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

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Intuition and Making Shit Up
What is this thing we call Intuition?  So many, including myself, urge tarot novices to rely on this intangible concept, that "other knowing" "gut feeling" "flash" that some label psychic and others intuition, but what if you stare at the cards and see nothing but pretty, or not so pretty, pictures?  No flash, no nothing?   You rely on the ascribed meanings, you read the cards by rote, but what if you can't see or feel or sense or intuit anything else?  That's pretty much the way things started for me.  I loved these interesting cards, but the pictures on them told no story, whispered no secrets.   Beyond the varied assigned meanings to each card, I had no idea what the cards were supposed to be "saying" because for me they were mute fanciful images.

I don't do as well with pictures as I do with words.  I graduated early from picture books to novels because words always told a better tale for me.  Picture books frustrated me for their lack of detail and dialogue.  While I love fine art for the beauty and capturing a moment, they are for me like snapshots, frozen timeframe. A still picture doesn't provoke much in me but questions.  Little did I know then that those questions were precisely the place to start listening.

Take, for example, the 5 of Cups.  The image is sad, no doubt.  The shrouded figure, the sloped shoulders and bowed head all denote palpable regret and grief.   Even the Thoth shows five empty cups labeled "Disappointment."  While I understood the card's meaning -- loss but with something remaining, inheritance but not as one had expected -- and the image makes that obvious, I wanted to know more.  What happened that made the cups spill?  Did the figure knock them over himself, or did someone else do it?  What was in the cups that would provoke such intense sadness?  Were the contents of the three downed cups more important than the upright two?  Why? And why is everyone so quick to point out those standing cups and not incline themselves to empathize with the grieving?  Does the card make us that uncomfortable?  Is the grief so tangible that we want to so quickly move towards looking on the bright side?  As I began reading for others, these questions became crucial in my understanding the unattributed meanings of each card.  By "unattributed" I am speaking of the meanings that are gleaned in each individual reading that is specific to that reading and not the general meaning that is always (or most of the time) true of the card itself.

So I would look at the card and these questions would arise.  I sit for a moment with the questions and if nothing comes to my mind in answer, I might ask the querant these same questions.  What happened to cause the sadness you now feel?  Why was this loss so significant to you?  You're having a hard time looking past it, right?  You try to let go and move on, but it's just so difficult.  Having a hard time finding your way "home" are you?  These wonderful cards provoke questions more than give answers and these questions are key to finding our own answers within ourselves.  Use these unbidden, curious questions to tap into the answers your intuition can relay.  Don't be hesitant to ask your querant, also, because interaction makes for a much better reading experience.  I have learned so much and been so enriched by the stories my clients tell of their experiences and struggles.  They have answered questions I didn't know I had until I read for them.  I learn a little more about these tarot cards each time I read for someone because the questions the cards provoke in me are specific to their situation and so are a bit different each time.

One tarot exercise I found early on has you lay out three cards and tell a story with the cards, beginning, middle, and end.  I couldn't do it.  Like picture books lacked a certain flow for me, so did the cards.  It's a good exercise, and I can do it better today than I could then -- my imaginative and intuitive muscles are stronger now -- it just didn't do much then but frustrate me.  It frustrated me in part because I was trying to fit the ascribed meaning to the cards in a flow of a story instead of just looking at the images and imagining the connections between them.  But the other part was just that I wasn't very good at telling a story beyond the very simple and I wasn't satisfied with that.  I wanted more, much more, as I had seen and heard other tarotists read the cards, and my simplistic tales lacked so much that I just said fuggetaboutit and moved on.

If, like me, you find yourself in a similar block, move to the questions.  Look at the images and ask yourself about them.  Find out what happened to create this snapshot.  Make up shit.  That's good reading right there! Pull it right out of your hindparts! Seriously!  Don't be afraid to play, to make shit up, to fantasize and wonder, to spin yarns and knot them, unravel them again and find out through it all what this card is telling you.  It's great practice and they don't call them exercises for nothing.  This sort of thing strengthens your intuitive abilities and allows them to roam around unchecked, like children playing in an open field.  It's good for children and it's good for your intuition.

