In my small but growing collection of Tarot decks, the Osho Zen deck is by far my favorite. I don't know a lot about Zen philosophy, but I love how calm and affirming it is, how visually beautiful, how clearly it reads. I love the re-imagining of the cards that affirm and lend new depth to their meanings.
"Completion" is a lovely keyword for the World, since it emphasizes a lot of what it's about: the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one, the feeling of contentment and fulfillment that comes with achieving what you set out to do. In the metaphor of the Fool's Journey across the Major Arcana, this is the feeling we're supposed to seek. This is the great outcome that we're looking for, the hero's quest we're on.
But what is it, exactly?
A key tool for a lot of counseling and coaching is to consider what happiness looks like:
- "If you could have anything you wanted, what would it be?"
- "What's your ideal vision for this project/relationship/outcome?"
- "What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"
It's an effective tool. It gives us a sense of perspective. So much of the time, our idea of what would satisfy us is either enormous, playing to the idea that it's impossible and out of our reach, or too small in order to keep us safe and comfortable. More than once I've heard of life defined as a quest for a great, nebulous "something" that we're all never going to find. We imagine that our dreams need to be impossible in order to be worthy. We imagine that we'll never be satisfied, that we'll always be looking for more.
Asking what your dreams look like right now, allowing yourself to name them, lets you move forward without self-consciousness. And it's the moving forward that's the important thing.
The truth is that life isn't a quest for one "something". It's a journey towards a lot of little somethings. The beauty of the Fool's Journey is that the Fool can be visiting any of the Major Arcana at any time. When he achieves the World in one realm of his life, there will be others that call his attention. And all of his successes will become parts of his new journey, towards a different piece of his evolution.
Don't paralyze yourself worrying about your path - if it's the "wrong" one, if you're playing it too large or too small, if it's too grandiose or too shallow. Life itself is a journey towards a constantly expanding conclusion. The things that are calling you now, the wishes you have, will become a part of your life and make even grander things possible.
The Fool doesn't take one journey, he takes many. And they're all pieces of a grand puzzle.
While a good Tarot reader can give you some incredible insight into your life, one of the most important things about a reading is your approach. When you're looking for some guidance, remember that few things matter as much as the question you ask.
When my clients sit with me, they're often a bit confused about what would be the best subject for a reading. I've been given several different options and told to pick, or given no options and told to simply explain what I see in the cards. Some clients even give a list of everything on their minds, even when those subjects aren't closely related.
I totally understand the confusion. There are all kinds of readers, and a bunch of different approaches. I've had readers that used an all-purpose spread to cover every possible subject in twenty minutes. I've had one who immediately began talking to her spirit guides, and only drew a single card in the last few minutes. (I confess I felt a little cheated by that one - I had paid for a Tarot reading, not a channeling!) It's easy to assume that because a lot of Tarot readers work with psychic abilities, or simply with their intuitive response to the cards, that they can pick out what you need to know just by glancing at you.
But in my experience, the best readings come from having the best questions: questions that are clear, focused, and open to a lot of different information. So here are five basic tips for asking the best question for your reading, and receiving the best results!
1) Make your question clear and specific.
If you ask me about money, there's a lot of things that could come up: your position at work, your spending habits, the results of any financial windfalls. If you ask me about the results of your business in the next six months, I'll be able to focus my reading and give you a lot of specific, useful advice via the cards.
2) Don't be afraid of not covering everything.
Most Tarot readers will read for as a little as fifteen minutes to as long as an hour. Not only is that usually time for more than one spread, and a detailed heart-to-heart about what your reading shows, but the issues in your life can be intertwined. Talking about your relationships will lead to a look at boosting your communication, or raising your self-esteem. The cards have a real knack for revealing what's hidden and bringing it into the light, so if you need to see what the real issue is, don't worry. It'll be there.
3) Don't ask about other people.
If you're asking about your relationship with another person, that's fine. But if you just want to know how they're feeling, or what's going on in their personal lives, that's not so easy. For one thing, some readers believe it's a breach of ethics to read for anyone other than the clients who've consented to it - that includes celebrities! And more importantly, there's no guarantee you'll get the answers you want. Any reading about another person will still be through your eyes, with your perspective. It might miss important details, or be clouded by your energy and bias. Try asking about your relationship with the person, or what you need to know about the situation.
