Many tarot enthusiasts begin by studying the cards, reading all they can about them. Learning about all the fascinating nuances and correspondences creates a firm foundation for understanding the cards. However, once in the midst of an actual reading, you realize that all that theory is only the beginning. After learning about the core identity of the card, you then have to learn how to interpret it in the context of the reading.
Here are some tips to practice reading a card in context:
1. Location, location, location!
The positional meaning shapes the interpretation of the card. Select a card from your deck (either randomly or pick one that you are particularly interested in working with). Select your favorite spread. Interpret your card in each position.
2. More questions
To further explore how the position or the question asked shapes the card meaning, pull a card and read it as the answer for the following questions:
- what is my greatest strength?
- what is my biggest weakness?
- what is my current challenge?
- what will help me?
- what do I love?
- what do I fear?
- what do I need to release?
3. The Question
The question asked will also affect how a card is interpreted. Try this experiment. Select a card. Interpret it as if it fell in the “advice” position for a reading about the following questions:
- Will I get a job soon?
- Will I find love?
- How can I find my highest spiritual path?
- How can I improve my relationship with my boss?
- What can I do about my marriage…something seems off?
4. The querent
How does the querent affect the interpretation of the card? Find out. Select a card. Read it as falling in the advice position in a reading about “how can I find love/romance?” Imagine you are reading for the following people and see if you’d interpret the card differently for each of them:
- your best friend
- your sibling
- someone you dislike
- a 23 year old woman just starting a challenging but promising new career
- a 48 year old man, recently divorced with 3 children with shared custody, things are not smooth between him and his ex
- a 68 year old woman, widowed 3 years after a 25 year happy marriage
- a 25 year old woman, widowed less than one year after marrying
- a 32 year old man who just lost his job, hasn’t been in a relationship in 5 years
With any of these, modify them to suit your interests, your needs, and your beliefs.