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

Sunday, July 24, 2011

It's Not The Hand, It's How You Play It
I sometimes wonder, when I read tarot for someone, do they feel annoyed because I always seem to hone in on the card in their reading that says, "While you may not have control over this, you do have control over that, therefore you should...." While many find that kind of advice helpful, there are others that just skip past that part and focus on the outcome or future prediction.  There's a reason I focus on the Advice card rather than the Outcome. The reason is Locus of Control.  Your locus of control may change the outcome.

I think many people choose to get a tarot reading because they are feeling some lack of control in some area of their lives and they want to look ahead and see what's coming around the bend.  There are many things that happen to us that are outside our immediate control and they can be worrisome.  But there are things that only seem as if they are outside our control that can be brought into our control if we adjust our thinking and then our actions.  At minimum, even if we cannot control the situation itself, we can control our own responses to it. 

If one has a strong external locus of control, they believe much that happens in life is chance, luck, or misfortune.  A strong internal locus of control is more self-determinate and believes that you pretty much get what you give and act upon.  Most of us fall more toward one end or the other of the spectrum, but few are die hard extremes.  This article by John A. Johnson, Ph.D., Life as Poker illustrates well the middle road locus of control and how we try to mitigate the uncomfortable feelings that come with a lack of control over significant things in our lives.  Believing in reincarnation, for example, is one way people explain injustice, cruelty and poverty.  By positing that we choose our next incarnation for spiritual learning purposes helps us breathe a sigh of relief when we are faced with inexplicable human tragedy.  By theorizing that we attract everything we experience into our lives by our vibrations is also a conscious shift to fairly extreme internal locus of control.  It feels better to believe we are in control, in some way, of most if not all that happens to us.  In fact, scientific studies are revealing that when people feel less control, they are more inclined to superstitious thinking and behaviors.  Lack of control also contributes to stress and  there is more than enough evidence that stress contributes greatly to a lack of health and well being. 

These studies support what I have thought all along: that a sense of lack of control predisposes a person to believe in tarot as a vehicle for fortune-telling.  That belief is neither right or wrong, but it, along with feeling more of an external locus of control in the given situation, is often what will compel a person to get a reading.  Given that a stronger internal locus of control contributes to a better outlook on life and less stress, finding that card in the reading that can shift that locus of control more to the internal side of the scale is often a crucial key in changing a situation's outcome. 

But locus of control is only one factor.  Another is self-efficacy.  A person who is looking to quit smoking, for example, may fully believe and understand that smoking cigarettes is completely within their own control, but not believe they are capable of following through on cessation.  Knowing something is within your control but not believing you can do what is required to make something happen is less about thinking fate or chance has the power but that you lack the power, so resignation and/or acceptance of something you wish you could change but can't sets in.  Which is why even when that Advice card is really helpful, we don't always follow it and the outcome happens anyway. This lack of self-efficacy can also impact us in situations that truly are outside our control as well.  Using the poker analogy, one may likewise feel a lack of confidence in one's abilities to play the cards "right" or in such a way that will yield success.

Here's an opportunity to dig a little deeper.  So if the cards show a recommended course of action that you know would be helpful but you really don't feel inspired to follow, throw some additional cards seeking how to get to that place.  Locate the block and the wedge that will split that block wide open.  Maybe there is some inspiration to be found.  What do the cards have to say about that?  Where is the resistance inside and why is it there?  In pop star Rihanna and rapper Eminem's new single, Love the Way You Lie, Part II, the lyrics reveal there is more to an abusive relationship than one may see, there may be addiction, love, stubbornness, and attraction from both sides.  When someone knows that change is needed but is unwilling to act to make the change happen, more is going on under the surface than simple good advice can fix.  The Advice card, therefore, can be a stepping stone rather than a resolution.  It can act as catalyst to find the answers inside of you that will bring you to a deeper understanding of the choices you made and continue to make that, along with the choices others make (outside of your control) conspire to create this situation at hand.  You may find, for example, that you really don't enjoy playing poker and don't want to learn the best way to manage your hand.  You decide (a decision is in your control) you'd rather just allow others to continue to control your life's circumstances so you can conveniently blame others for your misfortune, even though you're a really good person and don't deserve all this mess.  Good luck just wasn't "in the cards" for you.  I honestly don't know anyone for whom that sounds appealing.

