When you choose cards from a Tarot spread you are virtually attracting the cards that reflect the current energies in your life. This is a process involving your subconscious mind and the Universal Intelligence to which it’s linked.
The cards that appear in a reading also reflect a person’s past conditioning and current psychological influences. They show the results that are likely in terms of these influences. However the cards don’t compel things to turn out a certain way. A person can always choose a different course of action – one that will bring positive outcomes.
The main point to make here is that the Tarot generally doesn’t describe concrete events that are “fated”. So it works not so much as a predictive tool, but rather as a way of showing where our thoughts and influences are focussed, and therefore what we are attracting. For example, the cards are very good at picking up self-sabotaging patterns of which we are barely aware. And the beauty of this awareness is that we can get to work on changing these patterns!
The Tarot can also illuminate parts of ourselves that haven’t been effectively integrated into our self-expression in the external world. Let’s say the rather imposing figure of The Emperor appears in a layout, in a reversed position, and it doesn’t seem to represent anyone in your life. There’s always the possibility that it could symbolise a part of you that would love to be an authority figure, or “the person in control” who efficiently organises things. And it may be reversed because your current behaviour is thwarting this part of your personality! Often the surrounding cards provide clues regarding a path of action that would facilitate the changes needed for greater self-expression.
Through self-awareness of this kind the Tarot can help us to become a more authentic version of who we are. So it’s not surprising that some psychologists use the Tarot to pinpoint underlying patterns of behaviour that are difficult to detect through normal conversation with a client.
How does the Tarot manage to do this? Well, the first paragraph above partially explains this phenomenon, but maybe we don't need to fully understand life's mysteries to appreciate their value. Let's just say the Tarot works because of the subtle interconnectedness of life's energies - those that we can see and those we can't see!