WHAT IS TAROT FOR? Montreal Edition, Part 3

This is the final part of my list of things that people have done, or can do, with Tarot. All the things listed in these 3 parts have actually been done, by myself, by others in contemporary Tarot, or in the past. And more uses are showing up all the time. As I’ve written in the past about the cards, the only thing I can say for sure is that we will never come to the end of it.

The Tarot can be used in conjunction with special events, particularly readings done in connection with spiritual or religious traditions.
For example, at the Equinoxes (the Autumn Equinox, of course, just happened), we might ask the cards how we to find balance in our lives. What is in light? What is in darkness? How do we balance or harmonize them? In Autumn we might ask as well, what do we carry with us into the darkness of Winter? In the Spring Equinox, we might ask at the end, what new thing will emerge with the light?

Samhain/Halloween (coming up) is a time when many people do readings, for they consider the veils between worlds to be the thinnest. I know someone who only reads the cards, or has someone else read for him, on this one day a year. He told me once that reading at any other time would be a kind of rudeness, like knocking on a door when you know you’re supposed to leave the other side alone. For many Wiccans, however, while they do read the cards at Samhain, they also use Tarot as an integral part of many festivals and initiations.

On the Jewish holiday of Rosh HaShanah (also recently passed) a famous tradition says that God inscribes in “The Book Of Life” what will happen to every person over the next year, and that this book is sealed ten days later, on Yom Kippur. However, we are told, “Penitence, prayer, and charity avert the severe decree.” Some might use Tarot to get a glimpse of “what is written,” but others might ask for guidance on how they carry out those three vital tasks–What should I atone for? How should I frame my prayers? Where do I need to give charity?

Easter can inspire a reading about death and rebirth and what needs to be honored or celebrated. This might be the place to point out that the widespread belief that the Tarot is somehow anti-Christian, even “Satanic,” is simply not true. The original Tarot decks, from 14th century Italy, are deeply Christian.

People use the Tarot for healing, both physical and emotional. The simplest way is to gain understanding, that is, to ask the cards about what has happened, and what is the result, and how to heal. But people also use the cards more directly. I’ve known people who have someone lie on a table and then place cards on the person’s body, for the energy associated with that card to enter into the person’s psychic or physical field.

More commonly, perhaps, people choose a card–either deliberately or by random choice–to represent what they need, then create an affirmation inspired by that card. As well as writing the affirmation, and saying it, over a period of time, they may simply take out the card and look at it through the course of the day. Some place it in the corner of the bathroom mirror so that it becomes the first and last thing they see each day, and throughout the day.

Many people know of my practice of Wisdom Readings–asking the cards questions about life rather than personal issues. The first two Wisdom readings were one card each. What is the soul? The answer, from my own Shining Tribe Tarot, was the Ace of Birds, an image of an owl staring intently at us from the darkness. The soul has the qualities of the owl moving silently through darkness (owls can fly without making any noise), searching–hunting–for what will nourish it.

A few days later, I asked the cards, “What is the Tarot?” and got the Six of Trees, an image of a woman blithely striding through a strange forest of trees filled with the images of owls. Thus, the Tarot becomes a guide helping us to move through “The Forest Of Souls,” (the title of a book that came from these readings), our own and everybody else’s.

Another form of Wisdom Readings is to create a personal reading inspired by a particular teaching. My favorite comes from a great rabbi named Hillel, who lived and taught around the time of Jesus. He famously wrote “If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now, when?” In situations of conflict we might ask three questions.
1. How do I need to be for myself in this situation?
2. How do I need to be for others?
3. What must I do right now?

Now, as promised at the beginning of Part One, I will end this long look at the uses of Tarot with a spread designed to help us understand our own relationship to the cards. There are five questions. You can lay them out in any pattern you like.
1. What is the Tarot to me?
2. What am I to the Tarot?
3. What gift(s) do I bring to the cards?
4. What gift(s) does the Tarot offer me?
5. How can I best use that gift?

Published in: on October 12, 2018 at 4:29 am  Leave a Comment  

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