By: VICTORIA WILSON on APRIL 20, 2017
Pulling a card a day is hands down the best practice that you can do if you are interested in cultivating a personalized rapport with your Tarot cards.
One way to learn Tarot card meanings is by reading about the meanings that other people have brought to the cards in books and blogs. I attribute a lot of my knowledge to Tarot classics such as 78 Degrees of Wisdom, Tarot for Yourself, and 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card.
But working with Tarot is also a highly personalized experience. It’s not just about memorizing keywords, it’s about being able to go beyond the traditional meanings and bring a personal touch to your interpretation.The most accurate readings come as a result of applying the card meanings that resonate with you the most. And the only way to know which meanings those are is to experience them for yourself.
When reading for myself or someone else, each card that appears in the spread opens a floodgate of memories. I am not a psychic Tarot reader who channels voices, feels things, or sees visual images in my mind’s eye. I rely primarily on past memories and lessons learned from personal experiences to interpret what the cards are saying. On occasion, I pull a card and a song will pop into my head. I have Mercury in Pisces, so it’s common for me to get messages through lyrics.
We can interpret Tarot cards by drawing upon our memories and personal experiences because Tarot represents archetypal experiences that are universal to everyone regardless of where you hail from. Regardless of whether you are a man or woman, black, white, or brown, Jew, Buddhist or Christian, all human beings share certain experiences in common.
We all know what it means to fall in love and be totally transformed by a partner, an experience captured by the The Lovers. In this card we project our ideal vision of the opposite sex onto our romantic partners, and get to know our inner masculine and inner feminine through relationships.
At some point, everyone has to confront their fears and learn how to control them so that they don’t control us, which is what Strength is all about. Life will call in each and every one of us to face our fears head on, whether that be via learning how to confront people, being alone, or losing something dear to you.
And I’m sure that each and every one of us has made a mistake that eventually came back to bite us in the ass. Justice dishes out lessons, both positive and negative, about karma. Everyone knows what it feels like to be avenged by the Universe, as well as deserving whatever punishment is being meted out to you.
The purpose of the card-a-day practice is to develop a compendium of memories that we can attach to specific cards and draw on when they appear in a reading.
Whenever I see the Nine of Pentacles, I think back on the good times I had when I went hiking with a friend on one of my favorite trails in the city. One of the traditional meanings of this cards speaks to slowing down and enjoying life. That experience taught me to see the ways in which wealth can assume non-monetary forms. Leisure is in and of itself a form of wealth.
The Star reminds me of an old relationship I had several years ago, and the ego wounds that relationship helped me heal. Because it came up repeatedly in my daily draws during that time period, The Hanged Man reminds me of the person whom I had that relationship with, and the hard lessons he taught me about myself when our time together came to an end.
The Hierophant stalked me during my grad school days, particularly when I was butting heads with my advisor about the direction I wanted to take my work. After I graduated, I realized this card was trying to tell me that I needed to take the time to understand and acknowledge the theoretical paradigms of scholars who came before me before I would be in a position to challenge their work.
These are all experiences that inform the interpretation I bring to the cards when I am reading for someone else. During a reading I won’t talk about the specifics of my personal life per se, but I will discuss those experiences in general terms and apply it to the querent’s situation.
To cultivate a personalized rapport with your Tarot cards, do the CARD-A-DAY EXERCISE:
STEP 1 – In the morning or before you go to bed, shuffle your deck. When you feel the time is right, pull a card.
It’s up to you whether you want to ask a question as you do this, which can provide a framework to help you interpret that card. Some questions you can ask are:
- What do I need to know about today?
- What is the prevailing energy of the day?
- What advice should I keep in mind today?
STEP 2 – In your Tarot journal note the date and the card title.
If you have time, note the initial reactions you have to that card.
- What is the first thing that you notice?
- How do the colors make you feel?
- Which symbols stand out to you?
- Do those symbols have any personal significance to you?
- Does the card trigger any memories?
Writing down the date you pulled that card is important because eventually you’ll want to revisit your journal and note any trends that appear, especially if you have a “stalker” card that appears repeatedly throughout a certain time period. Sometimes we only understand the message that card had for us in hindsight.
STEP 3 – At night before you go to bed, come back to your journal and review the events of the day.
Write down anything notable that happened. Do any of these events and experiences speak back to the card you pulled earlier?