Another reason this type of exercise is great is because there is no "right" or "wrong" interpretation.  There's no second guessing yourself to check if you got it right or if you're accurate or not.  It's just a story.  That's all.  And when you realize that all our lives are just a story, that each situation a querant comes to you with is just a story,  then you become a better storyteller even if you never could tell one before.

I now recognize when my intuition is kicking in.  It's when my rational mind in my left brain chides the fanciful  right side of my brain, "Now you're just making shit up."  Whenever I hear that I know I've hit on something. That party pooper, my left brain, was the bane of my readings for a while.  I would listen to it and not to the other side that apparently knew what it was talking about.  Enough feedback from clients told me to freaking LISTEN to that storyteller part of me, particularly when  the rational side of me protested, because that rational side is a bit of a control freak and doesn't like uppity right brain interference even when correct.  Other tarot friends encouraged me, "Stop second guessing! What's your immediate interpretation? NOW! What do you see?" Don't give yourself time to "interpret," go with that first impression.  The more time you give your left brain, the more control it will take and the less intuitive your reading will be.  I'll never understand readers who say they stew over a reading for days.  WTF? I can't give my logical left brain that much time or it will totally fuck things up.  So make shit up, I say!  You'll be astounded at how very right that shit is.


  1. I'm an Engineer, therefore I have no other way of doing things except through analytical thinking.

    I have problems with the static way of life that pictures have (I not even like taking pictures!!), but I found a way of making things work that way.

    I let myself immerse in the reading context first with a quick impression from the cards as they turn.
    Then I let myself lost in thoughts looking trough the cards as whole, like looking at a puzzle box just opened. I KNOW all the pieces fit together some how, just look for them and I will find a way.

    Not long, something will click on my mind, an assurance that everything is alright I could say.

    Well...it works for me. I guess its kind of a self hypnotic process.
    Being a comic books fanboy and a RPG player helped too :P

  2. So odd you posted on this right now.

    I've been trying to strengthen my intuition in general, and learn to tell the difference between my fears/desires and pure intuition.
    You are completely right, about needing to shut the logical side out for a while. I've talked myself out of many things I wanted because my logical self said no.

  3. I, too, am more prone to analytical thinking, Andre, so I understand the challenge. I like how you found a way to work with your natural analytical bent, treating the cards messages like a puzzle to be solved. But you also seem to be allowing your right brain to seize the day by entering into that semi-hypnotic state so your left brain doesn't take over, but just gives input. Nice. Playing RPG type games is definitely helpful with the right brain activity because it encourages imagination and fantasy. My left brain always seems to stop me mid role play if I attempt it, chiding me for making shit up, LOL, but I do enjoy those games as well.

    ardeth blood, talking oneself out of things that end up being correct is something I ran into a LOT early on in tarot and after kicking myself in the butt so many times for NOT going with the intuitive interpretation and finding out after it was the correct one, I have learned to just blurt things out that seem to make no sense but in the end are exactly right.


  4. Ginny, I see you have a quality I most apreciate in people, you permit yourself to be "wrong".

    Would you say that this is a perspective a person must have when making readings?
    Like, don't be afraid of being wrong?

    Or have the guts to admit you have no clue what the hell you are doing some times?

    I understand this are good qualities for a person to have (and avoids lots of stomach problems), but I'm not sure if as Tarot Readers we should transpire this "flaws" to the listener.

  5. Andre, I don't have a problem admitting my humanity to my querants. I assure them that tarot readings are not a science and even if they were, science can be wrong. If the shoe doesn't fit, I don't expect them to try and wear it. I encourage them to feel free to discard anything that their own intuition rejects. Being wrong is part of life and remaining transparent is key to honesty. My clients appreciate that I am an honest reader even more than they appreciate my accuracy.

