Winter weather has arrived where I live. It’s the time of year when the roads get coated with snow and ice, and people seemingly forget everything they know about driving.

So with a recent albeit mild snowfall, I thought I’d do a draw about what to expect on my drive into work this past Monday morning.

Mice + Mountain + Fox

My thought was anxiety or stress, and delays, on the way to work.

Surprisingly, it turned out to be the most timely drive I’d had in months. I believe a lot of people are on vacation due to Christmas this week.

The only unexpected delay was after the freeway, when the transit bus in front of me suddenly stopped to allow a paramedic to pass by. It was sudden and stressful, but is it what these cards warned of? I wouldn’t think so.

The drive home, on the other hand, was rather slow that day. Perhaps that’s what the cards chose to hone in on.

The above example, delays in getting to work, is one way to interpret this. Another style of interpretation is to treat the Mouse as “eating away” their adjacent cards, which in effect cancels out the Mountain and means no delays on the way to work. This property of the Mouse canceling neighboring cards is used in some of the German tradition.

The reason I posted about this is because it gives me a chance to reiterate the importance of consistency in reading cards. Depending on how one interprets the Mice card above, two entirely different interpretations are possible: either getting to work will be stressful and slow, or it will have no delays at all. Opposites! A reader who doesn’t have a consistent and standard way of reading the Mice card will have to choose which meaning to use in every reading, and I personally believe this can lead to confused readings.

A related example is a canonical usage of the Scythe in traditional Lenormand. When the Scythe falls next to the Book, it “cuts” the Book and cancels it. This would mean that secrets, indicated by the Book, are revealed. I’ve been using Sylvie Steinbach’s meanings lately (which overlap the French tradition I believe), and in this case the Scythe doesn’t negate cards. In her system secrets could instead be revealed when the Rider brings new information to the Book. Different cards are show the same message, and have slightly different implications. The Scythe doesn’t necessarily say why the secret comes out, it just cancels out the Book; whereas the Rider is actively bearing news and information.

These differing meanings are like two dialects of a language. There is a lot of overlap between these different systems, but there are also some key differences. Learning a new card language, for me at least, works best by keeping the dialects separate and using each one by itself so that I gain better understanding of each dialect in its own right.

I believe consistency of card interpretation is important for reliable readings. If I randomly choose which meaning or tradition to use per card or in each reading, then I fear my readings will be muddled and inaccurate. Whereas if I stick with my intention to use one dialect, then I’ll be consistent over time and (hopefully) clear.

Regarding this example of revealing secrets, I could use the Scythe or the Horseman and treat both of these as valid ways to show a secret (Book) is revealed in any reading, but to me that’s mixing dialects and diluting the possible messages as a result.