4) Don't limit your possible answers.
One of the biggest things I see newbies to Tarot do is limit the scope of their answers. They'll ask a yes-or-no question, or they'll be looking for a specific result: "Will I get a boyfriend?" But part of the beauty of Tarot is how many levels and shades of meaning you can find in a reading. Depending on the spread and what cards you draw, the cards can reveal what's hidden, show different options, or tell you when you're headed for an unpleasant result so you can change your tune. The 'how' and 'why' are so much more important than the 'what' in a good reading. One of my favorite templates for this kind of question is "What do I need to know about...?" That way you can stay as broad or specific as you like, while leaving your reading open to all the detail that's possible for you.
5) Timing isn't always important.
There are definitely Tarot spreads for what will come in a specific amount of time, and how specific it can get depends on the reader. But personally, I like to keep questions of timing in a reading open-ended. The future can always be changed by our actions, so the longer you project into the future with a reading, the less accurate it has the chance to be. Tarot should be an active experience, where the path you take towards your goals is informed and enhanced by the reading. Rather than asking when something will happen, I like to ask what I can do to help bring it about, and then trust that the universe will send it to me in its own time.
Be open to all the possibilities, and your reading will surprise you by the depth of the information it will give - and all the new insight it'll open up!
The Star is one of my favorite cards. And I'm always pleasantly surprised that it doesn't have more people resisting it like The Tower, or giving it layers of meaning like The Devil or Death. It's a card about faith, hope, and Divine guidance, and yet everyone's as delighted to see it as me.
Okay, I know that sounds ridiculous. Why would people be opposed to the promise of good things to come?
Well, hope is a challenging thing. Hell, the President of the United States made it a campaign topic. It suggests the Divine or angels, an end to struggle, the light at the end of the tunnel. That's tough sometimes. When you're sad or overwhelmed, being told there's a way out can be frightening. It suggests changes that might be large and just as scary. It asks for you to take risks, make adjustments, and be ready to entertain second chances.
The Star follows The Devil, a card about being trapped by harmful patterns and self-defeating behaviors, and The Tower, a card about breaking down the crumbling foundations to rebuild new things. It's a hope that emerges from tough, painful circumstances, a guidepost that points the way home. And the beauty of The Star? Is that all of these things are steps on the road to something amazing. The World, with its completion of a cycle and feeling of having it all, is only four steps away.
In a way, The Star is a lot like a good Tarot reading. If you're feeling confused, lonely, or just plain in need of clarity, it can show you the road ahead. It can give you new insights on how you change your life. It's been delivered to you at a time you can handle it, when you're capable of making the change - but the change is up to you. It's a responsibility that is purely in your hands.
And making that change yourself, as scary as it can be, will make the conclusion all the more powerful and satisfying.
This week's deck is the Tarot of Prague by Alex Ukolov & Karen Mahony, a collage of photographs from Prague's art and architecture. I love the pensive, thoughtful look of the figure pouring the jars, and the little stars captured in the water. Divine love and new possibilities are wellsprings that never truly run dry, not if we know how to access them. But we do need to remember to take a drink.
This week's card, The High Priestess, is about our unconscious knowledge - unearthing the secrets of the universe, and recognizing that they were part of us all along. If we're all a part of everything, and everything is a part of us, then understanding the world starts with ourselves too. It's about trusting our instincts, tapping into our feelings, and believing that our thoughts have worth.
Have you ever heard the phrase "you don't know what you don't know"? The idea is that while intelligence is important, it's not admitting when you're ignorant that gets you into trouble. And I agree, in theory, but I think there's more to it than that.
Nobody knows everything. Nobody's instincts are absolutely perfect, every time, because without mistakes there would be no growth. But ultimately I think people know what they don't know - and know what they need, too.
I believe we know more than we think we do. We examine where we're lacking and often sell ourselves short. We're cautious to a fault because we doubt our true instincts. And we deny ourselves the things we want, because we're afraid we're being selfish, or overestimating their value.
