Many factors affect the accuracy and clarity of a reading. The state of mind of the person being read for will profoundly influence a Tarot reading. If the querent doesn't take it seriously, or is skeptical, her doubt can set up a barrier between her rational mind and her intuition. If a querent is distracted, confused, or unclear about what he wants to know, the answers he receives from the cards will be garbled or vague.
Your Approach to the Cards
The more urgent your need to know is, the more likely you are to get a direct, definitive answer. That's because your entire consciousness is focused on the matter at hand, rather than being split up into several different areas. Your subconscious, higher self, spirit guides, and other levels of being long to make a connection with you and to impart their wisdom in ways that will help you. Most of us don't communicate very well with the different parts of ourselves. The Tarot provides a tool for opening up those channels of communication.
Our questions express our vision, lead us into the future, focus a light in the realm of the unknown. Zen masters do not teach by lecturing. They wait until the student asks a question; only then is the student ready to hear the answer and mature enough to use the knowledge.
—Biochemist L. J. Shepherd, New Realities, May/June 1990
A person's level of spiritual development influences the reading, too. Someone who is highly aware and in touch with his own inner knowing, as well as with the higher realms, is likely to derive greater meaning from a reading than someone who has a more linear, materialistic worldview. If you genuinely wish to acquire wisdom, if you see the Tarot as teacher and vehicle for transferring insights, you'll undoubtedly be offered a great deal of information.
It is also possible that if you approach a reading with a pessimistic mindset, you are more likely to get a discouraging reading than if your outlook is optimistic. That's because the future isn't fixed. Outside forces don't dictate what happens; we create our own futures. If we expect a negative outcome, that's usually what we'll get. On the other hand, if we keep an open mind and hope for the best, we'll have a better chance of attracting good fortune. Your life is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and you are laying the groundwork for your future right now!
The reader's level of ability to interpret the cards will also affect the depth, direction, and accuracy of a reading. Just as a physician's degree of experience and training enables her to diagnose a patient's problems, a Tarot reader's level of knowledge and sensitivity will allow him to bring forth information that is useful to the client. Each reader sees the cards in a slightly different way, based on personal experience, cultural background, mental aptitude, intuitive capabilities, and many other factors. A reader whose focus is primarily oriented toward material considerations and outer-world events will analyze a spread differently than one whose emphasis is on the spiritual dimensions of a situation. Both interpretations may be valid, but they reflect different perspectives. The Seven of Swords, for example, can mean leaving a job that you find stifling, or it can indicate a need to reach beyond a self-limiting philosophy to seek a higher truth.
As you do practice layouts, record in your Tarot journal what Major Arcana cards appear, whether they are upright or reversed, what position they occupy, and how you interpret them in relationship to each other. This is especially important for beginners, who may become confused by cards that seem to be saying different things in the same spread.
Remember, also, that people are at different levels of development in different areas of life. One person may be highly accomplished in his career (Wands) but have trouble dealing with emotional issues (Cups). None of us moves smoothly from one stage of development to another in all areas of life simultaneously. The captain of industry who controls the fates of thousands of employees may inside be a little boy who still wants his mama. A woman who does not have a job or career may be possessed of extraordinary maturity in matters of interpersonal relations.