Intuitive Tarot vs Reading by the Book

If you’ve been in the tarot space for a while, you might have heard of “Intuitive Tarot Readers”. But what does that mean? Aren’t all tarot readers intuitive tarot readers? Not necessarily.

When you pick up your very first tarot deck, your first instinct is likely to be trying to memorize all 78 card meanings from the little white book that comes with the deck. While this makes sense, intuitive tarot reading is a bit different. Knowing the traditional meanings of each card is important, but it doesn’t mean you can give a good tarot reading by simply reading off the traditional meaning of each card you pull.

And that’s where intuition comes in.

WHAT IS INTUITIVE TAROT READING?

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Intuitive tarot reading means you look at the whole card. You don’t just use the traditional meaning, but the story in the card that jumps out at you in that moment. You create a story in the cards to blend them together in order to get meaning. Rather than looking to each card separately, a good intuitive reader can see the big picture in the cards as a whole.

For instance, the traditional keywords of The Empress is are generally thought to be abundance, nurturing, and feminine energy. But when paired with the Two of Cups in a reading about family, I’ve seen it refer to a pregnancy coming. And that’s not something you’ll read from the little white book.

HOW TO USE TAROT MEANINGS

Imagine you go to a reader using the book only. Their readings for you might end up sounding too robotic, and they might not resonate every time. If they’re just relying on the book, it could be confusing trying to figure out how the Four of Pentacles could possibly fit in with your reading about love, or how the Eight of Swords fits into your reading about finances.

When reading intuitively, each card can have many different meanings, making it easier to figure out how that card fits into your current situation.

If you’re new to tarot, each card having several different meanings can sound scary. 

“You mean I have no memorize even MORE meanings?” 

No, you don’t. Intuitive reading is something that comes from the same part of your mind as your imagination. It involves knowing the basis of what that card usually means, and then building on that based on the surrounding cards and what jumps out at you in that card first. 

So what’s the purpose of the little white book anyway? While it may sound like I’m implying it’s pointless, it’s really not. Books of tarot card meanings are needed for beginning tarot readers to get acquainted with the cards. It’s so much easier to trust intuitive messages as they come if you already have a good foundation of what each card is supposed to mean. Not only that, reading different books on tarot meanings can give even an experienced reader new perspectives, and new ways to look at the cards they may never have thought of before. With that in mind though, it’s important to not become too reliant on the book meanings if you feel as though the card is trying to tell you something more. 

HOW TAROT CAN HELP YOUR INTUITION

Starting off with the book meanings of the tarot cards is a great way to get started, but the best way to exercise your intuition is to practice using it while drawing your daily tarot card. Journaling your experience can help you remember what insights you picked up on so you can keep track of your accuracy. By doing this each morning or evening, you’ll start to get a sense for how each card fit into your day beyond what the book and keywords tell you.

INTUITIVE TAROT EXERCISE 

Start by pulling a daily tarot card each morning asking what the energy will be like in your day ahead. Each time you pull a card, really study the picture before you come to a conclusion. It can be helpful to write down the book meaning, and then the intuitive feelings you get along with it.

Ask yourself, what part of the picture jumped out at you first? What do you think that could mean?

Journal any insights you get that go beyond the little white book meaning, then look back on it later. 

What was more accurate? The book, or your intuitive feelings?

By asking yourself what insights you get beyond the book, you’ll be able to practice and strengthen your intuition with each tarot reading. The more you practice, the more clear the messages will be, and the more you’ll trust yourself in the future.

So don’t think you’re confined to the little white book description of each card. While it’s helpful in the beginning, it can hinder you as you grow as a reader. A healthy balance of both the book, and trusting when the book might be a little off, is the best way to get the most accurate readings and grow your intuition.

What is your preferred way to read tarot? Share in the comments below.

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3 comments


  • Sandra

    I found this article 🌝helpful .


  • Sonya Miller

    Thank you for this article,I am new to tarot cards and this may help me. Will try in the morning.


  • Valerie stevens

    I would love to learn tarot. I have 3 to 4 decks. You just best is to pull one day and write about. Can you help me learn.


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About the Author

Flora Green

Flora is a professional tarot reader, reiki practitioner, and previous Green Witch Living student from a small town in Missouri. She can usually be found reading tarot, spending time with her husband and two boys, and teaching them how to trust their inner guidance. In her free time she loves learning, tending to her houseplants, meditating under the moon, and practicing magick in her garden. You can find her on Instagram, where she shares free tarot guidance for the collective  @heart_of_a_witch




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