In the light of The Moon

The Moon cards in the Universal Waite (l) and Green Witch Tarot (r)
In the first Tarot reading I ever received, I asked for advice for how I might connect more deeply with my intuition. The first card to appear was The Moon. The reader’s eyes lit up as she exclaimed “Ohhhh, yes!” — quite a promising start! I eagerly awaited what special message she saw in the card for me.

The Moon is one of the 22 Major Arcana cards in the deck, which delve into the big picture, broader themes of our soul’s journey and personal growth. They each invite us to look at our lives from the perspective of a particular energy or archetype. With The Moon, this energy is about connecting to the unknown, to the mysteries in life, to those things we sense to be true without knowing why — in other words, our intuition. No wonder it delighted the reader to see such an appropriate answer to my question!

The message that the reader brought forth was: it’s time to start getting comfortable in the moonlight. She suggested several ways to do this, including meditation, recording and contemplating my dreams, and sitting with the notion that many of my big questions will remain unanswered. Sometimes this feels unsettling, because the world looks different—and perhaps a bit scary—without the light and warmth of the sun to guide us. Our conditioning leads us to expect to understand our life in a logical, linear way, and to be able to “think” our way to the answers we seek. Of course facts and logic have value as we navigate our outer world; yet, as the reader pointed out, to truly connect with our inner wisdom, we must step into a darker realm. We must be willing to feel our way, guided by a dim illumination that will get brighter, but only if we allow time to let our eyes adjust.

As I imagined myself doing this, I remembered scenes from novels taking place in centuries past, where characters walked or rode horses for miles on a moonlit night. It occurred to me that until relatively recently, humans tuned in to the moon’s cycle because it was critical to their daily lives. As the need waned, so did our connection to it; most of us have no idea what phase the moon is in unless it happens to cross our paths. This change parallels how we’ve become less in tune with our inner wisdom in modern times, partly because it’s so easy to distract ourselves with outside input. We spend much less time contemplating in silence, walking alone in nature, or simply “being” rather than “doing” (or often, scrolling).

I loved this invitation from The Moon to change that; to go within and observe my world on a feeling level, and embrace the mystery of it all. It’s prompted me to literally follow the moon’s course, learn about its effects as taught by astrologers, and spend more time bathing in its beauty. It’s also inspired a new way to look at my internal, spiritual world as a place worth visiting, getting to know, and finding my way through. This is a work in progress, but I find the more time I spend in contemplation and meditation, the easier it is, and the more enjoyable. I never thought I’d be excited to meditate, because it often felt like restricting, controlling, or disconnecting my mind. Now that I see it as connecting to a moonlight realm that welcomes my exploration, it feels peaceful, like coming home.

Today, in an intriguing moment of divine timing, I witnessed the full moon set over the ocean. It hadn’t really occurred to me that “moonset” existed, nor did I imagine I’d see it as the sun simultaneously rose behind me. But what a beautiful thing to behold! And what a gift to contemplate this shining example of our universe’s mysteries.

 

 

 

 

Does the Divine “Speak to Us” Through the Cards?

Last week, I had an intriguing conversation about my latest blog post. In the post I had touched on my belief that the cards can be a tool for connecting to the divine energy, or to whatever that “higher power” concept may mean to each of us. After he read it, my friend J commented:

I just don’t think they are imbued with, or are a conduit to, any magical or supernatural powers. Which is why I’m so skeptical of people making life decisions based upon what the cards say. I’m only comfortable when the decisions are arrived upon based on their own rational conclusions and not because they think “God”  spoke to them through the cards.

This was such a great prompt for me to dive into the mystical, mysterious side of Tarot and clarify my own beliefs along the way. So thank you, J!

First, I did mention in the post that I don’t believe the cards themselves are inherently magical. I don’t feel the need to protect cards by keeping them away from people or places where they might absorb negative vibes, as I doubt they hold onto energy long-term, any more than the table we sit at or the cars we drive do. But in a Tarot reading, I do feel a connection to divine energy is coming through, and I think it’s mainly due to the intention we set of inviting it in. This doesn’t happen exclusively during a reading, of course; the cards are just one tool we can use to connect with that energy more clearly. When we quiet our minds and set the intention to connect with our inner wisdom, we allow the cards to be the portal inside, in that moment.

I see two sides to how the divine connection presents itself in readings.  The most obvious is in the cards themselves, in the synchronicity of the perfect message showing up exactly where we need to see it. I don’t know how divine energy connects to card shuffling and deck cutting, but in my experience there’s something going on besides randomness. A few cards come up all.the.time in readings for myself and others, almost to the point that it’s rare to have a reading without one of them. Then there are several I’ve seen only once or twice. Sometimes I associate a card with a person and then see it in their reading, or I pull the same card when asking a similar question for several different clients. While I believe we can create a meaningful reading from any combination of cards that arise, that something that presents just the right cards is what gives the reading its power to inspire, change, and even heal us.

Which leads to the other side of a reading’s divine connection: the revelations the cards inspire within us. I say “within” because, to answer the title question, I don’t don’t believe the divine uses cards to speaks “to” us. But I do believe, when we’ve set the right intention, they will spark a conversation within our mind and heart that is more centered, present, and truthful than we might be with ourselves otherwise. So in that sense the cards do indeed help us find answers – answers we already know on some level, but perhaps haven’t had the perspective to see clearly. The beauty and richness of Tarot is that each can card evoke a whole network of energies, situations, people and emotions, beyond what any book or reader can tell you. So the meaning of any card is constantly evolving, and is determined by your reaction to it at this moment in life.

