Why I am not Afraid of Tarot…

…and You Shouldn’t be Either.

Fear of Tarot (1)I recognize that suggesting what you should or should not be afraid of might sound arrogant–please hear me out.

I receive a range of reactions when I mention that I am a professional tarot card reader. Generally, people are interested and curious but I do meet folks who immediately put their hands up and shake their head saying that they “don’t want to know what is coming.” In some belief systems, the tarot is even thought of as a tool of the devil. Yikes!

The unfortunate part is that there are readers out there who will aim to create a dramatic and sometimes fearful response from their clients. Some people have experienced this first-hand, and others have heard their horror stories. Recently, I have had people share similar experiences of a tarot reader turning over a card,  gasping and refusing to continue the reading! I call bullshit on that noise! Perpetuating fear is a disgrace to the practice and the reason that many people do not wish to explore the tarot. This is unfortunate, as they miss the opportunity to discover what a powerful self-development tool it can be!

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While there are as many different reading styles as there are tarot readers, I align myself with those who use the cards for personal exploration such as discovering blind spots we may have and recognizing aspects of ourselves that need healing. Tarot is a great tool for getting out of a rut and setting intentions. It is a beautiful self-care process: I have had clients tell me that after a reading with me they felt like they had left a therapy session. The magic is what they do with the meaning I share with them! While I always offer the narrative I see in the cards, often the reading will unlock something vital within my clients. It is deeply rewarding to see this happen. The cards do have the power to lay out a path for us but we can choose whether or not it is a good fit for us at this time.

The magic that happens in a tarot reading is beyond my full comprehension. Somehow, even with a one-card reading, the message gets to each person at the right time.

Here is a very brief description of what a standard tarot deck consists of:

There are 78 cards in total: 56 of these are known as the Minor Arcana which are numbered much like playing cards.  These are the cards that describe the mundane but influential scenarios we encounter regularly. They include the Aces to Tens in each of the four suits, as well as the court cards which are made up of four personalities: often Pages, Knights, Queens, and Kings. The suits consist of Wands, Swords, Cups, and Pentacles. There are a number of variations to this depending on the theme of the deck. There are also 22 cards that represent the larger events in our lives, such as weddings, new homes, separation, and existential challenges. These are referred to as the Major Arcana

All 78 tarot cards represent stages of our journey, both inner and outer, throughout our time on earth. All of these archetypes and events are woven together into a story that can help us mediate challenges and manage obstacles. When laying out a spread, where each card shows up is as important as the card itself. This is why there are endless possibilities with tarot and no two readings are ever the same. 

The artwork on some decks can be dramatic and without explanation by a learned professional, could be quite startling. I will give a few examples of how you can look at the more challenging cards:

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Death:

This might be the most feared card of all and yet it is one of the most necessary aspects of life. Letting things go that no longer serve us allows for fresh growth and new beginnings. Imagine the forest floor in Autumn; all of the fallen leaves begin to decay and provide rich, fertile nutrients for those buds we all eagerly anticipate. Death needn’t be associated with fear but celebrated for the new life it provides for.

 

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The Tower:

While the Tower indicates sudden and unexpected change, it only breaks down structures in our life that were not built soundly to begin with. It will remove illusions we may have and leave us with a strong foundation to rebuild our next chapter. I often use the example of how your companions deal with you when you are in crisis. There are those who become ghosts and those who make you tea and hold space for you. This is the energy of The Tower. Again, how you cope with change is the larger component to address, rather than the change itself.

 

The Devil:large

The Devil represents lower-vibrational behaviors and unhealthy attachments. Often this card calls us out on behaviors that we indulge in when our “cups are empty” or we have not been taking care of ourselves. It can indicate addiction, toxic relationships, gossip or any other behaviors that do not serve our higher good. We all fall into negative patterns, so having The Devil pop up to call us out on this is a good thing!

 

fanIf you are someone who enjoys visual cues that bring a narrative to life, tarot might be a wonderful tool for you to explore! It can be used for journaling and writing prompts, problem-solving, personal development, meditation practice, and so much more! If you are willing to approach this dynamic system with an open mind, you will likely fall in love as I did over 20 years ago. Then, the real problem comes in: how to limit spending on new decks!

Until our paths cross again…

 

 

13 – Death

13 - Death

Please note that this series of interpretations is intended to assist specifically in personal healing and shadow work. There are many incredible websites that offer traditional meanings and correspondences. 

Have you ever been outside after the rain and walked along the earth just drinking in all of those luscious, earthy, green and rich scents? Perhaps there are new sprouts shooting up from the earth, vibrant and resilient. Surrounding these sprouts, and responsible for the delicious aromas around you, is decay. The old slowly curls in on itself and returns to the soil, nourishing new life in necessary ways. While the brown, barely recognizable plant material may look less impressive than it’s proud, green counterparts nothing would grow without it! So it is with the Death card.

If you are familiar with retro horror films, you may have encountered a scene where someone flips over the Death card and everyone in the room gasps and looks pitifully at the seeker. Most tarot advisors approach this card in a more progressive fashion. Yes, the Death card represents natural endings, but these endings are necessary in order to move forward.

While not all of us can embrace the concept of death and finality, presumably we will agree that desperate attempts to resuscitate something that is no longer meant to live is worse. Sometimes, we need to be strong and recognize that something is over whether we are ready or not. By all means, take the time to grieve. Whatever is moving out of your life is a loss, and skipping over the possible pain, disappointment, and mourning would be cheating yourself out of the delicate thread that stitches up your life story. It all matters–especially the really challenging chapters. It is important to acknowledge this loss, but it is also imperative that you move forward. Much like in the Konmari Method, take the time to thank this area of your life for all it has taught you and wish it well (then light a match).

In tarot, the Death card often means the death of the ego, and rarely refers to physical death. However, this card often comes with challenges so it may be helpful to examine how, culturally and religiously, death is acknowledged in a multitude of ways. This is a reminder that we get to decide how we want to approach loss! Westerners tend to sterilize the process and spend their life fearing death, but around the world, death is embraced and the focus is on celebrating the life of the loved one that has passed on. There are traditions of making beads from the ashes of their departed, creating beautiful altars to honor them, and often there will be parties that look a lot less somber than the funerals many of us have attended. There is no right way to acknowledge our loss, but it is helpful to consider that it doesn’t have to be as intimidating as we make it. Although the challenge around death is understandable, death just is.

On this note, I invite you to think about, and journal if you wish, some of the losses you have experienced. This may be the loss of a personal perspective, the loss of a familiar way of life,  or anything that caused a blow to the ego. How was your life altered after this event? What sort of changes followed as a result–were some of them positive? What opportunities made themselves present after this loss? How about dedicating an art journal page to constructing a painting or collage of how you visualize your “ego?” Explore your connection with this concept and look for pain points. Through this discovery, you can begin healing another layer of your internal landscape.

“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
― J.K. Rowling

“The ego is the culmination of our preferences and dislikes. Our ego represents the firm edges of how we perceive ourselves. An ego death involves a merciless destruction of the autobiographical memory system that sustains a person’s collective of bodily and mental images. In order to provoke an ego death, one might choose to pare down their sense of self to a bare skeleton divested of all flesh and blood. It might even be useful to visualize a person’s own burial and then imagine a rebirth. A person who undergoes an ego death might experience a transformation in their life that duplicates a reincarnation.”
― Kilroy J. Oldster

Until our paths cross again…