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Why Traditional Tarotists Miss The Mark


I will be honest, traditional tarotists bore me to tears. Hearing them begin to drone on and on about ancient symbolism and esoteric, “magician esque” interpretations make me yawn and immediately begin to nod off.

It’s simply not often applicable to modern life (which, unless I’ve been living in a parallel universe, is precisely what we live) but more than that it comes across as exceptionally one dimensional. It reads as a student repeating what its teacher has drilled into them or what they read in some ancient text.

To make the distinction here, I read Tarot intuitively. That means that while I have an in depth knowledge of the “traditional” or “esoteric” meanings behind the cards I have allowed Tarot to serve as an intuitive trigger that has not only established new meanings and interpretations of certain cards and card combinations over the years but also for guidance to flow beyond the scope of what is seen. In short, I have built my own relationship with the cards and married their insight with my natural psychic gifts.

Traditionalism in Tarot, however, tends to adhere to a strict paradigm of associations and long ago crafted meanings of the cards and how they should be worked with. They also tend to frown upon those who see Tarot as an artform open to interpretation; especially as it’s seen by Tarot professionals and enthusiasts on social media today.

There is an underlying bitterness that the world is moving on and expanding from the old ways that tends to detract from any medicine traditionalism may have to offer.  Furthermore, the ego tends to be strongest in this camp as there is an assumption of superiority granted to those who read traditionally than those who do not and who enjoy making Tarot in all its forms beautiful even if that beauty does not align with the traditional meaning of the cards.

Don’t get me wrong-there is great meaning behind the cards and the many different approaches to reading them that have been crafted over their long history. Learning about them all is a wonderful way of becoming a richer and more expansive reader. However, for many, Tarot traditionalists come across as no more dimensional than those who literally pull out the Little White Book of Tarot interpretations.

Those who do not grow with the craft and the world around them bring little value to the average individual who comes to them needing to understand the energy at play around them and their situation. They do not always need deep, esoteric insight and sometimes need practical wisdom and direction on how to move forward and navigate the path they are on or wish to be on.

I am not saying that traditional Tarot and it’s more esoteric study does not have its place. It certainly does and it can be a valuable tool for self exploration. In the current wave of demand, however, the insight requested is more practical and grounded in nature and to this end traditionalists for all of their valuable knowledge and insight, fail to hit the mark.

And just as those who read intuitively could learn a great deal from a more traditional and structured education in Tarot, those who’ve oft adhered to a strict traditional paradigm could and would greatly benefit as well as bring a greater depth of color to the services that they offer to their communities by beginning to loosen their grip on the art. To see the cards beyond simply the context of ancient texts and esoteric implications. To look at the cards through an intuitive lens of every day, practical insight.

To remember that the power is not in the cards but the person holding them. Ergo, we can each build a relationship with our cards that is unique to us and independent of what some 15th century scholar dictated. It is my opinion that a well rounded reader is one who is fluent in both schools. We can personally prefer one or the other but the services we offer to the community are only as dimensional and thus useful, as is our ability to move beyond simply what we personally prefer and into what our guests need most.

And that is the point, after all, is it not? To understand that none of this is about us, personally. That it is becoming the very best reader that we can for the communities that we serve and who seek guidance from us.  

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