March 30, 2012 § 4 Comments
I really like tomato soup.
A couple of years ago, I went through a phase of having tomato soup for breakfast. Every morning. And then after a while I stopped. I think I might have moved onto something more orthodox, like mushroom pate on toast. But I still like tomato soup and I still have it every now and then for lunch, with a nice bit of bread and butter.
The thing is I’ve never felt a failure at eating tomato soup. I’ve never thought I should give up trying to eat tomato soup and stick to something more acceptable, like sandwiches. I’ve never felt that people were watching me, waiting for me to consume my next bowl of soup, making secret judgements about my abilities as a soup eater. I’ve never compared myself to others who eat tomato soup and found myself lacking.
Food for thought, don’t you think. 😉
March 28, 2012 § 5 Comments
October 22, 2011 § Leave a comment
I’m quite excited about Halloween this year. It’s not usually a big thing for us but we’ve moved to a new house and our little girl is old enough now to join in, so we’re going to dress up and carve pumpkins and do the whole Halloween thang. Our house has an unusually high number of spiders in residence anyway (big ones!), so we won’t have to decorate much…
I’ve also been thinking about doing a special Halloween reading. Obviously, this year I’m committed to the Haindl, but I don’t see why I can’t have a little fun with it. I’m thinking about trying out this spread that I came up with a long time ago but never got round to using.
What about you? Do you have any Halloween tarot rituals? What’s your favourite deck or spread to use at Halloween?
(Click the Ace of Pumpkins to see a range of fun and friendly decks for Halloween, all with 10% off!)
October 3, 2011 § 1 Comment
Look, I made an acronym!
When I grow up I want to be a tarot reader even though, at the moment, I am not a very good one. Even so, I am perpetually fascinated by the concept of “a tarot reading” – this strange consultation between two strangers and some cards (and maybe something else besides) – and the ethical questions it raises. If I am ever to be a tarot reader (one who reads face-to-face, and who maybe also gets paid) I want to be a Good one. What is Good? I don’t know – someone who is competent, professional, ethical and compassionate, someone who provides a service of value to another person. And so, over the course of my day-to-daydreaming about my one-day tarot-reading self, I came up with this acronym to remind me of what sort of reader I’d like to be.
S.H.A.R.P. stands for:
First and foremost, I want to be sensitive. If someone goes to the trouble of seeking out a reader and shells out their hard-earned cash for a tarot reading, the least I can do is take them seriously – regardless of whether their question is “Will Brad call me tonight?”, “Why does my cat hate me?” or “How can I bring about world peace?” Being sensitive means thinking about how someone might be feeling, and treating them with respect and kindness. It means not judging and not forgetting that I’m there to help them. Even with the most straight-forward seeming readings, there’s always a story behind the story and as tarot readers, we hardly ever know the half of it (even though sometimes we might think we know all). People ask for help when they’re scared, hurt, or vulnerable.
As a “real” tarot reader, I’d have the opportunity to help people in all sorts of different ways. I could help them understand. I could help them make a decision or find a solution to a problem. I could help them take the next step. Maybe I might help just by reflecting their situation back to them – or even just by listening. However the means, I’d like my readings to be helpful, so that afterwards the sitter is in a more positive place than they were before. It sounds a little obvious, but what I don’t want is to just read the cards with no consideration for the sitter. I need to remember to ask myself “Am I helping or am I just talking?” And of course, it wouldn’t hurt to ask, “Is that any help?”
I don’t mean, “You’ll meet a man at 3.30pm on Wednesday afternoon. It’ll be raining and he’ll be wearing a dark blue Mackintosh and carrying a black umbrella.” I mean, I want my readings to be specific (but SHSRP doesn’t spell anything). I want to answer the question that’s asked – not just vaguely rehash my favourite interpretations. I want to pay attention to position meanings and how they interact with the cards and the question. I want to choose my words carefully. (Hmmm, interesting – tarot cards are predominantly visual, but a tarot reading is all about accurately translating those visual symbolic messages into words.) I don’t want to just blaze through the reading thinking I already know what the cards mean. Each individual reading is an unrepeatable moment in time: an alignment of random forces and deliberate intentions – a unique mix of sitter, reader, question, spread, deck, and cards drawn. I must interpret accordingly.
