I was all set to give you the third part in my 'Five Things You're Not Supposed To Do' series, but I just had to rant a bit! One thing you'll learn about me very quickly is that I have some pretty strong gut reactions, and I also like to think (and think, and overthink...)! If I stay balanced between both of these things, it helps me be a great reader; it means I trust my intuition, but I can ground it in the "real world". But it also means that if something just doesn't sit right with me, I have to sit around and figure out WHY.
More than once in the last few of days, I've stumbled upon some people playing up the "mysterious Tarot reader" image. I've read about how to dress up at a party and theme your outfit, to play up a "character" in order to provide an entertaining atmosphere. I've seen people advised to deliver their readings via cryptic messages to leave everyone wanting more - messages that, from what I could gather, have no actual value or use! And these are people who clearly know how to use the cards, and to set up more "legitimate" sessions.
Now, don't go off and leave in a hurry. I've had a reading or two at parties myself, and I love Renaissance Faires. I know the Tarot can go in a hundred different directions, and I'm a huge Soapbox Sadie about no "right" way to work with the cards. So why was my first reaction to bristle and frown at the idea of Tarot for entertainment's sake? Is it the idea of turning something I love, something I use for counseling and empowerment, into a gimmick? Is it the lack of respect Tarot already gets? (I got my fair share of 'Madame Zelda' jokes from my family when I started.) Is it that the typical 'Gypsy fortune teller' image is actually kind of racist against Romani people? Or do most people know the difference between fun at a party and the "deeper" uses of Tarot, and I should just lighten up?
I think it's more than fine to add a little magick into the Tarot, whether you're particularly witchy or not. All the magickal lodges and mystery schools have their secrets: the crown you wear when you're at a certain level, the slightly spooky initiation on a dark night of symbolic rebirth. That's because we're drawn to theatricality, to mystery. We like being the heroes of our own stories. Putting on a show for ourselves makes everything a little more meaningful, and the Tarot is no different. But (and there's always a "but")...
I'll never forget how during one of my first readings, all I had to say was 'you've had a loss' and the sitter burst into tears. She could have lost a job, an argument, a toothbrush. But she'd lost her husband, and those fifteen minutes she'd purchased turned into a session about grief, support systems, and her new normal. The cards have an uncanny knack for hitting the truth, bringing up what a person needs to think about, and making us take a good hard look at ourselves even when we don't mean to. Scary? Sometimes. Necessary? Absolutely. And only dangerous if you don't want to be a happier, more secure and self-aware person - which is what it's a good reader's job to help you do.
Have fun with the cards, and maybe costumes have their place if they're not messing with someone's culture. At Halloween and Camelot Days, I'll be right there with you in the ironic witch's hat. Not every reading is a huge soul-baring session, and a party isn't really the place for it anyway. But the Tarot deserves respect, and so do the people you're reading for. If someone is frightened or upset when you're throwing out mystic-sounding nonsense, or disrespects counselors and lightworkers because you're putting on too much of a show, that's doing a disservice, no matter how small. I'm not an authority to be throwing out edicts and rules, no one is, but I know what pings my radar and my gut, and all I can think is: being the "life of the party" will probably make you more mainstream, but it pays to be careful.
Another thing you'll learn pretty quickly: I'm always game to talk (and talk and talk) about it, even if you totally disagree - respectfully, of course. Leave a comment and tell me what you think!
Okay, so maybe none of these things are strictly forbidden. But a lot of them are the dreaded "woo-woo", a little too esoteric and strange for people who are busy and concerned with appearances (and miserable!) to look at where and how they find wisdom, strength, and a good recharge.
I read Tarot - I look at a series of randomly-drawn picture cards that are the subject of Hollywood movies, Simpsons jokes, and racist Gypsy stereotypes. To a lot of people, I'm sure I look ridiculous. But I've found some of the most profound wisdom (and connection with the Divine as I experience it) from those randomly-drawn picture cards. Sometimes we have to be unafraid to look a little silly, if it gives us meaning. And that's what today's post in the series is all about.
3. Watch tons of TV (and movies, and theatre, and read tons of comics, and books, and listen to all kinds of music, and...)
