We are all wanderers on this earth. Our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Tarot Mirror
The question, "How do you read for yourself?" was asked in the Question and Answer thread. It's a good question because so many readers, yours truly included, have trouble with self reading, sometimes to the extent that they cannot read for themselves at all and so just don't. However, there are also readers that read strictly for themselves and no one else. So once again, there is a wide range of practice on this subject that varies from individual to individual.

Some will make the distinction between divination and fortunetelling. Divination, or communing with the divine, is something to be done on one's own for oneself. Using tarot for this purpose is often seen as using it for spiritual growth and self-improvement. Fortunetelling is reading for others, using the cards to predict and foretell as well as see events that have happened in the past and present.` Both can be done for oneself, but somehow fortunetelling is harder to pull off. That's because we have less objectivity to the life experiences we ourselves have lived and the circumstances and situations in which we are currently intimately involved. As a friend of mine once quipped, "It's hard to see the picture when you're inside the frame."

It's sometimes easier to divine for oneself just to receive answers about one's own spiritual growth and development because you're not usually really invested in a particular outcome. You tend to be more open to hearing whatever the Universe, God/Goddess, your subconscious or some other supernatural source wishes to convey. Therefore, whatever the cards seem to be saying is what they're supposed to say. So divination for oneself tends to be less confusing, though some have a hard time with having enough objectivity even for that type of exercise.

Reading for oneself can be a very frustrating thing. Trying to be uber objective can be as fraught with problems as being too subjective. Trying too hard, period, is usually the problem. This results in second and third guessing the meaning of each card and being entirely confused about which meaning is being conveyed. In an attempt not to look at the cards through rose-colored glasses, one will often put a darker spin on them than necessary. Alternatively, a desire for things to turn out a certain way can cause the reader to put a more positive spin in order to get the cards to say what she wants them to say. Another pitfall is fearing the worst and so seeing the dreaded outcome in every card, no matter how "nice" the card may be. In such a state, even the Sun can be threatening. How to put this bias aside is the question and for most of us it is nigh impossible.

Using a deck you are less familiar with may help. This causes you to put aside your preconceived notions and rote meanings you've grown accustomed to with a more familiar deck. An unfamiliar deck will cause you to free associate more, tap into your intuition, and see things in the images you may jump past in a more known deck. Alternatively, you may feel more comfortable reading for yourself with your old faithful, a deck that speaks cleanly and clearly no matter what the situation or question. Try it each way and see which works best for you.

One reader suggested using a stuffed animal in place of yourself and to read for him or her asking the question as if the poppet were asking. As odd as this might sound, it can work by giving you just the distance and objectivity you need to read your own cards as if for someone else. I do a similar thing but without the toy. I look at the cards as if I were reading for a paying client. I also try to keep the reads I do for myself very simple with few cards and very direct questions. The fewer cards, the fewer opportunities to put my own spin on them.

I also tend to use confirming spreads when I read for myself. This is one time where asking the same question or reading on the same subject multiple times works for me. Because of my subjective perception of my situation, it's reassuring when, having done several readings on the situation, they all pretty much say the same or similar things. Then I know I'm reading the cards accurately for me. If, however, you find the readings all over the place and not consistent with one another, you may want to reconsider reading for yourself on that topic and ask a fellow tarot reader to help you interpret your cards or just read for you on that subject. Trading readings with someone else is a great way to not only sharpen your skills as a reader, but gain some objective feedback on your own reads for yourself. For when the other reader draws the same or similar cards for you as you had for yourself, you know that at least you were on the right track. If she interprets them similarly, too, all the better. But I've found that more often another reader will offer a slightly alternative look at the cards and this helps to gain perspective and confirmation on your own readings.

