Quick, pick any three from the list below:
a) a system of beliefs
b) a fun party game
c) a method of self-analysis
d) a bunch of hogwash
e) a tool for predicting the future
f) pretty, meaningless pictures
g) a powerful connection with the world of the subconscious
No matter which answers you picked, you’ll find proponents who completely agree with you. The Tarot has waxed and waned in popularity for centuries, and with each wave of popularity came new theories of Tarot’s origins, history, uses and philosophy. The Tarot has inspired some of the greatest artists in the world. It has earned the respect of some of the most intelligent and influential people in each generation it touches. And it has been roundly ridiculed in every generation as a delusion at best, and a hoax perpetrated on gullible fools at worst.
Whatever you believe, one fact is indisputable. The body of work available about Tarot definitions and philosophy is a collaboration by some of history’s most intelligent and creative minds. Every one of the 78 cards that make up a standard Tarot deck is imbued with symbols and images designed to represent the meaning of the card. Those meanings and systems of meanings have been the subject of debate throughout centuries. One can easily, with some study, view each of the 78 cards as the distillation of hundreds of years of study and theory.
There’s no need to learn complex layouts in order to access the wisdom inherent in the cards. There’s a simple exercise I use that helps me focus my energies on meeting challenges by viewing them through a different perspective. All it requires is a deck of Tarot cards and a basic grounding in their meanings.
The method is simplicity itself, and takes less than three minutes each morning. There’s no need to prepare yourself, no special incantations or rituals – just shuffle the deck and draw a card from it at random. If you need more ritual, feel free to add it. Spin three times in place and face east before invoking the Spirit, if you must. Light a scented candle to help you focus. Choose the card in the same place at the same time each day – it doesn’t matter. The results you’ll get from this method have nothing to do with how you choose the card and everything to do with how you’ll use it.
Take a good look at the card you chose and spend a minute or two refreshing your memory about its meaning. No matter what the meaning is – don’t panic or rejoice. It’s not a predictor. It’s not ‘the influences surrounding me today’. The card is simply going to serve as your ‘perspective filter’ for the day.
The perspective filter is far easier to illustrate with some examples than it is to explain. The card you chose will help nudge your mind in different thinking directions when you’re faced with a problem or challenge. I know, I promised examples.
The card I drew this morning is the Ace of Wands. The first card in the Fire suit, it represents raw energy and inspiration, the beginnings of successful projects. It brings to mind enthusiasm, the desire to start something important. My focus today will be to light and feed the fire of inspiration and enthusiasm. As a daily affirmation, it sounds great. The question is how to apply it.
For days, I’ve been pondering this project – a daily column. Each day, I’ve opened my word processor and stared at the page, trying to decide what I should write. Each day, I’ve closed it an hour later without a word written, overwhelmed by the choices. This morning I chose a different route. I recalled my perspective filter and asked myself – how can I use the Ace of Wands to help me write? My thought processes went like this:
Well, obviously, there’s inspiration, which ties into writing, but I’ve been looking for inspiration for days and haven’t found it. Dig a little deeper. I could get literal and write about fire – there are personal experiences I could share, lessons learned, an article about preventing fire, or fire insurance – not bad. But not what I’m looking for right now. Those are ideas I’ll file for later though, because they’re good ideas (and see, it’s helping me already – I need an ‘inspiration file’ for stories I don’t feel like writing now, but could be just what I’m looking for another day).
The Ace of Wands means starting something new – something exciting – being filled with enthusiasm. What am I enthusiastic about? What excites me – what do I want to use to inspire others? The answer is easy for me when looked at in that perspective – I’ve had a lifelong passion for helping others through using Tarot in everyday life. And voila`! I’ve faced down the challenge and have not only the idea I was looking for, but the basis for something I’ve wanted to do for years – a series of articles about demystifying the Tarot as a tool for everyday use.
You see? Nothing mystical, nothing metaphysical that led me to choose that particular card. The method could have worked as well had I chosen the Queen of Cups (an article about love? about the place of emotion in today’s world?), or the Six of Wands (an article about the poetry of John Donne – don’t ask. It would take a whole page to explain the thought process that led to that one, but it only took seconds to come up with.) It was the method of filtering my problem through an outside source that made the difference.
It’s easy to use outside of writing, too. When my car breaks down unexpectedly, the Six of Cups might remind me to turn to family for help – doesn’t Uncle Willie have a friend who fixes cars? My daughter’s unexpected tears at some simple phrase, when viewed through the Seven of Pentacles, might prompt me to look into the past few weeks for what tensions have been building in her to be released by something that seems inoccuous.
It’s a strategy that takes some practice, but in the end is well worth the effort to develop. Before long, you’ll find yourself letting your instincts guide you to creative solutions in your everyday life.