Using the Tarot for Creativity and Empowerment

21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card: Step 10 – Meanings

21waysto read a tarot card

This week in Step 10 of Mary K. Greer’s book “21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card“, we are working with the card interpretations found in books. While many authors will tell you to “throw away the companion book”, Mary states that referring to book meanings can in fact, help you to gain a wider perspective. It can also help you to gain knowledge (you expand your repertoire of card meanings) and can also provide you valuable feedback on your own insights.

I personally have an enormous binder of card meanings that I have come across from various sources over the years: books, message forums, Web sites as well as unusual meanings that have come during readings with clients. A few years ago, I was reading a Tarot message board and one of the members said that the Ace of Cups came up for her in the context of busted water pipes! Unusual, to be sure.

One question that I get from many of my Tarot students is: “How do you know which meaning is the right one?” In this step, Mary deal with that exact question. She provides several ways to determine which meaning is relevant in which case. By combining the “rational mind with the intuitive”, she mentions the following body-mind or intuitive giveaways that can help reveal the best meaning for you:

  • Your interest perks up, your attention sharpens, you become more focused
  • You experience body reactions such as quickening of breath, blinking of eyes, raising of your brow, shrugging of shoulders, toe taps, etc. I personally often experience an increase in heart rate when I hit the correct meaning in a situation.
  • You feel a subtle sensation such as warmth, heaviness, brightening, ringing, buzzing, magnetism. Buzzing and heaviness are two that I personally can relate to.
  • A memory snapshot from your life appears in your mind’s eye. Many people refer to this as a “vision” or a “flash”.
  • A word or phrase “leaps out”. This also happens to me – I can scan a page and seem to be able to only see one meaning as being relevant – it just “jumps out” at me.
  • You reread the same word several times.
  • You automatically find yourself saying “yes” or “no”, accompanied by head nodding or shaking.
  • The wording directly refers to the situation or something you or the sitter just said.

After you’ve been reading for awhile, these body/intuition reactions are extremely easy to notice. I find the same sort of reactions also occur when simply thinking about relevant meanings for a card.

In the activity, Mary has us perform the following steps:

  1. We look up our chosen card in a book that provides a wide variety of interpretations or using the companion book or booklet that came with the deck. For this exercise, I used the companion book to the Gaian Tarot entitled: The Gaian Tarot: Healing the Earth, Healing Ourselves.
  2. Next, we are asked to refresh our mind about our initial question (I had forgotten my question and had to look back at my first posting in this series!). We then repeat the question to ourself, take a few deep breaths and then look over the list of our possible meanings. If necessary, repeat the meanings. When doing so, look for any reactions.My initial question was: “What do I need to look at in my life right now?”. I definitely noticed a reaction as I read over a couple of the meanings. My breathing and my heart rate increased each time I read them.
  3. Then, we list all the meanings that jump out at us and then summarize the message into 1 or 2 sentences.   The meanings that jumped out at me and caused a physical reaction were:A New Beginning
    Taking a Risk
    To summarize: “I need to take a risk and be open to adventure — and perhaps look to doing something new in my life.”
  4. Next, if we like, we can note where the meanings explored in the previous steps are the same and where they were different – and then write a once sentence summary of these similarities & differences.

The past meanings I explored covered the three meanings listed above with two notable exceptions: the theme of “fear” and “following destiny” came up a couple of times. Thus, for my once sentence summary, I could say:

“I must not let fear of taking a risk (or traveling off the beaten path) stop me from following my destiny and beginning a new path.”

5. The last step involves revisiting the reading at a later time to verify the accuracy of the meanings.

So how did you do? Which meanings jumped out at you?

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