Tarot is constantly evolving, both the deck itself and the way we use the cards. Since the mid-1970s, readers started taking a psychological, New Age approach to the cards. Despite several decades of books, workshops, and "educating the public," most people think of tarot cards as a tool for predicting the future. That stereotype comes, as most stereotypes do, from a truth, however old and distorted. Lenormand cards, playing cards, and tarot cards, as well as crystal balls and tea leaves have had the grave responsibility of revealing our futures.
It is easy to see how the trend shifted. People who were interested in tarot, scholars and teachers, authors and practitioners, shared in the changing worldview. The future was not, as some once thought, set in stone, but was ours to create. We had power in our lives. This extreme took many forms; one that is distasteful to many is the idea that everything that happens to us is our own doing—it came to us because we desired it, whether it was wealth, love, disease, or other. This trend, I think, reached it peak when Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret was released. The Law of Attraction became part of popular culture, and many people who knew nothing else of New Age subjects knew the basic premise of The Secret.
However, America’s economy tanked—badly—and has been deeply depressed for years. What many people have experienced in the past few years is that they actually cannot create whatever they want, and sometimes things happen in their lives over which they have no control.
Consequently, readers are folding this into their readings now and more and more are talking about using the cards to predict the future. This is a very controversial subject with many arguments on either side.
My personal philosophy about predicting the future is that it is a lot like predicting the weather. Things are trending in a certain direction. Events have been set in motion. By looking had what’s going on now and what energy from the past is still playing a role, we can tell with some certainty what will happen next. But actions and decisions and random chance can change the course of events. As with a weather forecast, the next day’s is usually pretty accurate. The seven-day forecast, not so much. That’s because so many things can happen between now and then to change the forecast.
Whatever your philosophy, predicting the future is neither completely beneficial nor entirely damaging. As you think about your own world view and practices, consider the following pros and cons. The cons may help you decide to not predict events or they may encourage you to think of ways to include predictions in your readings in the most useful ways possible.
Benefits of Predictions
- If someone is obsessing about an issue to the detriment of her work, health, well-being, or life in general, getting a decisive prediction or answer regarding the situation could break the obsession and allow her to attend to other areas of her life.
- If someone has weighed the pros and cons of a situation and everything seems about equal, getting a prediction can help make the decision.
- Knowledge is power. If someone has an idea of the way events are trending, she can decide how to best act to achieve her goals within the reality of the situation.
The Downside of Prediction
- If someone is predisposed to passivity, she may become even more passive in the face of "predicted" events.
- If someone is predisposed to depression or pessimism and the answer is not one that pleases her, she may delve into depression or give up on a situation.
- How do you, the reader, deal with the responsibility when someone makes an important decision based on a prediction you made and that prediction turns out to wrong?
How To Incorporate Predictions
Those of you who do not believe in using the cards to make predictions: this section does not apply to you. For those of you who really feel that predictions have a place in your practice, here are a few ways to include them in a constructive manner.
- Structure your readings so that the predictive part is first. Use it to get the lay of the land. If the outcome is what the client hoped for, then he or she can likely keep doing what they are doing.
- If the outcome is not to their liking, examine with them the events or energies that lead to that outcome. If the events creating the outcome are represented by Minor cards, the client can likely make significant changes to the outcome, particularly if the lower numbers are present. If court cards are involved, the client may or may not be able to create changes. If Pages and Queens are involved, they are more likely to be open to the client’s requests for assistance. Knights and Kings are less likely to be interested in the client’s agenda. If Major Arcana cards are involved, then the situation is likely beyond the client’s control. In this case, you can work with them to prepare for the future and make the best of the energies present.
- If the outcome is quite immovable and untenable, look further out and see how things develop. If they are positive, as they often are, it will give the client strength to get through the rough time. If they are negative, remember, the further out you look, the easier it is change. If the short term looks grim, make a long-term plan!
- Whatever the outcome, end the reading by using the cards to create action steps so the client does not yield to passivity or helplessness.
How To Practice Predictions
Some people want to predict but don’t have confidence in their skills. For those who believe the future can be predicted (to whatever extent) and who sincerely want to predict, a little practice will give them the confidence they lack.
Do readings for yourself on easy, mundane things in your life that will play out within a day or two.
- Do readings for current events, celebrities, or other situations that look as if they will resolve soon.
- Do readings about movies before you watch them, books before you read them, or even your favorite weekly drama or sitcom before you watch it.
One of the keys is reading about things that will resolve soon, for two reasons. First, it is important to get quick feedback. Second, remember the weather analogy—events closer to the present are more clearly defined than those further out.
If you decide to pursue predictions in your own reading practice, make sure you are clear on your philosophy so you can explain it clearly to your clients. Practice so that you gain confidence. And perhaps most importantly, include predictions in a way that serves the client.