Which cards scare you the most? As much as we may attempt to maintain an objective take on each card so as not to push our own agenda or read too much into a spread, it is of course natural to form a deeply personal relationship with the deck. This means there will definitely be some cards we favour, some we smile at when we see them appear in a reading, and some that we downright loathe. Some seem more complex and confusing, whilst others are so clear cut and useful in their message that you could write a book on them. Focusing on those cards that induce fear, tension and discomfort can help you to unravel their key lessons. Any reader can deepen their understanding of the cards through masses of book study, but tapping into the meanings on a personal level is the key to giving readings that are heart-felt and empathetic. Basically, if the cards are not teaching us enough about the dark and difficult parts of our own inner selves, the likelihood of us being able to impart their guidance to others is significantly lessened.
Go through your Tarot deck and take out those cards that tend to make you feel uncomfortable, angsty or generally on edge. Write a few lines on each one in an attempt to explain why your relationship with them is strained or difficult. Some of my not-so-comfortable cards include The Hierophant, the Queen of Pentacles and the Three of Pentacles. I'm certain that The Hierophant's reverence of order, structure, hierarchy and tradition clash with my liberal, chaotic and spontaneous nature, not to mention my love of contemporary ideas, breaks with the past and post-structuralism in art. My issue with The Hierophant is a straight forward explosive personality mix. He's the kind of guy I argue with about the way the world ought to be. I have had to tone down my feelings through absorbing his good points and accepting the importance of his knowledge, even if what he represents feels threatening to me. As for the cards from the suit of Pentacles, in actual fact the whole suit tends to give me some kind of discomfort from time to time. Since I'm quite the typical dreamer and don't have a tendency to keep my feet on the ground, the sober realities of the physical realm, particularly when it comes to looking after my health and my bank balance, seem grey and scary under close inspection. Once you've established why certain cards 'rub you up the wrong way', you can iron out the creases by appreciating what they have to teach you about yourself.
Now, write down a list of things you're afraid of. Start with the biggies - the phobias, the fixations, the things that have terrified you since childhood. We're talking about the kinds of things you'd find in Room 101. Then focus on the things that cause anxiety, distress or a desire to hide. Focus on any objects that cause fear. Then move on to feelings, situations, personality types and uncomfortable ideas about yourself, your future, your relationships. Drag the things you keep at the back of your mind out into the light. Once you've made your notes, carefully go through your Tarot deck, considering the fears you've tapped into. Use the cards to appropriately illustrate those fears. Confirm for yourself every now and then how illustrative Tarot can be of your own character. Acknowledge the mirror which a Tarot deck can hold up to your own life. Once you've seen the way your fears are reflected in the richness and complexity of the deck, you know you can trust it to be your guide since it obviously knows you so well.
Happy trouble shooting!