As a teen, I learnt to read my Tarot. Plagued by the kind of anxiety that made just about everything a REALLY BIG DEAL, I looked to anything I could find to help me feel safe and in control of my freefall through life. When I didn’t like the answers, I’d twist my question and try again.
I no longer believe in divination; I don’t really think anything can tell us our future, because I’m not sure it really exists yet. Still, the Tarot appeals to me – I see it now as a collection of folk wisdom, illustrated stories passed down through a jumble of cultures and generations. Lessons learned and passed along, like a medieval Pinterest board of meaningful quotations. Reading my cards helps me understand myself and my feelings & get a little perspective on the issues in my life. The older and wiser I get, the more I see the layers of philosophy, history and wisdom in the picture cards. Sometimes a connection to the past is more valuable than a prediction of the future.
A few examples:
Change – symbolised by death – is inevitable, and fighting it only brings more pain. Life without change is as unnatural as life without death. Allowing change and being flexible and open minded opens up fresh opportunities for good shit to happen.
There are a couple of ways to find your ‘life cards’ in the tarot – everyone has two, & they’re the things your lifetime will be spent learning. Both of mine are strength.
This card is love triumphing over fear and anger – about being playful and gentle to tame the big beasts in life.
I was a bit miffed that Strength was my life card as a teen. Wasn’t I strong? I needed a whole lifetime to learn it?? But since then it’s popped into my head surprisingly often, and has served as a nice reminder. I’m learning to be stronger, to be less afraid, to be less consumed by other people’s negativity. I like the positive message this card sends out – just be gentle and good, and Aslan will end up being your best friend. That’s totally my life plan.
The Moon is about the work of the unconscious mind while we sleep, dreams, our inner thoughts & reality. What I like about this card is how it gives a name to a phenomenon I’ve experienced my whole life – those phases when your dreams are incredibly life-like, and it can be hard to tell whether something was real or imagined. It’s a small but meaningful example of how the Tarot reflects on things differently to common wisdom.
There are times for activity and times for reflection and rest. And on a wider level, people are fluid. Sometimes you’re the Hermit, sometimes you’re the Empress. Our society likes to tell us a lot that our minds are a static thing – you’re clever or shy or funny or mean – and it’s easy to begin to think of yourself in these parameters. But actually, it’s nonsense – we all go through phases, we evolve, and our brain chemistry fundamentally changes day by day. Which is presumably why some days I am witty and bright & articulate, and some days I’m an actual potato.
The Empress, and the tarot in general, is pretty positive about women. The tarot was my first real appreciation of this – The World, The High Priestess, Strength, Temperance, The Star – were truly the first strong female archetypes I’d come across in a world of Enid Blyton and The Daily Mail. In the tarot, the women are layered with rich symbolism of fertility, creativity, wisdom and strength. The men have strengths too, but the women are positively potent with possibility. Perhaps it’s because this is wisdom from a different era; perhaps it’s an affect of the largely female users over the years. Either way, the teenage me then, & the adult me now, are both very glad of it.
I should add, I’m really no expert – I expect some of you will have far better understanding and insights on this, and I’d love to hear then.