When you are ready to read, close the book that tells you what the cards mean, sit back, and start.

I'm serious.

If you read the section about how I think the Tarot works, you know that I think it's a focus, that lets your own subconscious come up with answers and insights. It can't do that if you are fixed on meanings printed in a book by someone who never did a reading in this exact situation, for this very seeker.

If that's all you want, then you may as well get a computer program that has pat, fixed answers.

But if you look at the cards, and let them trigger your insights and emotional wisdom, if you interpret the visceral reactions that you have to them, and translate them into words, then you will be reading the cards!

A well-designed deck doesn't need the books. And the books can't begin to cover all the situations possible.

Let me give you an example. Take the Six of Wands from my own deck, The Robin Wood Tarot.

It shows a richly dressed man, wearing a laural wreath and riding a white horse. In his hand he holds a flag with a sun on it. He is passing in front of a crowd of cheering people, who are throwing flowers and holding five wands, all with different colored crystals on the top. The only faces you can see in the crowd are those of two children; everyone else is hidden by the horse.

The meaning given in the booklet is "Triumph, public acclimation, good news, (important news,) gain, achievement, reward for hard work, great expectations."

Now, if this card came up in a reading, and all I did was read the book, I would probably assign it all of those meanings. At best, I would pick one, and assign that.

But if I was reading without the book, I might look at it, and just see the children. It might seem to me that the meaning at that moment was that the seeker never actually did anything; but liked to stand in the crowd, and cheer his champion on. That she wanted to be one of the many left safely behind, not the one actually at risk. That isn't mentioned anywhere in the book. But if that is what my instincts are telling me, it's far more likely to be true!

Or perhaps it wouldn't look like a victorious return at all! I was leading a discussion about this very card at a workshop, and one of the attendees looked at it and said, "He hasn't done anything yet. His clothes are still perfectly clean and new. He is just starting out." Once again, something that might have been missed if you just read the book.

You get the idea.

Reading isn't hard. Just relax, lay out the cards, and trust your own instincts.