Q: How much emphasis do you put on the text-book meanings for cards, and how much stress do you place on the “feeling” you get from cards through their artwork/symbolism/etc. (aka reading intuitively)? Do you do both, or one or the other?
I do both, about 50/50, really. I have an energetic philosophy about reader and client that allows me to both use intuition and allow the standard meanings from the artwork in a deck to speak to the question.
Let’s take a card (any card!) and see how that works, at least for me.
First, I look inside my memory for keywords from the traditional meanings of the card and its suit: a little money, start of a business or investment opportunity, new gardening project, new/small health news; new abundance generally. Themes are new, small, financial, health, garden/home. The fact that it’s an Ace, a 1, meaning beginnings or potential.
I also take into account the deck creator’s philosophy and theme of their deck. Some decks are more practical, some more “inner work” focused. So, the author’s voice influences my interpretation as well.
The specific choices for keywords or symbolic interpretation will depend on the question and the relationship to other cards in the spread. I rarely if ever read just one card. I find relationships, both symbolic and literal (are the Queen and Page looking at each other?) useful in building my interpretation.
Second, I look at the visual stuff in the card and see what “comes to me” (the intuition part), also based on the question or other cards in the draw. Here in the Ace of Pentacles, I see a hand coming from a cloud as if offering a golden opportunity; so this new gift of money or other material abundance (health or home improvement) is coming from somewhere unexpected, maybe. Also, the opportunity being offered could mean moving out into the outdoors or the larger world (see the mountain in the distance and the lovely path and opening in the hedge). Also, it looks like the flowers in the garden might be lilies, which have meanings of their own (I’ve heard everything from sexuality to purity to old age). So, maybe getting focused on a new path to abundance, or feeling passionate about it.
As an alternative set of symbols to intuit off of, take Ciro Marchetti’s Legacy of the Divine Tarot Ace of Coins.
Same traditional meanings apply, but when we get to the intuitive/visual portion, we’ve got some different imagery to deal with. The association of pentacles/coins with the Earth element is very much in the forefront here. The little hedgehog reinforces the newness thing to me, as well as the in-the-earth concept. And the acorns speak of the initiation of material growth (also health). Lots of greenery, so a further sense of growing abundance. Bees and ladybugs giving a sense of spring and new growth. But in this case, the gift of growth comes from the Earth herself and not from an “angel” in the sky. All of these elements would feed into my interpretation if I were using this card instead of the traditional RWS pictured earlier.
So, given all the different symbolism opportunities (this is one of the things I love about the Tarot—so many symbolic possibilities!), how would you see these cards? For example, I know there are traditional meanings associated with ivy, and there’s ivy in Ciro’s card. How would that affect your reading? Or would you make anything out of the pentacle itself besides its traditional coin/financial meaning? In Wiccan tradition, the five-sided star itself has all sorts of associations. I’d love to learn more about the symbolism, from those in the know. 🙂
I found the questions for this series at a Tumblr account that no longer exists. A lovely person named Rhee started the thing. These are great prompts for telling stories about one’s journey through the world of Tarot, so I’ve started the series again on a weekly basis so you all can get to know me better, and also share your own answers to the questions in comments or links to your own posts. I’d love to hear from you!