“There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.” – Rumi
I have to admit 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 third of a three-part exploration of tarot, and is written for those who are curious about this mystical and intriguing art. Click here if you would like to review the first part, and here to review part 2.
SO, WHAT IS TAROT?
Tarot is a Language of Deeper Understanding
Tarot is a language of symbol. Instead of containing an alphabet comprised of letters that we use to build words, tarot is a language of images, each of which can represent many different concepts. Where contemporary Western languages require us to observe rules of spelling and grammar, the language of tarot naturally facilitates the process of opening our minds to the greater truths inherent in each card.
Let’s think about our modern Western languages for a moment. They are constructive in nature, meaning they use an alphabet to build words, to build phrases, to build sentences, to build paragraphs. All this building brings about left-brained processing in our minds, which encourages greater degrees of analysis, logic, reasoning, and detailed focus. This constructive nature of language has empowered societies to do great things and evolve in remarkable ways.
But it’s come at a cost. All that left-brain analysis and logic comes at the expense of the heart space, intuition, fun, and deeper understanding of the essence of the world and ourselves. We have plenty of facts but feel less connected to the deeper, greater truth of things. This is slowly being rectified with the help of modern technology, as languages evolve to bring greater degrees of right-brained, intuitive, deeper truth. 😉
The tarot language of symbol takes us closer to the source of truth within us. We connect to symbol with the right hemisphere of our minds, which encourages pattern-recognition and greater emotional connection. What this symbolic language lacks in modern sophistication, it makes up for in its intuitive power. We might say we can say much more with far less. We’ve heard that a picture is worth 1,000 words. By learning a language of symbols, we train our minds to be more intuitive. We gain greater, deeper truth through a language that naturally elicits this type of thinking.
As you learn the language of tarot you see it appear everywhere, much like you would while learning any language. If, for example, you were learning Italian your mind would automatically see a car as “macchina” or a house as a “casa”. It’s amazing how automatically our mind links to language.
Tarot works the same way, except that as a symbolic language it allows you to see closer to the essential nature of the world. As you learn the tarot language, you make new connections in your mind without even trying. You may see a successful businessman as an “Emperor” or a drifter as a “Fool.” You begin to see that we’re all a little bit Emperor and a little Fool, regardless what we do for a living or our background. Picking up on these new connections in your everyday life will help link you to the distinct archetypes that are part of you, and the way they relate to the world all around you. You feel deeper connections to the world around you, and to the many facets of yourself.
To gain greater understanding of anything, including ourselves, our minds must gain a greater appreciation of its essence. Tarot represents a more essential form of language than what we currently have using letters to make words to make phrases to make sentences to make paragraphs. It cuts to the heart of the matter, removing much of the clutter and confusion in the process. It is a language for deeper understanding that encourages right-brained intuition, greater feeling, and feeling more connected to others and the inner parts of ourselves.
Tarot is a Gateway to the Essential Self
Each of us is born with a source of immense truth, wisdom, and love within us. It lies at the center of our being, within our essence. I like to call this our Essential Self. Although most of us are too busy or distracted to notice it, this source of inner light is available for all of us to access whenever we choose.
Although the gifts that lie deep inside of us are always available, we need some method for accessing them. There are a variety of time-honored intuitive methods that quiet our normally over-active mind and allow us access to our Essential Self. Meditation, yoga, and even exercise are examples. Well, tarot is an effective intuitive method as well.
When we engage with the symbols on tarot cards, we participate in a method for bypassing the cluttered thoughts of our regular daily lives and gain a gateway to our own inner consciousness. It acts as a portal within, toward the inner light of truth we have buried deep inside. Imagine you want to reach the bottom of the deep ocean to find treasure. Tarot is like a submarine that you can climb into to plumb the depths of your own soul.
When we use any of these intuitive methods regularly, we find that we have increasing moments of epiphany. This is when we have an “Aha! I see” moment of clarity, which is the discovery of a deeper truth that existed within us all along. If you have the experience of epiphany with regularity, eventually you will undergo a transformative process called an awakening. This is when your beliefs, attitudes, and values change, in alignment with the light you have within you. If you make a daily practice of using tarot, you can expect to discover much of the gifts you already possess within yourself. In this way, tarot is an incredibly fun and effective tool for awakening.
Yes, all this from a deck of picture cards!
If you’re new to tarot – or any of these other intuitive methods – I don’t recommend expecting these huge changes right away. It takes plenty of time and patience. For now, just enjoy the process of working with the cards and accessing the light you have within you. See the truth; experience the wisdom; feel the love you have inside of you. Have fun and enjoy the ride.
Oh, one more thing:
By the way, I promised at the outset of the first part of this series I would address the notion that tarot is somehow evil.
I am aware that some frown on the use of tarot cards. I have heard criticisms that it is wicked, unholy, even the “work of the devil”. I won’t dignify these charges by responding to them directly. They are misinformed, outdated, and absurd. It’s 2018, and we’re talking about 78 pieces of paper!
I acknowledge that tarot has the potential to be powerful; it can change one’s entire life. It has for me. As with any powerful tool, however, the good or bad does not reside with the tool itself. The morality resides with its user. Approach tarot with an honest aim for seeing truth and bettering yourself. If this is what you want, then this is what you’ll get. Seek and you will find.
And hey, if it feels a little taboo to start using tarot for you as it did for me, that’s okay too. You can keep it as your little secret.