This month I am going to talk about the keywords on the cards. Many people dislike the keywords on the Thoth cards partly because they can lead clients you see face to face to misunderstand what a reading is saying based on the keywords they can see and partly because a reader can feel limited themselves when they see a keyword for a card and it almost shouts or dictates the meaning when another, more subtle but more accurate, meaning may actually be relevant.

I have always been quite a wordy person and find associations to words more easily than to pictures so I have personally enjoyed the presence of the keywords and the richness they offer me in interpretation before even going into the cards imagery. The more challenging cards of failure, defeat I see primarily as the ‘fear of x’ rather than the actual eventuality, this approach then leads us as readers to see the circumstances around the defeat or ruin possibilities. I see the inner world of the client and thus the place where the client has control and the ability to make changes and prevent their fears from occurring, showing them how to increase the positivity and joy in their lives through this work.

In face to face readings I am careful to point out the meanings of the cards with the more difficult titles in much the same way as ensuring people don’t take one look at the death card and fear they or someone is going to die. This is also a good practice in email readings, though I am coming to feel that not even mentioning the keywords attached to the card title is better in email readings, only mentioning keywords in the prose of the card guidance if it feel appropriate in that reading.

It is not only keywords printed on cards that is interesting to me though. I am aware that when we read the tarot we all have such a plethora of meanings, connections and deep understandings of the cards that sometimes we develop a person shorthand of description of what we are seeing and meaning. In effect we develop our own sets of keywords that we use with cards and from this we develop our readings. We need awareness though, that a single word may now describe a whole plethora to us, but to the client they need to have the details explained – the connections we make, the understanding we have of the words we initially say, in order to ensure we have actually delivered the message we received. Sometimes to us, the reader, it can feel like we are ‘going on’ and surely should not need to say so much – but in many cases it is better to be explicit about our meaning and our underlying assumptions of meaning in order to be of the best service to our clients.

Have a think about the meanings you attach to the various Thoth cards, and perhaps even another deck that you use frequently. Do you use a personal mental shorthand when you read for others? Do you need to explain more perhaps? This shorthand can be very useful for readings for yourself, though even in this circumstance it can stop you hearing more innovative and creative guidance in your own situations.

One way to overcome the ‘shorthand’ in our processes is to just describe rather than interpret what you see. You can do this out loud or do it silently in your own mind – as you do so you hear yourself say things that are strong for you in the specific reading you are looking at – the cards, how they appear together, the specific images on the cards you are noticing – then as you listen to yourself, guidance and interpretation can come from there. This helps keep you in the now of the reading rather than taken back into the past of readings before, with often unspoken nuances of meaning that would be better said rather than assumed.