Hard Conversations with the Tarot
featured image by Sharon mccutcheon via unsplash
I’m going to just come out and say it: I don’t love to read tarot for myself.
I know, forget my name, close out my blog, burn it all!!
All kidding aside, I absolutely adore tarot (don’t worry, we will reconcile this split-consciousness in a moment). I love studying the different energies, learning about the symbolism, and, ugh my favorite, seeing the archetypes that the cards represent displaying themselves in my life in different magical ways—like a coworker who embodies the Queen of Swords or how my partner is the embodiment of the Knight of Pentacles! Nothing fills me with more delight to see these ripples of magic expand out into the day-to-day.
What makes me pause, then, when it comes to reading for myself?
I expressed to my dear friend how I wanted guidance for some larger life decisions I’m making, but that I was nervous to turn to my tarot cards.
“Think of it as a dialogue,” she told me.
As I sat down at my kitchen on a sunny, Sunday afternoon, I felt the dread welling up of drawing a more challenging or less-than-perfect card and recognized my hesitancy. You see, I was the kid that would just immediately stuff a test into their backpack if I didn’t get an “a.” In retrospect, I clearly could’ve learned more if I had been willing not to just sit with those mistakes, but had been more compassionate with myself.
my nervousness about drawing cards for myself is because it wasn’t a conversation with my deck, but one-sided berating from my own mind. As I would sit down to pull cards for myself, questions would flood in: What if I hadn’t been doing the right thing? What if I was making a bad decision? What if I’m not good enough?
There’s no dialogue there, just shame. These fears about not being perfect or enough would well up just from the act of pulling a card because I was seeking its affirmation. The idea of making a decision that it didn’t agree with, having an aspect of myself I needed to get curious about, or maybe just being, uh, a human and having to learn some lessons in this life was too much for me to bear. Because if the tarot could see it, couldn’t everyone else?
You see, I don’t want to keep being the kid that shoves their math test into their backpack. It’s a lifestyle that’s only sustainable to a point and I’m pretty sure that ended in sixth grade. There’s plenty of ways I can still have my tarot practice have healthy boundaries, such as how I want to have tarot inform decisions I make but not be the end-all-be-all, or that daily draws are something I have so much respect for other people doing, but aren’t really my style (just keeping up with the moon cycles can be a little fast-paced for me). But I recognized that I needed to cultivate the garden that exists within those walls a little bit more; I needed to be more compassionate and vulnerable with myself, to not be perfect the first time, to always be a work in progress.
I took a deep breath and drew a card, then another, then another, as I dropped into a lush, loving conversation with my cards, at last, with Strength as the first card to greet me in the dialogue about the decision I have to make.
when do you hesitate to draw a card? when has your deck provided you relief? what happens when you think of your tarot practice as a dialogue?