I think most of us fall somewhere in the middle.  We acknowledge there are external forces outside our control that impact and influence our lives, sometimes for good, sometimes not.  While there may be nothing we can do about those events, we can proactively choose the perspective with which we view the events as well as our active responses to them.  While we may not be able to control how we feel about an event, we can express our feelings in productive ways that strengthen rather than weaken us.  So even in the midst of feeling a lack of control, there are ways to take control of some aspect of yourself or the situation so that you gain a better foothold on the path you're on.  Most of us know we actually are in control of a lot more than we give ourselves credit for.  Following the path of least resistance often leads us to just coast along without direction, even though we know we could change course if we wanted.  For example, if I am unhappy at my job but continue to go to work every day, month after month, year after year, without actively putting out resumes and queries into other work, because the effort to look for another job seems like too much on top of the effort I'm already expending at the job I hate, I am acknowledging that I could change my situation but I'm not willing. If I complain that I am too fat to fit into my clothes but refuse to either exercise or buy new clothes, I am simply going to be unhappy with myself and my clothing.  Why we do this to ourselves for extended periods of time, I don't know.  I've done it.  We all do it from time to time.  Then one day we get an Ace of Wands up our butts and do something different and actually make a change.  If I could bottle Ace of Wands energy and sell it, I'd be a millionaire.

The whole purpose of my tarot reading is to help one increase their internal locus of control.  Come to a reading feeling a lack of control, leave the reading feeling you've gained some control or at least a perspective or plan on how to gain more.  Some may say I'm working myself out of a job, for if only people who feel a lack of control seek out a reading, then helping people empower themselves by shifting to an internal locus of control is counterproductive to my earning a living reading tarot.  Not so.  Tarot's usefulness extends beyond this.  Knowing one has control but not being sure which choice to make often leads people to a tarot reading.  The desire to identify internal blocks and the best means to break them also prompts tarot readings.  Sometimes the reading itself serves as Ace of Wands in a can and prompts someone to act on their own behalf.  But my aim is always to push a bit further into that internal place where one's own Ace of Wands need igniting and provide the match.


  1. Anonymous7:46 PM

    I am new to tarot (can hardly wait for my first deck to arrive next week!) and have just begun reading blogs this week, but yours is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I really appreciate the more rational, practical approach to tarot that seems to underlie your articles. I have been curious about tarot for a while, but always stayed away because people I know tend to either associate it with witchcraft or just dismiss it as meaningless. Your entries have really helped to dismiss my worry, however, and make me even more excited to begin exploring tarot -- thank you! :)

    Also, if anyone as any good advice/insight for a newbie tarot reader, I'd love to hear it. I've been reading a lot of entries from Aeclectic Tarot on card meanings, etc. I haven't bought any books yet, but plan to order the Complete Guide to Tarot from the library.

  2. WELCOME to the incredible and fascinating world of tarot! :) Advice? Oh my yes. I have tons of it right here at 78 Notes To Self. Please explore the archives at your leisure. Aeclectic is a tremendous resource, the forums are full of helpful people. You know you're going to get forty-eleven perspectives to one card, though, right? LOL, confusion is natural, so don't let it deter you. As for books, everyone has their favorites. Some people will tell you it's "essential" to ritualize a tarot reading, to cut the cards a certain way with your left hand, to keep them stored in silk, to cleanse them under a full moon. Whatever. I tried most of these things and found that these procedures mattered not. But for some people they are useful, so I'm not knocking them. I just say do what you, by trial and error, feel works for you in the end. Most of all, enjoy the whole process. :) Feel free to ask questions here and comment. I would love to hear your insights!

  3. Tracey6:15 AM

    Great post, really sensible stuff. I sometimes get stuck when I can't decide quite how to interpret the advice card - and end up feeling like it's right in front of me but I'm just not seeing it clearly! Am having this problem at the moment - wanting to buy a house, made an offer on one and have been getting all very positive cards and been stalked by Temperance... so do I take it as be prepared to negotiate or be patient?! Am trying to do both but worry I'm just missing the point when the cards are trying to shout it at me. Would appreciate your take on this one. Ta, Tracey.

  4. HI Tracey :) Temperance indicates a need to combine seemingly opposing and incompatible things, energies, factors into a mix that yields GOLD. It takes time and patience and persistence to get what you really want. So, it's saying don't rush, timing is a big part of the process, so take your time and look for heavenly signs and support, as well. Basically it's saying, "Patience, dear, you will get good results, but don't jump into anything too quickly."

  5. I found your blog about 2 weeks ago. I really like it. I am glad that you brought up the idea that WE are in charge of the course of ours lives. We can change direction at any point to change any given outcome. Tarot is a tool to help us see the tiny little path through the forest. I am not saying that outside influences don't play a part, only that how we react to those energies will determine where the path leads. Tarot shows us what will happen if nothing changes. I need to be reminded of this often. I have been doing Tarot for about 3 years, and I still want to slide into the fortune telling view of Tarot. Knowing the truth is hard becasue it requires action. I know better. Thank you for this post to remind me that we still have free will and lots of opportunities to use it :)

  6. Love your name "myowntune" :) Tarot fortune-telling is fun and I love donning the gypsy scarf, but when someone is truly trying to navigate their path through a difficult choice or situation, fortune-telling is not that helpful. I like spreads that show what is likely to happen but then advice, too, and what is likely to happen if you take the advice.

