Image: William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s La leçon difficule (The Difficult Lesson).
How many times have you dealt out a combination of cards only to find you haven’t got any idea what it means?
Sure, we’ve all got experience of doing “great” readings. We’ve all got experience of flowing with the cards, of trusting our intuition, of connecting really well with our client, but what about those times when we hit a brick wall?
This can be a rather unsettling experience, especially if you’re trying to impress a new client.
It doesn’t matter how much experience I, or any other Tarot reader has, it doesn’t matter how many combinations we’ve all worked out, there will always be a group of cards that will have us beat.
Why Does this Happen?
Simple! The combination of cards that we, as Tarot readers can’t interpret, represent “karmic” influences that we haven’t worked out.
I’m using the word Karma very loosely – I’m using it to signify an area of our own lives that we have difficulty with.
If we were in the client’s position, experiencing their life, desiring the same things they desire – essentially walking in their shoes – then we would be just as confused as them. Hence, why the combination of cards is confusing.
There’s no mystery to why some combinations of cards don’t make sense in a Tarot reading; there’s no mystery to why one card sticks out and confuses the rest of the “story”. It simply comes down to the fact they we ourselves haven’t “worked out” that area of karma in our own lives.
Likewise – we understand a combination of cards very easily because they make sense to us; because we’ve worked out that “combination” in our own lives.
An Example – The Devil
Normally, it’s more than one card that upsets the flow of a Tarot reading. Normally, it’s a combination of three or four Tarot cards. However, to keep things simple, let’s look at one card – The Devil.
This is just an example – I could have picked any card to illustrate this point!
Imagine you’re giving a Tarot reading to a client, or a friend, or even for yourself and the Devil card appears.
Okay, no big deal but, combined with the other cards, the Devil (it could be any card) just doesn’t make any sense. It upsets the flow of the reading. We start to judge ourselves harshly, “…I’ll never be able to read Tarot cards the way other people do…”, and we hit a brick wall and the person we’re doing the reading for is waiting to hear what “we see” in the cards, but we’ve lost confidence, we are unsure of ourselves, and the client starts to notice.
In ten excellent tips to help recover a Tarot reading, I discuss ways to get the reading back on track; but in this article, rather than looking at practical steps to overcome the brick wall effect, I want to look at some of the deeper issues at work when we don’t know what a combination of cards represents.
Going Deeper into the Devil
In that rather simple story I told, where the Devil upsets the flow of the reading, I didn’t actually look at what Karmic influences might be at work. Let’s do that now:
- The Devil as sexual energy: For most Spiritual disciplines, the sexual energy is very potent, powerful, trans-personal and…wonderful. However, most people have certain “issues” surrounding sex; that being the most common expression of this energy! Interestingly, with a little preparation, sex can be one of the easiest ways to connect with the divine.
It doesn’t really matter what those issues are, just that most people have insecurities with that area of their lives.
When we do a Tarot reading where this “energy” is influencing the client’s life to a large extent, then we we are being asked, by the Tarot cards, to explore that “energy” with the client. If we have similar issues at work in our own lives, then we won’t be able to accurately understand what the combination of cards are telling us.
- The Devil as control: Sometimes one person’s need to control another can be a major influence within the client’s life. It doesn’t really matter if they are the ones being controlled or doing the controlling because our job is to understand how these influences affect the client’s life right across the board.
However, if we also have “control” issues, we will find it very difficult to interpret the cards accurately for the client.
- The Devil as laughter: Sometimes we don’t like it when people ‘laugh away’ their problems. I’m not sure why this is; perhaps it’s because we think they aren’t taking them as seriously as we think they should.
I remember when I was doing a Social Work course, being involved with a young person who had had a difficult upbringing. Every time he talked about his past, we would laugh and joke. For some reason, this offended the “experts” that were present. I had no idea what was so wrong with him laughing about it (I didn’t have a Karmic problem in this area) but they certainly did – even to the point of angrily telling him, “if you can’t take this seriously, how do you expect us to help?”
The problem with not seeing how necessary it was for him to laugh and joke about his upbringing is obvious, yet, this can still cause people to react angrily against it. When we don’t understand something, when we haven’t worked through our own Karma, then our Tarot readings will lack clarity.
A Solution – Time to Change Perspective
I remember speaking to Paul Hughes-Barlow a couple of years ago about how some combination of cards were easy to understand while others weren’t.
Paul suggested something that was truly inspirational. He had observed, through his own experience, that even doing a Tarot reading for other people can teach us about ourselves. One of the most interesting things Paul said was, “you spend months trying to understand a combination of cards, and when you finally understand them, you’ll never see that combination again”.
It’s almost as if, in understanding a difficult combination, in the very act of doing a Tarot reading for someone else, we ourselves begin to heal.
For instance, he would spend months “seeing” the same combinations of cards appear before he finally understood their significance. Almost as if, in understanding that combination, in being able to accurately interpret them for a client, he had healed an area of his own Karma.
In a nut-shell, think of those combination of Tarot cards that are difficult to understand as an expression of a difficulty that you also share within your own life. By working out what a combination of cards means, we are potentially unlocking a difficult Karmic influence.
In many ways, the Tarot is our best teacher. It teaches us, not only through personal study, but also in the very act of reading for other people
What is the solution to understanding difficult combinations?
The solution is to shift perspective.
Not understanding what some cards mean isn’t a sign that you’re a bad Tarot reader, that you can’t read the cards, that you don’t have a “natural” ability; rather, it is a sign that the Tarot is teaching you, that you’re undoing Karmic influences, that you’re growing as a person.
It Takes Time
This doesn’t happen over night. It takes time, but eventually our own understanding, our own “Karmic” influences are being healed through reading for others.
What Paul was highlighting to me, and what I want to share with you is how, once the Tarot teaches us about ourselves, once we finally understand a combination of cards that has taken us months to solve, we move onto the next lesson; to the next set of combinations.
If anyone would like me to answer a question as part of the Tarot Surgery series, then please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you have.
Have you noticed the same thing happen to you? Have you spent months trying to understand what a certain combination means before it finally makes sense? Do you agree with this article or disagree? Whatever your opinion, I’d love to hear from you. I’ll see all in the comments