Like me, at some point you may consider creating your own tarot reading system. Or your own approach may just develop organically as you select what techniques work best for you. A few years ago I realized that adhering to external Tarot systems and traditions was not for me. I found that my personal reading style took inspiration from a variety of traditions. To develop my system I walked through all the elements of Tarot reading and identified my preferred approach to each area of the reading process. It’s worth noting this is still a work in progress. It likely always will be since my relationship with Tarot is constantly evolving. But through this approach I have laid down the main elements of my system. This helped to clarify my personal relationship with the Tarot. It helped me feel more confident as a reader. And it identified areas I needed more work on. Overall, no matter how you read (even if you feel pretty committed to an existing tradition) going through this process can give you a lot of clarity.
I strongly recommend studying (or at least exploring) some of the existing long- standing tarot traditions before creating their own system. Especially if you don’t identify as an intuitive reader (more on intuitive reading in my next blog). Traditional systems can inspire you and prevent you from reinventing the wheel. See my last blog on tarot study to learn more.
The following is a basic list of the elements of a Tarot system to consider and explore as you develop your own personal tarot reading approach.
- Reading style – These are are psychological, spiritual and predictive. I wrote a recent blog on reading styles that you can read to learn more about reading styles. I also wrote a blog on the techniques I use for each style.
2. Context – Where does context come from? the question, the querent, spreads, other processes/rules, more elaborate approaches (the opening of the key), things that happen during a reading, the reading environment, synchronicities, other psychic insights from the reader, and other tools like crystals or oracle decks… to name just a few elements that provide context to a reading.
3. Reading Techniques – Here are two of the main categories of reading techniques you will want to explore when developing your system:
- Type of spreads (or none) – do you use spreads? If so what kinds do you use? Do you create them yourself or get them from another source? Do you develop customized spreads for your clients to address their questions?
- Significator/activated cards (or none) – Do you use significators or activated cards (which are basically secondary significators that identify secondary people or can identify certain situations or themes in the reading)? If you do, how do you identify your significator? Do you use astrology, Myers Briggs or physical appearance? Do you only use court cards as significators? Do you shuffle the significator into the deck or leave it out? Do you search for it after shuffling and read the cards around it? Do you split the deck into piles and read with the pile that contains your activated cards?
4. Card Interpretation – There is so much to cover in this section it will require several other blogs. I will list a few approach to card interpretation here: storytelling, reversals, images vs meanings, keywords, mind mapping, card interactions (directionality and blended meanings), and classic cartomancy techniques like mirroring and knighting. Card interpretation is the most complex element of tarot reading and sometimes can be difficult to articulate. But I will definitely tackle card interpretation techniques in future blogs.
5. Card Meanings – The way that you derive card meanings is very personal and also deeply connected with card interpretation techniques. Again I will cover this briefly here but I plan to do more blogs on card meanings.
Some of the main approaches to card meanings are:
- Fluid or fixed meanings – do the cards always mean the same thing or does that meaning shift and evolve in response to the question? or other cards around it or if it’s reversed, etc. ?
- External or internal meanings – As you build up an understanding of what the cards mean do you find those meaning come from the cards themselves (through your readings) or do you derive them from external sources like books or traditions, perhaps a bit of both?
- Timing – Do you use tarot to identify the timing of events? If so how do you derive timing from the cards?
- Location – Do you use tarot to identify places? If so how do you derive locations with the cards? Do you have a system of symbols or keywords? Do you look for clues in the imagery?
- Ninth Gate Effect – Do you see tarot images as a literal mirror of physical world? Read my blog for more on this approach to the cards.
- Tangible Tarot – Can the cards represent actual physical objects? I will have a blog on this soon.
These are the main elements of my personal tarot system. Once I identified my preferences in all these areas I had a system that I could stick to consistently which may my readings clearer and more accurate and increased my confidence as a reader. I hope this process will help you get the same results!