Reading Tarot is a nuanced art. Interpreting the messages of archetypes handed down to us through the ages requires a passing knowledge of alchemy, astrology, history, religion, and basic human nature. When I read, I channel, yes, but how I assess and convey the messages I receive is rooted in a store of information gathered over decades of study and practice. It’s a complex matrix that I tap into and one that continues to grow and evolve with time and effort. I take great pride in it and am so proud to be able to use all I have gathered over the years in the service of helping my clients grow and evolve.

So what’s a beginning student to do? The world of Tarot can be daunting. There is so much to learn, so many resources, so much conflicting information. The little booklet that comes with your deck gives you only so much, but any book that lays out individual card meanings in more detail gives you only so much more. I’m going to tell you something that can absolutely revolutionize the way you look at and experience the Tarot.

Stop looking for meaning.

We are always asking what the cards mean. What does it MEAN if you pull the 6 of Cups? Is it different if you pull it from one deck or another? What about if you pull it with other cards? And what does it mean that it is on the left of the Knight of Swords and not on the right? The truth is, I don’t know and I can’t know because meaning is subjective.

Is your mind blown? Am I freaking you out, telling you that I can’t know what cards mean? Good. Let that Tower fall, baby! I’ve got something to take its place.

In order to deepen your understanding of and experience with Tarot, you must shift your thinking and begin to see the cards not as having inherent meanings, but rather inherent energies or personalities. Why? Because like I said above, meaning is subjective. It speaks to what you bring to the card, not what the card brings to you.

For example, The Tower has a reputation as a “bad” or “scary” card. Its most simplified interpretation is “destruction”.  But what that means to you in your life may be very different from what it means in the life of another person. If you are a person who has been struggling for years to break away from old patterns of thought passed down from your parents, The Tower can mean that you are about to finally be free! Something will suddenly shift and you can now finally allow yourself to say out loud that you don’t want to have kids, pursue a career in finance even though your hippy parents think you’re giving your soul to the devil, confront issues of identity that you’ve suppressed your entire life at long last. However, if you are a person who feels quite satisfied with their life how it is and has no earthly clue what part of it may need some serious adjustment, The Tower card can mean that you need to brace yourself for some potentially traumatic shifts.

This is why it is very difficult for me to answer the question “What does XYZ card mean?”. I can tell you (in great detail for hours and hours if you let me) what energy the card brings to the table, what options it may present to you, how it may feel to experience the energy of that card, what type of people embody its personality, and practical and magickal ways to work with that energy. But meaning? That’s all you.

So, here is my invitation: When you pull daily cards, when you lay out a spread, whatever your interactions with the Tarot, shift your thinking from “what does this mean?” to “what energy or personality am I encountering or being presented with?”. Yes, it’s a bit more cumbersome, but it will open you up to a the world of Tarot as a collaborator instead of simply a receiver (and worse, a victim) of the messages of the cards (Oh, hai Strength!)

It’s a lot to chew on. And we didn’t even dip a toe into how this plays out when all these personalities get together in a spread! That’s for another post. Let this sink in, experiment with the idea, and see what comes up for you.

Be well, my loves!


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Melinda Lee Holm