Whatever we call it, it’s fascinating to ponder how divine energy interacts with us in our everyday lives and in a sacred space like a Tarot reading. What is the force at play in that moment we set our intentions, that sheds light on our inner world, at times with startling accuracy? That is a mystery, and as much as I enjoy pondering such mysteries, I don’t feel the need to rationally know how or why it works. This is the magic that keeps drawing me back to Tarot each day.

What Tarot Means to Me

In my previous post, I described how my study of Tarot led me to discard its negative association with fortune-telling. But if I’m not using Tarot for that, what exactly am I using it for, and how? My journey continues to grow and change as my study and experience deepens, so my answer today may be different from next week or next year.  But right now, I’m having amazing experiences both in studying the symbolism of the cards as archetypes, and in using them for intuitive readings for myself and others.

I first studied the cards to be able to use them in readings, but I quickly found that the study alone is rewarding as a journey into mythology, archetypes, and our experience as humans here on Earth. I was drawn to resources that encourage students to trust their own intuition to interpret the 78 cards. There are plenty of authors out there that will give you a list of predictive meanings, like “you’ll be moving to a new house” or “expect a message from a dark-haired youth.” Those books went straight back to the library. The resources I most enjoyed taught deeper, far more layered meanings that ranged from everyday struggles to the soul’s journey to enlightenment. Beyond that, my favorite teachers argued that we as readers bring our own life experience, and our unique intuitive knowledge, into the mix. Therefore, it’s critical for our study of Tarot to take the traditional meanings as a foundation upon which we layer the thoughts, feelings, and insights that the cards evoke in us individually, and in our clients. That’s the approach I’ve taken, so my study will never be complete – which I love!

Once I had a handle on the cards’ meanings, I began giving readings to myself and others. Here my fascination with Tarot really ignited, and deepened into a passion. When I give a reading to myself or another, I focus on the present, and how to better understand the issues in my current life. Often, we’ll ask for guidance on a specific problem or situation that we’d like help deconstructing. Or, we might look at what kind of energy surrounds the seeker’s life right now, and what kinds of life lessons they’re currently integrating. Both approaches have yielded helpful and supportive guidance from the Tarot.

It’s hard to describe the feeling of magic that happens during a Tarot reading. It’s not magic in the sense that the cards are imbued with some kind of otherworldly power and know more than we do as humans. Nope – the cards are simply paper. But I’ve discovered that if we ask the energy of the Divine (or God, or the Universe, or the Collective Unconscious) to work through the cards, amazing things happen. When we set that pure, heartfelt intention, the Tarot cards do appear in ways that feel magical. Regardless of the question or situation we’re considering, each card prompts us to reflect, look within, see things from a new perspective, or jolt us into recognizing a truth we’d been ignoring. Tarot cards don’t predict our future, and they don’t hold our secrets. The Divine simply uses them to help us see what we already know deep within. From that place of real empowerment, we can then take actions and make decisions that honor our soul’s wisdom.

Discovering Tarot

If you’d have asked me a year ago what I thought of Tarot cards, I might have felt an inward shudder. Tarot? That’s what a gypsy fortune-teller (perhaps in a turban, swathed in mysterious robes, a crow on one shoulder) uses to give grim prophesies of death… right? Truth was, I’d never seen a Tarot deck, but societal folklore led me to imagine it as full of darkness and danger. I loved my collection of beautiful Oracle Cards, and shared their inspiring messages from angels, goddesses, and poets with my friends.  But I was quick to clarify that they had nothing to do with Tarot, and thus were entirely positive and safe.

Then several months ago, my favorite Oracle Card creator, Alana Fairchild, shared a photo of one of her cards taken by Imogen Walters on Instagram. It was lovely, and with a click I began following Imogen as well.  Soon I realized that Imogen’s work featured not just Oracle Cards, but Tarot as well. And in fact, she had an entire blog and video channel devoted to the subject. Imogen writes poetry and prose of stunning beauty, and much of it relates to the Tarot. In one blog post, she explained how a single card, the Six of Cups, took her back to her childhood, to the sights, smells, joys and fears of the girl she once was. There was nothing dark or scary to it; the card inspired a sweet journey to her past, finding the gems of beauty there, and recognizing how much she’d grown in her personal and spiritual life since. If a single card took her on this kind of deep and meaningful journey, where else could the other 77 cards take her… or me?

I decided to find out, and dove into all the videos, books and blog posts on Tarot that caught my eye. I realized I’d encountered a rich system of archetypes, mythology, and the human emotional landscape in these cards. And until then, I’d dismissed it entirely out of ignorance. Could it be that the true intent and power of Tarot had been obscured for centuries by societal forces (religious and otherwise) bent on keeping the masses dependent and afraid? The more I researched the Tarot, the clearer this explanation became. The 78 cards have been described as “covering every aspect of the human experience.” The messages they portray are deceptively simple, yet contain layers and layers of wisdom. Each card is a gateway, a portal through which we can view the kinds of events, emotions, and struggles we all will meet at some point in our lives. The Tarot reminds us that we’re not alone; that there’s nothing new under the sun. The details will change, but we will all encounter moments of disenchantment and celebration, for example, and navigate bigger life themes like self-empowerment, balance, and commitment.

It is that deep relevance to the human experience that fascinates me about Tarot, and keeps me diving into every resource I can find to expand my knowledge. The more I do, the further Tarot moves from its unmerited image as a tool to prey on the vulnerable with dire predictions. I believe the key with Tarot – as with anything touching the essence of our human experience and our connection with Spirit – is intent. My intent in studying Tarot is to foster personal growth, empowerment, faith, and greater understanding of the human experience. And along the way, I’ve found that Tarot also serves as a beautiful, even magical way to connect us to the divine energy all around and within us – and that will keep me fascinated for a lifetime.