Card Combinations: A Primer

I’d said I’d come back to this. Maybe even make a regular series about occurrences like this. Encounters of the kind we can’t Google.

What do I mean and what am I referring to? Tarot card combinations. Ever since the forums over at Aeclectic Tarot went defunct, the most helpful and regularly updated reference I have when it comes to tricky combinations is Tarot Verbatim, and since there are, oh, I don’t know, more than 6,000 possible combinations for just a two-card draw–

Yes, you guessed it. Being a reader, I am also a forever student of the Tarot. Like I stated in a previous post and what I say to anyone who listens is that my daily draws, Today’s Temperature is practice for me. Those five cards often give me much to think about during the course of my day and force me to work out tricky combinations.

What’s the first thing I do? Google them. I know it sounds strange that a reader would turn to Google for card interpretations, but hear me out. I do at the very least try to work out an interpretation in my head, write it down, mull it over. Sometimes I’ll have the right idea before even heading on the web. Others, though, will be off-base and incomplete.

“I know what this means, but what does it mean next to this? In the same spread as this?”

Reading for myself. The joy. The feeling of anticipation it brings. The crippling anxiety of said activity.

It’s not bad to read for yourself. It’s actually a way to get comfortable with cards and their meanings and the time to accumulate as many personal connections with your cards as possible. Reading for yourself is like being in a lab, the accumulation of knowledge phase, and doing readings for others is like putting your studies to good use. It’s good to know card meanings, but it’s even better to have a personal connection to them. These are the tools I use for my self-improvement and the tools I use to help others get unstuck, so why would I want to wield them like a surgeon with unsteady hands?

Here is the problem with reading for yourself: you are always too close to the situation. Everything’s about you or Mike from the coffee shop and your cat Mittens and yadda.yadda. yadda. You are simply too close to the situation and it’s not your fault, really. Going to Google actually helps me detach from my readings and take a step back, and seek out new meanings for the cards that I wouldn’t have made relying on the Little White Book or simply sticking with the original meaning I learned, never expanding beyond that, making it relatable, adapting it.

Google exposed me to a lot of knowledge and interpretations that stuck with me and helped me to better read for my clients. Reading more fluidly and intuitively because I know the meaning of this card inside out and I don’t have to stumble over it or when I was really a newbie, read with the booklet out as well.

Now when I read I can say I’ve experienced this card. I’ve seen it at the grocery store and the nail salon and the UPS guy reminds me of a Page of Wands because he’s an incurable flirt and today is a very Four of Cups day, not interested in much. Literally asking myself ‘did I sense the presence of The Fool in some way today’? Does my manager really remind me of a Queen of Swords? Didn’t that meeting feel very Five of Wands-y, like children at play? I’m over this, I’m fed up, this is my Eight of Cups moment.

See what I did there?

I’m great with individual cards. Amazing. I do one card readings on the Free Tarot Network and I’m pretty great at it. The challenge is trying to pull meaning and substance out of one card. Sure, more cards would make it a lot easier, more information is always helpful, but more is not always helpful. More, in my experience, tends to overwhelm and confuse. Going to the supermarket looking for one particular kind of peanut butter and being confronted with 60+ different choices is not appealing.

Five is my favorite number and this spread has five cards, so I always come back to it. It’s positionless, looks like a clock because it is read clockwise, and often kicks my ass in its complexity. So why stick with it? Well, I have read things in cards that happen to me later in the day. Like running into an old friend in Union Square. Or reconnecting with a friend after a fight.

I don’t claim to be psychic. These are just events that have occurred after doing my daily reading for myself, coming to a conclusion about the advice being given, and then going about my day. I often don’t make the connections until the following day or much later in the evening as I journal. This five-card spread tends to bring up many interesting two-card combinations, and in order for me to be able to tell the whole story, I must add up its parts. Combine card meanings to get one overall statement.

In the world of Tarot, you have to read combinations. There’s no way around it. Each individual card has a meaning, yes, but cards next to each other modify and change the meaning of the card and its context. In my five-card spreads, I have to read what card one AND what card five mean together as if they’re right next to each other. Cards one and two. Cards three and five. All of them help me put the story together and serve as an anchor for the rest of the interpretation. A guidepost.

This post was supposed to be about my first two card combination that I felt was following me around–I’d been getting it in my draws for days and I know I shuffle like mad, so it seemed beyond coincidence at this point. It was, but it’s gotten rather long, and I’ll just save a fresh page for this first in a series of many interesting combinations.



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