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On the fallible nature of Tarot (readers)

If I could rename just one Tarot card it would be the Fool. So often when it crops up in a reading a client will point at it and say “yup, that’s me – I’m foolish”.

I’m quick to reframe the card, pointing out that a Fool would have used humour to bring the truth to light (which is why I prefer certain comedy shows to the news). And a truly wise person is very aware of how little they know. Anyone who proclaims wisdom is unlikely to be so very wise.

There are very few absolute truths in our world. The whole point of science is to keep challenging the theories we have, to see if they can be understood in a better way. Newton’s theories seemed ground breaking at the time, but they have been re-shaped by Einstein, and numerous different theories connected with quantum physics and beyond.

The theory of Evolution is a theory, because it is as yet unproved. It remains (in my opinion) the best fit theory we have. But it is still a theory.

So this blog is to bring up the concept that as Tarot readers we may get it wrong. That we may read the cards wrong, be distracted in the moment, express our thoughts in a way that is misunderstood by our client. If the whole world around us is full of theories that are simply the “best fit theory” then I definitely feel that is a good way to approach reading Tarot. Rather than as oracles of the divine, untouchable in our skill.

Two things can genuinely wrong, for even the most seasoned of readers.

The unknown unknown.

Even the best of us when trying to read for a client- with questions, or without, can miss important issues because they simply aren’t covered by our spread. Perhaps there isn’t the time to cover everything, perhaps the client or the cards are very focused on one area of their life. Maybe there is a random experience coming that is so chaotic it can’t be predicted.

I always try to leave space for the unknown unknown. If a client asks between two options I will normally include a third “unknown”. And I often think of the card at the bottom of the pack as the “unknown, unknown.”


Words are very subjective, moulded around our personal experience. If I say “family meal” to you it will have a very different meaning to my family meal. Depending on your experience you may smile, or you may shudder and feel dread.

The same happens in a reading- we can try to be as honest as possible in our communication, but sometimes (especially with emotional subjects) or words can get lost in translation – from my experience to yours.

And don't forget- the future is unendingly complex.

What ever our personal views on fate, time lines, and the future my experience is that not everything is fixed.

Even if (and this isn’t my world view) every aspect of the future is fixed, then I would argue that we as humans aren’t able to understand or communicate the future with 100% accuracy- so there needs to be some wiggle room within predictive readings.

Basically this blog is a personal vent, because I am appalled at the number of clients who have been told by readers that (my husband is having an affair/my marriage will end/this or that will 100% happen) and the concrete nature of how this is communicated has left them feeling very anxious.

Now I do predictive readings myself, and only this week a client reminded me that I had told him I could see a house move- which at the time he considered impossible, but in fact did happen. I’m all for predictive readings, I love them personally (both giving and receiving). But I always offer my readings as my best fit theory about what is going to happen- rather than a divine expression of a concrete and fixed future.

Coming back to my starting point- I love the Fool, it is one of my favourite cards. And a gentle reminder that to be wise is to be very aware of just how much we don’t know, will never know, and is in fact unknowable.


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