Yes, the books are nonsense. I remember one that had ‘a melancholy youth’ for the Rider Waite Page of Swords, which clearly depicts a person in the grip of paranoia. (I did find one book that was mostly all right.)

What you need, especially if you use Tarot ‘not for entertainment only,’ is your meanings for the deck you are using. There are hundreds of decks, all kinds of them, from puerile to banal to creepy to dopey, from brilliant to inspiring to analytical to brainstorming. There are more ways to read Tarot than there are Tarot readers. Tarot is equal opportunity: Seek meaning, and you will find.

Here’s how you find your meanings of your deck of Tarot cards.

*Make a list of questions you know the answers to. Why? – because that makes those illustrations the only unknown in your equation. Avoid trying to discover an unknown with an unknown.

*Relax, think of one of your questions, and choose four or fewer cards. Put them in your chosen pattern.

* Go by exactly what you see in that deck’s illustrations. Write down all the spreads, beginning a new page for each one so you can find them. Yes, identify each card and its position.

*In the beginning, use just three or four cards at a time if the deck is completely strange to you (or if time is limited). Write down your question or issue; write down whatever you get putting your subject or question together with those illustrations, whether it makes sense or not, and whether it is complete or not. Identify which card produced that meaning for you if you can. You will go back and fill in parts you skipped, as you catch on, after you have done the process a while. Enjoy doing this, don’t get all proper about it.

*As you do this notebook project, on a facing page of your notebook, write down meanings you are surer of, that ring true to you, for both individual cards and combinations of cards. These are ‘anchor meanings.’ After a number of these spreads, you will have YOUR meanings for the cards of THAT DECK.

If you believe some part of your interpretation is independent of the illustrations, differentiate, make note of that: We are learning meanings of illustrations, here. If you know another deck, you can address the same question or subject using it, and compare its answer to the new deck’s.

When I did these procedures with Rider Waite, for many years, I was a court reporter. I gravitated to literal phrases for the meanings, without even realizing it. The system that resulted gives detailed accurate analysis of situations. It also has a spooky way of saying word for word what someone is going to tell the client, or what someone said. Well, it’s verbatim-based. That verbatim base also confers another advantage: This system will talk directly to the Querant (questioner) over the reader’s head. I once spoke nonsense for half an hour that the client understood. His questions were about Sikh theology, and I didn’t know whether we were into nuclear physics or babysitting. I finally asked him what I was talking about.

Every day, you can see a four-card spread that demonstrates the verbatim system on my blog: There is a picture, at the bottom of the blog, of each Rider Waite card used that day with its individual meaning as it relates to its illustration.

My expanded spread (the 13 cards) indicates the degree of accuracy of the answer by how much it repeats what it is saying. This was not planned, it just happened, and is unique … and astounding. I don’t think there is another divination system that indicates how accurate its information is.

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