I guess the reason why I was so drawn to tarot reading and why I was quick in learning it is because it bears a lot of resemblance with my chosen profession.
You see, I love languages. Language has been one of my most favorite subjects, if not the most favorit subject, in school. Maybe it’s heritage, but I love understanding something in different language and then converting it to my own language in a way that people will understand and enjoy. And vice versa. That is why I became a translator. I love writing as well, but I have always been too lazy to do the research.
And isn’t reading tarot basically translating pictures into words?
Except that it takes the game to a whole new level because these are the pictures of someone’s unconscious mind. Someone whose story we don’t fully know about.
When you translate a novel or a biography, you have the whole context that enables you to pick the right words, construct the right sentences, and find the right idioms to retell the story in another language. With the unconscious mind, however, you need to connect the message projected into the cards with the situation you only know partly or not at all. And since, like words, cards can have a hundred possible meanings and combinations, this is where things get a little bit complicated.
One thing most people still get wrong about tarot readers is that we are all clairvoyants who know the whole story from beginning to end. Of course there are people who can see the future, but granted, what they see are limited and uncertain. Because we are not the writers of human history. God is the One holding the pen. He is the one who knows the beginning and end of everything and everyone. What we do as tarot readers is simply translating the page the story is in now and speculate about how it will transpire in the next chapter.
And for this reason, we often need to see the whole paragraph, or page, or chapter before we can translate a sentence IN CONTEXT. Before we can connect whats in the pictures with whats actually happening. Thats why the more information we get about someone we read, the more onpoint and relevant the message is. For example, when you read the word “her brother” in a page, then you want to translate it into another language that has separate terms for “older brother” and “younger brother”. How do you know which one to use if you don’t know whether “her brother” is older or younger? It’s the same with cards. Knight of Pentacles reversed may mean that you are being careless… or it may be a message that you have to be flexible, depending on what situation you are in.
The amount of information needed, of course, would depend on the question and the experience of the reader. An experienced reader can glean more from the merest bit of information than a beginner, and answer to question such as “what should we do to improve our relationship?” is easier to be gauged from a couple’s photo than, say, question about family finances. But the point is, you still need some background information if you want to translate what you gleaned from someone’s mind in a way that directly connects with them. I was lucky the other day to be able to pinpoint where a grad student needs tweaking in her study method to make it more efficient without so much as a photo… but she did say she’s a Capricorn. That’s already something, though not much to go by without inducing some headache.
I hope with time, more and more people will realize this real nature of the job of a tarot reader. That we are merely translating the language of the unconscious into that of the conscious. And to connect the dots in a way conscious mind would understand, we need the background picture on which the dots would make sense.