Recently I was helping two people with learning a divinatory system; two different systems, and two different circumstances and yet my advice was the same in both cases. If you’re having trouble learning the system, with making the symbols and process coalesce stop looking forward.
This seems counterintuitive to some people as divination is mainly used to look forward, why stop? The future is the vast unknown, so when you don’t understand a system and you’re looking forward it’s like looking at meteorological data for tomorrow. You don’t understand how all the data comes together to make a coherent picture and you’re stuck trying to project meaning forward into the unknown. In the same way you’re not sure how that Queen of Pentacles under a reversed Ten of Wands means anything for the coming day. Also, some people believe that the future is mutable, so the cards may be right in the present but the future can change and you’re looking for a symbol/meaning that may no longer arise.
Looking backwards you don’t have this problem. You can see all the data, you can see the result, the event won’t change and from there you can start to unravel a meaning. In one case someone was asking about using geomancy, as there are different systems for generating Daughters and Nieces, and how to lay them on a chart. The other case was just someone having trouble learning how to relate abstract tarot meanings to their life. In both cases I said to toss their gaze backwards and use that. If you’re not sure which of the methods of generations is accurate or more accurate, pick a big event in your life and divine backward. If one set says things are happy and fast moving, and the other says things are painful has an overtone of loss, well if you’re looking at your Grandfather’s death, assuming you liked him, you know which is accurate. Same with tarot, if you can’t see how to draw meanings from the cards pick an event you know and that is important to you and divine it like you would the future and then knowing how things were, you can see the relation. Eventually this will help you look forward.
I call this retrojective divination. To me calling it retroactive would be about looking back for meaning, using divination for the same purpose as usual, just backwards. Retrojective though is a term I gleaned from my history professor, it refers specifically (in historical study at least) to act of interjecting meaning into the past from the present. That I feel is more the point. You’re not divining to find the deeper meaning of why your cat ran away when you were nine; you’re divining to see how your system displays the events of your cat running away so you understand the system. So turn your cards, your transits, your holes in the ground, whatever backward, and look to the past. The past isn’t going anywhere and you know it so you can study it to your heart’s content, the future you have to wait for and create. Find information in your past, learn to interpret the future. Simple.