“No one can decide what’s right for you – just listen to the voice that speaks inside.” ― Shel Silverstein
Those who are new to tarot undoubtedly wonder what all the fuss is about. That’s how I felt initially. I resisted getting into tarot at first because I knew so little about it and made all kinds of assumptions about what it is and isn’t. I’m happy to shed some light on the topic for those who are curious, but also resistant because of their assumptions and prejudices. I’ve been there; I get it. I am highly reasonable and logical, but I love tarot as well. They’re not mutually exclusive choices!
This post is the second of a three-part exploration of tarot, and is written for those who are curious about this mystical and intriguing art. Click here for the first part, and please check back soon for part 3.
SO, WHAT IS TAROT?
Tarot is an Intuition Developer
In any given moment, we’re either thinking with intuition or we’re not. Intuition is the voice of wisdom that speaks to us from deep within. It carries the deep knowing we all have inside of us at all times. But those who are stressed or distracted cannot access their intuition. We must have a quiet, relaxed mind. When we do we open ourselves to hearing our intuitive voice, and all the valuable wisdom it contains. But it’s hard to quiet our minds. We’re stressed, busy, distracted by the next shiny object, and we have a very powerful ego.
Because people are hardwired to have an ego, we instinctively evaluate and judge every person and situation around us. Our ego serves its purpose by giving us a structure and understanding of the world and ourselves so that we have the best chance to survive and even thrive. Therefore, without even noticing, we are constantly seeking out threats and things to fix. This gives us an edge in this crazy and competitive world but closes us off from connecting to others and the world. It keeps us laser-focused on the many details of our lives, while the bigger picture gets lost.
Losing the bigger picture view of life and ourselves leads to confusion and separation from a sense of purpose. We may see the world as random and uncaring. If not addressed, over time we feel isolated and burnt out, and we become increasingly robotic to the process of categorizing the nonstop stream of people, places, and situations that happen all around us.
This isn’t meant to be a downer; it’s just what it means to be an adult with responsibilities. It’s just naturally how we operate. But we don’t half to be stuck in this stressful, analytical mindset.
There’s an entirely different way to experience life, and it’s available to us whenever we choose. This is the way of intuition.
Intuition is the language of wonderful truth we possess inside of us. It perceives the big picture point of view. With intuition, the world and our lives make sense. We feel more connected to others and even ourselves. We see patterns, feel less lonely, understand with deep wisdom, and take a break from all the mind-chatter.
The experience of life from this mindset is refreshing and literally wonderful! And incredibly, it exists within all of us, hidden just beneath the surface of our regular consciousness.
Tarot facilitates intuition. It allows us to simplify all the infinite chaotic details of the world into just 78 symbols. We naturally start to see the patterns of ourselves and our lives. We see the big picture point-of-view and become empowered and free of the chaos. We also have the experience of epiphany, which are those “Aha!” moments of insight, where we gain a clarity that had been absent before. That’s the realization of the light of truth within ourselves. Once we’ve “seen the light”, we want nothing more than to live by the truth of that insight. Life takes on greater clarity and purpose, and you in turn become wiser and more powerful.
All of this from a deck of cards? YES.
Tarot is a Fortune Telling Device
Yes, there are those use tarot for fortune telling. This practice is also known as divination, which is the examination of one thing to gain greater understanding of another. The whole world is connected, and it’s been wisely observed that everything that exists in microcosm also exists in macrocosm, and vice versa. This is the Universal Law of Correspondence.
Perhaps you’ve visited a psychic or clairvoyant that promised to tell you your future. Even if you haven’t, you’ve certainly seen them in tourist towns, Renaissance Fairs, or in movies. These images may elicit all sorts of impressions for you: amusement, wonder, skepticism, disgust, curiosity, and so on. No question, these images for tarot are burned into the collective consciousness, and we keep seeing tarot presented this way even though its value far transcends this limited view.
If you want to develop your own personal tarot practice for self-awakening as I’ve done, you may have to free yourself of these kinds of mental images.
I think visiting a tarot reader as psychic can be fun, but I don’t take it seriously. I’ve had these kinds of readings done with mixed results. I’ve had readers make some pointed insights which gave me something valuable to consider. I’ve also had readers say the most ridiculous things imaginable, completely off base. Yet even in these latter cases I did not lose my confidence in tarot as a method for accessing intuition. I just didn’t connect with the fortune telling method, which I’ve chosen never to employ myself.
I’m not here to judge the legitimacy of seers. The way I see it, anyone who is perceptive and intuitive enough to get a deep understanding of the present can predict the future. If I notice my gutters aren’t draining I can predict I’m going to get a leak in the future. But the point is moot because I would never direct my life based on fortune telling. I would never trust what any fortune teller – or even tarot cards – told me about the future. Tarot enables me to become more deeply aware of the NOW so I become empowered to create my own future. That is the sine qua non of tarot for those who want to use it for mindfulness and to actually improve their lives.
If you care to predict the future with tarot, go for it. But beware giving up your sense of free will for the sake of fulfilling a prophecy that can so easily be misinterpreted in the first place!
Tarot is all this and more. Check back soon for Part 3.