Reading for oneself is one of those things you will find warnings against, but there isn't anything at all wrong with it as long as you acknowledge the lack of objectivity and try to maintain a distance from your reading. By that I mean you understand that you could be too close to the situation to be accurate, so you hold the reading rather loosely, and look for confirmation either in events coming to pass or via others reading for and with you. You recognize your own limitations where reading for yourself is concerned. Alternatively, you may find you read best for yourself because you are able to put what you see in the cards in the context of your life, experiences, and spiritual understanding. It truly is a very individual practice and whether you are adept at it or not says nothing about your skill as a tarot reader. One can be a top notch reader for others and totally inept at reading for oneself. But I do believe you can get better at reading for yourself and the exercise in objectivity is good for lots of things. It can be very helpful, especially in times of heightened emotional crisis, to know how to take a few steps back and view your own self and life from a different, less biased perspective.

Maurits Cornelis Escher (Dutch, 1898-1972), Hand with Reflecting Sphere, 1935


  1. I had this image of the Sun giving sunburn or even worse, skin cancer. I liked the idea of a confirming reading. It makes sense when I wonder if I am tapping into my higherself or my ego.

  2. Excellent exploration of this subject. I read only for myself and I like your distinction between "divination" and "fortunetelling" (in my words: "self-healing/growth" and "practical events/decision making").

    The difficulties I have with "fortunetelling" for myself are precisely why I developed a yes/no system with the cards. I use it with issues I am certain are way too intense and/or complicated for me to get a clear picture with a more open-ended approach. I also use an additional card (sometimes cards) I pull on an answer I get if I have any hesitance or unclarity. In fact, I usually use a yes/no question approach to confirm only, rather than initially. E.g., "Did I understand that card correctly? or "Is there anything else important to be seen here?" But I hasten to add I use yes/no questions extremely judiciously. Otherwise (at the risk of repeating myself, I think I said this in a previous comment here), I feel I risk disrupting the delicate intuitional relationship I have with The Tarot images.

    Thanks for another important discussion.

  3. Hi Ginny,

    glad to stumble upon your blog.
    I had a great time reading your scurrying scissors post. glad to know there is a screaming banshee and mother behind that deck of tarot cards :)

    hey, i also have a blog : Psychic Pond. Im sort of looking for link partners, especially for our site, Psychic Guild. Let me know if you're interested.

    Hope the scissors aren't touching the water. :)

  4. Anonymous10:11 AM

    What you said about reading the cards as if they're for someone else is something that really, really works.

    Sometimes if I'm too emotional I can't even do that, but when I'm clear headed, I'll "separate" myself from the reading and then look at it and explain it to myself as if I was talking to someone else. Doing that allows me to see things clearly or pick up on patterns I wouldn't see otherwise.

    I also keep track of a lot of my readings by writing the question and cards down (I don't journal like so many people say they do). I've found that in more emotional times, being able to go back to that question and card list when you're more clear headed is very helpful. The funny thing is that more often than not I'll see that my "emotional" interpretation of the cards was still correct -- it was just me doubting myself!

  5. The main roadblock to reading tarot for anyone is doubting one's impressions. It becomes a bigger problem when reading for oneself because even when one is fairly confident in reading for others, that confidence seems to melt away when reading for oneself. Does it mean this or that? Am I seeing things too negatively or positively? Or am I interpreting this right? Roswila's suggestion of a confirming yes/no spread is good to use judiciously.

  6. Anonymous5:05 PM

    Sorry, but I don't quite follow what you mean by "confirming spreads". Do you classify certain spreads as being "confirming" or do you simply repeat the same spread to see if the cards confirm the last throw?

  7. Hi Bob. Confirming spreads are just additional readings one may do on the same topic or question. While that practice is often frowned upon, I have found that occasionally it is helpful for confirmation. Roswila mentioned using a Yes/No spread for confirmation on a self-reading, too. Basically, it's a reading after the initial reading that either confirms or contradicts the initial reading. I have found, more often than not, the cards to be consistent. So I rarely do another reading on the same topic that contradicts the original reading. It might not say *exactly* the same thing, it might reveal other aspects and nuances to the situation, but it doesn't usually contradict. If it does, I go with the original reading.

    Did that help explain what I mean?

  8. Anonymous1:39 PM

    Thanks Ginny, that does clarify it more for me. So I assume you might use a different spread for the second, confirming throw if you felt it was needed?

