I was contacted by Shelley Rue of Sparrow Tarot, and asked to the answer the following question for an article, which I am reposting here.
“What source, if any, do you attribute as the force behind the specific cards that are turned over in a reading/the answers that emerge from the cards? Ie, what or who “causes” those particular cards to emerge, and how do you explain the cards’ unique ability to answer each question accurately?”
I believe in the force! One exists and we can tap into it at anytime when we read the cards or need general guidance. I bring a spiritual component to the tarot (and to my life), but not everyone does; you don’t need to be spiritual to read the cards. But you do have to believe in yourself, because you are what makes the cards come alive beyond rote memorization.
What makes a reading hit home beyond the card meanings, in my opinion are two things: Your energy, and your knowledge of the patterns within the cards. In terms of energy, I am going to explore this in a spiritual dimension, but let’s first talk about the patterns.
The world is made of cycles and patterns. Straight and simple. In our lives, we live in patterns. Patterns of behaviors, cycles of highs and lows, and moments that seem to repeat. How convenient is it then, that the tarot employs complex systems of pattern? Within the deck, there are typically four suits with fourteen cards each, and a fifth suit with twenty-two cards. So, there are sets of cards and numbers that form a basic pattern. Additionally, there are visual symbols such as figures, colors, and symbols that repeat throughout the deck.
Because I pay special attention to patterns, I normally like to read the tarot in groupings of two to five cards. This helps me identify sequences, numbers, or repeated images. Patterns in the cards may be simple or complex. I also think that my background as an artist helps me to read images and patterns. For example, I may notice a blue sky repeated in all of the cards, but anxious figures or scenes within the landscapes. This contrast is telling me that “blue skies abound,” but that the Querent is more worried than they need to be. I may also notice that many of the cards are from one suit in particular. So, an abundance of pentacle cards may suggest that even though the Querent is asking about love, they may be struggling at work. And because they are struggling at work, this will also be impacting their happiness, confidence, and therefore their ability to meet someone. Or, if I see the number nine repeated (numerically, nine can indicate an ending) but reversed, and followed by an Ace (beginnings), this suggests the Querent is avoiding ending something and starting down a much needed new path. As you can see (hopefully!), there are an endless amount of patterns in the cards and each time I do a reading I try to clear my brain so that I am truly open to seeing the patterns. I think that anyone can learn this skill through time and practice, and it definitely helps make a reading accurate.
For me, there is also something more than just knowing the cards and seeing the patterns. Earlier, I mentioned this as “my energy” and that I would explore this in a spiritual context. When I read intuitively, I call this connecting to “Spirit.” For me, Spirit is an all-knowing energy, outside and inside of us. I also think of this as a collective energy where information and ideas are accessible to all. It is this energy that helps me know something that I would not otherwise know. This clairvoyant information may come to me as a phrase or word I hear, or an image in my mind’s eye. When I read tarot for someone, I connect to Spirit. Connecting to Spirit helps me bring an added component to the readings so that I am open to information from the universe at large.
In terms of what “causes” certain cards to emerge, I personally believe it’s the force (again I call it Spirit). But we can break this down even further if we think of the fact that everything has energy. The people I read for have different energies and life experiences and they bring these to the reading. The Querent is involved in the reading and they are bringing their energy to the cards. They do this physically. I have them shuffle the cards, cut the deck, or pull cards from a pile. So, the Querents are the ones arranging the cards into the correct order and creating the pattern that I then read.
If the person is not present I ask for Spirit to guide the reading and select the cards that align with the energy and needs of the person I am reading for. Sometimes it also helps to have the Querent visualize the cards being shuffled as if I am arranging them like puzzle pieces that describe their life’s picture. So even if they are not touching the cards physically, energetically they are still involved. Visualization and concentration (channeling energy into the deck) helps assure that the cards align in the best, and most accurate way.
While I don’t think you need a spiritual component to read the cards, for me I have found it to be helpful. The fact that most people believe something unexplainable happens only shows that there is something magical. I am often astounded and amazed by this work. It is this sense of awe that keeps me addicted to the tarot!