Look, I'll tell you a secret: there IS no "highbrow" or "lowbrow" entertainment. While a book might stretch your imagination a little more than images that are all picked out for you, there's no reason you'd be better, smarter, or happier reading War and Peace than you would watching old reruns of Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
It all comes down to what's important to YOU. I could wring more personal meaning out of a Saturday morning cartoon than a David Lynch film. I'll prove it to you: you know Spongebob Squarepants? The goofy yellow undersea sponge who's been around for, wow, nearly fifteen years now? Spongebob's favorite thing in the world is his job: working as a fry cook at what's basically an underwater Burger King. And that's because Spongebob views his job as literally the most important thing there is. He takes joy in what he does. He makes it creative. He thinks that doing good work, making a good meal the way a customer wants it, is an awesome thing. He doesn't feel that way because some corporate propaganda told him that; it's because he was that passionate from the start. I look at that, exaggerated in the way only a kids' show can make it, and I start thinking about what could make me that passionate and proud of what I give to the world.
See how that works? That's why it's important to stretch your horizons. Take in as many different things, through as many different mediums, as possible. Take in media about people of different ethnicities and sexualities and gender identities. Learn the true story movies are supposedly based on. Fall in love with culture, with stories, in all of its forms. Somewhere in there is the next message you need to hear.
Want to misbehave - and feel like a better person at the end of it all? I've been giving some thought to all the things we were told not to do as kids, maybe even as adults. And the more I look at it, the more I see that some of my favorite things to do are things that color outside the lines. They make me smarter, more thoughtful, and lesss afraid of "doing it wrong." Most importantly, they make me feel more like MYSELF, in all my unique glory.
This article is going to spread out over a few days, so take today to reflect on the first two in the list and experiment. Take a look and see if you've been doing any of these things too!
Okay, to be fair, the subconscious isn't a secret anymore. If anything, it's become a joke at this point. "The house in the dream represents your mind, and that train entering the tunnel...uhm, let's move on." But our imaginations are filled with so much amazing potential. And they can tell us so many things when we're not even looking for it. If anything, that's what Tarot is all about - using images to unlock our imaginations and the stories we tell ourselves.
Even if you don't get a subconscious breakthrough, or a message from the angels/saints/deities of your choice, you ARE going to find out what makes you tick: what excites you, attracts you, wakes your mind up when the day-to-day just doesn't. Take a look at the things you imagine, both asleep and awake. Hell, take a look at the things you doodle on an envelope while you're talking on the phone. Chances are you'll find at least one thing about yourself that you've never noticed before.
2. Talk to yourself
You won't look "crazy." Sure, schizophrenics do this, but so does everyone else while we're puttering around the kitchen; it's a good way to organize our minds. But there's another trick to the wide world of spiritual discovery, and you don't even need a meditation or a summoned spirit guide to do it - though they help!
The next time everything is a mess, light a candle or two and put on some relaxing music. Then just lie down in your bed and have a long conversation. Imaging yourself in a place that feels beautiful, calming, and safe - and imagine meeting yourself there to chat. Maybe you're meeting "you" from five years down the line, when all these worries are going to seem like a blip on the timeline of your life. Maybe you're meeting "you" from your childhood, or some hurt you can't let go of. It could be "you" from this minute, right now - but what's important is you sit and talk. Just let your mind be free and imagine what you have to say to yourself. It might feel like you're making it up; maybe you are and maybe you're not. But what you find can certainly help.
Take a look at this version of The Fool, from the Tarot of the Ages by Mario Garizio, and you'll see an Aztec-style version of the Rider-Waite Fool's symbolism. The Fool is often looking towards the future (the brightness of the stars, in this case), but ready to step into some danger that he doesn't seem quite aware of, such as the crocodile lurking in the river. He typically has an animal companion at his side, often a white dog (but in this case, a cheetah), and he carries two things with him: a bag on a stick, like an itinerant hobo, and either a cane or a white rose.
That last bit is an interesting contrast, to me. A cane or walking stick is something practical, that you take to help you on the path. A white rose, on the other hand, seems to be the Fool's talisman of innocence and lust for life. They're both things that aid him on the road ahead, that represent what he can bring to someone who draws his card, but they perform that task in very different ways.
Since I'm thinking a lot about the Fool this week, I decided to get practical about it: how can I best channel the energy of this card into a spread, specifically for what it represents to me: new beginnings. The fear of the unknown. The excited hope of a better future, and the hidden potential we all hold.