    The problem for me when I do readings for myself is that I always seem to get readings that more or less tell me what I already know or are perhaps just telling me what I want to hear. I'm not always sure which.

  9. Well, Bob, you know that tarot reading is like that. It often tells the seeker what they already know, but just needed confirmed. The difference when we're reading for ourselves is that it doesn't seem as freaky when we tell ourselves what we already know as opposed to going to a tarot reader who knows nothing about your circumstances and she tells you that. It feels more blah or mundane when we read for ourselves.

    Also, getting very, VERY specific with the question when reading for oneself is key.

    And I had to laugh when you said, "I'm not sure which" at the end of your comment because that is the BANE of reading for oneself, the uncertainty! Not sure how to get around that except through confirming the reading via another reading or someone else reading for you. The more your readings for yourself are confirmed, the more confident we get for reading for ourselves.

    Still, I don't recommend it when emotions are high. I don't know anyone who can be objective enough in that case.

  10. Anonymous6:28 PM

    Hi Ginny! I came across your blog not so long ago, and I have to tell you that it has helped me a lot in my learning the cards (I've been studying them for almost a full year now, and everyday I realize just how much I have yet to learn).

    This post just somewhat clicked with me. Usually when I do a reading for myself I try to be in as a relax mood as possible, and I like to try a lot of different spreads to see what they tell me. If I find the reading extremely insightful, I usually share it with my friend who is also learning the cards. I find it that when we do readings together (we always use my RW deck because we like having the iconography present) we end up seeing the big picture as well as the small one, by adding our personal insights.
    The only problem I find with this method, is that there is one particular subject I personally have some doubts concerning my objectivity. And sometimes I even doubt that she's being totally objective in her interpretations of my cards. We usually do confirming readings, and I keep track of every single one of them, and they all tend to outline the same meanings. I find that confusing, because what the cards are saying it's not what seems to be happening (at least as far as I'm concerned). But except for that *one* reading, the rest we do tend to be quite accurate, and working with her makes me see the cards in a fresh perspective (and, because we're close friends, it's fun! I find it much easier to accept whatever the cards say if I'm in a relaxed environment, don't you?)

    Once again, I absolutely adore your blog and it has been much help. Thank you! :)

  11. Anonymous8:09 PM

    Hi Ginny!

    I happen to have the same situation as Bic, my readings tend to be pretty accurate except for one single topic, for which I have laid out the cards several times and they all come with the same trend. Can it be that timing is the key? I read somewhere that some people can only find the future in their readings instead of present situations. For example, it happens to me with readings that I do for myself through the Celtic Cross, that a lot of the times I find immediate future in the past and present, instead of past and present. This doesn't happen when I read for others. When I read for my mom, instead, the entire reading relates to the future, and sometimes it takes up to nine months until things start to happen. I would love to have your insight one this. I am new to Tarot and I am enjoying the experience!

    Also, if you could write a post about journaling, it would be perfect. I am doing it myself, but I am not sure whether there are other ways that could be useful and that I don't know about.

    Thanks Ginny! I absolutely love your website!


  12. Sometimes there is a particular subject or area of your life that you're better off not reading for yourself on as the objectivity needed just isn't possible. Even a close friend can't have the objectivity needed and can inadvertently confirm your own readings because she is familiar with your situation and with you. OR, what could also be happening is that you both are interpreting the cards in the same manner because of your close relationship, and a fresh perspective on the same cards you both draw may be helpful.

    Yamile, the cards have a mind of their own, I swear. Take note of these occurrences and just take them into consideration when you read for yourself as opposed to your mom. It's just the way it is, no discernible reason for it, it just IS. LOL. As you get to know your cards and develop a deeper relationship with them, these idiosyncrasies will continue to crop up. Just note them and allow for them when you read.

    If you do not want a long term reading, frame the question in such a way that it precludes that, such as, framing it in terms of a one month timeframe or 3 months, and so on.

    As for the positions switching themselves...just your cards being quirky. They can't help themselves. LOL


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