I have a general rule I follow when I’m online:
I don’t argue with strangers.
Not that I don’t argue with friends or acquaintances, either. I know better on all fronts that social media doesn’t often lead to good things when people are in disagreement.
This isn’t to say I’m against dialogue. It’s just that quite often, when I see people arguing, they’re spending more time trying to change each other’s minds than they are trying to understand each other’s perspective.
I find the same thing happens in the tarot community. When I first started connecting with other tarot readers, I joined some Facebook groups to meet other readers and have a dedicated space to share about tarot.
But after a while, I started to feel like those groups were counterproductive to what I was seeking. So often, posts devolved into virtual shouting matches, just like so many other experiences on social media.
And very often, the arguments that I witnessed were about tarot meanings or interpretations.
Years after this, when I was teaching one of my first tarot classes, I remember consoling a student who was in my course after she felt belittled for sharing an interpretation in an online tarot group that someone else didn’t agree with.
When I started writing my own tarot blog and sharing more about my approaches to tarot, I made a rule for myself that I wouldn’t argue about tarot meanings.
I can present my ideas, and I can explain how and why I came to those conclusions. Others are free to do the same. We might not always come to a consensus on all things tarot.
There are things I incorporate into my tarot practice that others don’t. Likewise, there are some popular tarot techniques out there that have never worked for me, so I leave them out of my readings.
But these decisions all come from experience, and the judgement calls I’ve made along the way about how my practice looks.
And at the end of the day, every tarot reader has to make a similar decision about how they read their cards.
Eventually, if you read tarot for long enough, you will get to a point where you’re far beyond repeating standard card meanings.
Every tarot interpretation is going to be slightly unique, because every reading is tailored to the moment of the querent’s situation. And every interpretation is going to go through the filter of the person reading the cards: They might see something another reader doesn’t. They might have a different perspective on the cards at hand than you or I would.
The way readers see and explain their cards, and how they arrive at the conclusions they do, come from their own experiences with tarot. These insights also come from their own observations over the years about their cards.
This is why I don’t think it does much for anyone to argue about tarot cards: They may be static images, but our observations of them are not. Tarot helps us navigate inner and outer realities, which are constantly changing. This means that tarot itself is never entirely still, and never definitive.
Every reading has nuance because our lives are nuanced, and so to try to force or argue for a single definition of a tarot card is to ignore tarot’s limitless energy.
To me, tarot has so much capacity to add insight to our lives, and as an extension tarot readers do, too.
Arguing about tarot meanings in order to narrowly define each card feels opposite of that. Instead of contributing a new angle or idea to a reading, arguing for right or wrong feels subtractive.
Of course, there can be ways in which an interpretation gets off track, and readings can deliver the wrong information. There are times when emerging readers are looking to learn, and might have questions about wobbly interpretations.
But that’s where, as peers, we can offer to help guide each other into new possibilities, to dialogue appropriately by offering constructive alternatives to an interpretation. Taking the opportunity to move the conversation about tarot forward, rather than insisting on pinning down each card into a singular view, feels much more productive than harsh critique and endless debate.
A couple of years ago, I was working with another tarot student who offered me a question I have sat with ever since: “What if, 100 years from now, tarot has evolved into something we can’t even imagine? And tarot readers of the future will look back and feel that the way we use our cards now was totally wrong?”
It’s possible, because once again, as we are always changing, tarot changes with us. Which is just one more reason not to try to control it, or other tarot readers, but instead, work to understand how we might come to see the same cards in so many different ways.
Until next time,
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