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Are Computer-Generated Tarot Readings the Real Deal?

By November 23, 2011Everyday Tarot

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I have never been a fan of those free Tarot websites that offer computer-generated Tarot readings.

Sure, I have tried them out (what have you got to lose if they’re free?!) but I have never really taken them that seriously. I mean, why would you? Why would you let an algorithm stored within a computer tell you your life direction?

Well, that was until I met George.

George runs phuture.me which is a free Tarot reading website (among other things).  He’s a Tarot reader himself, but also has a penchant for all things ‘techy’ and has been able to create the software that generates online Tarot readings.

George has been trying to get me to come around to his way of thinking – that a computer-generated reading is as accurate and as connected as any human-generated reading.

At the beginning, I was highly sceptical. Doesn’t an accurate Tarot reading require a (human) Tarot reader who is intuitive and psychically connected with the querent? And doesn’t a good Tarot reading need someone who can draw together the connections between the cards and build the story?  Surely a computer can’t do that, especially when it is working with pre-programmed algorithms and Tarot card definitions, and has no personal connection to the querent.

But George persisted.

Shuffling and Selecting the Tarot Cards

Some free Tarot reading websites will have the computer shuffle and select the cards for you, while others allow the user to virtually shuffle and select the cards from the complete Tarot deck.

George keeps telling me how, if you virtually shuffle and select the cards, there is really no difference between that and having a ‘real person’ doing it. It is the same energy that is being channelled into the cards, and therefore the same outcome of the ‘right’ cards being selected for the reading.

In fact, most of the time George use the computer version of his Tarot cards, rather than the printed version, for his Tarot readings. He says it’s convenient and mobile, he can save his spreads and come back to them later or share them with others, and the cards never wear out.

Interpreting the Tarot Cards

Most free Tarot reading websites will provide descriptions for each individual Tarot card in your reading. On some websites, it is just a few short sentences, while on others, it is a series of more detailed paragraphs.

In some ways, it is like an Oracle reading.  You are given a short, sharp description to ponder upon. Sometimes it makes sense in relation to what you have asked. But other times, it doesn’t and it is left up to the querent to interpret the cards and to fill in the gaps. It therefore relies on the querent to have some knowledge of the Tarot cards in order to gain deeper insight into their reading, which is not often the case.

What is also lacking in a computer-generated Tarot reading is the integration between the Tarot cards drawn.

To me, an insightful, accurate and focused Tarot reading is the result of not only interpreting each Tarot card individually but interpreting cards as a collective. This relies upon an intuitive and experienced Tarot reader who doesn’t just relay basic descriptions of each card, but who calls upon their intuition to give specific guidance and insight to the querent.

I can’t see how a computer can provide such a reading. It’s just not possible to make those same connections that a professional Tarot reader would make.

Of course, George is one step ahead.

He has come up with the idea of having basic descriptions of the Tarot cards, but also the option to have a Tarot reader interpret your spread for you. His solution is therefore more of a hybrid model. Use the computer to shuffle and select the cards, then get a ‘real person’ to interpret the reading. Quite snazzy, really.

I suppose the only trouble I have with this approach is that the Tarot reading is interpreted well after the cards were selected. I am a strong believer that the Tarot cards capture the energy of a point in time, and the messages are relevant to that point in time. So, if you were to shuffle and select the cards today, and then have someone else interpret the reading tomorrow, it may not be as accurate.

(Note: I know we do Tarot Circle that way, but that is more intended as a learning exercise than an accurate reading technique.)

So, Are Computer-Generated Readings Accurate?

George put me in touch with two of the Tarot readers on his website, Seann and Rosemarie, so I could find out more. I wanted to know how accurate their readings really were given this set-up.

Seann gave me this example:

“I am clairaudient, clairvoyant and clairsentient. This means, I see, hear and feel information. Recently I did an online computer-generated reading and received wonderful feedback. By being clairaudient, I heard a song. I told her she was to get up and dance. Sure enough she dances every day and that was clarification for her that she was on the right track. The song I got a clip of was by Devo called ‘Whip It’. I heard “Crack that whip, get up and dance”. It was a message with a double meaning. Put your foot down in your life, expect better and get up and dance.”

Not bad!

But what about the Tarot readings that are strictly computer-generated, and don’t have any input from a ‘real person’ for the interpretation of them?

Well, I went to phuture.me to try a completely computer-generated reading.

I entered the question, “What do I need to know right now about my family relationships?” and selected three cards from the digital deck. This is my reading:

Card 1 – Eight of Wands. The 8 of Wands/Rods swift action, travel & expansion. The element here is Fire which relates to home, community, work & creativity. The aspects of the number 8 in numerology are power, control, material freedom, organisation, practicality, self-reliance and success. The imagery most commonly associated with this card is one of 8 Rods flying through the air. This maybe only a metaphorical relationship to the events unfolding meaning that things will change swiftly and for the better. It can though indicate travel by air in the future.

Card 2 – Ace of Wands. The Ace of Wands, Rods or Batons is traditionally represented as a single stick, or branch, standing, or being held, upright. Its symbology is simple, it has the element of fire and a numerological value of 1. As a 1 it represents a new beginning and, with fire as the element, this beginning has to do with the home, community or work. Surrounding cards should help in narrowing down which aspect of the home or work this beginning will occur. For example it could be a new job (responsibility, chore, project) or new home, sometimes it can mean a new addition to a home, a new family member. The element of fire and this suite of the minor arcana has an creative aspect. In this case the card could point to a new venture or enterprise or even simply the planting of a garden at home.

Card 3 – Three of Pentacles. The 3 of Pentacles/Coins is a card of team work, apprenticeship or hiring of skilled labour. The element here is Earth which relates to wealth and material possessions. The aspects of the number 3 in numerology are the joy of living, sociability, friendship, self expression and creativity. The creative aspect of the 3 combined with the element of earth and its representation of wealth points to reward through application of skill and creativity. As 3 is also a social number it alludes to working with others to create wealth.

Hmmm. So, it does give me some insight that things are moving along quickly, a new opportunity is coming our way (or the fact we have a four month old – still new!), and that we are focused on wealth and work. But, I’m still not really convinced that this is more insightful than what I could gain from a ‘real person’ doing the reading. I would be inclined to click the button to get a Tarot reader to interpret the reading for me.

George suggests that this type of reading where you get a computer-generated interpretation of the individual cards is useful if you are learning the Tarot cards or just want a simple reading. I tend to agree. Free Tarot reading website can be helpful as a Tarot ‘tutor’, with the view that you would research the cards in more depth following your reading. That is why he includes links to other websites with detailed Tarot card meanings (including my website – thanks George!).

Am I Convinced?

I can see how virtual shuffling and selection of the Tarot cards could work if the querent is doing the shuffling and selection themselves. But I can’t really see how the interpretation of the Tarot cards selected is better than a reading with a real life person.

The computer generating the reading is nothing like a Tarot reader who draws on their intuition to interpret the messages from the cards and apply it to the situation. The computer can’t pick up on your energy, see clairvoyantly, or connect empathically. It can’t interact with you or answer questions, listen, or really ‘read’ you. And it seems so far away from the depth of spiritual understanding that is needed to create accurate and insightful readings.

That said, I do like George’s idea of the querent selecting the cards themselves and then having a real Tarot reader interpret the spread. It seems like a happy medium to me.

Try For Yourself

You can try a computer-generated reading at phuture.me or facade.com. Or get a free Tarot reading with a real person on Biddy Tarot. Find what works best for you!

What do you think? Do you believe in and use free computer-generated Tarot readings? Or do you steer clear of them? Leave your comments below.

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