In this lesson, you will learn how to pull together the elements of a reading - to create a tarot story. This is not an easy process to describe because storytelling is an art. Even though you can be shown a few techniques, in the end, you must develop your own style as a tarot artist. This is the challenge (and fun!) of card interpretation.
First, I want you to set aside everything you've learned so far! That's right, just disregard all those fancy principles. In the last seventeen lessons, you've been exposed to pages of information about the cards, and I've only touched on the possibilities! Other tarot books contain system after system for relating the cards to each other. This is fascinating stuff, but what is its real purpose? It is to find a way to release your inner knowing through the cards.
The techniques you've learned so far have been based on the idea that you must figure out what the cards are saying, but this is not really the case. If you think of a tarot reading as an object to be dissected, you will have trouble grasping its full meaning. A tarot story doesn't come from without; it arises from within. Your stories are come from a part of you that is seeking expression and conscious realization.
Of course, I don't really want you to discard your tarot principles. They are valuable, but not because they hold the key to readings in themselves. They simply help you recognize what you already know. They draw you in so you can set up the circumstances to release your story.
The secret of creating a tarot story is getting from intellectual understanding to knowing, from a piecemeal grasp to a unified vision. To do this, you need to learn to recognize and honor your feelings. Feelings in this sense are not moods or emotions. They are the language of your Inner Guide. They are the outward expression of a knowing that is deeper than thought. The main feature of knowing is a sense of rightness. You know your insights are correct when you feel complete and satisfied with them.
The best way I've found to release inner knowing is through stream-of-consciousness talking - saying your thoughts out loud as they occur, uncensored and uncontrolled. You make no attempt to organize or clean up your speech. You simply let the words come out.
This technique is effective because it bypasses the critical ego. It allows the wisdom of your Inner Guide to come forth spontaneously. You feel as if something within has been set free. Your first attempts will probably be awkward, but your stories will improve with practice. You will develop an ability to guide the flow of words without imposing your will on them. Sometimes insights will surface that completely surprise you!
It's not necessary to rush or talk continually. You can pause whenever you want, but avoid thinking when this happens. Simply wait patiently until you feel the impulse to continue. Sometimes repeating the name of a card a few times can help. Queen of Cups....Queen of Cups....Queen of Cups. After each repetition, wait to see if anything comes to mind in the form of a thought or image.
Sometimes your story will just flow. You will have no trouble fitting everything together. Other times there will be gaps and empty places. Certain cards will stay stubbornly obscure. The moment may not be right for you to fully grasp these cards, or all the pieces of the story may not yet be in place.
Don't be concerned if you can't always create a beautiful narrative. Sometimes knowing comes in fragments. Stay with a reading only as long as the effort seems worthwhile. A partial understanding may be all you need.
I once drew the Ace of Pentacles reversed in Position 9. I knew right away that this card was telling me not to focus on money or material concerns. This realization hit me as soon as I saw the card. Everything I needed to know was in that one Ace, so interpreting the other cards was not all that necessary.
A good tarot spread makes weaving the pattern of the cards easy. By following the spread's built-in structure, your story unfolds naturally. Each spread has its own character based on its history, form and purpose. In the Spread Section, I discuss some features of the Celtic Cross and Yin Yang spreads.
Your tarot story ends when your talking begins to wind down and come to a stop. A few stray thoughts may still occur to you, but the main theme will have been established. You will know the essential message of the reading.
Stream-of-consciousness talking is an effective style for me, but you may not like it. You may prefer to sit quietly and absorb the meaning of the cards. Some people like to write out their reactions or create charts that cross-correlate the cards in a systematic way. Each of us is different, and our approaches to the tarot will be different too.
I'd like to leave you with one final thought about tarot stories. Trust yourself and your intuition completely. Banish right now any concerns you have about reading the cards correctly. You really can't make mistakes. Your tarot realizations are always the right ones for you at a given time and place. They are meaningful because they are yours. Know that you are truly connected to all that is. You can access an understanding that is far greater than your everyday awareness. Trust that this is so.
Exercises for Lesson 18