Tarot cards are powerful things. Of course, I know they’re just bits of printed cardboard, but they have this habit of dispensing uncannily accurate observations. It’s easy to understand how mere mortals might believe such observations are messages from a higher power. 😉 The problem with messages from a higher power is…they’re very difficult to ignore.
I don’t want to be one of those readers who says, “This reading is for entertainment purposes only (yeah, right), I just read the cards and tell you what they say, it’s up to you whether you choose to follow any advice given and hey, it wasn’t me giving you the advice, it was the cards, so I’m completely off the hook.” (Yes, I know readers don’t actually say that, but sometimes it feels that’s what they’re saying. It’s like a nurse saying, “Now, I’m giving you this jab, but it’s really up to you how your body responds to it.” A professional accepts responsibility for the service he or she provides.)
When I read tarot for others, I will essentially be interfering in their lives. Influencing their decisions. Putting thoughts into their heads. I must be aware of the awesomely huge responsibility that bestows on me. I’ll say that again – AWESOMELY HUGE RESPONSIBILITY. A tarot reading is not an isolated event; it will have consequences. I want to make sure they’re good ones. I think part of doing this involves using the cards as prompts for questions that the sitter can answer for him or herself, rather than giving them the answers. I have a bee in my bonnet about this particular point, which is why I’m labouring it. 🙂
Wow, that came out left field (I was just trying to decide between Professional or emPowering). Why do I want to be a proud tarot reader? Well, actually, I want to be proud to be a tarot reader. This last point is kind of a sum of all the others, because if I’m sensitive, helpful, accurate and responsible then I should have something to be proud of. I want tarot reading to be recognised as having value, instead of being this kind of novelty thing that a lot of people dismiss. I want to be a skilled professional. I want to keep improving as a reader, yet be consistent. I want to bravely say (because this would be a huge deal for me), “I’m a tarot reader” instead of saying “I’m sort of into tarot, it’s my thing, nah I don’t really read”. I want to have a sign outside my house that says, “Tarot Readings, Come Inside”. I want to come out of the tarot closet smartly dressed holding my cards and some sort of appointment book. I want tarot readers to be respected and to conquer the world!
Aw, I just want to be a good reader. Do you think I’ll ever make it now I’ve set myself all these impossible targets? 😉
November 16, 2010 § 8 Comments
I have a decision to make and it’s making my head hurt. I could really do with some insight if anyone would be so kind as to draw a card or two for me?
I can’t reveal much about the situation at the moment, although I will be able to in the near future whichever decision I make… I know it’s not easy reading without any context but any advice would be an enormous help.
My question is: what advice can you give me to help me make this decision?
March 27, 2010 § 4 Comments
This morning I reached the decision that I would no longer predict the future. The reasons for this are long and varied and best saved for another post (or novel-length treatise) but rest assured I have been giving this some thought for some time.
About half an hour later, I was looking for a book to read/browse and felt a strong urge to choose The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder. This is a book I read once about 15 years ago and it has sat on my shelf ever since as I’d like to re-read it one day. I opened it somewhere in the middle, flicked back a few pages to the beginning of the chapter entitled “Six of Clubs” and started reading. A couple of pages in, a character in the book says “The future lies in the cards”.
And this is the kind of thing that messes with my head all the time. Does tarot work or doesn’t it? Can we predict the future or not? What is the significance of choosing a book at random, opening it to a random page and reading “the future lies in the cards” half an hour after deciding the that statement just isn’t true? If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ll (hopefully) know I have a pretty sensible approach to tarot. I made Tarot Stripped Bare, a DVD that goes out of its way to poo-pooh even the teensiest claim that tarot is somehow supernatural. For me, tarot is fun, practical and not the least bit spooky. And yet…
I have a deck, the Aquarian Tarot. It was the first deck I bought for myself. Ever since I bought it, I’ve kept it wrapped in a red silk cloth. It gives scarily good readings – I mean, jaw-dropping, messages-from-beyond-the-grave-type readings. Is that because I wrapped it in silk?
