When a Deck No Longer Works


You wouldn’t think that a deck of cards could have a mind of its own.  But I swear, tarot and oracle card decks, and any other metaphysical decks, do have minds of their own.  For the past few months, my tarot deck has been giving me a lot of trouble, and I know it’s time to move on to another deck.  This one has fulfilled its purpose for the time being, and now I should move on.  But it got me thinking.  Has anyone else had this problem?  Do other people even know that this can happen?

Well, it can happen!  I knew I’d outgrown this deck when I began getting contradictory answers or even answers that made absolutely no sense.  Even when I went back afterward and examined the questions asked to see if maybe they were too complicated, I found that no, the majority were decent or good questions that would work well with a card reading, so the deck should have been able to give me an answer.  Yet it didn’t.  That was the deck’s way of telling me I needed to move on to another deck–this one was done and clearly not going to help me out much anymore.

Now, before you get rid of your deck just because you’re not getting clear answers, there are some thing to consider first before moving to another deck.  In my opinion, moving on to another deck is the last resort because the problem could be with you and your state of mind, not with the deck.

One thing to consider is whether you should be asking the question in the first place.  For example, say you’re doing a reading for yourself and asking about a situation with a lover or family member.  The cards show an answer that doesn’t seem to make sense, or give an answer that seems to be negative.  You think the cards aren’t giving a clear answer.  But in this kind of situation, I would say that it’s not the deck, it’s the reader.  It’s difficult to read the cards for yourself, especially when you’re asking about highly-charged emotional situations.  You may get an answer that you don’t want to admit or can’t admit to yourself, so you think the deck is wrong or giving a confusing answer when in fact it’s giving the correct answer–you just can’t allow the answer.

Another consideration is the question being asked.  How clear is your question?  I tell people that their question should be as specific and non-ambiguous as possible.  This gives the clearest answer and allows the cards–and you as the reader–to focus in on the issue and only the issue at hand.  So if your cards aren’t giving a clear answer, then consider the question and see if it holds too much ambiguity and is thus confusing you and the cards.

  • A good question: What is the effect on my life of remaining on the path I am currently on?  This is a good question because it’s asking about the effect of something specific–the effect your actions, if you change nothing, will have on your life later on.  “Later” is OK in this case because you don’t want to know a specific time frame per se, you want to know the effect of X on Y.
  • A bad question: Will I get the job I applied for?  Which job?  Sooner or later?  Is this a job you applied for recently or do we mean a job you’re about to apply for?  It seems like a simple question, but it can be more ambiguous and leave open more holes than you might think.

Something else to think on is your emotional or mental state during the reading.  If you’re very emotional, you may not be able to read clearly and may jump to conclusions or see things in the cards that aren’t necessarily indicated.  If you receive an answer that is confusing or upsetting, then not only consider your emotional state, but this ties in with the first two considerations.  Now, I’m not saying that you need to be cool, calm, and collected all the time when reading the cards, but your emotional or mental state can have an effect.  For example, being rally tired can affect your abilities.

The last consideration I have for you is to consider whether the situation is too much in flux for the cards to give a clear answer.  It’s possible the a situation may be changing too rapidly or have too many possible outcomes that the cards can’t reveal a good or clear answer.  This doesn’t happen all that often, in my admittedly limited experience, but it can happen.

To summarize, these are the things you should consider before leaving a deck:

  • Should you be asking the question at all.
  • Is your question clear or too ambiguous.
  • Are you too distracted or emotional while reading to gain clear insight from the cards.
  • Is it possible the situation in question is too in flux to allow a clear answer.

If you consider all of the above and still find that the deck just doesn’t work for you, then it’s time to consider moving on to another set of cards.  I’m still trying to find my next tarot deck, and I may have finally found one that fits, but it’s taken a couple of months before I was given a deck that may end up working out pretty well for me.

I hope this helps all of you tarot and other card readers out there!  I wish someone had told me some of this when I first began learning years ago.  Especially about the questions–and I’m still learning that one!

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One response to “When a Deck No Longer Works

  1. Wow, what a great topic for a post! I have had trouble with some decks too. I think I’ve come to realize that one oracle deck is strictly a foul weather friend: it likes encouraging me and lifting my spirits by telling me precisely what I need to hear, but if I don’t need a pep talk, it just spits nonsense.

    Another thing that I hypothesize about decks not working has to do, again, with the reader. Me and my Tarot deck were doing business, literally. My readings were spot on, and I and my customers (paying or no) enjoyed every experience. Then the time came to stop. I felt less in the mood to read, far fewer people stopped at my table, and I soon moved on to other things. My Imbolc reading had indicated to me that my year would start with The Moon, which would be very lucrative for working with the Tarot, then move on to the 8 of Pents, which is a much more practical, down-to-earth sort of card. Like the moon, we and our relationships go through phases. I think my deck and I shall dance again someday, but for now it’s time to mingle with the other guests. 😉

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