From time to time, someone will ask me if I can interpret the cards they drew for themselves, often accompanied by a written list of their cards. I’m always hesitant about doing so. It’s not that I’m unwilling or have performance anxiety. I don’t declare myself the one, true voice of Tarot wisdom, after all. Duh!
And it’s not 100% out of the question. There have been occasions when I’ve seen another person’s layout, and an interpretation was just…there. Popped right into my brain. So I share it, when that happens. But more often than not, I avoid it.
Tarot is a visual medium, so seeing cards listed doesn’t evoke diddly compared to seeing images. But it’s more than that. For me, the cards themselves are the least important part of a Tarot reading!
The magic isn’t just, say, the Temperance card appearing on cue. It’s knowing if Temperance is a warning to cut back on the drinking, a call for balance, a suggestion for integrating disparate forces, or something else I haven’t thought of until I’m right there, in the flow, tuned in and asking for guidance. It’s the flow of a reading that is magic and the real insight doesn’t come from a cookbook definition of “this card in this position means X.” It’s organic, it’s visual, and it’s very nebulous. That’s why an automated reading will never give the same experience as a live reader.
I haven’t actually tried reading a whole spread from another person’s image, although I’d be open to experimenting. The cards are far more than a prop to me, for sure, but they are the medium of communication, as opposed to the actual message. That’s why learning Tarot isn’t just an exercise in memorization, but a spiritual practice in energy work. You can’t take the spirit out of it and expect the same results.
What do you think about reading other people’s Tarot spreads? Can you? How does it work for you?