I haven’t done much with dream interpretation (for one thing, you get more out of it when you actually remember your dreams). But I just read Inner Work: Using Dreams and Active Imagination for Personal Growth by Robert A. Johnson, where I found this:
Because your dream is composed of energy systems, a good test for an interpretation is whether it has energy behind it. If the interpretation arouses energy and strong feelings in you, if it suddenly gives you insights into your life, if you suddenly think of other areas of life where this interpretation makes sense, if it offers insights and liberates you from patterns you’ve been stuck in, all of these are signs that there is a tremendous energy behind this interpretation.
When you write out another interpretation, you are likely to find that it simply has no energy in it. It withers, it dies, you can’t connect it to anything that has life or power for you. This is a good sign that the interpretation is not good for this dream.
Johnson is explaining one way of telling whether you’ve come up with the right interpretation of a dream. But this is also the best description I’ve found yet of what it’s like when a tarot reading or other divination works.
The second paragraph is the one I need to remember. There’s really no mistaking the power in a tarot reading that’s flowing, but every now and then, I run across the opinion that every reading can be interpreted, that there’s no such thing as one that doesn’t work. Then I start second-guessing myself: did I try hard enough, am I in some sort of denial about a key issue? The second paragraph can remind me that maybe the spread is right and maybe it isn’t, but an interpretation that falls flat is most likely wrong, and that it would be better to abandon the reading than talk myself or someone else into believing a dead interpretation.