How Accurate Are Tarot Card Readings?
I’m just going to say it straight: tarot cards are never wrong. You may well disagree with me, but it’s a fact. The cards are always spot on. Where accuracy comes into question is how the reader interprets the cards and delivers the message. But even before that, before the cards are even laid out, there is much to consider.
Factors That Influence Tarot Card Readings
- The question
- The unknowable future
- The present situation
- The cards tell you what you need to know
- Psychic reader (or not)
- The reader’s personal bias
- The deck creator’s personal bias
- Sheer chance
The All-Important Question
To get an accurate tarot reading, you have to ask an accurate question. So many people will ask a question based on what they wish was happening, rather than what is actually happening. For example, a client met a man on a business trip. They got on really well and arranged to meet up for dinner after the meeting. They had a pleasant evening, shared some ideas about their work, passed a couple of fun hours, said goodbye and went their separate ways. That was it.
The client, however, read a lot more into it. She says, ‘their eyes met and she knew he was going to ask her to meet him later’. Then over dinner, ‘he kept smiling at her and she felt there was a certain chemistry between them. He made her laugh’. She wants to know if he thinks about her and if there might be a future relationship in the offing.
So her question is based on a wildly inaccurate, or over-imagined, scenario. She is asking from a false, emotional perspective. So, when faced with a question like that, the reader is going to struggle with whatever cards show up because the question is based on inaccurate assumptions.
Solution: the question must be accurate and honest in order to elicit an accurate and honest answer.
The Future Is a Slippery Thing
A tarot reading is a snapshot of energies, influences, emotions, circumstances and events. Right in that moment. And those things are never set in stone. Add into the mix the synergy between the reader and the cards, the energy between reader and client, and you have a potent soup of influences from which the reader has to somehow pull out useful and valid information. That’s why no two readers will ever interpret the same cards in the same way. But that’s not to say both are wrong.
People make new decisions; they change their minds, their habits and their behavior. So what was accurate six weeks ago, won’t be accurate today. Yet, the cards are never wrong, so there will be a thread that perhaps the reader missed, or a predicted event which happens in an unexpected way.
Solution: the reader must emphasize the temporary nature of the reading, and remind the client that they have free will to change outcomes.
The Value of a Reading Is in the Present
Clients often overlook the most important part of the reading, and that is what the cards are telling them now. Right in this moment. Never mind what’s going to happen, it’s only in the present that they can make changes happen that will affect the future.
Solution: remind the client that the present is far more precious than some hoped-for (or feared) future possibility.
Oh… Answer the Question Already!
Many times, I’ve been asked a question, yet the cards seem to want to answer a different one. Try as I might, occasionally I cannot connect the card with what the client wants to know. In those cases, I explain that the tarot tells them what they need to understand, rather than what they want to know.
One client wanted to know about her love-life, but I was flummoxed because I could not ‘see’ anything in them about her romance. As she was a good friend, I felt comfortable about explaining this and that I would simply tell her what each card meant. After I’d worked through a few, something clicked and she realized that the reading was all about her adult son. Although she felt she ought to be asking about her love-life, in reality, she had been worried about her boy and his situation.
Out of interest, it was a bit of a negative reading and the most significant card was the Tower. I pointed out that it was likely there was a traumatic event (another one) up ahead for him, but that life would take a better turn in due course. The next day my friend emailed to say her son’s girlfriend had taken their child, every piece of furniture, and left him. However, within a few months they had settled their differences and remained amicably separated.
Oh and my friend’s love-life? It was on hold and nothing much changed over the next six months. Clever tarot.
Solution: be open to all possibilities. Trust the cards to tell you what you really need to know.
Some Readers Are Psychic; Others Not So Much
There are three types of tarot reader. The first kind, we’re all a little envious of. They usually have well-developed psychic abilities and simply use the cards as a jumping off point for their readings. My father went to see such a reader a few years back and she told him details like what kind of car he used to drive and suchlike. She also told him that was the last car he’d ever own. And that was true. He gave up driving shortly after.
The second group are the readers who study the cards and learn their traditional meanings. Their readings are not necessarily inaccurate, but they can be wooden. They recite their interpretations as if they have learned them by rote. Which is exactly what they have done. They find it hard to tell the story in the reading. Each card is interpreted separately instead of in combination. These readers often give up tarot because it doesn’t ‘sing’ to them.
