A Deeper Understanding

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Can I say I’ve never really been a believer in Tarot cards?

Can I admit I’ve never given them a lot of consideration? I may have even been totally out of line, in the past, when I proclaimed them to be nothing more than a load of hokum.

It surprised me a bit, a little more than a week ago, that I hadn’t embraced the cards at some point in my life. I mean, I acknowledge my horoscope daily (and the always-enlightening week ahead summaries in my inbox every Sunday), I’m continually looking for signs, am a firm believer in Kismet, and can often find inspiration in the most unusual places.

But Tarot cards never captured my imagination.

I’ve done tealeaves, sat down with a real Gypsy and had a wonderful palm reading session where she predicted a new love in my life. She then accepted my dinner and movie invitation, and put up with me for 4 ½ weeks (she didn’t predict it would end so suddenly). I even had a yoga teacher who would often pull a Tarot card before class and talk about it as she took us out of savasana (she even, once, gave me the card because she was sure it spoke to me). The card, and her message, was always inspiring, but I was sure she didn’t do it every day because she may have pulled a card that set the wrong mood.

I say this because I really knew nothing about Tarot cards, freely admit my ignorance, but over the past week have had the occasion to study, and learn, more about them.

I’ve had the opportunity to take part in a guided self-discovery program. At the outset of the session, participants pulled cards from their deck and offered thoughts on images they drew for both themselves, and the group. It wasn’t a “reading” but more of an icebreaker that brought people together.

I was fascinated not only the practice, but by the depth of the interpretations offered. It was enough to inspire me to go out that very night and pick up my own deck.

Now, I’ll admit spontaneous fascination is nothing new to me. I proudly admit I am a Gemini, and will confess to a lifetime of flitting back and forth between new concepts and hobbies. Like a crow, shiny objects often catch my eye.

So far, a week into it, the cards have been more than a temporary distraction. Maybe it’s the time of my life, or time of the day, but this simply intense activity drew me in. It might not be magic in the cards, but I am spellbound by the cosmic, religious and cultural imagery. Given the history behind the cards, the beautiful artwork, and the layers of meaning behind the images, there is plenty to keep my mind occupied for a while.

As I read I discover the significance of the direction in which the trump cards face, the symbolism of colour and setting, along with the wide-ranging theories behind the suits in the deck. I’m intrigued at the subtleties of things like an upturned brim, body language, or an object.

Now, I’m still working with three-card spread, am only using the upright cards, and will not concern myself yet (as the guidebook suggests) with reversed meanings. I’m still trying to familiarize myself with the cards, and the messages. I am pleased I’ve pulled the King of Cups a couple of times (yes, I have shuffled), have been blessed with The Sun once, and I have yet to find The Fool in my now-daily ritual.

And, right now, I’m not asking the big questions, or questioning my true essence or aura. I will wait until I’m a little more prepared, or knowledgeable. The ultimate goal of Tarot reading is to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, and I think I might be a complicated read.

Of course it’s a game; it was designed to be a game back in the early fourteenth century, and, as it evolved, remained a game. It took hundreds of years before occultists found hidden meanings in the art, or so I’ve read. I suppose I grew up thinking, or linking, Tarot with the occult and the Ouija board. I never gave the cards much thought after that (until recently).

It is still a game. It is a pastime.

But it is a pastime that involves memory, history, communication, self and critical thinking. Anything that might cause you to be mindful of where you are, or what you can accomplish, can’t be all be that bad.

In fact it’s good. It is inspiring. Tarot cards acknowledge questions bouncing about the brain, provoke thoughts of family, relationships, and life in general. Above all, they provide a little hope.

Couldn’t we all use a little more hope? Couldn’t we all believe in ourselves a little more?

© 2016 j.g. lewis

Image: Cards by Tarot de Marseille.

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