Turning a request for a prediction into a reading for insight

In my personal tarot practice, I don’t use the cards for prediction. Instead, when consulting them about an issue or situation where I feel I need some insight, I use them to challenge my attitudes and beliefs, to reframe my thinking, and to find alternate ways of looking at a situation.

Here’s a good example of how to reframe a query from a prediction to a source of insight. A seeker asked me to do a reading about a situation she was facing. Let’s call her Meg. Meg’s daughter wanted to accept an opportunity that had a great potential for growth, but also had many significant risks. Meg was very worried about her daughter and though she trusted her daughter’s instincts, she could not overcome her own misgivings about the situation. She asked whether a tarot reading might alleviate her worries and fears, turning the unknown into the known.

I explained that I was not comfortable asking “What will happen to Meg’s daughter in the situation she is facing?” because I don’t subscribe to tarot having the ability to predict future events. However, I could do a reading about Meg’s thoughts and fears, and maybe offer Meg a new way of looking at the situation, and Meg agreed.

I shuffled the cards, thinking about Meg and Meg’s daughter, and asking what insight the cards might offer a mother worrying about her child. I pulled the Queen of Wands, the Nine of Swords, and the Five of Cups, and I smiled.

In this reading, the Queen of Wands is Meg’s daughter – charismatic, energetic, a whirlwind of adventure-seeking energy waiting to explode into the world. That Nine of Swords is the classic avatar of anxiety and is clearly the worry that is keeping Meg up at night. But often, I see the Nine of Swords as meaning that the fear of the thing is more of an issue than the thing itself; it is an exaggeration, a caricature. It speaks to fear that has gotten out of control and out of proportion to the threat. And the Five of Cups is interesting – my first thought was regrets, as in “don’t do something you might regret.” But then I started thinking about the deeper meaning of the card and suspected instead it might signify focusing on the negative aspects of a situation instead of the positive ones. On the card, the figure laments the loss of the spilled cups without noticing the remaining full cups – is the glass half empty or half full? Like the Nine of Swords, this is a card that asks you to consider your reactions to a situation, and whether they are making the situation worse than it has to be.

So while consulting the tarot has not given Meg a concrete answer on what will happen if her daughter accepts this exciting new opportunity, it has reminded Meg that life is full of risks, and if we let our fear of those risks stand in our way, we have much to lose. There is, of course, a sensible place for worry, but given the fiery, adventure-seeking nature of her daughter’s personality, Meg will have to learn to balance her natural maternal concern and protective instincts with her daughter’s need to experience all of life’s ups and downs on her own. Meg is reminded that while she can’t control the circumstances of her daughter’s opportunity, she can control how she reacts to the situation. She needs to evaluate whether her anxiety is reasonable or out of proportion to the true risks inherent in the situation. I don’t know the answer to that last question, but Meg admitted that she does have a penchant for overthinking things, and will use the Nine of Swords as a reminder to not let her imagination run to the worst possible outcome and stay there.

Chase the Ace: Using Aces to manifest your desires

There’s a lottery game that’s a popular fundraiser here in Canada called “chase the ace.” The basic idea is that you pay to pull a card from a deck, and if you pull the Ace of Spades, you win the pot. That’s not this game, but it is a catchy little phrase that got stuck in my head.

We know that the aces exemplify the energy of their suit in it’s most raw and powerful form. Aces are also about beginnings, so use this exercise when you’re looking to start something new, and you want to draw some of that suit’s energy into your life.

Shuffle your tarot deck well, and think about what it is you want to manifest. Think about the raw energy of the Ace you seek. Looking to manifest career stability or progress, healthy body or physical fitness, or other things in the material realm? You’re looking for the Ace of Pentacles. If you want to manifest love or deepen your intuitive connections, you’re looking for the Ace of Cups. Is it clarity of mind you seek to manifest? Search for the Ace of Swords. And finally, if you’re seeking to manifest that spark of ambition or charisma or personal power, you’re seeking the Ace of Wands.

