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Practicing Your Intuition : One Card Tarot Readings


Student tarot readers and their potential clients are often inspired by a cinematic image of a glamorous, wise woman laying out her cards in a complex spread that makes sense only to her. In real life, before a reader can get to that stage, he or she must know their cards inside out and upside down. The best way to learn is to practice, practice and then practice some more; the easiest way to begin that practice is to make use of one-card readings.

Advantages of one card readings

One-card tarot reading can be as quick as a yes/no answer, or it can be as in-depth as you like. You don’t need much room to perform a one-card reading – you could manage by holding the deck in your hands or simply placing the card on your knee. In emergencies, you wouldn’t even need to remove the pack from its box – simply slide a random card out and take a peek.

A single card gives you a direct and unequivocal answer. There are no other cards to modify, dilute or detract from the message. You can’t argue with one card.

There is a whole world of information in a single card, especially if it is a fully illustrated one. Of course, the intention of the artist adds bias and weight to certain aspects of the card, but you, as the interpreter with your lifetime of experiences, bring even more meaning to it.

How much information can one tarot card offer?

How long is a piece of string? The more time you spend in studying a card, blending its meaning with your own wisdom, the more information you will be able to extract from it. There are several variables; the question, the seeker, the circumstances surrounding them, their options and free will all have some bearing on your answers. The example below will show you how much you can get by using just one card.

Example question and answer

The deck used in this example reading is the Robin Wood Tarot.

It’s Sunday evening. Tomorrow you have to attend an important meeting at work. You aren’t sure how you will be expected to contribute or what you can offer, although you have made some notes regarding the subject of the meeting. You decide to draw one tarot card for some reassurance and advice. With your tarot journal and pen at hand, you turn The Star.

Your immediate first impression is one of relief, the Star is a positive card, for sure. You grab your pen and write down the word ‘Relief’. This immediate emotional response is very important – it is the overriding message from your gut, or your inner guidance to be precise. Now you look at the card in detail and describe everything you see.

A naked woman kneels on the bank of a stream or pond. Her right foot is in the water, while her left knee is on the short, lush grass. Her hair is long, blond and wavy. Her expression is serene; a small smile is on her lips and she looks down at a vessel of water in her right hand. She is tipping the vessel, which looks like a glass bowl, so that water runs from it into the stream. She does the same with a second glass vessel crooked in her right arm, and this time the water flows onto the bank — some is running into the stream, some appears to be going in the opposite direction. The stream itself is quite still, perhaps flowing very gently. In the background, beyond the tree line, is a range of snow covered mountains. The sky is a deep navy blue. There is a large, very bright star above, surrounded by seven smaller stars. To the left of the woman, almost out of frame is a tree; a few of its twigs can be seen above the woman’s head, silhouetted against the stars. In the foreground are some blue flowers, possibly bluebells, interspersed with some small white blossoms. There is another group of flowers to the woman’s right.

This detailed description is crucial as it helps you see things you might otherwise have missed. If you can, add some sensory detail that comes to your mind. What can you hear? The trickle of water as it pours? Can you imagine any other noises? A frog perhaps? The wind whispering in the branches above? Or is there a deep, still silence? What can you smell? Crisp, clear, oxygenated air from the mountains? Scent from the grass as it is crushed beneath the woman’s knee? From the flowers? What can you feel? Put yourself in the woman’s place for a moment. Is the water cold? Is it a warm night? She looks relaxed rather than cold, don't you think?

All this is important because once you have done this, your impressions will stay with you every time this card turns up in the future. You will never be able to look at it superficially again.

Now you think about your meeting and how this card might be able to help you. Your first feeling was one of relief so you know that overall, the meeting will be good. The Star’s traditional meaning is of hope and love, so although love might be a stretch, you get the feeling that the meeting might promote a sense of well-being and sharing. This is not going to be a test. Your thinking will be clear (mountain air clear, in fact).You should not be afraid to reveal your true feelings about the matter under discussion (nakedness). Your contribution (the water?) will be well received from all participants, though you might have to consider alternative viewpoints or future actions (the two vessels; direction of flowing water). 

The Star represents harmony and a successful outlook. You know that you are being considered for promotion and now you feel confident that this meeting will work in your favor. Your immediate intention is to go over your notes one last time, add anything that comes to mind and get a good night’s rest ready for the morning. 

So next time you need a quick, but in-depth answer, consult your deck and draw just one card for all the detail you need.

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