Last week, I drew the Hierophant from the Mountain Dream twice. Consequently, he has been sitting on my desk staring at me for most of the week. As Hierophants go, he seems friendly enough but he has this expectant look on his face, like he’s a teacher who’s just singled me out to answer a question I don’t know the answer to. Of course, he’s not going to tell me the answer – he wants me to work it out for myself. So for the last few days I’ve been thinking what he wants to know. And top of the list (our survey says) was: what do I believe?
We live in an age where many of us can pretty much choose what we believe in. Sometimes we just make stuff up and believe in that because we can and because it suits us to do so. I think I’ve done that about tarot. I’ve created (or copied from other sources) a set of rules about tarot that suit me. Rules such as, “the future isn’t set in stone and can’t be predicted with any accuracy” and “tarot cards aren’t magical; they’re just bits of mass-produced printed cardboard”. I have others along the same lines as this. Tarot isn’t mystical, yada yada yada.
I’ve been spreading these beliefs around like confetti at a wedding – here, on the DVD, in other things I’ve written. I’ve been stating them as if they’re facts, but the truth is I can’t prove any of them. Okay, fine, so as beliefs go they’re fairly tame but where did I get them from? If I’m honest, they sound suspiciously like cliches of our time. In fact, saying “the future isn’t set in stone” is becoming as ubiquitous and jaded now as “you mustn’t let others handle your cards” was 20 years ago. And if I don’t have any scientific proof, what justification can I have for making such statements. Isn’t it irresponsible of me?
The Hierophant is an orthodox fellow so he’s all about established belief systems. In Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom, Rachel Pollack writes:
“The modern Western phenomenon of a kind of eclectic mysticism, drawing inspiration from all religions, is an extremely unusual development. This is based, possibly, on global awareness plus the view of religion as a psychological state divorced from science and history. Thus we see religion as an experience rather than an explanation of the universe and accept that all religious experiences are valid, whatever contradictions they show on the surface. While this idea opens great possibilities, many people have noted its potential shallowness.”
When we follow an established faith, our beliefs are frequently tested. We often find ourselves caught between what we want to do and what our faith instructs us to do. We struggle with rules that seem harsh or unfair. Our religion doesn’t always suit us. Yet, because of that, it challenges us. I’m not sure the same can be said for belief systems we forge ourselves. Because, if presented with a pick-and-mix selection of beliefs, doesn’t it make sense that we’d choose ones that make us feel most comfortable?
The truth is, deep down, I do believe tarot can predict the future because I’ve seen it happen. But the rational side of my brain does its darndest to bury that knowledge because it isn’t comfortable for me. It puts me in an awkward position. It makes me have to consider things I’d rather not consider – things like fate, destiny, free will, God, the afterlife, the soul. And if I start opening myself up to uncomfortable possiblities about tarot and life, I might have to confront other possibilities, such as the existence of aliens and the ultimate destruction of civilisation as we know it. You can see why I’d prefer to stick with my mass-produced pieces of printed cardboard.
If you’re still reading this, you’re probably starting to realise that it’s not going to go anywhere. I don’t have a neat conclusion; I don’t have a neat anything. This post has rambled a long way from where it began. I just wanted to finally nail down these thoughts that have been playing knock-down ginger on the firmly closed doorway of my mind. They interrupt my blissful ignorance then run away before I can grab them, but they leave me a little nervous. What if wrapping cards in silk does make a difference? What if tarot CAN predict the future? What if I’m wrong? What if everything I believe isn’t true?
I’m not saying those things are true either. Most questions about tarot and how it works (or IF it works) are unanswerable. We can theorise and conjecture and postulate and philosophize and use other big words that mean we don’t know but the truth is: we really don’t know.
Or maybe it’s just me who doesn’t know.