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…

 

 

16 – The Tower

16 - The Tower

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. I am not a mental health professional; these are my personal reflections and experiences that I hope you will find helpful.

Have you ever experienced a sudden, abrupt change in your life that shattered your reality, or your illusion of reality? Enter, The Tower. When a Tower phase enters your life, you will likely not see it coming. It will come quickly, out of nowhere, and dismantle things. While upheaval is not always a negative experience, The Tower tends to prepare us for an unpleasant surprise.

The art in this card does not tend to vary much. We see lightning striking a tall building with a crown at the top. The structure is crumbling and there are two figures leaping presumably to their death.  Even though the tower is crumbling and things seem quite dramatic, there is a strong, stone foundation at the base which remains unshaken. The Wild Unknown, as pictured here, uses nature in its depiction, as it does throughout the deck.

The fire resulting from the lightning is symbolic. We are aware of the damage and destruction fire can bring, but fires can also be generative! In the wake of forest fires, certain species of trees germinate and thrive. This is the gift of The Tower: an opportunity to take root and flourish. In this way, The Tower can be seen as an awakening. There are symbols in this card, such as the yodh, which indicate divine guidance, a hand from a higher power. These events are not random, but an integral part of your story!

The message with The Tower is: things are about to shift in a very big way. This card brings a shattering of illusions. It may be unpleasant at the time, but it is actually a sacred gift! This rough patch informs us of the aspects of our life that did not have a sound foundation. With this, we can rebuild in a way that will support our growth. 

Consider a time in your life when things suddenly seemed to be collapsing around you. If you are currently in the midst of something like this, consider going farther back. How did you feel at that time? Which aspects of your life were affected? This might be a good time to challenge yourself with a messier, more tactile craft than you are used to. Perhaps you can use a mix of acrylic paints and collage techniques (fingerpainting as an adult can be incredibly satisfying). Grab images that remind you of a chaotic time in your life and make a mess of it! Allow yourself to sit with the feelings that come up, but also allow them to pass out of you, into the paint, and onto the paper. Once you are satisfied, take a moment to think of all of the positive things that have come into your life because of this event. Perhaps you lost a job that you were certain was a good fit, but find yourself now in a much more satisfying position. Could it be that the dissolution of a marriage ended up freeing you to follow a passion? Maybe something that you desired in your life did not manifest, which made room for something greater. Spend time with these positive outcomes. If you feel ready, thank the challenging event for the lesson it brought to you,  release it, and continue building on your solid foundation. 

“Most people want to be circled by safety, not by the unexpected. The unexpected can take you out. But the unexpected can also take you over and change your life. Put a heart in your body where a stone used to be.”
― Ron Hall

“Many people pray to be kept out of unexpected problems.
Some people pray to be able to confront and overcome them.”
― Toba Beta

Until our paths cross again…