The Role of Intuition in Divination


From Tarot Beyond the Basics by Anthony Louis:

“Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.”

Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

Intuition is such an important topic in tarot divination that this entire chapter [chapter 4: The Role of Intuition in Divination] is devoted to it. As Francis Bacon suggests, thoughts that come unbidden during a reading are often the most telling. Author Richard Roberts was so impressed by the significance of intuition that he advised his readers to throw away their interpretation books. Please don’t throw away this book, however.

One has to wonder why “unsought for thoughts” during a reading are so revealing. Whence do these unbidden ideas arise? Modern authors usually attribute the origin of such thoughts to empathy, intuition, and the subconscious mind. The traditional view, which spans several millennia, holds that such flashes of insight are gifts from a higher power such as angelic beings, spirits of deceased ancestors, or the gods themselves.

Anthony Louis continues exploring the role of intuition and card meanings in a very meaty and interesting chapter. The whole book is meaty and interesting, though. Louis includes a little alteration of Through the Looking Glass that I found very thought provoking. It opens a section called “Tarot’s Dirty Little Secret.”

Humpty Dumpty’s comments about “words” apply equally well to the tart. Consider the following interaction between Alice and Madame Dumpty (Humpty’s wife) during a tarot reading:

“I don’t know what you mean by the Seven of Swords,” Alice said.

Madame Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t—till I tell you.”

“When I read card,” Madame Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make the cards mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Madame Dumpty, “which is to master—that’s all.”

Is Madame Dumpty right?

Written by Barbara Moore
The tarot has been a part of Barbara Moore’s personal and professional lives for over a decade. In college, the tarot intrigued her with its marvelous blending of mythology, psychology, art, and history. Later, she served as the tarot specialist for Llewellyn Publications. Over the years, she has ...