  6. This is a cool post, Ginny, thanks a lot for writing it- I twittered about it :)

  7. Ginny, I just about pissed myself reading this post. And I found it enlightening and encouraging. My little Queen of Swords control-freak persona likes to have her say and if there's one thing she's deathly afraid of, it's being wrong. Because wrong = bad, stupid, weak, and ultimately at a disadvantage. But things flow so much better when I just let my Page of Cups out to play. *sigh* My QoS brain is, yes, very smart, but honestly she's got a serious inferiority complex! I have to nearly break out a straitjacket and tranquilizer dart for her whenever I want to do a good reading.

  8. This post raised so many thoughts for me. I know that feeling of "Stop it! You're making shit up!" It's hard for me to trust my intuition because, like Andre, I'm always trying to see how the puzzle fits together. I tend to ask a lot of questions during a reading, partly because of this questioning of my own intuition.

    In fact, Ginny, I remember doing a reading for you years ago and saying to you, "This card doesn't make sense here unless you haven't been telling me everything." And then you admitted it belonged to a situation I didn't know anything about yet. That was a pretty defining moment in my trusting my own intuition and the patterns I see in the cards--on a good day. :-)

    Glad you're writing again.

  9. Ginny,

    Thanks for posting this. I've never heard anyone put it in those words before, and some might chide you for such a statement given the connotations of true psychic visions and intuition, as we call it, but I very much appreciate you going there. So many skeptics would read this and think, "I knew it--I knew you were just making it up," but as an insider and creative thinker I can see the true value in this as an exercise and appreciate you bringing it to light. I have many of these issues from time to time (letting the left brain take over, being unsatisfied with the simple story, et cetera), and this makes me feel more justified in "playing" with the cards and really letting my creativity shine. I'm a writer of creative nonfiction, so I'm used to playing with the "emotional truth" in my writing and bending stories to fit my vision of meaning. Perhaps I should use these skills more in my tarot readings (who knows, maybe someday I'll even be able to write fiction again).

  10. Carolyn11:38 PM


    I am a fan! I love the questions you pose and I love your contemplative process. You've made me take a long hard look at the Five of Cups. Yes, it is an obvious "loss" and "sadness" card, but it also reminds me of the human condition. In a strange way the Five of Cups helps me feel connected to others. Grief is universal. I suppose, on some level, if one were to really delve into the Five of cups, one might find compassion. Strange? Maybe. But I love taking a good look at this card all over again. THANK YOU! Looking forward to reading your other posts:)


    Tarot Reader and Webmaster of http://tarotreadingpsychic.com

  11. Love it! This rings so many bells for me - the questioning, and not knowing, and making it up. Here's a response from an I-Ching-ish perspective.

  12. Loved your post, Hilary. I know next to nothing about I Ching, but we can all understand about trying to intuit meaning and getting that oh so rational side to shut the hell up.

    Read her post, everyone! It's good!

  13. Delightful! This made me laugh but made me think too. Ah, balancing that intuition with the rational side is never easy, is it?


  14. "I have learned so much and been so enriched by the stories my clients tell of their experiences and struggles."

    Yes, I love it when this happens, as everything resonates with my own life then I'd get to share my own experiences & struggles & thoughts. It can be cathartic both ways.

    & I guess that's what Tarot's for, to tap into our intuition via the power of imagination. It's fairly OK to make up stories as we go along based on the pictures, but like what I told a student that if we just make shit up to deliberately mislead our querents, especially if we don't want to look dumb & we need to blurt out stuff for the interaction's sake, then we'll have a problem. :))

  15. What a GREAT post! I just stumbled upon it on the perfect day as I plan on stepping back from the computer to work on some creative projects and ideas! Thank you for your enjoyable article on intuition and for the inspiration! You rock! The creative juices are rollin'!

  16. This was such a good read, thank you.

    I struggled with this very same battle and gagging the left side of the brain was no mean feat. When I finally let go of trying 'to make sense' of everything and just started 'making shit up' instead, I did some of my most accurate readings ever.

  17. Heba, I hear ya. I think we just have to get out of our own way.


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