I've just finished reading your book, Tarot Tips, which
I thoroughly enjoyed. There was one question I didn't
see an answer to.
I've had a few important readings, some that I've
conducted for myself, where a card was drawn that had
deep and profound meaning for me and the situation at
The Lovers card is a good example of this, particularly
as it appeared on a night before my husband and I had a
ceremony where we decided to bring ourselves back from
a near split. Now every time I see The Lovers, I
presume that the reading is in regard to the work we're
doing to get stronger as a couple. When it's reversed,
I immediately associate it with problems with him and
the scenarios that are still swirling around us causing
rifts and reversing our progress.
It happens occasionally with other cards, too: the 3 of
Swords, the 9 of Swords... It's hard not to associate
these with old scenarios where they popped up and so
amply described exactly what was going on.
Is it possible that these are acting as signifier cards
helping me identify the specific scenario so that I can
look deeper into what to do next, or do I need to find
a way of rebooting the card's meaning for me?
This is an interesting question, and one that
occasionally becomes an issue for many readers.
There are times in anyone's life when a particular
concern is of overriding importance and dominates one's
thoughts and feelings. Using tarot to cast some light
on this concern is a natural thing to do, and it may
well be that several readings are needed to get a good
understanding of the matter.
When a single card shows up over and over again in
readings about the same basic question, it's almost
unavoidable to make a meaningful connection between the
question and the card. There's no harm in that, and it
may be helpful.
But life has a tendency to move on. What was once
super-important will eventually become less pressing.
And on any given day, your attention and whatever
reading you're doing may be on some other matter.
When either of these things happen, you will want to
have more than one option for the meaning of that
special card. You don't want any card to get hijacked
by a single issue. You don't want any card to become
and remain a "one-trick-pony."
When the card appears in any context other than the one
that gave it a special meaning, begin again. Let the
card start fresh, unless you are specifically reading
about the original issue.
Here's a different but related question...
Can I use my personal card association when
reading for someone else?
If you are reading for someone else when the
card in question comes up, there are two important
things to keep in mind:
1) The context of the reading
In the case you mentioned, The Lovers gave you
important information that was relevant at the time,
and thus has presumably become significant to you
in the matter of your marriage. It is possible that when
you now read for a querent in a similar situation, if
The Lovers pops up in their spread, you might be
able to explain what they are experiencing based on
your own prior experience.
However, your personal interpretation may not be
appropriate for them at all. Or it may be a jumping-off
point for a variation on the theme. This is where talking
with your querent is crucial. And that's because of this
2) Be careful not to project your experience onto
Even though their scenario may appear similar to yours,
and sharing your story *might* be helpful, your querent
will have their own experiences and responses, which
could be quite different than yours.
While it may be tempting to include yourself in the reading,
remember to keep the focus on them. Asking a question
such as "Does this resonate with you?" will help you know if
you're on the right track or if you need to turn to a different
interpretation of the card that makes more sense to them.
This is where having a mix of intuitive interpretations
and more "academic" information about the cards, such as
various standard meanings and esoteric attributions is
especially useful. Breathe, relax, and let your intuition
guide you to just the right meaning. Who knows, it may be
one you're seeing for the very first time!