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The Llewellyn Journal
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Tarot: Speed Reading

This article was written by Mark McElroy
posted under Tarot

What do to: Earlier [in the book], I mentioned one TV psychic who zips through her Tarot cards as fast as she can. In fifteen seconds, she’ll go through ten cards, smacking them into piles and making up a story as she goes. “King of Cups! You’re seeing an older man, aren’t ya? Three of Coins! It’s lots of work maintaining that relationship, eh? But here’s the Eight of Coins, which tells me you stick with him ‘cause he’s paying your bills! Here’s what you don’t know, baby: Queen of Wands! Dat old man’s also seeing your sister!”

While we’ll leave the discovery of twisted trysts to the TV psychics, the method employed here—moving rapidly through the deck, tossing out one quick association per card, then drawing the next card—makes for a powerful brainstorming strategy. Especially when the idea is to generate the maximum number of ideas in the least amount of time, the speed-reading technique becomes my method of choice.

Practicing the Speed Reading Strategy

The Situation: I recently participated in a conference call concerning the launch of a new product: a discounted, “all-distance” telephone service designed to allow anyone in the country to call any other US resident at any time of day for one low monthly fee. The marketing employee leading the call asked, “With this product in mind, what are some things we can do to maximize this product’s success?”

I produced a Tarot deck, shuffled, and quickly dealt five cards: the Eight of Wands, the Six of Cups, the Hanged Man, the Queen of Wands, and the Nine of Coins from the Universal Tarot.

Quick! Just as I did, glance at these cards, then reduce each one to a single-sentence recommendation. Say yours out loud or write them down…but don’t peek at my answers until you generate your own!

Speed Reading Spread - Deck: Universal Tarot

Some Possible Answers: Glancing at each card, I noted keywords, possible meanings, number symbolism, and images. Right away, I made these associations:
  • Eight of Wands: rapid change, big news, speed.
  • Six of Cups: sharing, giving to others, buying, and selling.
  • Hanged Man: turning things upside down, learning from mistakes.
  • Queen of Wands: for this card, I drew a blank.
  • Nine of Coins: having everything needed, being rich, money.

So, when the call leader asked for my recommendations, I said, “Because this product makes a fundamental change in how people use their telephone, I think you can expect a lot of interest from the media—so I’d have media packs ready to mail to reporters well in advance of the launch. People who switch to the service will want to tell family and friends about it, so I’d put a form on the website that makes it easy to invite others to join.

“I know it’s early, but it’s never too early to anticipate what can go wrong—so someone needs to sit down and think of all the systems impacted by this product, from lead generation to final fulfillment, with an eye toward anticipating glitches and challenges.”

For some reason, I got no ideas at all from the Queen of Wands. Rather than let this break my flow, I went right on the Nine of Coins.

“The idea of getting both local and long distance service for one rate per month is so new and unusual, people will be suspicious as to whether or not the offer is really as good as it sounds. Sales reps should prepare to help customers understand this product gives them everything they need in one package. As usual, the sales pitch should focus on the money people will save…but when we call, we should be prepared with hard dollar figures that help customers understand just how much money this plan will save them each month.

The phone line fell silent.

“Could you run over those ideas again?” the marketing rep asked. “I wasn’t able to write them all down!”

How about your ideas? Did your recommendations parallel mine, or were they entirely unique? If one of the cards stumped you (as the Queen of Wands did me), did you give up…or keep right on going?

When speed reading, the key to success is keeping the ideas flowing! Even if you run through all seventy-eight cards and produce only five ideas…you’ll walk away with five ideas you didn’t have before.

From Putting the Tarot to Work: Creative Problem Solving, Effective Decision Making, and Personal Career Planning, by Mark McElroy


Mark McElroyMark McElroy
After purchasing his first Tarot deck in 1973, Mark McElroy began terrorizing other neighborhood nine-year-olds with dire and dramatic predictions.Today, he calls Tarot "the ultimate visual brainstorming tool," and shares techniques designed to help...  Read more

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