Ditch the One Card a Day & Do This Instead

Create a rubric that holds the space you need to learn

Jenna Matlin
Dec 11, 2017 · 9 min read

Welcome back!

If you missed the first part of this series please go to ‘Dump the Pull One Card a Day Advice’ first. It specifically outlines why this advice can overwhelm and confuse a new reader rather than help them build proficiency.

Some of my advice here may feel counter-intuitive.

Q: If we are immediately placing meanings on cards then doesn’t that mean we are not allowing our natural intuition to tell us what we need?

Yeah I’ve been known to play the role of tavern oracle a time or two…

A: Not at all.

In fact, learning just one word per card is creating the scaffolding, the framework wherein your intuition will work with you and through the medium you are using. (I started a series on intuition, here is the intro piece to that.)

Here is what I know and have experienced:

  1. Anxiety (or any very strong emotion) kills intuitive cognition.
  2. Over-thinking and linear cognition rejects intuition.

If I am even the slightest bit anxious, puzzling over a meaning or feeling confused, then I am having strong feelings and over-thinking. Intuition does not come the more one ponders.

It just comes.

So we set the maximum conditions to allow it to come.

  1. Alleviate anxiety (or any other very strong emotion) as much as possible.
  2. Depress rational thought and dissuade linear thinking.

Your intuition will work with you to build a personal lexicon wherein you will know that it is talking straight to you.

You will begin to use cards in new ways that are ‘off book’ and you will know they are accurate.

You will build that internal language between your conscious and intuitive selves, but first you have to begin somewhere.

The Method

The wind made me a 3 card spread this night.
  1. Ditch the one card readings completely and go straight to three card readings. (In fact, if you know Lenormand this is going to be very familiar to you.)
  2. Give each card only one (or two) vocabulary words and memorize just that one word. But keep in mind that that one word also includes a definition and synonyms which you already know because you know what the one word you chose means.
  3. Use only the minor arcana at first, leaving out the majors and the court cards until you gain mastery over the minors. Don’t worry, your readings are still going to kick butt. You do not need all 78 cards at first.
  4. Ignore reversals for now. (Remember, the goal is to not over think nor get anxiety because we want that fast quiet ghost of intuition to come.)
  5. Build a question you actually want to know. Examples like, “Will my commute to work be (easier/harder) today?” “How will my presentation be received by my boss today?” “Taylor woke up feeling unwell, how will she do at school?” Make it relevant. Make it a question that is specific and targeted, make the question as unambiguous as possible.
  6. Pull three cards and do not assign any position (like past, present, future) to them. Just lay them out and look at them.
  7. Use your one-word vocabulary for each to build a sentence. If the sentence doesn’t make sense, move the cards around. Reorder them. Make them upside down, or put them into a shape. Follow your gut on this. Keep moving them around until that little spark inside you goes, “Yes! This is it!”
  8. Write it down, and do your very best to kind of forget about it. You want to refrain from projecting the message or forcing it to happen. You just want to step back and observe.
  9. At the end of the day come back to see if the answer you got this morning makes sense to the question you pulled.

One more thing about formulating a question:

Half the work in a good reading (and yes, I know there is a philosophical difference in the tarot world regarding this) is doing the initial work of finding the ‘right’ question.

This work is invaluable to the process. What do I actually want to know? What is causing me concern, really? Why not just ask it directly for God sake’s rather than couching all of that into a mealy, tepid question?

It’s almost as if we do not trust our intuition or tarot to be direct and honest so we hedge our bets by open-ended questions. There is no need to do this! Your tarot and your intuition can handle it.

Open ended questions in general are great, too. But, for the beginner we need to focus on creating a tight enough space to work within.

A few more thoughts about this process:

It is better to learn more cards with simpler vocabulary than fewer cards with 10 words of possible meanings. It is better to create conditions that will be successful, encouraging new students to gain immediate proficiency.

The students I have who struggle the most are those that usually carefully analyze something as their way of understanding new information. This kind of approach often can squash those quick, fast, quiet intuitive hits that come out of nowhere. Be on the lookout for this tendency.

Intuitive hits come quick. If you do not know immediately, put it aside, do not stress over it.

When it is ready it will ding! into your awake thinking, like a small interruption.

You have to let go and trust the process. The process you are creating. How magical is that?!