When someone tries to come from a place of ego, to pretend they understand it all and can do no wrong, that's not out of a failure of instincts. It's because that person doesn't trust themselves or their decisions. They have to be that much more closed off to new information, because truly listening to themselves - to why they feel something, and what they're afraid of happening if they get it wrong - is something they don't yet understand.
Think about the knowledge you claim to hold. Is it coming from a place of ego and fear? Or is it from a place of trust in your internal landscape? Is it in the spirit of constantly being in touch with yourself and the world around you?
What's your biggest challenge in listening to your instincts? Let me know in the comments!
Every now and then, as a coach and the owner of a heart-based business, it's important for me to look at why I'm doing this.
What I want to communicate. What my message is. Because Tarot is the way I tap into the Bigger Picture in order to tell it, and coaching is the way I want to lend my gifts to the world - but it's important to remember the why.
The one big thing I'd share with everyone if I could, and that something is this:
Remember who you are.
You may not feel you know that. Or you may think it changed a long time ago. You may think you're not allowed to be the person you'd love to be, in the best of all worlds.
Everyone has those moments, those times knowing the answer feels too painful. Maybe you're too afraid of finding the wrong answer, so you never even ask the question.
But it's there. It's deep in the core of you. When you envision yourself at your most powerful, on-fire, truth-telling, the height of your potential, that's you. That's the height of your power.
And when you're at your most afraid, when you want to give up and hide, and there's that small voice that reaches out in the frightened silence. That voice that tells you to get up, keep moving, that instinctively reaches towards the sun - that's you too. And in a way, that's also one of the most powerful things you can do.
It doesn't matter how you look or what you weigh. It doesn't matter what mistakes you've made, or what fears you have.
It doesn't matter how far you step from the 'mainstream' path, because the secret is? In some way, we all do. We just think it's only us.
You are who you are, and nobody can take that away from you. The day you start to own it is the day you choose to make it yours. It's okay. You're okay.
The Moon is a card about the things we find in the dark. It's all the irrational fears and scared secrets. It's the stuff we're afraid to dig up because we think we can't handle it. It's the fears that, sometimes, are completely irrational and made to hold us back. And it's the intuition we find when we dig deep enough, the secrets and strengths that help us finally claim our real, authentic selves.
I call my practice 'Mirror Moon' because I think by providing a glimpse into a possible future, and a look at the archetypes and ideas that can help empower us, Tarot and coaching can help us do as the moon does.
We can reflect light - our own inner light, the truest part of ourselves.
And we can illuminate our paths. Avoid the potholes and tree roots, see ahead to where we want to go...and how to get there.
What do you want to reflect to the world? And what would you like illuminated? Let me know in the comments!
The Crystal Tarots by Elisabetta Trevisan (not to be confused with the Crystal Tarot, which is actually about crystals) is one of my favorite decks in terms of style; I love the stained glass look and all the fascinating little details. The Knave, or Page, of Pentacles stands among growing trees and fertile rolling hills, clad in rich colors that give him a wealthy air. The spirals on his tights particularly speak to me; they bring to mind the spiral of birth and death in Pagan symbolism, though that's probably not what the artist had in mind.
I've been drawing court cards a lot lately, and Pages especially, along with a handful of the Aces. They both signify young energy, the start of a process. While the Minor Arcana can often show a growing and maturing energy, the Pages will show you your own life cycle, or the maturity of your emotions.
Beginnings are exciting, but just as often they're the hardest part of a process. You have to commit. You have to gather your materials and plan your strategy. More than that, you have to work through the first gradual growing pains - and there will be some, no matter what you're doing. Those beginning steps can be almost addictive in their newness, feeling the possibility of what can happen without any of the realities bogging you down. Relish that energy, cherish it - but remember it.
Remember the freshness and newness of something, when you forget why you started. Remember the foundations you laid down, whether it's to refresh your values or to decide where there were cracks and gaps. Remember the reasons you began - because often that means a goal you set, a vision you had. So by remembering your beginnings, your roots if you will, you'll remember what the end looks like - and you'll remember to keep it in view.