Sunday, 26 April 2015

Gateway drug to the occult - simple tips on tarot

Tarot was what got me into this whole world.

At 18, freshly moved out on my own, I walked into my local comic shop and bought myself a tarot deck - the Renaissance Tarot. As I soon grew to learn, the little dinky booklet that came with the deck really told me nothing, so I borrowed a book about tarot and witchcraft from a friend of mine.

I read it in I think 6 hours. It was my gateway drug into the occult.

Since then, I have always had an interesting relationship with tarot. I fully believe the following things about tarot:

  • tarot cards are merely pieces of card stock. They are not magical, mystical, or made of star stuff. They are pieces of cardboard with images on them.
  • tarot is a slow art - much like honing any other skill, it must be worked at. Some people are tarot prodigies - like a piano or painting prodigy. Most people will have to work at it to build up the skill to learn how to interpret the images and readings.
  • tarot allows you to see into your subconscious, and presents what you may already know (but is just muddled brain noise) in an easily digestible form.
  • tarot is a psychological process, and can be helpful in journaling and self discovery.

I have worked with tarot for 15 years, and I still consider myself a beginner, or a low intermediate. There are so many layers of complexity - each card has many meanings, and pairing with other cards changes them, and then you have to look at the question or situation. It can seem overwhelming, but it isn't meant to be something to conquer in a day.

There are so many superstitions about choosing a tarot deck, how to store it, when to use it. That kind of misinformation drives me nuts.

- You do not need someone to buy your deck for you - that superstition started with one book written in the 70's. You can (and probably should) buy your own deck. It is meant to be something personal for you, and you should connect to it on a visual level.

- You do not need to wrap your cards in raw black silk. You can wrap them or store them in whatever you like. I use cloth bags for mine, all stored in a wooden box. I like practical, because I want to be able to grab my deck when I need it, and travel with it if need be.

- You can allow someone else to handle your cards - I have been asked by multiple people if you have to burn your cards if someone has touched them. NO! That's foolish! It's not good form to handle another's deck (or anything else, for that matter) without asking permission, but if you have permission, go ahead. There are several techniques you can use to clear the cards after someone else has handled them (smoke cleansing, for example), so don't worry about it too much.

- You can use tarot cards whenever you like. There are certainly optimal times to use them (Samhain and Beltane, as examples), but there are no hard and fast rules.

- You can have more than one deck - I currently have 7 or 8. I use different ones for different types of questions or work. I have had as many as 15, but I go through everyone once in a while and purge some out (to, of course, make time for more).

The easiest way I have found to learn about tarot and the meanings to to learn by association. Memorization will only go so far - learn the story of the fool's journey, and the meanings of the suits and numbers. The biggest mistake people will do is start thinking they have to read a big celtic cross spread (which, as a spread, is not that great), get confused and discouraged, and never go to it again. You need to start small - pull a card in the morning, journal about it's meaning, and go about your day. Come back and reflect on the card and how it applied to your day. Eventually, you learn to associate cards with feelings, situations, and experiences - and since it's a tool of human expression and experience, that is a surefire way to build a working knowledge. You'll know you're catching on when cards start to repeat and you can remember what it meant the last time.

You can also work with the meanings of the cards to do spells or workings. Tarot is a really great way to focus your mind, or lend a specific energy to a working.

Now, even though tarot is just an object, it doesn't mean you can't build an energetic relationship with them. Like any other tool, it can be imprinted with your energy (which is usually why it's a faux pas to handle another's deck without asking permission) to help to work better with you. I find that using the deck exclusively for awhile, or putting it on your altar or sacred space will help with that.

Tarot is a lot of things, but it is not a cure. It's not an answer to every problem, not something you should base incredibly important life decisions on. It can become a crutch, especially for those who have had positive experience with it - it feels like an answer to all life's problems. Like any other tool, it should only be used as needed. It can help with a lot of things, but so can a bowie knife (if you need to cut some rope: great. If you need to cut some bitches: not so great.) - and you don't misuse that without great consequence.

Tarot got me where I am now. I took a chance, and fell into all of this. It's an absolutely essential tool to me, something I use on a weekly basis. My only problem is the glut of amazing decks on the market now, especially from small publishers! It'll drive me to the poor house! I just ordered the Wild Unknown deck - I was taken by the visceral simplicity of the images. I look forward to building a relationship with this deck, once I can get my little hands on it!

** As a note, last week I posted a video on my vlog, and will probably be switching off between the 2 weekly. I will be making a note when I post a vlog from this point forward, but last week's was similar to my post from here last week. **