return it and continue shuffling a while longer, and then later the same card turns up in the reading, consider that as "significant" and give extra emphasis to what that card means in the context of its position.
- SPREAD the cards in a line, FACE-DOWN, above the area you will use for the layout. (If you can't fit them all in one line, mix them in a circle instead.)
- ASK the client to choose a card and slide it FACE-DOWN to the position you indicate within the layout you are using, keeping it vertical, not horizontal. Add new cards in the same order you always use for that layout.
- TELL the client he may REVERSE the card (rotate top-to-bottom so it still lies vertical) IF he FEELS like it, but without seeing the face of the card.
- REPEAT 2 and 3 for each card you need for the layout, indicating the position for each. (Leave the unselected cards where they are, in case you need to draw more cards later.)
- TURN over the FIRST card, from side-to-side, NOT top-to-bottom, so it is NOT reversed by YOU. (You CAN do it so YOU reverse the card, but only if you KNOW that you will be doing it this way BEFORE you start the shuffle, and you ALWAYS do it that way for all cards in all readings. Be consistent.)
- TELL the client the significance of that card's POSITION in the spread, and study the card to get a sense of its meaning, both alone AND in that position.
- TURN another card ONLY when you are ready to focus on it, repeating step 2 for all cards.
- UPRIGHT cards are ones which appear upright TO YOU, the READER, whether you are sitting opposite the client or beside him. If the numbers or words appear upside-down TO YOU, the card is REVERSED. Don't be fooled by the Hanged Man card in which the man appears upside down when the card is upright - look at the numbers or words to decide.
THE "THIRD I" (a pun on "The Third Eye" - the symbolic source of Intuition)
and "BABYLON" (Babble on!) METHOD
The (I)nitial (I)nterpretation by (I)ntuition...
- COMMENT on your impressions of the meaning of the card, just "thinking out loud" (but don't THINK, just verbalize whatever ideas pop into your mind now).
- LOOK at the image on the card and let one of the card's key themes come to mind. Comment on THAT theme in its basic meaning, regardless of the card's position or reversal. Trust that whatever theme (or two) which comes to mind FIRST is the appropriate one(s), and don't worry about any others you "forgot".
- Then SYNTHESIZE the meaning of THAT THEME with the POSITION of the card, and comment out loud on that combined interpretation. If you think of another theme now, comment on how it may also apply to that position.
- IF the card is REVERSED, re-define out loud your interpretation, as based on the reversal, saying something like, "Upright, it means... but when reversed, it means..."
Use THE DIS-MIS SYStem to determine the possible alternate meanings, and comment on the ones which first come to mind.
- REPEAT steps 1 to 4 with each card in turn, just saying whatever comes to mind. Do NOT try to CENSOR your thoughts because you THINK they might be wrong; and do NOT ask for validation or feedback from the client YET. Just go on "thinking out loud" and "babble on" about ANY interpretations which come to mind. Trust that you are getting the thoughts which the client needs to hear.
- DO NOT pressure yourself to be "right" or even to "make sense" with your Initial Intuitive Interpretation. Just "say anything". You can be logical LATER, and get some feedback LATER. For now, KEEP THE INTUITION FLOWING! Try not to let your Intellect take over and keep your Intuition from working. (For myself, I find that talking fast at this point doesn't give me time to "think" about what I am saying - I just say it.)
- AFTER you have stopped getting ideas about the cards, and you feel you have covered the basic themes and interpretations in a general way, THEN ASK the client if anything you said "rings a bell" or applies in a general way to some issue or situation in his life.
- TELL the client that you can now add more DETAIL to the reading IF he can tell you what issue or situation the cards seem to be "picking up on". Then you can apply the themes to a more specific subject or circumstance and add some more detail.
- WHEN you get some FEEDBACK on what themes FIT the client's situation, use your INTUITION again to apply the card's theme to that specific set of circumstances and people.
- IF the client is unable to give you some clues as to how your comments apply, ASK him some specific questions about the themes you mentioned, and RE-PHRASE the themes in a way which might better explain them to him. You may be on the right track, but just didn't express it in a way which he could relate to; so try saying the same thing in a different way.
- WHEN you get some feedback which shows some connection between the themes you picked up on and some actual situations in the client's life, THEN you can RE-INTERPRET the themes in terms of the client's situation, explaining how the theme is being expressed in his life, and how it is playing out with the characters and emotions and events he is experiencing. (At this point you are bringing your Intellect into the process, which stifles Intuition; but up to now you have allowed your Intuition free rein and you have "put out there" the insights which you are now analyzing. Now you can use BOTH sides of your brain!)
- TELL THE STORY seen in the cards AGAIN, tying all the themes together, and perhaps using a different way of explaining them which might make it even clearer to the client.
- STRESS THE POSITIVE ASPECTS of any situation, and show how the client has made CHOICES in the past which led to the present situation. Tell him he is FREE TO CHOOSE AGAIN in the present to determine his own future.
- STRESS THAT THE FUTURE CAN BE CHANGED BY A CHANGE OF ATTITUDE OR ACTIONS! If the future card or cards indicate a NEGATIVE outcome, tell the client this is only a WARNING that IF he continues with his present attitude and course of action THEN this is the LIKELY outcome. BUT IF HE CHANGES HIS ATTITUDES OR ACTIONS, HE CAN CHANGE THIS FUTURE!
- REMIND the client that the cards only REFLECT what is in his OWN sub-conscious mind, and that the PURPOSE of the reading is to bring it to conscious AWARENESS. And remind him that HE CREATES HIS OWN FUTURE according to what he holds in his subconscious mind; and that he can RE-PROGRAM that future if it is not what he desires, or he can MAINTAIN the program he holds now if he likes what he sees.
- HAVE HIM DRAW ANOTHER CARD if you don't seem to be getting a good "read" on the first one the seeker placed in a particular position; then interpret that card as "modifying" the theme of the original card - but not as a separate concept. In a three-card spread, I sometimes have to add one, and then sometimes another, line of three to get the full "picture". You can add an extra card to just one position, or to several, whatever "feels" right to you. If you add to all the positions, add cards in the same sequence used to place the initial cards, and place them on or below the corresponding card.
- IF A CARD WAS DROPPED in the initial shuffling and kept aside, interpret it now as a "guidance" card in the overall context of the reading. It might be a "key" to understanding the best choice the seeker could make in the situation the reading is describing. Read it as part of the "outcome" or "future" or how it may be changed, not as the past or present; but do realize it might be a clue to understanding something that was not clear in any part of the reading. Use your intuition to decide how to "read" that card.
by Michael Star
- "Teach Yourself Tarot" with more of Michael's FREE articles in this series available at the |Teach-Yourself Index| hyperlink.
- Learn to read Tarot cards in one evening or afternoon at Michael's inter-active "Teach Yourself TAROT" workshops.
- Get your own personal Tarot Reading done by Michael Star's own "Electro-Tarot" computer program.
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Author and Address
First published MAY 04 1998. Last Update July 04 2001 11:00 EDT.(c)1998-2001 Michael Star (World-wide rights reserved.)
81 Lakeshore East #51, Mississauga ON, Canada L5G 4S7
Email Michael at: email@example.com
Internet Web Site: STAR SIGNS Astrology Zine http://www.AstrologyZine.com
This entire page is copyrighted (c)1998 by the author, Michael Star. Permission is freely granted to retrieve and store this material for personal use only. It may not be published, distributed, or sold in any media without the express permission of the author, Michael Star. All rights reserved.
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