Turn the cards face up so you can see them, and chase that Ace in the deck. When you find the Ace you seek, look to the card directly underneath it. That is what you need to let go of in order to make room for the Ace’s manifestation. Think of one thing you can let go, or one thing that is holding you back, and write it down. That’s your first action item.

Now look to the card directly above the Ace in the deck. That is where you need to focus in order to manifest the Ace’s energy. Think of one step you can take, one small concrete action you can do. Don’t just write it down; do it! Don’t let this just be a thought exercise. You can’t just wish change into action; you need to actually get things in motion.

Deck Credit: The Midcenturian Tarot Card Deck by Madam Clara

Here’s a sample of how this exercise could play out. Let’s say Norah is thinking about selling her home and buying a new one. That’s the realm of the material world, so Norah is looking for the Ace of Pentacles. She shuffles her deck and then looks through until she finds the Ace of Pentacles. Behind the Ace she finds the Three of Cups. Norah realizes that if she moves, she will have to give up her tight clique of neighbours, and she knows she will miss the regular gatherings in each other’s back yards. She makes a note to remind herself to talk to each of the neighbours so they know before the “for sale” sign appears on her lawn, and promise to stay in touch. The card on top of the Ace of Pentacles is the Wheel of Fortune. Norah realizes that selling and buying a home will be very stressful because she is a control freak and there will be many things out of her control. She decides to write up a list of things she can control and things she can’t, and jots down a few ideas for coping with each item.

Good luck, and let me know if you use this exercise and how it works out for you!

Tarot Reading: Advice for parenting a teenager

I gave a friend a tarot reading the other day, and thought I’d share it here. She’s got a teenage boy, and had asked for insight on how to balance a tough-love approach with giving him freedom to grow, especially as he struggles with peer pressure.

I asked the cards for insight into her relationship with her son, and some guidance on how to handle his need to grow and rebel versus her need to control and stay sane. I pulled three cards: The Empress, The Six of Wands, and the Emperor.

I laughed when I drew these cards because the Empress and Emperor are classic parental archetypes of mother and father energy. Hello Captain Obvious! Seriously, the cards are screaming DO YOUR JOB, this boy needs to be parented and hard. The Six of Wands is called Victory, and here is obviously the chaotic energy of a young person burning to be out on the path of their life. Together, the tableau says the seeker needs to exert traditional parenting energy to keep her son on the path, but it will end with great success.

The Empress is full of nurturing mother energy, and the Emperor is a no-nonsense but kindly sovereign who rules with benign but unmistakable control. His throne is made of stone – this is not a person who compromises. The Empress, on the other hand, is full of round, soft curves, draped on a comforting pillow. The Six of Wands, bursting with the fiery action-oriented energy of the wands, is bookended between them, saying the seeker and her husband really need to find the balance between the softer and firmer approach in dealing with his burning youthful energy. 

Wands are about action and motion, and they’re hard to contain. Their element is fire, which means they’re always on the go. Like fire, they can be beneficial when controlled and a disaster when out of control – just like a teenager. 😉 I think this card shows how he’s really feeling peer pressure as well – it’s like the crowd in the photo represent his friends and acquaintances, egging him on. That’s the force his parents need to control and mitigate between the Empress’s nurturing nature and the strictness of the Emperor’s rules.

In a traditional sense, we could read the mom as the Empress and the Emperor as dad, but I think in a more modern sense, both parents can be each card. Digging a little deeper, if you look at the colour of the background of the cards, you can see that both the Empress and the Emperor have reds and yellows in the background, contrasting the bright blue of the Six of Wands. The seeker needs to make sure she and her husband are standing together as a unified force, providing clear and firm boundaries and expectations, and providing a united front in showing what those limitations are.

To see two major arcana (the Empress and Emperor) in a three card reading is unusual, and the major arcana are usually indicative of significant crossroads or decision points in our lives. (The minor arcana are more like the quotidian scenes that make up our everyday experiences.) The overall message here is that the seeker needs to find that balance between control and nurturing in order to help their son along his path to being a successful adult.

Isn’t the tarot good at telling you what you already know? What do you think of this reading? Would you interpret anything differently?

If you’d like to request a reading for yourself, please see my “request a reading” page for details.

