Here We Go Again!

There is no subject more mystical (and in my opinion, more overstated) in the art of “guided” divination (as distinct from purely psychic prescience) than that of intuition. It’s often touted as the “gold standard” by which to read the signs in the tarot cards, but I think that advice is misleading, especially for those new to the art of reading.

I believe what we call “intuition” is mainly an outgrowth of visual free-association from an image that already carries some inherent meaning, whether it’s a scenic vignette (think RWS) or an accumulation of traditional lore (like the TdM). Having thoroughly internalized that understanding from the constant practice that builds upon our personal experience, we summon the awareness without really thinking about it and may occasionally enjoy an epiphany that bridges to something beyond what we’ve already accepted about a given card.

Intuitive vision doesn’t really spring forth fully-formed like Athena from the forehead of Zeus, it’s more about forging an inspired link between the “known” and the “unknown.” Add in the context of the reading to direct the sudden insight toward the goal, and we come up with an interpretation that may seem unprecedented but is in fact a natural, if sometimes fanciful, extension of the theme of the card. In other words, it may be a “stretch” but not a complete decoupling of the theoretical from the proven.

The subject makes me think of an old Ronald Reagan caveat: “Trust but verify.” This is all but impossible for neophytes who have no experience and are told to “just wing it” and go with whatever “feels right.” More seasoned diviners always have a touchstone upon which to fall back in the event that intuition doesn’t “jell” around a particular element of a reading. In my opinion, intuitive impressions should not be the first factor to consider when approaching a problematic card in a reading, but the last; if what we think we know about the card doesn’t fit the situation, we can cast our imagination farther afield in search of inspiration.  In my own practice I don’t get all spiritual about the role of intuition; if it happens, great; if it doesn’t, I stick with the tried-and-true. With Lenormand I hardly use it at all, except perhaps when synthesizing card combinations. While some liken intuition to a far-seeing “omniscient eye” that unerringly delivers the goods, I see it more as just another tool.

Here is a more rigorously-reasoned examination of the topic from two years ago. Search on “intuition” if you want to see more in the same vein.

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