Should You Trust Books Or Your Intuition In Readings?

Hi Tarot Tribe, today I want to talk about what happens when you get mixed messages about the meaning of Tarot cards and what you can do about it.

This blog post and video were inspired by a question from a Tarot Student about reading with Tarot decks that have very different imagery than the Tarot books you have and conflicting book meanings. What do you go to and what do you trust?

So we are going to dive in and explore what I do in those situations and hopefully, it will help you. As with everything I share, take what resonates with you and simply leave the rest.

It can cause confusion when you read one or more guidebook or Tarot resource about a card in your reading and they seem contradictory. Or when you have a Tarot card in your reading that is so far outside your normal visual knowledge of the card that you are stumped because you aren’t sure if the meaning you have learned about the card even has a place.

A great thing about Tarot is that we are all going to read, and more importantly, resonate with different teachers, authors, art, systems, and ways of reading the cards. Since there is so much information out there, it’s not unusual to be at odds with the meaning of a card because of all of the information out there.

Two questions that I would ask any Tarot reader or student when faced with this situation are:

What kind of reader are you?
What system are you working with?

1. What kind of reader do you want to be?

There are 3 types of readers:

  • Those who read by a system only.
  • Those who read intuitively only.
  • Those who read a combination of the two.

What do you want to be?

Personally, I believe you do need to study the meanings of the cards and the art of reading the Tarot to be well-rounded.

That said, there is nothing wrong with being an intuitive reader. Some readers never study or learn the meaning of the cards from any books, sites, teachers or other sources. That’s ok. If you are a purely intuitive reader, you trust what your intuition says, it doesn’t matter what books say.

2. What Tarot System are you working with?

Are you a Rider Waite Smith based reader or a Thoth gal?

Or does the Marseilles hold your Tarot heart?

While you can read more than one system, it can be very helpful to learn and work with one as a foundation and starting place. Some decks have strength as the number 8 and others have it as the number 11. The Major Arcana, Court Cards are different in each system. Pip cards may throw you completely out if you are used to fully illustrated pictorial cards.

I learned, teach, and read with the Rider Waite Smith system of tarot as my foundation. I am going to do a whole series of Blog posts on Tarot for Beginners where I cover Tarot Systems in a deeper way but for now, if you have not pinpointed down a Tarot system RWS could be a good place to start.

3 Ways You Can Reduce Confusion In Your Readings

1. Make A Record Of Your Meanings

Even if you believe cards each have a specific meaning (that can change and deepen in regards to their position and combinations), the most seasoned Tarot readers will have their own personal meanings they use on top of their traditional or basic understanding of the card.

Start recording your own base meanings of each of the cards to avoid information overload and confusion. It will keep in building too, which is why many of us have MANY books full of Tarot notes.

2. Trust Your Intuition

If you read intuitively and the meaning in a book doesn’t feel right, I say go with your intuition.

I can not tell you how many times I have had strong feelings about a card being something different than I expected to be later told via feedback from my client that I was right.

The more you honor and act on your intuitive knowledge, the clearer, faster, and more often it shows up for you. It is pretty rad.

When you have something come up intuitively, make sure you add that to your record of meanings to grow your personal Tarot library.

3. Fall Back On Your System

I like having my Rider Waite Smith knowledge to fall back on, I love the system and the meanings of the cards. I also have my personal working set of meanings for each card and my own Tarot Archetypes for the Court Cards (book coming soon :)) and I use these in my readings every day.

At times I carry over the meanings for decks that have a completely different artistic point of view. When this is the case I will use my knowledge of the card first and foremost and then look at the specific card for additional information on top of that and marry that all up with my intuition. Like a fancy Tarot cocktail!

What is great about that is that it gives more dimension to the reading and to my understanding of the cards themselves.

I would love to hear what you do when you get conflicting information about a cards meanings and as always, thank you for watching.

8 Comments
  • Patricia Darrow
    Posted at 16:02h, 23 January Reply

    Ethony, I thoroughly enjoyed that workshop/youtube. Everything that you stated resonated to me. I like how you
    emphasized that even though you read intuitively, that you still have a basic foundation from the Rider Waite. (I wouldn’t want a reader who didn’t have a basic foundation and read only via intuition lest they be tempted to make up meanings as they went along if their mind drew a blank.) I totally agree with your method. Let us know when your new book comes out!

    • Ethony
      Posted at 14:46h, 24 January Reply

      I sure will be letting everyone know 🙂

  • Jackson (witchwonders)
    Posted at 10:57h, 24 January Reply

    I read oracle cards (which also have book meaning suggestions) but 90% read intuitively) rather than tarot & find this article to be extremely helpful & confirming for me too.

  • Anjali Aqua
    Posted at 15:42h, 24 January Reply

    I enjoyed this in my in-box as much as the 31-Days video version yesterday. Like Jackson, I read Oracle cards as well, and find that I transfer skills. My educational background is library science (children’s librarian at that) where I told stories using wordless picture books and the like. I love this approach to teaching kids who are preliterate to trust themselves to know what is going on in the picture. I take that same spirit into the cards – however (and it’s a big however) – it needs to work in reverse where you can tell the story without any pictures because you know the narrative structure of the book/deck. I bring both Spirits to a reading.

  • Manda
    Posted at 18:39h, 25 January Reply

    I really like reading the guide books for the first two weeks of owning the a deck but after that the decks seem to want to talk to me with out going by the book. I feel like its like learning a language with every deck for me it’s good to know the basics but I prefer my intuition to take over and narrate the story the deck wants to tell me after that.

    • Ethony
      Posted at 09:29h, 29 January Reply

      I love how you look at it 🙂

  • Sherry Canino
    Posted at 07:53h, 26 January Reply

    You are just such a plethora of knowledge and I feel like I could watch and listen to you for hours. I want to be a sponge just soaking up all that you give and have to offer us. Thank you for all you do!! I received my bad bitches tarot deck n chakra stones yesterday I love everything thank you so much and all those generous extras thank you. You are such a treasure ❤️❤️❤️

    • Ethony
      Posted at 09:29h, 29 January Reply

      Oh thank you 🙂

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