The Road Test

Today I have a meeting with someone concerning my cat. “Will the animal communicator give me a session that will help me understand and engage with my cat better?” See what I did there? I made the question specific and targeted. I even avoided the more nebulous, “How will the meeting I have with the cat communicator lady go?”

Q: Will the animal communicator give me a session that will help me understand and engage with my cat better?

Shuffle Shuffle…

Tarot of Delphi, Used with Permission

Using the one word I have chosen for each card, I get:

Self-Imprisonment, Reward, and Intimacy.

Looking at the spread I am noticing how the images look together. I erase the borders until it all comes together. (Mary Greer has some excellent exercises that help with this in her ‘21 Ways to Read Tarot’.)

In my spread, the first two cards reveal two people are looking in opposite directions. One is afraid of the ocean, and one is looking at what she is trying to cultivate. One is fearful, and the other is looking to the garden she wishes to grow.

In the final image, we see two people joined together. The way this ‘comic strip’ narrative unfolds feels good to me. I do not feel the need to switch anything around, so I decide to move forward.

Cats equal claps, right?

Using the tips above I come to this narrative:

“I am self-imprisoned and cannot see something very obvious about my relationship to my cat, maybe there is some kind of fear that is blinding me. The communicator will give me a reward (probably some kind of advice or insight) that will increase the intimacy and closeness of my cat and I.”

The Analysis

Can I say that this prediction I made was accurate? Was the tarot communicating effectively with me? Do I feel clearer about the reading and understanding what the cards were saying to me?

First, the person I worked with was excellent. She gets a big recommendation from me. The session was relevant, useful, and immensely helpful. A big component of the issues brought up by my cat via the communicator was how my stress was impacting my cat and she was feedback looping that back to me (Self-imprisonment being the major issue — the problems of my own making).

Second, the rewards of the communicator’s insights allowed me to understand how to become closer to my cat. Looking back at the cards after the session allowed me to deepen my understanding about the major take-aways reaffirmed by the communicator.

Not only did this three card spread answer my question regarding her competence, it also explained how her competence was going to influence the relationship I have with my cat.

And I only needed one word for each card to get here.

On Reflection

Looking back I want to make sure that my new technique is actually building the skills I wish to acquire which are:

Gain a simple yet workable vocabulary that (I) will build upon, learn how to apply that vocabulary to a grammatical framework that makes sense, and finally, learn how to apply both the vocabulary and the grammar towards a goal of communication.

Doing a three card spread accomplishes this very nicely in a way that one card pulls may not.

Ultimately, I am aiming to understand how tarot wishes to communicate with me, and how tarot wants to use vocabulary that will be a lexicon we share. But first, we need a simple bridge.

And we can only do that once we have established a tight enough rubric for meaningful exchange.

You still with me?

Have another cat pic, cause… damn she is adorable and we lurv each other.

Remember people: Cats=Claps


Ditch the one card a day pulls.

Decide one vocabulary word for each card and stick to it. Put the books away for now. You need to memorize one word for each card.

Set aside the major arcana, the court cards and reversals until you gain proficiency. Use only the minor arcana: one word each.

Replace with three card pulls using a specific question (the more specific the better).

Do not assign positions to the cards. See the cards as a comic-strip narrative that feels right.

Write a sentence or two about the cards then forget about it. Return to it at the end of the day and review your work.

My recommendation is to just do these three card spreads for a month or two. I know you will be hankering to dig into larger spreads but just keeping your work to this format will cement the lexicon you are building. I suspect that the intuitive insights you begin to have will be remarkable.

Bonus homework

Stop reading for yourself.

Read for people on the news or about events you are not actually attached to. That way, you have no unconscious bias or anxiety impinging upon the reading. You will begin to feel when you get a hit and since you have no prior connection or ‘dog in the fight’ the perceptions will be clear. Again, remember I am giving very new timer advice for your first couple of months. You will read for yourself and others later. This is just about learning to build a tarot-intuitive bridge in your head.

I love getting question fodder from reddit. There are tons of people publicly posting and asking for advice there. I love going to r/relationships to get questions. These folks are asking for advice on a public forum (so I feel okay for reading for them) and they will follow up what whatever happened usually. Keep a journal of these and see how well you do.

Okay, that’s it! Thank you for reading and also I truly hope this helps!


Ready for what I recommend instead? The sister post to this one is now up.

Jenna Matlin

Written by

I read tarot for wayfarers looking for good love, a purposeful life, and a vibrant relationship with the Universe. jennamatlin.com

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