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Conflicting Information

This post was written by Barbara Moore
on May 20, 2014 | Comments (2)

Someone once asked me how should a beginner deal with the fact that some tarot books include conflicting information. That is an excellent question because there is no one definitive list of what the cards mean. There may be any number of ways to deal with conflicting information and I hope some of my readers will share their ideas here.

When I first started in tarot, the internet existed but it wasn’t anything like it was today. In fact, I worked with my mentor via snail mail (and, oh, how I wish I’d saved that correspondence!). After a few years of exploring tarot via as many decks and books as I could get my hands on, I decided to go through certification with the American Tarot Association. This organization still offers education but not certification. I do not think that certification matters. What mattered was the process I went through to prepare myself for certification.

I worked on one card at a time. I surrounded myself with all the books I had available and read about each card, making notes in a notebook of all the meanings (unless they seemed to make no sense to me). After collecting all the information, I was able to see many themes repeated and worked with those until I was able to boil it down to a core meaning. Then I expanded the meanings in ways that made sense. This helped the meanings all connect rather than just feel like a disconnected collection of random meanings. It also sometimes showed me that the information wasn’t really conflicting but rather just a different point of view or focus. But sometimes, yes, of course, there will be conflicting information.

Tarot cards are keys that open doors of knowing. Every time you open that door, the landscape will be slightly (or hugely) different. Is this because it has changed or you have? Or both? Probably both. So this is why, I think, it is really challenging to create a list of meanings that are always true or complete. For me, it was better to distill the meanings down to their core, their key. Everything else moves outward from there. If you have your core, your North Star, for each card, you can navigate through any situation or reading and find the right interpretation.

Reader Comments

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#1 
Written By Annie
on May 20th, 2014 @ 3:39 pm

I am new to tarot and this is my biggest struggle! I have many books now and many meanings are similar but some are completely different. Thank you for sharing your insight :)

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#2 
Written By Roxy
on May 24th, 2014 @ 12:05 pm

Yes, I agree that there is almost too much information out there and the discrepancies in card meanings can be confusing to any Tarot reader – experienced or novice. In almost 40 years of using the cards I have learned much more from actually doing readings and seeing how the cards “stack up” vis-à-vis a particular person and their issues than by following any one set of interpretations found in a book or books.

For example, I never could fathom some of the meanings ascribed to the Page and Knight court cards. Over time, I tended to treat them as follows: Pages were the imminent beginning of something – love or partnershops (cups), successful business or money matters (pentacles), etc. – and Knights fortold that the matter was happening and coming to fruition. But that is something that came to me over the years and with much trial and error in my readings. These cards may mean something entirely different to you – but, that is the beauty and mystery of the cards. There can be no “wrong” meaning when taken in conjunction with the other cards in the spread.

Similarly, some of the Major Arcana cards – like the Devil, or the Tower – can be terrifying when they show up in a reading for someone. Depending on what the other cards around them say, they can be interpreted less negatively. For example, if the Tower shows up in a reading about a problem with a loved one, it probably signifies that that person is about to have a major awakening – for good or not. I have never believed that the card signifies total destruction or an absolute end to something. As we know, Tarot gives us messages and warnings – what we do with them is entirely up to our free will. And when exercised, the previous meanings of the readings will change or not, based on free will.

I would urge any new reader to do as many readings as possible before deciding on a particular meaning that a card may have for them. The books are great as a means of opening one’s perceptions to the many hidden meanings contained there in – but they are not “gospel,” and should never be interpreted as such.

And don’t be afraid to shuffle the cards and start over if a particular spread just has you baffled. That has happened, and still continues to happen to me, even after all these years. Tarot is a tool that responds differently in each set of hands. Over almost four decades it has been an amazing portal to knowing myself and those around me, and has given others a lot of comfort and direction when faced with difficult decisions.

I wish all of you who read this post blessings and continued success with Tarot.

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