If you’re new to Tarot, it can be challenging to figure out what a certain card refers to specifically. Keep in mind that Tarot isn’t always referencing events that happen outside of us. Pulling The Lovers doesn’t mean that you will meet the love of your life that day. It could simply mean that you have love on the mind, or maybe a memory of a past love was triggered.
My rule of thumb is that Major Arcana cards refer to internal experiences, emotional states, and higher order life lessons.
Minor Arcana cards refer to external events that happen around us.
Pulling a card a day will help you connect specific cards to a real life experiences, which will in turn tell you something about the meaning that card has for you. It will also highlight the subtle nuances of that card that you can’t read about in a book. You’re actually living the experience of that card, which is a much deeper understanding.
I pulled the Six of Swords from the Alchemical Tarot yesterday morning. Traditionally, this is a card about transitioning from one place to another, and that’s pretty much it. Or at least that’s what I thought. When I revisited my Tarot journal last night, I looked at the Six of Swords and thought about movement. I then realized that it was referencing an encounter that I had with a coyote earlier that afternoon.
During a walk around my neighborhood a coyote appeared from out of nowhere and started trailing me. I realized this when I heard a rustling noise behind me. When I looked back to check it out, a coyote emerged from a grassy field.
As you can imagine, this freaked me out. When I was a small girl a neighbor’s German Shepherd jumped on me, knocking me over. He was friendly but it was a very scary experience. Since then I’m not 100% comfortable around canines, unless they’re toy poodles or wiener dogs.
And I was especially not 100% comfortable with this situation. Coyotes are supposed to be frightened by the sight of humans. But this one clearly was not. To boot, it seemed as if he wanted something from me. Coyote attacks on people are extremely rare, and the one facing me didn’t appear hostile. He was not growling or snarling.
Nevertheless it’s a wild animal, and wild animals are unpredictable. I didn’t feel like taking any chances, so I decided to put my fears aside. I faced the coyote and make eye contact with it. I waved my hands back and forth over my head to make myself appear larger. And then I started jumping up and down. I’m sure I looked pretty stupid, but this caused the coyote to stop in his tracks. Eventually I picked up the pace and zoomed out of there. Walking at a rapid pace, I eventually lost him.
Later that night as I looked at this particular image of the Six of Swords. Reflecting back on my experience with the coyote made me realize for the first time that this card has a couple more meanings.
First, the Six of Swords a card about moving from Point A to Point B. Look at the sail boat making her way across the water, being pushed along by the wind. The lines it leaves behind suggests that it is traveling at a very rapid pace. This was the strategy that I ultimately adopted to get away from the coyote. I quickly walked away.
Second, Six of Swords is also a card about emotions, as suggested by all the water we see in the image. But it’s also an Air card, which points to the close connection between our thoughts and our emotions. Emotions run out of control can prompt us to take actions that end up undermining our well being.
The Six of Swords suggests unruffled emotions – keeping steady and staying cool. The water in this card isn’t turbulent, it’s calm smooth sailing. In my situation, I had to show no fear. Canines possess a keen ability to smell fear, and one that’s preying on you will definitely take advantage of that. Remaining calm helped me remember techniques I have learned for warding off mountain lion attacks. Apparently, these techniques work on coyotes too.
Third, I learned that the Six of Swords is about moving towards a better place. Many readers attribute a sense of hope to this card, and I agree. I quickly moved uphill away from the grassy knoll that the coyote emerged from, until I looked back and the coyote was no longer within sight. I felt lucky to make it out of there unharmed!
So there’s two additional meanings that I now bring to the Six of Swords as a result of having this encounter with a coyote. Experiences like this illustrate why pulling a card a day is so crucial to enhancing your understanding of Tarot card meanings. They also show us how the Tarot is continuously dishing out life lessons. Now the Six of Swords always brings to mind the benefits of staying cool under pressure, and not allowing my fears to take over in the face of a tense transition.
If you’re feeling stuck figuring out the meaning of a daily card that you have pulled for yourself, don’t fret. Just note the title of the card down in your journal next to the date and sleep on it. Sometimes it can take a few days for the meaning to become clear. When this happens, I find that Tarot responds by giving me the same card over and over again.
Are you having difficulty interpreting a daily Tarot card that you’ve pulled for yourself? Tell me about it in the comments below.