I know it’s woo-woo and hippy dippy, and many of the people I love and respect most in the world roll their eyes at astrology and tarot and all things occult, but I’m just going to come out and say it: I love the tarot. (And astrology, and the occult, but this is just about tarot.)
I took a character strengths assessment for the Science of Well-Being course I took earlier this year. The strengths are grouped into virtues, and I expected my strengths to clump into a virtue that valued structure or routine or organization. I realize now those aren’t virtues – virtues are things like courage, wisdom, and justice. The bulk of my strengths fall in the virtue of transcendence.
This resonates. Attempting to connect with the universe and its forces is something I seem to always come back to. As I transcribe all the words in all the notebooks I’ve written in over the years, a trend I notice from childhood and beyond is my constant exploration of religion and spirituality and meaning in life. Sometimes I allow, and even believe, that there’s no larger meaning, no purpose, things just are, and one day they either will or will not be. But I find it much more interesting to believe there’s more.
I enjoy believing in things I cannot see or understand. So much of life is how we perceive and interpret it. I like to believe I can tap into unseen forces to round out my experience of life beyond the five senses, beyond my own emotions, beyond the thoughts in my head. I like guidance. I like inspiration. I welcome the possibility of accessing energies that can contribute another dimension to my life.
So I’m confessing here that one way I tap in is with tarot cards. Each morning, I sit with a beautiful deck a friend gave me, and I shuffle the cards, and I think about the day ahead, and how I’d like guidance for it. When the time feels right, I stop shuffling and flip over the top card.
What I’ve learned after several weeks of doing this has nothing to do with whether the cards accurately predict an event that ultimately ends up happening that day. At first that was my mindset, and I’d analyze the day at the end and wonder how the card fit in, and if it didn’t, I’d wonder why I keep doing this. But my attitude has shifted over time so that I don’t believe the cards to be about about fortune telling, not exactly. At least that’s not why I love them and continue to use them.
See, I’m not so great at sparking my own inspiration. My mind is all over the place, and I need a focal point. This is why I use a prompt box for my writing: I pull a prompt and the prompt gets me going. I’ve found my tarot deck serves a similar purpose, only I use it as a contemplation for my day, like a meditation prompt instead of a writing prompt.
With my tarot deck, I get to start each day with a small piece of art to enjoy. Since I pull a card at random (and maybe with guidance from unseen forces!), that means I also get to start my day with a small surprise. Like a little gift to me each morning.
And then there’s the meaning of the card itself: ones indicate beginnings, tens are completions. Odd numbers carry tension, even numbers carry balance. The suits — cups, wands, swords, pentacles — symbolize emotions, action, intellect, and the material world. The major arcana cards, like the Sun, the Chariot, or the Empress, represent big stuff, identity stuff that goes deeper than the daily ins and outs of life.
When every day is the same, as the days have come to feel during the pandemic, picking a focal point can add nuance and texture. If my intention is action, and I focus on that for a day, the day will feel different than if my intention is to focus on heart. Everything else about the day is the same — I eat the same breakfast and lunch, see the same things out the window, work the same hours, live the same routine — but my interior world is slightly different.
After I pull a card, I think about my day ahead and how the card might relate to it, and how I might be able to tap into the message in the small piece of art before me. I jot it in my journal. Sometimes, the day goes by without anything of note. Sometimes, the card gives me permission I might not otherwise give myself: permission to retreat (the Hermit), permission to feel super emotional without beating myself up for it, permission to act when I might otherwise waffle. Permission to just be me.
Sometimes, I am filled with glee as ideas or emotions or actions during the day ping back to the card, as I perceive deeper meaning and connectivity with something bigger than myself, as the card did have a fortune-telling element that day, and that’s exciting and super fun!
Because the truth of it all is that I believe in magic. I believe we can shape our reality and manifest our dreams and tap into unseen forces. And I’m writing this here because another thing I’ve learned is broader than the contemplation of specific cards on specific days. By pulling these cards regularly over time, I’ve noticed many of the messages I repeatedly receive are nudges and affirmations to be myself, to share myself. To wave my freak flag.
So here I am, tarot-lover, waving my flag.