When I first started reading tarot and oracle cards it took me some time to step away from the guidebook. And then, even when I could read my Shadowscapes deck without the book, using only my intuition, there were some other decks that seemed not to speak to me.
Reading tarot or oracle cards with intuition feels like the holy grail for many beginning readers, and I too put that idea on a pedestal. I’ll be honest with you, it didn’t come immediately. I struggled. What got me to finally use and trust my intuition was a prompt to just look at the cards, and be open to what information comes. I know, that’s a bit vague, so I’ll give you some concrete steps to follow.
Alright! Let’s get started.
Step 1. Put the Book Away
Start with setting your intention to tap into the universe/the deck’s energies/god/your higher self/your subconscious (etc.). No matter what, during this exerciese you will not get out the book. If you’re stumped even after following the next steps, you will do one of two things:
- Let the reading sit until the end of the day, or week, or however long it takes. Return to it on occasion and see how the card applies to how things worked out for you.
- Take note of the card you drew, but then re-do the reading with the intention of using your guidebook. You will probably get a different card, and with the help of the guidebook you'll get an answer to your question. Then you can compare the guidance you received to the guidance that was given (but not fully understood) the first time around.
Step 2. List Everything You Notice in the Card
The idea is not to immediately try and discern what the “answer” is. At this point, all you’re doing is tuning into your personal observations on this card, at this time. Did you catch that?
I want you to examine your observations on this particular card, at this particular time.
Because those observations will change! When you read with your intuition there’s a good chance that every time you draw a particular card you’ll get a slightly different message from it.
So to start off...ask your question, draw one card, and mentally (or literally) list down all your observations about that particular card. Hold your question in your head, be aware of it, but don’t get anxious yet about answering it. If you get stumped, try answering these questions:
- What is my gut reaction to this card? Fear? Relief? Happiness? Curiosity? Nothing?
- What particular parts/symbols/images in the card stick out to me at this time?
- What associations do I have with this image? What does it make me remember? Think about? Are there any emotions, thoughts, phrases, or images that pop into my head when I look at this card?
- If I'm aware of the traditional and/or guidebook meaning for the card, do any of the remembered keywords or meanings stick out to me? (Try not to rack your brain, or quiz yourself, just note any keywords or concepts that feel appropriate when you look at the card this time.)
Step 3. Construct Your Interpretation
Now that you have this list of thoughts and associations, you’re going to weave together the guidance. This is easier than you might think. Simply put together all of your thoughts, feelings, and observations.
Here's an example:
My question is "What do I need to know about the move this weekend?"
I drew the Spiderweb card from my Faerie's Nature Oracle deck. Here are my observations.
- I immediately felt relief.
- What catches my eye most in this card is the glint of sun on some of the webs in the upper right portion of the card.
- For a very long time I had an intense fear of spiders. If I saw one of them near me and wasn’t prepared for it, I’d burst into tears. It wasn’t until just this summer that I (mostly) overcame this fear.
- At this time, even though I know this web isn’t perfect, it looks perfect to me. It looks orderly. As if every thread is exactly where it’s supposed to be.
- I remember that one of the guidebook associations with this card is everything being connected - perfect harmony.
A little background information first. There are a lot of moving parts involved in my move this weekend. Animals, family from out of state, moving trucks, at least five different people who will be helping. I’ve got a little bit of worry that I’ll drop the ball, or someone won’t come through, and that it will be a big stressful disaster.
However, if I take all of my observations and frame them as the intuitive guidance from this card, I have a very clear answer to my question.
What do I need to know about the move this weekend?
This: “I immediately felt relief. What catches my eye most in this card is the glint of sun on some of the webs in the upper right portion of the card. For a very long time I had an intense fear of spiders. If I saw one of them near me and wasn’t prepared for it, I’d burst into tears. It wasn’t until just this summer that I (mostly) overcame this fear. At this time, even though I know this web isn’t perfect, it looks perfect to me. It looks orderly. As if every thread is exactly where it’s supposed to be. I remember that one of the guidebook associations with this card is everything being connected - perfect harmony.”
Translates to: Relax. Everything will work out just fine. Get over this fear, because even though there are a lot of parts (threads) they will all connect together perfectly. Put aside your old and overblown fears, and concentrate instead on how everything always works out. This is the truth, and you’ve seen it happen a billion times, you should know by now that this is under control.
Reading with intuition (like anything) takes practice. Don’t be discouraged if you stumble the first couple of times. Keep trying, and eventually you’ll have a breakthrough moment. It’s very helpful to keep a journal as you embark on opening up your intuition. There’s nothing like proof that you've done it before. With some journaling you can reference your past success when you’re doubting yourself. Ultimately you want to strengthen your intuition and not undermine it.
Good luck, and most importantly: have fun! The more you read with your intuition, the more accurate you'll get, and the deeper you'll be able to go with your readings.