Each morning, I shuffled them in my hands and lay one face up in front of me.
It wasn’t long before I began noticing the patterns. Noticing how from a deck of seventy-eight cards, I kept drawing the same ones. How one would show up again and again, and then in time, it stopped, and another card would take its place, and then, another, and another.
Then, when I began laying multiple cards down at once, I noticed how the cards would move. How a card that one day was positioned in the future would a few days later move to the present and then a few days after that, the past, and as I observed these patterns, I began to think that there was something in these cards.
Making Sense of Tarot
I first understood the cards - this art of tarot - as simply a mirror that would reflect back to me whatever my mind wanted or needed to see. That the actual cards didn’t even matter all that much. That the whole point was that I’d see whatever story I saw in them because it was a story I saw in myself, a story that helped me understand my circumstances. I understood the cards simply as a spiritless tool for me to work through the stories already in my mind. But then, in time, I saw the patterns, and I understood tarot as something more, something I can’t explain, but something I have grown to trust.
The same cards reveal themselves to us again and again. They return for me in my own readings, and when I’m reading for a stranger for the first time, I’m never surprised when the person tells me I always get that card.
The cards draw our attention. They draw it through repetition, and they draw it through context. The first time I witnessed this was after reading for a friend. I placed the ten cards I'd used in her reading back in the deck. I returned them one at a time, scattering them throughout, and I shuffled the deck. I probably shuffled it about ten times. Then I cut the deck. I cut the deck twice. Then I laid ten cards out in front of me, and every single card I placed was identical to my friend’s reading with the exception of one. I knew that one card was for me. It’s what was important, and the rest of the reading, it wasn’t mine.
I’ve seen this happen many times. I've also seen how the cards will sometimes fall so that all are reversed - all but one. And that one is the message. And I’ve watched cards hop from my hands as I’m shuffling, only to land face up for me to see. An easy consequence of clumsiness and gravity, but the thing is, the cards that land up right - they always answer the question that was asked. They answer it more clearly than most carefully laid spreads.
The Cards Mirror Energy?
And during my first tarot open house, I observed something new. I was sitting in a chair, shuffling the cards, waiting for if and when someone would enter the shop and want a reading. After shuffling, I drew one card, but I felt no personal connection to it. I placed it back in the deck. Then, someone entered the shop. With her, I went through the ritual - the asking of a question, the shuffling, the cutting, and in the position of her present was the card I’d drawn just moments before she entered. A bizarre coincidence maybe. Then she left. Alone again, I shuffled the cards and drew another one. It didn’t resonate personally, and then another person entered for a reading. We went through the ritual, and there, in the center of her spread, was the card I’d just drawn. After she left, I drew another card, and another person entered, and the card I’d just drawn showed up in that person’s reading too. The cards seemed to be showing me what was coming. They seemed to know.
And I don’t know what is in tarot. I don’t know what makes it more than simply a deck of cards, but I have my reasoning. I tell myself about energy and interconnectedness. That our energy is connected with the cards. That the separations in time and space and between us and objects is just an illusion. That of course the cards resonate with our energetic vibrations. Or something. But the truth is I don’t know.
What I do know is that their bizarre behavior is consistent. That I’ve been working with tarot long enough and frequently enough to trust what it has to share. I don't need a precise scientific explanation to appreciate the many insights and many experiences of wonder and curiosity tarot has granted me, and because I reliably move in the direction of all that makes me hmm and ahh, I move toward it.