I have a confession to make, and it's one I've been putting off for a long time.

I've been experimenting...

With oracle cards.

The Doreen Virtue Goddess Guidance cards, to be specific, with the sparkly gold edges the pretty, soothing pictures of gorgeous women. The sweet, "non-threatening" messages.

And okay, okay, I jest. There is nothing wrong with oracle cards - they're lovely! And fascinating! There's so much variety! But I was always a bit skeptical about Ms. Virtue. Not because she's doing it wrong - no one is doing it wrong. But I didn't know if she was for me.

I don't know if I believe in Indigo children, you see. Angels and faeries do incredible things for some people, magickally and spiritually - I've met just as many people who say these are powerful forces you don't want to mess with idly. (I've got no idea how they got such a different set of references.) And then there's Doreen Virtue's Tarot deck, in which she claimed she'd removed anything "threatening" or "scary" - when really, the only thing scary about Tarot is how it might tell you there's things in your life that need a little work. Why would I want to avoid anything that might tell me the truth? 

But I kept running into these cards, over and over again. Different readers would pull them to supplement a reading. They were out for display at my favorite occult shop, and I couldn't stop staring at them. And finally, a financial windfall came my way to treat myself to some Amazon goodies, and I put them on the order list. 

What strikes me first about these cards is the artwork. It's so lush and also so varied, in different styles and forms of expression that let you really feel the personality of each goddess as the cards express them. You could use these cards meditatively if you like, delving into the details of each image and seeing what stands out to you. Or you could just treat the goddess in each card as a friend and a guide, as the deck encourages you to do. That'd trouble you, obviously, if you come from a faith that views these figures as literal beings who want to be called on and honored in a specific way, but as I'm more from the "facets of the same diamond" camp, I see the cards as having a unique energy that they bring with each individual message.

In general, oracle cards tend to be more specific than Tarot, more on point. That doesn't allow for a reading of more than a few cards, and it doesn't delve into complexity, but it provides an excellent springboard for deeper work. Reflecting on the energy of a single card can provide a lot of journal fodder, or maybe researching the nature of that goddess beyond the surface, learning the deeper aspects of her particular message. (I do wish the guidebook provided a little more insight into each individual goddess, and the legends that informed her message.)

There really is a lot of variety for "gentle, non-threatening" messages. Ishtar encourages you to set healthy boundaries, and Green Tara tells you that this may be a time to avoid harsh situations or environments. Kwan Yin tells you to be compassionate towards others, but most of all towards yourself. I realized very quickly that giving yourself kind, careful messages doesn't always mean avoiding truths. Certainly a few daily draws have already given me a lot of food for thought. But much like Tarot, it's up to me how deep I choose to go, whether I do the reflective work on what a particular card might mean to me. That provides a bit of extra responsibility on the part of the seeker, but I can't think of anything less coddling than that.

While Tarot's definitely my one true love as far as divination's concerned, I think I can count this experiment a success.

If you ask witchy types what a "Fluffy Bunny" is, you'll get a hundred different answers.

They talk about white light, and the people who hate them are just cynical jerks. They talk about white light, and judge anyone who shows anger or pain. They judge spiritual paths that are too "scary". They're too accepting of just about anything in their spiritual path, without doing the proper research and work. They trust authors that are inaccurate - no one can agree on which authors, mind you, or just what the inaccuracies are .  

Really, the only way I made peace with my fear of being a "fluffy bunny" was when I ignored the conversation altogether. Historical accuracy was something I could gauge, so I checked if that was up to snuff, and the rest? Whatever works for you.  And it all seemed to, so why should I care?

But a few weeks ago, a conversation popped up about Tarot that brought the whole idea into my thoughts again. The heated debate went: Tarot has been used to teach spiritual mysteries, and has been part of a lot of magickal ceremonies. Now, it's mostly used for "fortune-telling". Has Tarot been turned into a fluffy New-Agey oracle? Has the "real" meaning of things been corrupted somehow?  

I mainly rolled my eyes and ignored the whole thing, as more people slowly broke in: intuitive Tarot isn't as "meaningful." Just teaching the symbolism and magickal meanings aren't as "accurate." And my favorite: we all needed to "admit" that intuition wasn't real, was just an element of our imagination, that there's no such thing as psychic development. Only then can we grow spiritually.

And I thought: Seriously, guys?  Seriously? You just talked about the names of God and the angelic correspondences to the Tree of Life, and you're an authority on whether something is made up or not? We work with the Platonic elements and robes and magic wands. We discuss the meaning of 78 pieces of artwork printed on card stock. Most people think we're ridiculous.

And even if you don't, and you're the most mainstream Judeo-Christian out there: someone still thinks you're just talking to imaginary friends.

The human mind is so vast, so varied, so full of thoughts and ideas. Patterns and symbols and stories, they're part of how we learn and grow. That's what Tarot is all about: seeing what story the cards tell you, and using it to inform your life and the choices you make. So unless you are flat-out inventing stuff, or appropriating cultures and passing it off as "authentic", your spiritual life?  None of my business.

If you want to develop as a psychic, a witch, a Tarot reader, or even just a spiritual person, there are three whole things you have to do:

- Learn as much about what you want to know as possible.
- Practice it.
- Don't be an ass to people who do it differently.

Tarot's a giant spiritual metaphor, a psychic springboard, a set of journaling prompts, the Book of Life, a storytelling kit, a card game, and a set of 78 pieces of artwork. But really, it's a tool. Your magickal, fantastic mind does the work. And that's as it should be. 

How do you Tarot?  And what are your thoughts about fuzzy little lagomorphs and the hardasses who love them?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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