I have seen a number of beginners literally inundate themselves with rules and guidelines for how to interpret the Tarot. If you have three Swords in a reading it means imminent danger. The Seven of Swords next to an Empress reversed indicates someone who is pregnant but doesn't know it. A Knight of Wands in one position means a change of residence while the same card in another position represents a messenger. Two pair beat three of a kind but both are lower than a flush of Pentacles, and the suicide King and the one eyed Knight are wild. Absurd, isn't it?
I am not saying that you should throw all the rules out the window and just rely on your intuition to interpret the cards for you. While some readers have a strong intuition and could read using just this, the rest of us in the Tarot community aren't always as fortunate. Until we are sufficiently experienced in listening to the inner voice, it's nice to have some rules to fall back on. And everyone has days when the intuition just shuts up and doesn't say a thing, and when those days roll around, having some guidelines for interpretation can be the difference between giving a good reading and making an idiot of yourself.
The mistake made by many people is to put these rules on a higher pedestal than their own intuition. Your intuition is a gift, given to you by your creator - whomever you believe that to be. The "rules of Tarot" are learned either from a book, from a teacher, or from trial and error. Clearly one of these is far more powerful and therefore more authoritative, and it's not the latter! But it never ceases to amaze me how often a reader will ignore her instincts about the meaning of a card and instead recite some rule that they've memorized about that particular card. Nine times out of ten they end up being wrong.
Whenever your intuition agrees with what the "rules" tell you, it's time to celebrate - especially early in your Tarot practice, because it means you are doing something right. But when your intiution and your rules are in conflict about what a particular card means, intuition outranks the rules every single time. If there are exceptions to this, I can't think of any. If you are being false to the most central part of your being, by ignoring its advice in favor of something comparatively trivial, how can you ever hope to be true to others?
As I alluded to before, sometimes your intuition will give you no opinion concerning a card's meaning. When this is the case you should fall back on the rules and interpretations you've worked with in the past. Don't worry if your intuition tells you nothing at times, because this simply means that you can do just fine without any help. Trust that your inner voice will speak when you need it to, and on those occasions when it does not speak, proceed with confidence and know that your answer will be correct anyway. Then you will know true power.Copyright 2000 James Rioux