Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
Air Out Your Tarot Funk and Get in the Groove
The cards don’t make any sense. They don’t answer your question. And if they seem to, the answer turns out to be wrong. You look at them and your mind goes as blank as you wish you could achieve in meditation. Or maybe you feel distant or disconnected from your cards. You’re in a tarot funk. So put on some James Brown and try out these six ways to get your tarot groove back.
1. Say It Loud and Say It Proud
Once you get stuck on a reading, you start overanalyzing and getting lost in your brain. Spit those words out! Speaking a reading out loud brings it out of the cloudiness of meandering thoughts and into the real world marked by choice, decision, and vibration. When you’re in a tarot funk, try talking the reading through out loud. If this seems hard to do, start by describing the image. Who is in the card? What are they doing? Where are they? What’s their mood? What props or decorations are around them? As you talk through the scene in front of you, you’ll reach a point where something catches your eye and clicks—revealing its relevance to your question.
2. Emphasize the Down Beat
What’s the first thing you see? Grab it and follow it. Don’t waste time analyzing or waiting to see if something hits you stronger. Just go for it. Set a timer, allotting yourself one minute per card, so a three-card spread would be three minutes, ten cards ten minutes, etc. Make sure you hit each card before the bell rings. Each card has a wide array of meanings, and to mentally sort through all of them can be exhausting. What’s important is how each card is connected to, leads to, or contrasts against the next card and the next. Your subconscious sees these connections much more quickly than your logical brain can process it. By reading quickly based on the first thing that jumps out at you, you’ll bypass that slowed down logical part and connect with the deeper recognition within you.
Toss the book. Just say what you see in the card images and commit yourself to avoiding any of the keywords or common meanings you’ve learned from books. Watch for patterns, such as repeated colors, symbols, or other details. Note characters who show up on multiple cards, taking one action in one card, then a different action in a later card. These patterns will map out your story and bring your spreads to life. Find out more about how to do this with my post, Patterns in the Cards.
4. Get Down and Dirty
Large spreads complicate matters by giving you too much to think about. Stick to one to three cards. Ask simple questions and find quick answers. Allow each answer to prompt the next question and have a conversation with your deck. Ask as many questions as you need to until you find clarity. You don’t even need to shuffle in between questions—cut and draw. Get in a rhythm of question—answer—question—answer—question—answer. This lets you off the hook of having to find The Answer, allowing you to break it down into more manageable pieces. Finding a rhythm encourages fast questions and short answers, while giving you the opportunity to develop a meditative trance.
5. Syncopate the Rhythm
Do the unexpected. Ask your questions backwards. If “What do I need to know about this?” isn’t working, ask “What don’t I need to know?” or “What should I do instead?” I confess that I’ve asked the question, “What does this person think about me?” but the next question I asked the cards was “What do I think about this person?” The answers will surprise you and might shed a brighter light on the situation. I also like to work my questions in pairs—“What if I do this?” contrasts with “What if I don’t do this?” and “What’s the best outcome?” plays off of “What’s the worst outcome?” Instead of pouncing directly on the question you need the answer to, subtly stalk it by pacing its perimeter.
Get a new deck. The fastest way to air out your tarot funk is to bring a new deck into your rotation. Choose one that pushes your boundaries; don’t lazily grab the next clone in your preferred lineage. If you love the images but aren’t sure if you “get it” then it’s probably the one. One of my current tarot students tells me that she flips through her decks when she’s in a tarot funk. “Touching and seeing them can relight that tarot spark,” she says. Want some deck suggestions? Check out my post on 50 Beginning Tarot Decks.
“And Funk Is Its Own Reward”
“And funk is its own reward” – George Clinton
We learn to read tarot in order to get answers. There are other reasons to have tarot decks–you might collect the art, use them for meditation, explore their symbolism as a student of esotericism. But if you’re reading the cards, it’s because you’ve discovered their profound ability to focus our mind, bring insight, and reassure us. If you’re in a tarot funk, you might be stuck on answers. But the answers are not the prize–reading tarot is its own reward. You can’t just put in a quarter and get your tarot fortune short sweet and to the point. Instead, the process is the point–reading tarot takes us out of the verbal left brain and into the visual–and intuitive–right brain (I told you to put the book away–it anchors you to the wrong side of the brain). If you try to bottom line it without first dancing in the rhythm of the moment, you lose the glory, the fun, the inspiration, and the joy of tarot. Feel it. Move to it. Let go and let the groove guide you.
Joy Vernon is widely recognized by tarot professionals as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup has grown into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher at Isis Books. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.