1. Where am I going?
This is the Fool himself, the heart of the spread, the question you're asking about the new direction you're moving in. Where are you headed? If you have a goal in mind, this will give you expanded insight on the nature of that goal, and if you have no idea, this may give you a clue!
2. What do I carry with me?
This is the Fool's bag, which you can see as empty or full of experiences as you want. (After all, the Fool is everywhere and nowhere!) What do you carry with you from your past into your new future?
3. Where do I need to have more faith?
This is the Fool's white rose - or, if you like, it's the bright sun, stars, or rainbow the Fool seems to have his eye on in some cards. What qualities can you focus on, to give you the Fool's strength to go forward? What will bolster your spirits in the time ahead?
4. Who/what is my companion?
The Fool doesn't go it alone. He often has a faithful friend beside him, keeping his spirits up and providing company. Who or what is with you on your journey? Remember that you can tell a lot about a person by the company he keeps!
5. What should I look out for?
The Fool has a lot of guts and a lot of hope, but that can sometimes get him into trouble. We need that optimism, so we can move ahead unafraid, but it's good to be prepared for what's ahead. What are the cliffs, crocodiles, and traps ahead of you on the road, so you can make a detour? Maybe you'll find an even better road in the process!
Good luck to everyone on the Fool's Journey - which really, in the end, is all of us. And happy trails!
Welcome to the second incarnation of Lunar Looking-Glass, my spot for Tarot, spirituality, and whatever else catches my fancy. I'm a big fan of comparing Tarot decks; I have quite a few scanned ones, and even more that I like to scout out on the web (which I will always credit properly, and remove if anyone takes issue with me showing off their work). So be prepared for a few pretty pictures along with my musings! Today's is from the Era of Aquarius Tarot, by Marina Bolgarchuk, a Russian deck that's apparently a bit of a tough find.
I can't think of a better way to start things off than The Fool. The Major Arcana are said to be the Fool's Journey, after all, a young man or woman (or neither, or both, or whatever your gender identity) setting out and encountering the different characters and ideas of the Tarot as he-or-she evolves and grows. We're the Fool, the idea goes. We enter our journey with the cards looking to improve ourselves, whether that's communion with God/dess or enlightenment or just becoming the best human beings we can possibly be.
And if you want to get into more esoteric thought (which I'm just now scratching the surface of!), the Fool is numbered '0' because s/he's everything and nothing. S/he can be anywhere on the journey of the Major Arcana, taking in anything, becoming anything, learning any lesson. S/he's pure, untapped potential. S/he's the "pattern" in Richard Bach's One, a massive field of choices where you can land anywhere.
The thing is? It isn't until you get there that you realize how that's freaking scary.
It's so easy to have a plan. We're given one from the beginning, aren't we? At least in the First World nations, you're a kid, you go to school, you grow up. You graduate high school, quite possibly go to college, you choose "what you want to be when you grow up." No one tells you that you'll change your major a few times, or your career at least once as you grow up. No one tells you that your relationships will shift, your interests will get more diverse, your worldview is going to grow and change. One of my favorite musicals is Avenue Q, a foul-mouthed adult take on Sesame Street for twenty-somethings. And the biggest life lesson they close with, after the true nature of the Internet and how charity is a great cure for the blues, is that "everything in life is only for now." The good, the bad, the ugly - it's all changing, forever. No wonder the Fool's optimism and penchant for taking chances is sometimes called, well, "foolhardy." How can anyone feel ready to face the world when it can always shift into something you never planned for?
Well, I was once told something during a rough patch that I think sums it up perfectly. "You're scared right now because you're in the middle of it. But if you imagine hovering above it for a minute, and looking ten years into the future, you'll see how this point in life led you to then. You'll see the bigger picture of it, and it'll look so much smaller then."
If the Fool is everything and nothing, that means s/he's the mastery of the Magician and the self-bondage of the Devil. S/he's the consequences of Justice and the hope of the Star. S/he's everything in the World, and s/he's herself right back at the beginning again. The journey is the destination. Every moment of our lives, we're learning more about everything, and that makes us more us.
And that's still freaking scary. But it's scary awesome.