Diving In: Learning Intuition By Doing
by Sarah Gottesdiener·
Sometimes I get asked questions like "How did you know you were an intuitive?" "How did you start reading cards professionally?" etc. People may think there tends to be one defining moment: you see a spirit, you hear a voice, and that's it! Voila, you are a tarot reader/psychic/healer ready to help the world wake up and be healed. I maybe know a handful of psychics/readers with that story. For most people, myself included, it is a long process of learning, reading, connecting, but most importantly, doing—consistently and often. Kinda sounds like life, eh?
For about a decade I would offer readings for just about anyone who wanted. I would bury myself in tarot card books, memorize all of the meanings in the guidebooks, pull cards for myself, work with pendulums, work with visualization exercises, talk to my spirit guides...you name it! I went to healers, channelers, psychics, witches, and tarot readers. Many times it was suggested that I myself was a healer or a reader. One month I had four different witches tell me I needed to go to one certain Witch school in Portland! (I did not go to said Witch school.)
Sometimes, I could predict what was going to happen in someone's life or my own. Sometimes, I knew things about a person I wasn't "supposed" to know because I didn't know them well at all. I moved into a house with ghosts and could feel them. (And had to exorcise them away with the help of a very talented psychic.) Yet I didn't take any of these as signs to nurture my own intuitive abilities in services of spirit and of helping others. This didn't fit into any ideas I had about my identity and my dreams.
In hindsight, I'm pretty sure this was also because I thought that witches and tarot readers had to be spectacular, turban-wearing psychics who could speak with the dead, predict your birthday and your dog's name the minute you sat down, and who lived in an oversized mushroom in a forest surrounded by black cats and cauldrons. I was a nice shy Jewish girl from the east coast who at the time had a white collar, 9-5 job. My mother had been a tarot reader and engaged herself in spiritual pursuits, but did that all before I was born. Her mother was a predictive psychic who was shamed into silence by her family after she predicted the death of her brother and was terrified to speak about any of this, understandably so. (Note: I now actually live with a super witchy black cat named Moon-Unit, but she is my partner's!)
I do remember one of the moments that made me realize that I should probably be giving readings in a more professionalized way. I had gotten asked to read cards at an art benefit by one of my friends. One of the people I gave a reading to scheduled a follow-up session with me that I gave her in a park. At the end of the reading she told me that she had gotten many tarot readings in her life and that I had given her one of the best she had ever had. That I needed to do this for other people, to help them. Having a perfect stranger tell me that kicked me into gear, and soon after that I started offering my services publicly.
Reading cards for me is never draining, always gives me energy, and provides me with a channel so that I can receive messages from my guides in a more controlled way. Once I start reading, I usually feel as though I've had an Americano (I don't drink caffeine at all before readings) and I can talk for very long periods of time. Sometimes I need to tell my guide to slow down because he wants to give me so much information I can't get it all out! It has deepened my relationship to my guide, something I have always wanted. It has deepened my relationship with my own intuition, with spirit and with the way I see my own life. It has given me a renewed, on-going relationship with my grandmother who passed over ten years ago. Mostly, it gives me so much, and I am so glad I stepped into this aspect of myself.
The main thing I want to tell people about wanting to read cards, be a healer or develop your psychic and intuitive abilities is to start today. There is almost never a reason for waiting to be "good enough", or to obtain a certain amount of knowledge of the right esoteric readings, interpretations, etc. that will give you the permission to offer your gifts. Spirituality is a very private, personal practice and while there are definite basics that most everyone can agree upon, you need to find what works for you. Of course there are things one must learn. (I've been studying these subjects for over 10 years and I still learn things all the time!) Maybe you need to enroll in an herbalism class, an acupuncture program, a witch school, mystery school or work for a long period with a teacher to develop your gifts. I'm just saying that personally, my own perfectionism and imposter syndrome held me back for a long time, and I'm cautioning you against the same. You bring your own unique soul to what you do, and that is enough.
The way to learn is by doing, by practicing, until you find your unique groove and the tools that work for you. Maybe you are meant to shine as an astrologer. Maybe you can channel and speak with the dead. Maybe you are a sound healer, a hypnotherapist, or a few of the above all at once. You won't know until you play around with different modalities. So by all means, start and seek!
Below are some suggestions to starting on an intuitive path.
1. Meditate every day.
There are various different ways you can get started on meditation. Sometimes I prefer guided meditations, other days I want to just sit quietly for 5 or more minutes. I really like experimenting with different kinds of meditations: for a while I was doing flower meditations where I would examine, stare and focus on a flower for 7 minutes. It was really powerful and amazing! There are breathing meditations, mantra-driven meditations, meditation apps…you get the picture.
2. Ground every day. Call back your energy.
We are distracted energy bodies, there is so much these days competing for our attention. Grounding your energy is useful, as is calling back your energy. Explore different ways to do so. Keeping a clear channel is important with healing work. I write more about this here.
3. Ask your guides.
We all have guides! Some of them are angels, some are ancestors, some are special people we have experienced past lives with. Some are your pets and plants! Guides are here to help and want to help. Connect to them, talk to them, and listen. Ask them to show you signs. Ask them for guidance. Ask them to give you a message, then pull a card. Not all of us hear information, some of us see and feel it. No way is better than another. Tune in and see what happens!
4.Do, do, do, do.
Find a way to not just read about it, but to do it. Offer free readings to your friends. Plan meditation circles or automatic writing dates with others. Practice by doing. Make notes afterword about what happened, how you felt. Reflect on what went well and what you need to improve open.
5. Go, go, go, go.
Go to readers, psychics, astrologers. Figure out what kind of style you like and don't like. This is a way of exploring different modalities and the different ways that people work. While not everyone can afford to go to readers, a lot of times readers will offer sliding scale options. Or they will offer workshops or classes that might be cheaper than booking an hour session with them. I usually get one tarot reading, one astrology reading, and one psychic/channelling session a year, maybe twice a year. Other times I trade with my friends who are awesome readers.
6. Find a teacher.
Whether it is someone on-line who you read, or an author whose workbooks you fill out, find mentors. People you connect with that you can ask questions to and nerd out about spiritual matters. Classes and workshops, as mentioned above, are also useful. I have done all of the above.
7. Define your healing mission.
Defining and communicating my healing mission is very important to me. I learned very early on that my main gift with clients is being able to quite accurately reflect back to them exactly what is going on in their life at that moment. I connect with my guides and ask them what are the kindest, clearest, most important messages that my client needs to hear at that moment. There is healing power in having a perfect stranger tell you that yes, these things are really happening, that you aren't crazy or making up what is going on, etc. etc. Having an outside perspective, as well as being able to explore the future energy that is available for my clients to harness and work with is empowering. That is my main healing mission and because I know that, I am able to offer my services clearly.
Everyone's healing mission is different: some healers are body workers, some work with energy or with angels. By practice you will be able to hone in on what your particular gifts are.
8. Discover and work on and with your strengths and underdeveloped gifts.
Your gifts can change, and psychic abilities are like a muscle that can be worked on. Because I know what my strengths are, I can develop those further. I also have goals of certain skill sets that I want to improve upon. I have a clear picture of what I would like to be developed, and can focus on those.
9. Have patience and enjoy the process.
We are all on this planet to evolve, grow, change and learn. This is a constant process that takes time and experience. Have patience with yourself and enjoy your unique process and spiritual path! Trust that you are where you are meant to be.
I'm giving the last of my three part Tarot Workshop at Otherwild this coming Tuesday, November 2nd at 6:30. We will explore different intuition exercises, go over different spreads and go over the structures in reading cards. It is $45, I hope to see you there!