I started reading tarot a few years ago after my friend Lori gave me a deck for my birthday. At first I was kinda overwhelmed by all of the symbology. My deck came with a book, and so I started flipping through it, trying to understand what the cards were telling me. I thought about trying to memorize meanings and spent a lot of time pouring over what that book and other books told me about the symbols and intentions that were contained in each image.
I decided that I needed some outside instruction to help me make sense of it all. Another friend of mine who was learning tarot too, at the time, invited a tarot expert over to her house and we sat down with our decks and flipped cards and talked about meanings and applications and possible spreads. And do you know what I learned?
It's not about the cards. It's about you.
Our tarot teacher that night showed me that what I bring to the table, what I see in the cards, is far more important than anything that the cards are supposed to mean. Sometimes what the symbols meant to me when I read them was way off from what the actual meaning of the card was. And sometimes it was exactly in line with it. But the point was, what I saw mattered most.
I went to the tarot party that night looking for formula for reading so that I could get it right every time, so that I could see what the cards were trying to tell me. What I got was a powerful tool for unlocking my mind so that I could more clearly see the truth that I possessed all along.
The cards became a tool for introspection.
That's the method that I teach to others now. If you come to the tarot looking for someone else to tell you what you should do with your life, what's going to happen in your future, or give you an answer to your problems, you're going to be sorely disappointed. Maybe not immediately, but eventually. The future is always changing and giving your power away to someone (or something) else always falls short of your expectations.
If you come to tarot and ask yourself what you need to hear most, it will show you what you already know in your heart. The cards always show you what you need to know -- you bring the answers to the table with you. But you have to take the time to work out what they mean. Because in the end they're only reflecting you back to yourself. What do you see? What do you need to know? What do you want most?
I grew up believing tarot could invite demon possession, but I don't believe that anymore. The cards have only the power we give them. And that can be a lot of power! Our spirits and our need for meaning are strong.
Once (for me) tarot was a tool of witches (which meant it was bad), something that had power over your life, a vehicle for bondage and possession. Now tarot is a way for me to ask myself what I'm missing and look at things from a different perspective, to tap my subconscious and find the answer I'm looking for, to recognize thought patterns that are holding me back and set myself free.