“Listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot.” – Jack Kerouac
All tarot practitioners have been there. You’ve turned over your cards ready to see a deeper intuitive truth and get…nothing. Normally they elicit your intuition. Usually you’re able to see a deeper truth or lesson related to your life or a specific situation in your life. Almost always the cards help you to see exactly what you were ready to see, and gain insight and wisdom as a result.
But then there are those occasions when, well, that doesn’t really happen. What then?
This situation is quite common for the new tarot user because they are still learning the meanings of the cards. They haven’t developed a personal relationship to each of tarot’s 78 cards yet, so when they turn over a card the intuitive “hit”, or flash of epiphany, doesn’t always (or even often) occur naturally or effortlessly. With a little time and practice, it will. And once it does, using tarot as a tool for awakening becomes effective, magical, and fun.
But even those who’ve been practicing for years have this happen to them sometimes. I’ve been using tarot daily for over five years and some days I look at the cards and hear little more than crickets.
If this happens to you, don’t worry one iota that you’re “doing it wrong”. There are many factors that can contribute to your intuition not being at its peak on any given day. You didn’t get enough sleep, you’re distracted by something subconsciously, you’re just not in your normal flow. Who knows?
What’s more important than the why is addressing what to do next. After all, you always get the right cards for a given situation. ALWAYS. So, never throw the cards back, and never suspect you’ve somehow drawn the wrong cards. No, you have the right cards sitting right in front of you. You’ve approached your cards with intention and purpose. You are ready to see the deeper truth about something. Regretfully, you’re just not getting the flash of insight like you usually do.
First, here is a brief list of things to do to prevent this from happening in the first place:
1 CENTER YOURSELF BEFORE DRAWING YOUR CARDS
I’ve found it much easier to get intuitive readings when I work with the cards in the morning or evening. These are the times of day when we’re more naturally intuitive, and so it follows these would be the best times to work with the cards in intuitive flow.
Regardless when I work with the cards, I always center myself before shuffling and dealing. This may take the form of a couple minutes of quiet meditation, or even just a few deep mindful breaths. You want to help quiet the overactive mind that dominates most of our waking life and create the conditions for your intuition to shine through. Don’t put any pressure on yourself; just take those few valuable moments to center yourself and set the intention to receive.
2 APPROACH YOUR CARDS IN THE SPIRIT OF INSPIRED CURIOSITY
No matter what kind of challenges we’re dealing with in our lives, when we approach our cards it should always be in a positive spirit. All of life’s problems have solutions, and what we often find by working with tarot is many of our problems aren’t really problems at all. They are a matter of perspective. Tarot allows us to see them in a whole new light, and it’s amazing how when the light goes on in our minds and hearts, we see exactly what we need to see. The truth always sets us free.
No matter what kind of stresses you’re dealing with in your life, make the decision to take a break from them when you light your candle and you draw your cards. If you decide to address a specific issue with your cards that’s giving you trouble, trust there is an answer, and be patient and kind to yourself as you work toward it. Your intuition is activated when you are loving to yourself.
Be open to receiving the truth, wisdom, and love you possess with yourself. Enjoy your tarot work. No, better yet, LOVE IT, always.
3 DON’T OVERTHINK IT
We have two hemispheres of our brains. The left side controls our logic, reasoning and problem solving. This is the part of our brains that we utilize almost all day every day, as we navigate the stresses of work and family life. It is completely natural; we’re hardwired to think and seek solutions to problems. Our left hemisphere is what has us thinking so much all the time.
The other side is woefully underutilized for most of us. Tarot is effective as a means of activating the right hemisphere of our brains. This is the more heart-centric side. It is intuitive and able to see the deeper truths of life without logical “thinking”. It is more in flow and effortless. This type of thinking comes with a quiet and relaxed mind. It doesn’t force things but trusts and allows.
When struggling with gaining intuitive insight, you may just be overthinking. You’re doing what most of us do nearly all the time: we think think think. Instead, just relax and allow for the truth to come to you. If you patiently do this, it almost always will.
If you do each of the above regularly, with patience and commitment, your tarot work will flourish nearly all of the time. Your intuition will flow into your consciousness and you will receive the deep truth and wisdom you possess within you.
Okay, so what about if you’re doing all those things and you still have times when you don’t get the intuitive insight? Hey, it happens sometimes.
Here’s a brief list of what to do next:
1 TAKE YOUR TIME
Don’t be impatient. Take some extra time with the cards. This is a big one for experienced tarot practitioners because we expect the truth within the cards to intuitively come to us quickly and effortlessly. This is what we’re used to. But there are times when we are challenged to look a little deeper, spend a few extra moments, and not rush for quick easy answers.
This is why I suggest always giving yourself plenty of time with the cards. If you work with tarot in the morning before going to work, don’t give yourself just five to ten minutes. It’s always worth it to wake up a little earlier to give yourself enough time to sit with your cards in a relaxed state of mind. Intuition does not flow when you feel rushed. Believe me, those fifteen minutes of lost sleep are more than made up for when you get a rewarding and insightful reading from your cards.
2 EXPAND YOUR VISION
If you’re accustomed to reading certain cards the same way every time they come up, now is probably a good time to expand your understanding of the cards in front of you. I call this “tarot tunnel vision”. Experienced tarot users fall into this trap because we have personal meanings for each of the cards and return to the same meanings when they arise. In a sense we can fall into a rut of having too-specific understandings of the symbols of tarot, which are intrinsically broad and relate to a wide variety of situations in our lives and within ourselves.
I encourage all tarot users to keep a keyword guide of some kind handy when you work with the cards. If your intuition isn’t kicking in for you, consider alternate meanings of the cards than what you usually associate with them. The 2 of Cups, for example, doesn’t always mean your relationship with your loved one, right? What else could it signify? What other cards might you be ready to expand your understanding of? You may consider working with a new deck as well, to gain a fresh perspective.
3 WRITE IT OUT
The best tarot work is done in conjunction with journaling. Sometimes just looking at the cards isn’t enough to activate your intuition. Often you see more through the process of writing it out and discovering what spills out of your pen and onto a page.
This one is very effective for me. I’ve been struck by how, even when I don’t see much in the cards initially, that when I journal I see and understand much better. Start your journal entry with anything – a single keyword from one of the cards works nicely – and connect it to what is happening in your life currently. Write freely and honestly and don’t edit yourself as you do.
4 ACCEPT WHATEVER INSIGHT YOU GET, WITHOUT EXPECTATIONS
Some days are just better than others. This is true in life and your tarot practice as well. If you gained a profound insight every single day, you would eventually take them for granted and they would become less powerful and helpful for you. Just because every day doesn’t yield something transcendent doesn’t mean it should be considered a disappointment.
I’ve found that often the deeper truth of the reading isn’t revealed until later in the day. Keep your cards fresh in your mind, and you may find something occurs later in the day that applies to the day’s reading. We only see the truth when we are ready, and you may become ready to see it later, when away from the cards.
Other times, readings build upon each other. Your less-than-amazing reading today may be related to something you see tomorrow, and perhaps even the following day as well. That’s why journaling is so important: you keep track of each day’s readings and see the patterns that reveal truths that cannot be nicely summarized in a single day. Expand your perspective a little more and connect how a few lesser days of tarot in a row may add up to something truly rewarding when put together.
Even if you don’t see the greater truth or insight, trust that your subconscious is getting it. Our consciousness is a tiny fraction of what we’re actually seeing and understanding in any given moment. The overwhelming majority of what we see is done deep down, within the subconscious realms of our Essential Self.
Never fear, never panic, and never be disappointed. You’re always receiving the message, even if you don’t know it.