The Difference Between Ego & Intuition in Tarot
How to know whether it's ego or intuition influencing a tarot reading
Use your intuition. Listen to your intuition. Trust intuition. When it comes to interpreting tarot readings, this popular phrase is commonplace. For those comfortable and familiar with intuitive nudges, it’s a simple enough matter, but for those new to tarot, or only getting to grips with connecting to intuition, it’s far from easy.
How do we know if it’s intuition or ego whispering? How can we be sure it’s not the sway of judgement or emotion influencing the reading? Fortunately, there are ways to identify the difference between ego and intuition in tarot, and once learned, it’s a tactic worth relying on.
What is Ego?
The definition of ego is; ‘a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance’. Psychoanalysis defines it as; 'the part of the mind mediating between the conscious and unconscious. Ego tests reality ‘and forms our sense of personal identity.’ In philosophical terms, it’s regarded as; ‘a conscious thinking subject’. Ego is the Latin word for ‘I’, and this single letter sums it up neatly.
Ego plays an important role. It’s there to protect us both mentally and physically. Life experience feeds our ego as we all perceive the world and interpret it from our unique vantage point. Not many people have the ability to step outside of their own perspective to view the world from a different, or other people’s viewpoint. This is due to the fact that they way we process information is framed by our personal experiences—our unique way of referencing life. Therefore, the voice of ego, one which constantly narrates in the background, is nigh on impossible to ignore.
The study of ego moves far beyond this principle, yet to most, the word ‘ego’ carries negative connotations. If someone is full of their own self-importance, they’re called egotistical. If a person takes offence, it’s said their ego is bruised. Ego can be easily inflated and quietly bully us when given the freedom, but at its most basic level, we need ego to survive.
And yet, at times, ego can butt in without hesitation. Because it’s so influenced by our experiences, and is fed by hurt, fear, praise, and recognition, it can overtake our thoughts and quickly take us down the wrong path. The voice of ego can be a bossy, judgemental one. It often speaks cruelly, whispering that we’re not good enough, attractive enough, smart enough, talented enough. On the flip side, it can tell us we’re too good for some, far more attractive than others, way more intelligent than the ignorant people around us, or talented beyond measure. Depending on the message, ego can have you shrinking into shadow, or puffing up with overinflated self-importance. Regardless of which end of the scale ego operates from, it constantly worms its way into our thoughts, and it certainly doesn’t vamoose when it comes to tarot reading.
When doing a face to face reading, ego weighs up the client before the cards have even been drawn. Friendly or confrontational? Willing or reluctant? Happy or sad? Nervous or at ease? What clues does the client’s appearance or dress give about their social background? Whether we like the idea of it or not, all this information is quickly gathered, filtered, and judged by our ego. If it wasn’t, we’d leave ourselves open to danger. At a very basic level, we need to know we’re physically safe when sitting opposite a stranger. Are they mentally stable? Could they physically harm us? Are they likely to verbally assault us? Although we’re simply assessing for risk, we subconsciously take that information and form an opinion, but it’s what happens next that can influence the reading and allow ego to have its unsolicited say.
With our opinion formed, and the cards revealing the client’s situation, ego is that little voice you might hear whispering ‘Well, I’m not surprised that card has appeared.' Or something like; 'it’s their own fault. Their negative behaviour has resulted in this situation. What did they expect?’ We’re human, folks. We sometimes make these judgements. The key is in getting ego to butt out so we can remain neutral and deliver the reading to the best of our ability.
What is Intuition?
Intuition is defined as; ‘the ability to understand something instinctively, without the reason for conscious reasoning.’
We’ve all experienced intuition, that knowing we can’t explain: The phone rings, and without looking, you instinctively know who’s calling. On a journey, that nudge to take a different route, and later learning your usual route had major delays. Meeting someone for the first time and within minutes, knowing they’ll be a friend—or someone you’d rather totally avoid. Battling with a decision, and without being able to clarify why, suddenly knowing which choice to make.
Unlike Ego, intuition is quiet. It often speaks without words, announcing itself through physical sensations; an awareness in your stomach (known as ‘gut instinct’), perhaps a perception of warmth around your heart, tingling in your palms or at the nape of your neck. For some, intuition is a recognisable physical sensation, for others it’s more a knowing. What’s important to understand—and what assists with differentiating ego from intuition—is the vibe of intuition. It’s loving. There’s a definite gentleness behind it. When the sensation occurs, it’s kind, peaceful, and always positive. Even if intuition is sending a warning message, there’s a calmness behind it. When intuition is given the space to whisper without ego butting in, the need to explain it with logic falls away. You just know that what you feel is right, you can’t explain why, you simply accept and trust in your belief.
When new to working with intuition, those first few accurate hits can be a little unsettling. And what’s one of our instinctual first reactions? Ego assigning an explanation. A lucky guess, or right place, right time, it declares. Ego pushes against the concept of us understanding something instinctively, without the reason for conscious reasoning. Therefore, during a reading, when that intuitive nudge hits, it can be difficult to trust it.
So, how can we differentiate between ego and intuition during a reading? Here are a number of ways to identify the two.
Voice: How does the voice sound? Ego criticises and controls. It’s a voice sharp with opinion. Intuition speaks calmly and with wise love. There’s no judgement.
Is there Judgement? Ego pipes up with judgy words, or uses comparisons. Intuition doesn’t. It wants us to live our best life, so encourages us into that direction with love.
Is there Justification? With ego, the reason behind your knowing is supported by a list of reasons. When it’s intuition, there’s no explanation required.
Is there Fear? Only ego speaks with fear. Intuition comes from a place of peace and love.
Is there Fluctuation? Ego swaps and changes. What’s up one second, might be down the next. Ego makes us falter. Intuition, on the other hand, simply knows without any uncertainty.
Is there Lack or Abundance? Ego will point out the lack in a situation, listing all the reasons why something cannot be achieved or accepted. Intuition transcends the ‘how’. The details aren’t important. It speaks with positivity and a calm knowing the universe has your back.
Timing: Intuition responds immediately when a question is asked. Ego leaps in moments later, but drags with it a list of reasons, judgements, or bossy statements, making you second guess.
In a nutshell, intuition carries calm, loving, unshakeable knowing.
Ego reasons, judges, and bosses. It’s voice is louder, and often unkind.
It takes practice to identify whether it’s ego or intuition, but by giving yourself space and time to experiment without pressure, you’ll soon be able to differentiate between the two. It’s best to practice alone at first. Sit in a quiet, comfortable environment, and one by one, ask yourself a number of simple questions. Evaluate the answers using the identifiers above. When you feel more comfortable, apply the method to your tarot readings.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be discussing more about intuition, along with exercises to strengthen your connection to your wise inner self. Until then, thanks for reading!
How do you differentiate between ego and intuition? What are your struggles with the two? I’m always up for a chat, so reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking to understand more about connecting to your intuition? Wishing to further strengthen your connection? Tarot Tuition is now open. Every one-hour session is tailored exclusively for your requirements.
Visit Tarot Tuition at Creative Soul Tarot to learn more.