As you can probably tell from my last article (3 Reasons Why The Future Isn’t The Place To Be Looking), I’m not a huge advocate of the fortune-telling approach to Tarot.
Not to say that fortune-telling doesn’t work. In fact, Tarot’s ability to tell the future is not only widely acknowledged and exceedingly popular – far more popular than any other use of the cards: It also works. Up to a point.
I write, “Up to a point,” for two main reasons:
- no-one knows just how set in stone the future is, so Tarot’s accuracy as a divinatory tool is a subject of much (and often heated) debate, and
- a focus on the future tends to cut us off from any agency we might have in the present; it potentially disempowers us the one moment we actually can do something about
Let’s say for a moment that Tarot had the ability to predict the future with 100% accuracy.
What happens, then, when either we get a card that we don’t want – or, conversely, what happens when we get a card that we’ve been wanting?
I’d suggest that either way we become overly fixated on what doesn’t exist yet. And, in so doing, we give up our ability to seize the moment and to work with it in a way that is both meaningful and that paradoxically has an impact on how our future unfolds.
This is where Tarot as a tool for growth and self-awareness really comes into its own: when we can use it to observe, to reflect, to work with who we are and what is available to us here and how. It’s where the rubber hits the road. It’s where we get to act rather than to react; it’s where we get to rescue ourselves rather than waiting for a rescuer who can never live up to our greatest expectations.
Here are a few practices that I recommend to clients who come to read with me and who are looking to continue their own work with Tarot as a regular practice:
A Card A Day
Draw a card each morning with an intention that it shows you something useful and about the day ahead that you can work with – whether it’s a theme, or a particular circumstance or personality (outside you, or inside you) that you encounter.
Or how about this: draw the card in the morning, with the same intention, but only look at it at the end of the day. Does it make sense? Does it add another perspective to your encounter or experience?
Looking In The Mirror
Draw a card with the intention that it shows you something about yourself that you are ready to see, and which supports your understanding of yourself and/or your circumstances.
Sometimes you’ll know immediately the significance it holds for you.
Other times, it may feel unclear – in which case, start talking out loud to the card about what you see in it, trying not to censor or order your thoughts before you say them. (You’ll be the only one who’s listening, so the only judgements you’ll be up against are your own – in which case decide to support yourself by listening to your own observations with patience and acceptance.) You might be surprised about what comes out, and how much knowledge and insight you hold that you may not have been aware of.
Just before you go to sleep, draw a card with the intention that it supports the unfolding and understanding of your dreams. But don’t look at it: place it face-down either on your bedside table, or under the bed – or under your pillow if that feels right.
In the morning, before you do anything else, journal your dream – or even make notes if you don’t feel up to writing too much – keeping your experience in the first person, and the present tense.
Then, once you’ve recorded what you can remember, turn the card over and look at it. See where it fits; see where it doesn’t; and see if it adds something that you may not otherwise have noticed.
Don’t Do / Do
This is a great, advice-driven reading that I learned from Rachel Pollack, which you can do before your day starts.
Draw three cards with the intention that the reading will be wholly useful to you:
- Card in the centre: the situation
- Card on the left: “don’t do”
- Card on the right: “do”
The middle card gives you more information about what it is that the reading will be focussing on, so that you know it when it happens. The card on the left is what you do not do in that situation; the card on the right is what you do. It’s simple, and effective, and may be associated with an ongoing theme in your life, or a single moment in time; something trivial, or something more significant.
Four different approaches to tarot as a tool for self-growth and self-awareness. At least two of them have a divinatory (fortune-telling) element, but in each case you are still being invited and encouraged to participate actively in your experience.
My wish for you is that all of them are expansive, opening up doors of enquiry, and prompting you to get curious and aware of your life, how you move through it, and how life moves through you.
Sarah is a Tarot reader and teacher, and writer. Her website: www.integratedtarot.com.