Reading Tarot or Oracle Cards is an art and a science. Both work with archetypal pictures, words and structures. Different layouts, and even decks work better with different kind of questions, concerns or situations. For both tarot and oracle cards, intention is critical, and placement in a layout is as important as any individual card.
The invisible universe speaks to us, and readers need to be able to channel those messages in an unbiased way, as free from ego-based “advice giving” as possible. Readers need to let the cards and the layout “speak” through them. In order to do so, we still need a good foundation on understanding the archetypes we are using.
A reader’s intention is to get the most information from a reading as possible in order to answer a question, help solve a problem, show possible solutions and probable outcomes based on the client’s situation.
A client’s intention is to really want honest answers, a “heads up” on their concerns. There needs to be a belief that they have access to information not acquired by rational or logical means. And finally, they need to be willing to use the answers they receive in the most positive way they can. The client has to want healing and positive change, and be willing to do what needs to be done in the face of adversity. He or she needs to accept the gifts and good news given to them in a reading in order to make the most of that information. Many times, a reading will confirm what is already known, and just give a bit more information on how best to address a situation or concern.
All readings are transitory. The client changes the present and future simply by getting a reading. What is less understood is that people can change the past as well, simply by changing perspective.
It is important to set a “shelf life” on a reading; the more a client takes a reading to heart and acts on information given, the more the past, present and future can change, sometimes at an accelerated rate. Some readings point the way to a change in perception, others prescribe specific actions in the material world. Some point out gifts to be nurtured, emotional healing needed, or a passion to be cultivated or renewed. The cards in their layouts point out how to make suggested changes as well. Sometimes it is as simple as turning a reversed card around to see the remedy or course of action. Other times the whole layout is a map for body, mind, heart and soul.
Generally, it’s better to use a smaller number of cards in Oracle deck readings. Tarot card readings seem work as well with a small or larger number of cards. An exception to this might be a spiritual path reading or a chakra layout reading. The more complex the cards, the more layers of meaning they contain. So the deck you choose for a reading is always a consideration. When I read in a public setting, I limit myself to 7 or 8 layouts and six to ten decks of about equal complexity.
For friends, students, myself or group readings, I can use more complex cards, and larger numbers of them. These kind of readings lend themselves well to a ceremonial ritual reading, where the “shelf life” of the reading can be longer than 60 to 90 days.
Responsible reading includes having the client write down the cards, placements and the key parts of the reading. It also includes time for questions and immediate follow-up clarification and feedback. People may say they will remember, yet is unlikely they will remember as completely as when they take notes and/or take a photo of the spread.
All readings need time and the energy of the client to be of maximum benefit. When you, or someone else, keeps asking the same question(s) over and over in a short period of time when nothing significant has changed, the universe may refuse to give comprehensible answers after the first couple of times. Also, the universe does have a sense of humor, and may start answering the questions you have not asked. I have even seen this happen the first time if in a reading someone asks a question that is not the primary concern they really want or need to address.
Learning the meanings of each card in a deck is important. With most tarot decks there is a built in system for doing this, as the numerology, structure of the four suits and the traditional meanings of the trump, or Major Arcana cards are similar between decks.
Oracle decks can be quite simple, including words and universally accepted symbols that are fairly obvious. They can also be extremely complex, with many layers of meanings, depending on the artist. One of the most complex Oracle decks I have used is Brian Froud’s Faery Oracle. When you then take into consideration several cards in relationship to one another, the meaning can be even more difficult to divine unless you are really open. Or, sometimes the Fae are immediately helpful, and the answer you seek literally jumps right out in front of you, simple and unmistakable.
In all spreads, the relationship of the cards to one another is important. As a reader, you also need to look at the big picture. How many fire cards, and where? Are there any element cards missing? Does the present contain more water and the future more earth? How many trump cards are there in relationship to the total number of cards and where are they? Are there multiple cards with the same number from different suits in a reading? Is there an abundance of court cards? If so, who do you think they represent–the client, or someone else in their life? Are there multiple people on a majority of cards, or do all of the cards have just one person on them?
These questions help us see the forest instead of just the individual trees. We get an overall map with embedded direction and strength of energy in a reading by noting the patterns. Even Oracle cards form patterns. If you have a Goddess Oracle, did you pull all water Goddesses, or all Maidens or Crones? If you have an Animal Card Oracle, do you have all predator or prey animals? Or perhaps the animals are all nocturnal or transformational animals. Though many oracle cards, if numbered, seem to be numbered randomly, still a run of numbers in a reading may be useful information. So take a deep breath, and at the beginning and end of a reading, look for the patterns.
Above all, learn to trust the feelings you have–the visual cues that jump out at you or pop into your head not related to any images on the cards. I have learned to listen to the voices in my head, and often repeat them word for word for a client to write down, even when I don’t know what I am talking about at the time. Never underestimate the powers in the invisible universe to get you the messages you need to help yourself or others in doing divination work.
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