  7. Fantastic post and really well written. I definitely fall into the middle of the spectrum but having a nihilistic side I can separate my feeling that what occurs in my life is important to me from my secure knowledge that what occurs in my life is not actually important on any grand scale.

    I sometimes find it difficult to explain to querents that Tarot, Runes etc are only rakes for the emotional garden. They clear the leaves from the pathways that are available to you so that you can clearly see them, but only YOU are going to put one foot in front of the other.. Lately a few querents have come to me with very specific questions. In fact I'm working on an email reading now for a querent whose question is whether or not her and her husband will have a baby after trying unsuccessfully for two years. This is the kind of black and white question that simply won't be answered by a few pieces of card, no matter what amount of importance we invest into them. The cards will provide a looking glass into various courses of action, ways of dealing with the feelings that are arising etc, but when the querent just wants a yes or no answer to a question that probably requires some medical knowledge etc, I feel like it's lose-lose for me as a reader!

    Sorry if that was off on a bit of a tangent! This post really got me thinking.

  8. Hi Four Queens! Well, tarot can answer that, in terms of the past/present/future pattern of what is likely to occur, given what has already transpired and what is happening now, a reasonable prediction can be made. However, if she is trying something new or different, that may change the result, so I'd ask if they are doing anything different and include that in the reading. Also, for sure, include advice as to what they could do to impact the outcome more favorably. When I get questions like this, I always disclaim that this reading is not in any way to be construed as medical advice and any suggestions made should be taken to a competent medical professional before undertaken. I don't mind Yes/No questions, but I make sure my client understands my limitations as a reader with that sort of question.

    Best of luck with it!

  9. HI:
    I would like to address Tracey, who is curious about The Temperance card in the advice position, when asking about buying a house. She wonders if she is missing the point when the cards are tying to shout at her. Well, I would say an emphatic "Yes". When it comes to Temperance card, most people miss the point. They tend to focus in whether the big toe is touching the water, or what is being mixed in the two vessels. And yet, there is a big frigging Angel right in front of them. There are very few Angels in the tarot deck, and Temperance, and Karmic Justice are the two biggest. So, when they show up, one had better pay attention. So Tracey, I will let the Temperance Angel take over now, and give you the message: "Honey, if you want to buy a house, have a big down payment, can get a fixed rate loan, have the money saved for things that will need to be repaired, don't plan on selling for a long time, and don't mind watching you house lose another 25% in value, then God bless and buy away. However, If you are a person who has wisdom to see the big picture, and you want to rent until the economic storm subsides in a few years or so, then hold onto your cash and wait. You will be glad you did." End of transmission.

  10. Great interpretation of that card for that subject! Thanks John!

  11. Ginny, I've been reading your blog for a while now, and I have to tell you that every time I do, I'm just boggled. Your understanding of these cards is just so insanely rich, and you transmit your knowledge in a way that makes those cards leap to life. So I have to ask you: are you writing a book? Because you should. You must. I hope you do. Have you? Did you already? I mean, you sort of have. It's right here. But if you haven't, PLEASE DO.

    I'm just getting ready to start doing tarot readings professionally. Been all 8 of Pentacles about it, putting my nose to the grindstone and practicing on real folks and honing both my book learning and my intuitive takes on the cards. And you're one of my very favorite sources of information. Thank you for this wonderful, wonderful joint you have here.

    I hope you write a book and it sells one zillion copies.

    A big fat fan,
    Tina Rowley

  12. Hi Tina,

    Thanks so much for your encouragement! I am, in fact, writing a book. It's slow going because I can only work on it when I am either not at work or not doing readings. But it is progressing. Some material from this blog will be in it, but also lots of new material as well. But my first love is sharing, randomly, what I love: tarot.

  13. Hi Ginny,
    Totally agree about the need to empower our clients. I think there's nothing worse than being told of some 'future' that supposedly cannot be changed. I want to know how I can create the future I want, rather than the one I'm 'destined' to have. That's the whole idea of 'free will'!
    I also agree, though, that not everyone is going to take the advice of the cards, and this is often what the 'Outcome' talks about... the likely outcome, taking into account action and inaction.
    Anyway, love your posts as always!
    Brigit (Biddy)

  14. Hi Brigit,
    How the client "sees" the reading depends a lot on whether they have a strong internal or external locus of control. Those with strong external loci will prefer to be told the Outcome and when you try to focus on Advice, they go "Yeah, yeah, whatever, just tell me what will happen!" People who generally have more of an internal locus but are feeling uneasy because they find themselves in a situation that is or appears to be outside their control are more responsive to that Advice position. They really want to take action to re-situate themselves back in the drivers seat of their own lives. Often, we cannot steer the client that way unless they are already more inclined to go there. I do try, of course, because it is my firm belief, and research now backs this up, that we are more healthy when we feel at least more in control of our lives than less.


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