Next in our ongoing Zaghareet series on tarot for dancers, we will explore through personal testimonial how the old-fangled practice of tarot reading can be useful for dancers in both daily life and as a tool to mark and celebrate milestones.
Just as with drilling dance moves, steady tarot practice brings facility and depth to our use of the cards. To get our skills up, some folks read or meditate with the cards every day. Some, like myself, have a hands-on practice with clients during the week, or for dozens of people over the course of a festival. But above and beyond the benefits of regular reading, sometimes a special reading is called for, an experience standing out from the rest of the week or year.
Dancers find many special occasions for readings, from practical or ceremonial.
The tarot can be a catalyst in several ways for dancer’s creative projects. We may do a reading at the start of a project. Multi-genre artist Zoe Jakes strives to bring the traditional icons to life with dance in her cartomancy-themed show. “The cards are my main inspiration for House of Tarot, and we make a reading based around each show.” Other dancers that have staged tarot related shows and projects include the West Coast’s Delilah and NYC’s Neon. It’s a European tradition with a rich and vital visual heritage that gets dancers inspired.
Birthdays are a popular time for card readings, marking as they do a clear boundary between past and future. Whether in a light-hearted party setting, something ceremonial, or a down-to-business approach, a birthday is a wonderful occasion to consider what potential the upcoming year might hold. Nadira of the East Coast Classic Competition says “As it’s my Saturn Return this year, I will do a full Birthday speed! Usually, I get one overall year projection reading, and then on my own have single card readings during the full moon for personal questions and new moon for business projections.”
There’s a spectrum of natural calendar occasions, from the phases of the moons to the Solstices and Equinoxes that offer good times for self-reflection by the student of the self and the earth’s natural rhythms. Katarzyna Wrona says, “I’ve been doing readings on the full moon nearly since I started (there’s always something ‘different’ about those).” Dana Beaufait of Seven Cities Dance Studio in Norfolk, adds, “Special occasion times in our life can be flag stones at crossroads to make adjustments to our lives enabling us to get closer to our true selves. During the full and new moon cycles I ask the smaller questions to track my expansions and contractions from month to month. During the solstices I go big with lifespan ideas and inquiries.”
My co-author on the book for the World Spirit Tarot, Jessica Godino, has always done New Year’s readings. She says, “Just this past New Year’s night, a group of friends and I got together and were pulling cards, and I was still amazed at how helpful and relevant it was!”
Speaking of parties and social occasions, Christy Anandaconda Smith, a dancer, writer, and singer in Atlanta, says, “Lately, I have taken them to several going away parties, offering a reading instead of one more thing to pack. I know my gift is meaningful when the first card out, before I’ve ever said a word, is so powerful that my friend cries. With joy, with acknowledgement, with recognition, with shock… it’s been a different reason every time, but that gut power is the constant.”
Dancers that use the tarot as part of their spiritual experience have found a variety of ways to incorporate the images into their women’s events and community gatherings, as well as for personal readings and meditation. Jaia of Ananda Dance Company in TN uses the cards to hone in on what work she wants to undertake in her seasonal women’s circle, “The tarot has been helpful in so many ways, but one way I especially love using this medium is when seeking guidance on ritual focus. It’s so helpful when deciding what to address, and how.”
When using the cards to evaluate our options, our inclinations and our pitfalls, we should always remember that nothing is written and immutable. The cards do not tell us how things WILL be, but rather how they will be if we maintain our current course. If we dislike the predicted outcome, we can strive to effect change through our actions. To take action, we need to honestly consider our prospects and proclivities, and these old-tangled cards help readers to rediscover the gift of personal time. In this multi-tasking fast-paced digital age, the opportunity to reflect deeply on our decisions is oh-so-rare, precious, and ultimately, practical.