Tarot reading: The future of her business in these strange times

I thought I’d share a few readings I’ve done recently to show an example of my style. Ashley (not her real name) asked, “I am curious about how my business will fair during social distancing.”

For this question, I did a general three card spread, where no card has a specific question or meaning but all cards are interpreted together. I pulled the Hierophant, the Queen of Wands and the Fool.

In this reading, I see Ashley as the Queen of Wands, balancing the competing energies of the Hierophant and the Fool like an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. The Hierophant calls for structure and routine, and the Fool is oblivious to conventions or expectations, so he just follows whatever impulse occurs to him regardless of consequences. They are truly opposites in energy and approach. It’s up to Ashley to balance those competing impulses in order to successfully navigate these strange times.

The Hierophant says that during this time of international panic and crisis, Ashley is making the most of her gifts. He is raising his hand as if to give blessing or benediction to her path. The Hierophant says don’t break from your usual routines or rituals or at least rely heavily on those you can maintain

As I said, I feel like the Queen of Wands is the querrant, Ashley, a charismatic go-getter who sees what she wants and charges ahead to make it happen. The Queen shines her light bright – I feel like people will be naturally drawn to Ashley for guidance

The Fool is a wildcard. He doesn’t behave in conventional ways, and is somewhat outside of society. Ashley will need to work with his creative energy to find new ways of progressing as we all pass into this uncharted new territory.

Two major arcana in a three card spread means that Ashley is facing a time of significant change in her business. She has important decisions to make that will have a meaningful impact on the directions her business will take. She needs to think about the effects of her decisions on the community, and be open to new ways of running her business. The Hierophant says favour the status quo, and the Fool says expect the unexpected – with Ashley/The Queen caught in between these opposing forces. Notice how the Queen is looking at the Fool, but her shadow self, the black cat, is looking toward the Hierophant. Ashley is likely conflicted about the path ahead; should she trust what her intuition is telling her (favour the status quo) or her logical brain (which favours the unconventionality of the Fool)? Her success will come when she finds a way to harness both of these opposing forces. I think the outlook for Ashley’s business is very good, but she may be in for a bumpy ride to get there.

Ashley was very happy with this reading. She said she absolutely identified as being the Queen of Wands, and could feel the two paths pulling her in opposite directions. She said, “Overall, I rate your reading 5 stars. The reading gave me a lot of insight into my situation, was extremely helpful to me and provided a lot of value! I would absolutely recommend you as a Tarot Reader to others!”

I’d be curious how any other readers might interpret these cards. Do you see additional insights for Ashley? Anything you might have read differently?

When the Tower comes to call

By far, the most anxiety-inducing card in the tarot deck is the Tower. A lightning bolt slams into a tower, shattering it and sending poor hapless folks plummeting to what looks like certain death.  It’s generally read as a harbinger of cataclysmic change and destruction brought on by forces entirely out of your control.

I’ll admit that I’ve dreaded the day when this card comes up for me in a reading. Destruction and cataclysmic change are definitely not on my list of things that I enjoy. I’m dreadfully adverse to even the most benign sorts of change. And yet, I laughed when I turned up the Tower as my card of the day yesterday, because no day in recent memory more perfectly embodied being powerless to forces beyond your control. The situation with the COVID-19 virus is escalating quickly: my kids’ schools are closed for two weeks after next week’s March Break, events are being cancelled, and new cases are getting closer and closer to home. It’s an unprecedented world situation and none of us have any power beyond our own small spheres of influence.

Image of Tower tarot card

We have a lot to learn about fear from the Tower, though. Sometimes fear itself can be more powerful and more debilitating than whatever it is that we are afraid of.  Note that the Tower is that it isn’t the end of the cycle; it comes about two-thirds of the way through the Fool’s Journey, and what follows in the wake of the destruction wrought by the Tower is enlightenment. Once we’ve hit that hard bottom, no matter how terrifying the fall might have seemed, we have survived to fight another day. With luck, maybe we’ve even been empowered by lessons learned along the way.

So one hopes that we, collectively, can learn something from the chaos that the Tower marks today. The lightning has struck and the tower is falling. What can you do?