The third group are those, like me, who mash up the standard meanings with their own intuition. I include my own experiences and memories in my readings. And sometimes get random thoughts which are usually accurate, except I feel I don’t get enough of them. I like to look at card combinations and to pick out odd details. I look at the numbers and check for patterns. I do my best to find an unfolding story, something that links the cards together. I’m not right all the time, but the tarot cards usually are.
Solution: explain to the client exactly what kind of reader you are and what they can expect from their reading. I always tell mine that I cannot get in touch with Auntie Marge, and that I don't have a native American spirit guide whispering pertinent information in my ear.
Tarot Readers’ Personal Bias
Some readers are able to deliver a reading in a neutral fashion, whereas others prefer a counseling approach. It is unlikely that any reader is able to keep their own worldview out of the reading. It’s impossible to do otherwise. One’s experiences, viewpoints and memories will creep into the reading. While, most of the time, it’s helpful, it can make a reading more attuned to the reader than to the client.
Solution: as previously outlined. Tell the client your methodology and what to expect.
Tarot Deck Creators' Personal Bias
All tarot decks are created by human beings. Often two or more people are involved in the process. Then there are the publishers, the printers, and the investors. All have influence to some extent. There is usually a writer and an artist. The idea for the deck generally originates from one or the other, though some decks are commissioned by a third party.
The traditional system of tarot has been reinterpreted so many times. And then those derivative interpretations have been reinterpreted again. And again. What could be lost or gained in the process? Mostly it is individual (or team) bias. A certain worldview. An idea of how it’s meant to be. You can choose to use a deck that is as close to the source as possible, such as a reproduction of one or other of the 15th century decks. Bearing in mind those decks were designed to play parlour games, not to tell fortunes, or counsel a client on the ending of their relationship.
Also bear in mind that the tarot came from traditional playing cards, invented, it is claimed, by the Chinese. Even today many tarotists will tell you it was the other way around. Playing cards reached Europe, via Egypt, around 1350. The details are lost in the mists of time. Anyway, someone thought it would be a great idea to take those playing cards and add some interesting charcters to it (the Major Arcana) to create an amusing game. As long as you know that tarot was not some mystical system channeled by some long-dead psychic from the gods themselves. It’s a human invention through and through.
Most decks in use today are very modern. The Rider-Waite was first published in 1907 and was based on Edward Waite’s interpretation of the principles of many branches of esoteric schools of thought and the various societies he joined and left. This deck, and to a lesser extent, its cousin, The Thoth Tarot, created by fellow occultist, Aleister Crowley, has influenced almost every tarot creator since. So remember—that’s just two people's ideas of how the human condition plays out, and they didn't even know about social media back then.
Solution: choose your preferred system and know your deck thoroughly. It also helps to have a basic deck—the one you learned on—in your head so you can refer to it if you are struggling to read a card.
What If Any and Every Card Has the Right Answer?
This is something I’ve thought about a lot. After all, the cards are simply printed images. What if every card has relevance to the client? It helps to understand the basic structure of the tarot and how it applies to human life. Any, and all, aspects are included in one form or another. Disaster, triumph, love lost and found. Children, art, work and illness. Death, destruction and addiction—it’s all there, thanks to Uncles Edward and Aleister. Anything you can name, it’s reflected in the tarot.
So therefore, it follows that any random card should have a relevant message, shouldn’t it? It’s then the reader’s job to apply that message, that meaning to the the client’s situation. To tease out the thread of the story which can help the most. To set them at ease, to get them thinking, to show that they are in control and not at the mercy of fate.
Or does the tarot ‘know’ how to deliver the right card at the right time? What part does chance play? After all, we shuffle and shuffle, cut, shuffle some more, cut again and turn the cards. It’s supposed to be random. Yet we readers and our clients trust that chance will give us the message we need to know. It has been this way for millennia, ever since the Oracle Bone Reading Service opened for business in ancient China.
Solution: there isn't one, except know your cards and trust they will deliver the goods.
So, Are Tarot Cards Accurate or Not?
Yes, they are. No-one can tell you why exactly, given the many influences I’ve outlined above (and I’m pretty sure I haven’t thought of everything), yet somehow, the cards are able to hit the nail on the head every time. How do I know this? Because I’ve gone back to my clients and asked them how situations worked out. I’ve read for myself and returned to the readings after a few months. In each case, I am able to see the link between the card/s and life’s meandering path. Hindsight is a wonderful and useful tool in the weird and woolly practice of tarot reading.
What do you think? Have you had really accurate tarot readings? Or have you been on the receiving end of the worst readings on the planet?
© 2018 Bev G