This post is an adapted excerpt from my book, The Power of Tarot, a definitive guide to working with tarot.
Years ago, I was reading tarot for a friend.
“Just give me a bit of everything – work, my marriage. I just want to know what’s coming up for the year ahead,” she said.
This is how most of my readings start. People are usually curious about their love lives and careers, the areas where we tend to focus a lot of our energies.
When I turned over the card in my friend’s relationship house, I paused. It was the Ten of Swords, depicting a man face-down in a field with a row of swords protruding from his back.
Typically, the Ten of Swords is associated with endings. Of course, we can look deeper at the card’s imagery and also see betrayal (as though someone has stabbed you in the back), or such a heavy burden that it flattens you completely.
We can also see it as a change in identity, thought processes, or behaviours.
There are many ways to interpret every card in tarot. Which is why readers have to be careful about the definitions that they default to.
I could have told my friend that I didn’t think her marriage would last the year. But the truth was, I didn’t know that for sure.
If there is one lesson we can take from tarot, is that every ending leads to a new beginning.
And so instead of focusing the reading on a possible separation, I said, “I think there’s going to be a lot of change coming up within your marriage this year. Do you feel like your relationship is due for a transformation?”
My friend’s face lit up: “Yes,” she said. From there, the reading turned into a conversation, one that allowed us to dive deeper and pull some more cards specifically around her relationship questions.
I was still getting the hang of tarot back then, and that reading was a big moment for me. I was so relieved that I’d trusted my instinct when I hesitated to stick to the more dramatic meanings of the Ten of Swords.
And yes, after all this time, my friend is still married.
Imagine if I’d told her back then that she wouldn’t be.
I took a workshop once with an astrologer whose work I greatly admire. But all of the natal chart examples he used were really, really depressing.
Especially because some of the charts were very similar to mine. And the outcomes in the charts he used were bleak.
If I were to follow his predictions, everyone I love will die before I do, and I am somehow going to end up broke and in jail.
I remember how, for days afterwards, I actually felt fearful of my future.
Even though I was already working as a reader myself by then, and knew better than to take every prediction at face value, I couldn’t help but let that little bit of doubt creep through:
What if that teacher is right? Maybe I should just give up now because there’s nothing to look forward to in the future.
This is not a good way to leave someone feeling after a reading.
Have you ever had a reading where the person told you that something would go terribly wrong, and it didn’t? It can really put you into a funk.
Readings, ideally, should make us feel prepared, informed, and aware of the choices that we have.
That doesn’t mean everything has to be sugar coated.
If you are the one doing the reading, be honest, but be helpful, too. If you don’t see a certain plan working out, it’s okay to say so, but offer to dig deeper, too.
While I do believe that predictions are possible (I do engage in predictive readings quite often), they work best when there’s some supportive dialogue to back them up.
I notice this with a lot with astrology, too. For example, Uranus transiting through the 7th house of relationships is one that many people associate with divorce or separation.
But that’s not always how it plays out. Some people experience Uranus transiting the 7th without any relationship upheaval at all.
Astrology can play out in many different ways, so we can’t just assume that every transit will bring the same outcome for every person.
We are all working our way through the world differently, with our own perspectives, needs, and desires, and that all has to come into the equation.
Look at what can be done differently, or what is being hoped for at the time. Sometimes, we just need to adjust our goals or expectation to better align with the energies that we are moving through at the time.
Free will and intention should also be invoked. We are all shaping the future with every decision we make. If you do hear a message that you don’t like, remember that a) it’s not written in stone, and b) you can be mindful of your own actions moving forward.
Don’t let a bad reading become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So often, people hear something negative about a job or relationship and then start looking for issues within a situation that was otherwise fine.
There is no tarot card that guarantees something will end in disaster, or heartbreak. Just as there is no astrological transit that does, either. Sometimes, the most dramatic cards in tarot can be the most liberating.
We also have to keep in mind that we don’t always know how an energy will manifest itself, or if an event will occur at all.
Just because a rough patch is coming up doesn’t mean it’s always going to end badly. It can just be a chance to do things a bit differently.
Or, it can be the change you’ve been waiting for.
Just like my friend was happy to hear that transformation was coming within her marriage, sometimes people are ready to do the work. They know that something has to give.
Which is why it’s important not to assume the worst in a reading, and to remember that the future is yet to be created.
Until next time,
Want to read more? The Power of Tarot is available here.