For this post I’m putting a slight twist on the words of Bob Dylan from the song Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues: “When your gravity fails and positivity don’t pull you through.” Although it seldom happens to me after a long lifetime spent with the tarot, I frequently encounter the lament of novice (and even some journeyman) readers on the forums that “the cards just don’t speak to me any more.” It’s like the bottom has fallen out and the center has gone soft all at once, causing a total evaporation of confidence. These complaints are usually accompanied by a case study in failed prediction: the cards clearly said something would happen when in fact the exact opposite occurred, much to the reader’s embarrassment. One’s faith in the ability to see the future has been shaken to the point that any subsequent forecasts are automatically suspect, leading to the urge to simply walk away from the practice of divination.
As I see it, the cardinal sin in this unfortunate trashing of belief is putting too fine a point on our expectations for accuracy. I liken divination to running our psychic fingers through the “threads of probability” that form the fabric of future events and singling out those that seem most inclined to manifest, as intimated by our predictive tool of choice. Often, the closest we can come is identifying the presence of tendencies and potentials that show a slightly greater likelihood of emerging into objective reality. Given the inexact nature of our art, I can see no point in beating ourselves up over any observed lack of precision. My understanding is that, rather than trying to tell clients exactly what will happen, we should be giving them the insight to recognize it for themselves when it arrives, in whatever form it chooses to take. A classic example is the Death card. We could say “You or someone close to you will die.” But we don’t, instead striving for a more nuanced perspective that speaks of both endings and beginnings.
One thing I’ve done to combat the occasional fallow spell when everything I touch seems utterly stale is to cultivate alternative methods of divination. Lenormand and Kipper are fine substitutes for tarot when you’re not after a psychological point-of-view, and although I don’t use them much, other oracle decks and even playing cards can stand in as well. Horary astrology is another worthwhile predictive discipline I like to use, as is geomancy. Anything, really, that will jump-start your enthusiasm and inspiration is fair game when you feel like you’ve been cast adrift by the tarot gods. (Or maybe being “up that well-known creek without the means of locomotion” is a more fitting analogy.) We can only trust that Bob Dylan wasn’t talking about the Tarot Muse when he sang “she takes your voice and leaves you howling at the moon.”