Scroll Top

What IS A Psychological Tarot Reading?

Freud and a Tarot Spread

Psychological Tarot readings trace back the querent’s challenges to her weaknesses of inner demons.

We live in two worlds: the external and internal world. We are Janus, the god with two faces, who dwells on the threshold between the two worlds.

We experience and act in the external world, which is ruled by physical, chemical, and biological laws. The external world is severe. If we miss by an inch, we miss. It’s a competitive place and out there, we can get hurt and die.

We imagine, dream, feel, and think in the internal world. The internal world defies physics. We can fly without wings, dive without gills, and shapeshift. It’s a merciful world because there are no limits to our imagination and we always get a second chance. It’s the place where the magic happens.

We tend to neglect the internal world and fixate on the external world. In particular, we enjoy the sensual pleasures we derive from the external world, and the experiences and creative opportunities it offers. Tarot readings are no exceptions. Most Tarot readings offer entertainment and facilitate fortune telling, i.e. what may happen in the external world. Psychological Tarot readings, on the other hand, reveal what’s going on inside the querent.

According to the tradition of Tarot and the Tree of Life, adversity and resistance are projections of inner weaknesses or inner demons. You know this as karma or the law of attraction. Psychological Tarot readings help to identify the internal causes of adversity and resistance the querent experiences.

To trace karmic trails back to weaknesses or inner demons is tedious. That’s where psychological Tarot readings come in. The cards that turn up during a psychological Tarot reading indicate which powers of consciousness were involved in producing the querent’s adversity or resistance.

Each Tarot card represents a power of consciousness. We can use powers of consciousness constructively and destructively. The former produces positive experiences, the latter produces adversity and resistance.

If a power of consciousness is underdeveloped, we get an inner weakness. If a power of consciousness is out of hand, we get an inner demon.

The Tower or Awakening Tarot card

Let’s take the Awakening card as an example. It represents drive and ambition. Lack of ambition is a weakness, compulsive ambition is an inner demon.

An auspicious card (right side up) indicates that the corresponding power of consciousness is a key ability that may help the querent to overcome her adversity or resistance. An inauspicious card (upside down) indicates that the querent misused or failed to use the respective power of consciousness, and that this brought about adversity or resistance. Of course, the same powers of consciousness that caused adversity or resistance can help the querent — if applied correctly — to overcome her challenges.

Logically, a part of a psychological Tarot reading is shadow work. Shadow work brings to conscious attention the parts of querent’s self that are weak or out of control. Shadow work also brings traumas to light.

That the causes of adversity or resistance are inside us is an uncomfortable truth. It calls for taking responsibility instead of blaming people or situations for our problems.

The Adversity card signifies adversity and blamestorming. An important attribution of the Adversity card is humor. This doesn’t mean that adversity is funny, it means that a healthy sense of humor helps with shadow work. If we stop taking ourselves seriously, it becomes much easier to accept our flaws and turn them into strengths. You may want to enlighten the querent about the value of humor for psychological Tarot readings, the dealing with adversity, and shadow work.

There are two ways, we can get into adversity: a loss or a temptation. In the first case, adversity forces itself on us, like through an accident. The querent may also come to a Tarot reading because of the threat of a loss. For instance, she may be about to lose her job or lover. In the second case, adversity tempts us to undertake something, like creating a business or entering a romance. Once we are involved in an undertaking, we automatically face challenges, usually in the form of resistance.

A querent may also come to a Tarot reading because she want to assess the risks of an undertaking she is considering. For instance, she may have met a man who asked her out and wants to know whether he is right for her.

This is how you prepare a psychological Tarot reading:

  1. Explain to the querent that you won’t engage in fortune telling, but instead help her to identify the internal causes of the adversity or resistance she is experiencing.
  2. Ask the querent whether she came to the Tarot reading because of a loss, the threat of a loss, resistance during an undertaking, or for a risk assessment. This will set the tone of the Tarot reading.
  3. Ask the querent to formulate a question in her mind. The question should be precise and address her concern. For instance, if a querent suffers from loneliness, her question could be: “Why am I always lonely?” Mind that she should formulate the question in her mind and not say it out loud. You should not know her question since your opinions on the matter may pollute the objectivity of your reading.
  4. Deal four stacks to find out on which level the causes of adversity or resistance originate. The four stacks represent the spiritual, creative-feely, intellectual, and bodily level. The four levels correspond to the four suits of the minor arcana, wands, cups, swords, and pentacles. Mind that all four levels are all internal.
  5. Take the stack in which you found the significator, and deal it according to your favorite dealing method.
  6. Interpret the cards.

The titles of the Enlightenment Tarot take the four levels of human expression and the position of the Tarot cards on the Tree of Life into consideration. This will enable you to determine on which of the four levels of human expression the causes of adversity or resistance originate. The understanding of the four levels of human expression are essential to the interpretation of the four suits and the Tarot deck as a whole. Mind that the minor arcana manifest differently on the four levels too. This is another secret not many Tarot readers know.

Last but not least the Enlightenment Tarot cards carry mostly modern, psychological titles. This bridges the gap between enlightenment wisdom and modern psychology, which have much in common but use different terminologies.

For these and other reasons, we chose titles for the Enlightenment Tarot cards that are more or less self-explanatory. This allows you to engage the querent in the reading. For instance, you may ask her – after you interpreted the spread – what comes to her mind while looking at the cards and the titles.

With the Enlightenment Tarot, Tarot readers can now offer psychological Tarot readings and thus differentiate themselves from other Tarot readers.

This does not mean that Tarot readers need to be psychologists. A psychologist is a therapist. A Tarot reading is not a therapy, it is an analysis. A psychological Tarot reading traces adversity and resistance back to the querents’ weaknesses and inner demons — not more and not less.

Having said that, it is possible to use Tarot cards for therapy. Tarot cards depict positive states of mind. The pictorial symbolism of Tarot cards corrects erroneous thoughts and negative imaginations and takes the observer to a positive state of mind.

If you identify one or two powers of consciousness that cause trouble for the querent, you may want to give her the respective Tarot cards to take home and meditate on them. Ask them to meditate not more than ten minutes at a time, otherwise they may experience another imbalance. They should also note down everything that comes to mind while looking at the Tarot cards. Last but not least, these meditation help to formulate better and more precise questions for the next Tarot reading.

If you want to learn more about psychological Tarot readings and the meanings of Tarot cards, check out the Enlightenment Tarot guidebook.