The Meaning of Reading Tarot Cards
The most common reason I hear for reading Tarot cards is to “divine the future,” but I do not consider this a totally accurate description of what is actually going on. There are states, and counties within states, in the United States that view tarot or other card reading the same as fortune-telling, and require that, in order for you to do public readings, you must have a license indicating that you are an entertainer affiliated with an entertainment corporation or business, or a person of moral character if reading independently, usually with a number of signatures from people who will vouch for your integrity. Again, this is not what card reading means to me. While there are instances of people being mistreated through the use of cards, generally involving turning over large sums of money to the reader to avert a disaster or remove an alleged evil influence, I feel there are sufficient laws in existence to treat such cases the same as any other scam or swindle rather than directing the laws at the process of reading the cards.
For me, reading cards be they tarot or regular playing cards is part of the spirituality of the Craft, so much so that even as a child, visions and perceptions used to leap out at me in card games as innocuous as gin rummy and solitaire. The very act of divination in Witchcraft requires a link with the Lunar aspect of the Divine, such as with the Goddess Hecate, Cerridwen, Bendidia (Bendis), Artemis, Diana, or Isis, each of whom is considered a Goddess of Witches. When you read the cards, you are connecting with the energies of the Divine for insight and guidance. You also connect with the Elementals through the process of grounding and centering before a reading, thus aligning your internal energies with those of Nature and the Spirit, while opening your psychic sight for a consultation for yourself or someone else. The cards do not of themselves tell the future, but they offer the reader a focal point through which to access Divine energy and gain visions or interpretations of influences surrounding a particular question or person as illustrated by the cards that are pulled.
Before you rush out and buy a tarot deck, you should examine your reasons for using cards at all. If you feel that the reading Tarot cards will tell you all there is to know about a situation and what the future holds, you are missing the true purpose for reading cards. The future is not some pre-ordained, immovable series of events. If it were, there would be no point in card reading, no point in spell craft, no point in learning the art of Witchcraft, and indeed, no point in any type of spiritual or religious pursuit and prayer since nothing would be changeable. As a third-generation Family Tradition Witch (described in my books on Green Witchcraft: Folk Magic, Fairy Lore & Herb Craft, 1996; Green Witchcraft II: Balancing Light and Shadow, 1999; and Green Witchcraft III: The Manual, 2000; and Green Magic: The Sacred Connection to Nature, 2002, all with Llewellyn Publications), my point of view is quite clearly in opposition to predestination and unchangeable futures. The movement of time and events is fluid, and the energy of the Divine as the Power may be called upon to bring guidance, to show how things are currently aligned, and to suggest options for making desired changes. This ability to make changes and shape our own future is what defines both the magic of Witchcraft and the exercise of Free Will.
While I consider the term “divination” insufficient for readings, it is the one generally used and commonly understood. However, I must emphasize the explicit spiritual interpretation of the Divine within divination. My feeling is that the cards provide a venue for connection of the reader with the Divine, being a visual, tactile object through which the Divinethe Goddess and the God to the Witchmay offer counseling to the inquirer or querant by the opening of psychic pathways. It is through this linking that the reader and the querant ask the Divine for direction and advice to aid in the making of informed personal decisions. The key here is that it is up to individuals to make the choices that are appropriate to them, whether they feel comfortable with these choices, are willing to try something new, or are disposed to accept the possible results of their actions or lack thereof. Not everyone makes use of the information presented in a reading, but often simply being aware of the possible consequences or flow of energy is sufficient for them to be prepared for whatever reason. It is important to recognize that the cards do not spell out your fate, that they do not control anything, and that there is nothing scary about them. Their function is to provide a venue for a reader to access the psychic intuition that is naturally present in all people, but more developed in some than others.
For the reader, the connection with the Divine implies a reciprocal understanding that what is being seen in the cards is a sacred trust. If you are not clear on what you see, winging it is not an option. People who go to readers are seeking advice and may be in an emotional state at the time. Trying to carry on a reading when you are simply not getting anything on the psychic level is not a good idea. You could explain that you are having an off day, and that while you could describe the meaning of the cards as they lie you are not up for a deeper reading. Be attentive to the reactions of the people you read for, since at times a person may be nervous or upset, and you do not want to further alarm him or her by not offering at least a cursory reading of the cards.
Authors Details: From the book “Tarot for the Green Witch” by: Ann Moura