Every person is unique, with their own personal wants and needs, likes and dislikes, beliefs and experiences. Because of this fact, every person's approach to Tarot will be different, colored by their own preferences and expectations. It follows that each Tarot reader must abide by their own set of rules and guidelines, and that these rules are highly personal in nature. It would be foolish to think that there are any general rules that apply to all readers at all times, simply because there would always be exceptional cases and unanticipated circumstances.
It can easily be shown that an interpretation used by one reader will seem absolutely incorrect to another - such conflicts of meaning arise all the time, especially for new students who see different interpretations in each book they read. From a set of common symbols, such as the Rider-Waite deck upon which almost all introductory books are based, an infinite number of meanings can be derived, and not all of these meanings will be in perfect harmony with all the rest. But who is to be the judge of which are wrong and which are right? It is like trying to pick out one person from a crowd who typifies the "average person".
We all know intuitively that there is no such thing as an average person, because everyone is different in their own unique way. But everyone has, nonetheless, a mental picture of who they think represents an average person. In the same way, even though there are no absolutely correct interpretations and absolute rules, every reader must have a set of personal interpretations and personal rules that suit his or her reading style. These interpretations and rules are correct for that one reader - and only that one reader. Trying to live by another reader's rules means you are not being true to yourself.
This is not to say that you cannot base your own rules upon those of other readers, or base your personal interpretations on those of your favorite author. Nothing prevents you from doing either, but one can follow for only so long before he feels the desire to lead, and once he has led, he can never be a follower again. After a while you'll feel the innate need to develop your own opinions, and at this time it becomes important to realize that nothing said by any expert or author - and that includes me - should be taken as a commandment written in stone. It is all based on personal choice.
Would you let another person run your life, making all of your decisions for you? I would hope that your answer is no, and if this is the case, then why should you allow others to influence your beliefs on the Tarot, or for that matter, on any subject? As we shall see, the Tarot is a parallel concept to your life as a whole, and any principle that applies to your macroscopic life must apply to the use of the mirror of life known as the Tarot. Ultimately, you live your own life. Ultimately, you make your own choices. Ultimately, you have to determine what the Tarot cards mean for you and what rules you are going to follow when you use the Tarot.Copyright 2000 James Rioux