This Is Why the Tarot Can Improve Your Life
Photo by author: Illustration by Witchy
“Tarot helps us look within ourselves to understand our emotions, the reasoning behind our words and conduct, and the source of our conflicts.”— Benebell Wen
Last night after dinner, I was in the midst of doing a Tarot reading for myself when Witchy dropped in for a visit.
“Ohhh, those are pretty!” she exclaimed on seeing the colourful cards in front of me. “What are they? Is this a game?”
“No, it’s not a game. These are Tarot cards. They tell stories about aspects of our lives and what’s been happening.”
Witchy cocked her head, a puzzled expression crossing her sweet blue face. “Um…if you are breathing and conscious, don’t you already know those stories?”
“Of course!” I grinned. “They give a deeper look at them and how they could turn out — if you let it happen. They show you people and events that are influencing your life, and can guide you in handling them or making decisions.”
“They can? Oh, my! That’s a lot for some little cards! How do they do all of that?”
“Well, they have a little help from your Higher Self.”
“Did you say my hired elf? I don’t have an elf.”
“Your Higher Self. Let’s just call it your intuition, the part of you that knows what’s best for you. Remember we had that talk about the funny feeling in your stomach? I explained that it was like a warning system?”
“Ye-e-es, I remember,” Witchy replied with a puzzled expression. “But how can my stomach help these cards? And why do they need to be warned? Are they in trouble?”
“No,” I chuckled. “Your intuition is more than a warning system. It’s a part of you that helps you to know what’s right for you — and what isn’t. It can help to guide you in life when you know how to listen to it.”
“Oh, no! If I use these cards, is it going to make my stomach feel weird all the time? Is my intuition talking to me right now? I can’t hear anything! This is getting scary!” Somewhat alarmed, Witchy gripped the arms of her chair tightly.
“I promise, it’s not scary. And it might be talking to you. It’s certainly listening all the time. It’s hard to explain but try to accept what I’m telling you so I can explain about the cards, okay?”
“Okay.” Drawing in a deep breath, she let out a sigh and leaned back in her chair.
“Each card has a certain meaning or meanings. Those meanings change if the card is upside down. While shuffling, you focus on a question and your intuition — we’ll call it your Higher Self — is able to direct you to certain cards to pick from the deck. It has the answers to your questions about what’s going on in your life and what’s coming up. It selects cards that will tell the story and help you figure out what to do.”
“That sounds very odd.”
“No more odd than when you used to throw bat wings and herbs and heaven knows what else into your cauldron and make some sort of magic happen!”
“That’s not odd.”
“Well, the bats might have disagreed. But it was normal for you. And if you want to learn the Tarot, it’ll become normal for you, too.”
“How do I learn?”
“I can teach you! It’ll be fun!”
“I don’t know…that’s a lot of cards!”
“Yes, 78, to be exact, each with a dignified meaning — that’s right side up — and each with a reversed meaning. So 156 little stories and then you learn how to weave them into one big one. They’re all trying to tell you something.”
“Uh-oh. That’s so much to learn!”
“It just takes time and practice. And learning how to tap into your Higher Self. Do you want to try?”
“Um…I don’t know. I’m scared!”
“I know you’re afraid of new things, Witchy, but you trust me, don’t you?”
“Okay, you know I wouldn’t have you do anything that could hurt you. So let’s just jump right in and see what happens. Ready?” I was obviously far more excited than she. Understated.
“I — well — uh — I guess so.”
I picked up one of the cards in front of me and showed it to her.
“This is called the Tower card, Witchy.”
“Oh, dear! That looks terrible! Is that what’s going to happen to you?”
“Well, not exactly that picture, no. Before I tell you what it means, how about if you look at it and try to figure out the story it’s telling?”
Witchy studied the picture carefully for a minute or so. “Ohhh. I see it,” she said, nodding slowly. “I see the story!”
“That’s wonderful! Okay, what’s it saying?”
“It says, ‘Once upon a time, Witchy lived in the Transylvania Forest. She always used her cauldron to cook bats, rodents, dragon toes and other yummy food. One day, she moved to England and tried to learn to cook the way regular people do. So far, it’s not going too well.’”
I choked back the giggles that were desperate to escape. “Well, that’s a good start,” I offered, attempting to be encouraging so as not to put her off learning. “You’re thinking about what you’re seeing and applying it to what’s been happening in your life, so that’s helpful. Actually, the Tower card can mean several things; some are pretty challenging, others not as difficult, depending on your view.”
“Oh, no! Is your cottage going to explode? Quick! Let’s get out of here!”
Witchy leapt out of her chair and dashed toward the door but I called out and stopped her.
Once she returned to her seat, I said, “It’s not quite that literal. It’s true, it could mean something unpleasant or dangerous is on the horizon. It can also mean something disruptive or some sort of instability. That doesn’t sound so bad but that’s because I have a good attitude about that sort of thing. You have to look at the other cards and see what they’re saying when they’re all together. In this spread, the Tower is suggesting something sudden and unexpected will happen. And of course, that could definitely be disruptive and cause some temporary instability for me.”
“Whatever could it be?” gasped my little blue friend.
“There’s no way of knowing. That’s the whole point of it being unexpected. It’s like getting a visit from the planet, Uranus. Depending on where it is in the heavens, it can cause sudden, expected events, and there’s never any way you can guess what they might be. It’ll always be something completely out of the blue. And it’s the same with the Tower.”
“We need to figure it out and make it stop!”
“No, we don’t. We can’t stop it anyway. It’s one of the Major Arcana cards; we don’t have control over those ones, except to do our best to work with them. They help us with life lessons and karmic influences so our souls can reach enlightenment. Sometimes, we have to experience painful situations in order to grow. But when we choose not to learn from them, the lessons will be repeated and often become harder and more painful in order to get our attention.”
“How can you be so calm? This is terrible!”
“It’s all in how you look at it, Witchy, like everything else in life. If something disruptive or unpleasant is about to happen, that’s okay. I’d rather learn it now than avoid it and have to face a harder version of it next time. Whatever it is, it’ll be something that needs to happen and that’s all right with me. Ultimately, it’ll be for my benefit.”
“What if it’s something really awful?”
“What if it’s not? There’s no point contemplating how bad it could be. I’ll keep taking each day as it comes and deal with whatever happens as I get there! And this card is a perfect example of why Tarot readings can be helpful. I might not know what’s going to happen, but now I have an opportunity to prepare as much as possible.”
“How can you prepare when you don’t know what’s going to happen?”
“Well, taking extra good care of my health, being more cautious when I’m driving, making sure I pay attention to my intuition in any circumstance where something feels off or like I can’t trust someone. Just being more mindful of the potential for problems in all areas of life. It might not stop what’s going to happen but it can help to minimise the impact.”
“But it could still be something scary!”
“Maybe. Maybe not. Look, the way I see it, change is good. And I’m ready for that! I’ve been stuck in a rut for a while so I’m okay if the Tower wants to shake things up for me! Here, let’s take your mind off that card and look at this one instead. Can you see a story here?”
I handed Witchy the 6 of Cups and waited while she studied it briefly.
“Yes. The boy has brought the girl six cups filled with flowers. And she is saying, ‘No, you numpty! I said six cups of flour!’”
II have a feeling that these classes might take a little longer than I thought…
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