This installment in my series of articles for Zaghareet presents some succinct suggestions for making the study and enjoyment of the tarot part of your regular routine.
What is Tarot and How Does it Work?
Tarot cards are a series of images, usually 78, passed down over the centuries, used for self-reflection and meditation. Some of the cards are selected at random and then interpreted through a mix of symbolism, intuition, and context. Our deep mind knows more than we admit, and study of the tarot provides a fascinating mirror for us to understand our motivations, challenges, and probable outcomes. Carl Jung similarly used the I Ching every day.There are lots of ways to bring tarot into our daily lives. I have outlined a few below!
A wonderful way to let the cards work for you is to meditate on them. Pick a favorite card, or even one that unnerves you, and tack it up on your bathroom mirror. Just ruminate on it twice a day while you brush your teeth! Eventually it will be like an old pal. Try another. Some cards will appeal to you seasonally, some in times of crisis. Take note of the sequence of the cards you choose; they present an extended reading all of their own.
The history, utility and symbolism of the cards is deep. If you want to know more, follow the books and blogs of scholars like Mary K. Greer and Rachel Pollack. There are social media groups for enthusiasts. I’ll make a plug here for Princess Farhana’s fun online site, ‘Divination Nation’. There may be an alternative or metaphysical bookstore near you where you can get your hands on some books and find other authors you like. And similar to the bellydance circuit, the tarot realm offers a world of local and international tarot conferences, where you can geek out on new ways to read the cards, history, and fine points of iconography!
The bulk of work with tarot is done through readings of the cards, and that can be a lifelong discipline. Practice makes better. Maybe you read every day, and keep a journal of your readings and their outcomes. Perhaps you throw the cards down once a week while listening to ‘Car Talk’ on Saturday morning, or trade readings with your dear ones on the full moon. I have known folks who do a big reading for the year to come on December 31. Some enthusiasts make the leap to reading for money, online, over the phone, in bookstores and Psychic Fairs, or with private students and clients. Know that real clients bring real problems, and you are expected to help if you deal the cards!
Perhaps as a bellydancer, you feel compelled to do a dance piece embodying the Empress or any other archetypes in the deck. Maybe you want to do a whole show. If so, dig below the surface fashion of the cards. Get into the tarot, their meaning, their history, and the sources of the art that inspires you. Artists like BellaDonna, Zoe Jakes and Delilah have all explored this theme, and you want to bring something authentic and unique to the timeless landscape of the cards.
Creating a Deck
I’ve done it, and you can do too. Decks have been made with collage, fabric arts, photography, painting, digital art and more. (To be inspired, or daunted, get a copy of the most recent ‘Encyclopedia of the Tarot’ by Stuart Kaplan. It archives tarot rendered in stained glass, bas relief, you name it!) It is my suspicion that more decks have been generated in the past fifteen years than in the previous century. There are James Bond, Hello Kitty, Steampunk, and art pornography decks, as well as amazing tarot of depicting virtually every cultural heritage you can think of from Native American to the Finnish creation myths. Your options creatively are as broad as your imagination.
A full deck is a massive undertaking, but more attainable than ever before with the advent of self-publishing in addition to the established publishing houses. Self-publishing takes money, but the really hard part is getting through the monumental body of work. A traditional deck has 78 cards – you best get busy.
In conclusion, there are many ways to get some tarot in your daily life. The ‘toothbrush meditation’ offers you an effective but casual, on-the-go approach, whereas serious and scholarly study can immerse you utterly in history, imagery and psychology. In spite of bad press, tarot has been blooming for centuries, and has really been rehabilitated in these modern times as a graceful, meditative tool for counsel and self-analysis.