What’s been going on?

So I’m sure everyone has been wondering where I have been (or at least I hope some people missed me). Since I have gotten back from my tech-less vacation I’ve been flooded by work. As part of that, my tarot life has taken a minor backseat to some larger issues. But I haven’t forgotten about the blog.

My New Year’s resolution: Weekly blog posts (which will be a decrease from my biweekly), but want to focus on higher quality content and expanding the business side of things. So look forward to new content (and maybe a new look) come 2016.

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Away Message

Over the last year, I’ve started a new job, been rejected from medical school, started a blog, worked full-time and went to school at night. I’ve written # blogs since October, twice a week. Gotten involved in the Capital Tarot Society & helped write their Tarot 001 curriculum (coming soon). It’s exhausting (but completely exhilarating).

So for the rest of the month, I’m going off grid. I’m taking a vacation and going completely digital-free. No phone, no computer, no email. Niente. I’m going to spend the time enjoying not living by an email-imposed to do list.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop working. I plan on enjoying my brand new, fresh out of the box Fountain Tarot, a few good books, and spend sometime coming up with exciting, new material for this blog.

Check back in August for some great new content!

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Anatomy of the Sixes

Sixes (the Lovers) – Problem-solving; ability to transcend difficulties; a give & take resulting in a new equilibrium; restoration of balance. Six represents completion of creation, it represents emerging consciousness & purification. It is the union of opposites and integration, promoting reconciliation. Doing what you love – what you please in all aspects of your life.

  • Coins: Generosity; abundance of resources&possible ways to advance. Getting good advice or help where it is needed; follow your own advice. A sense of relief as a burden is lifted from your shoulders; friends giving assistance. Sharing one’s knowledge & experience & good fortunes. People flocking to you because of your generous spirit. A positive outlook in material things. A good community around you; the support of a community. Feeling flexible, but stable.
  • Wands: Victory; a strong alliance between two different parties/goals but common interests. A taste for luxury. Commitment to change for the better & gaining control of a stressful situation. Success through hard work & careful planning. Achieving success, being recognized for your skill and success. Victory through hard work and planning bringing satisfaction.
  • SwordsMovement; accepting limits & adapting to them. Respecting the present order. Compromising in order to make the best of the situation. Leaving your emotionally rocky past behind you & set off on your own path. The first steps to an unknown destination; seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. An attempt to improve your circumstances; further work is needed, but things have started.
  • Cups: Nostalgia; a long-term relationship. Repetition between different generations in a group. The past is exerting influence over your present; a time to reflect & relive playful days. Things from your past coming back into your world & a return to familiar ground. Finding comfort in old friends and old memories. Efforts of the past bearing fruit.

Minimalist 6 of Swords

Minimalism isn’t a destination. It isn’t a starting point. It is a journey to a more authentic self. Every journey, whether one around the world or towards a new philosophical lighthouse starts somewhere. Some people say it starts with a decisions, but I think everyone’s New Year’s resolutions tell us otherwise. A journey starts with leaving. Leaving your home or leaving the old (albeit safe) philosophical ground. This idea of a journey starting from a departure is perfectly captured in the 6 of Swords.

Looking at the RWS version of this card, you see a person steering a boat carrying two figures (one younger, the other shrouded) out of stormy waters and into a calmer space. The front of the boat is guarded by six swords. The traditional meaning is gradual change, moving out of chaos, or a journey away from pain. When you walk a minimalist path it is all of these things.

You can’t shed possessions without letting go of the what-if-item or that birthday card you mom gave you (way back in 1995) or that heirloom that your great-great-grandmother passed down (but you frankly hate and keep it in the bottom of the jewelry box so you never have to look at it). Every day we make the choice between hoarding and letting go. When you begin to actively pursue minimalism in your life, you start the journey by leaving behind all of the stuff you have been carrying with you.

This is the challenge of the card: Start by doing. Pick one item every day for 6 days and get rid of it. Don’t bag it to go to Goodwill or put it in a pile to sort through before you throw it away. Take it to the trash (or Goodwill) and get it out of your house. After 6 days, are you feeling more calm? Do you feel like the journey has actually started? It began with a choice. The choice to take action.

Finding your confidence

Every reader starts out knowing nothing. We look at the deck and ask ourselves What is this? How can I possibly read these cards? And we start out with simple readings and constant reference to a book to figure out the meaning. But we eventually figure it out and become capable readers. How does this happen? How do we find out confidence?
Finding our confidence takes countless readings. When you first start out, you will probably have a tarot reference book (or the LWB if you are like me) and double check each of the meanings as the reading goes on. At some point you will put the book away and go off of your own knowledge and intuition. This is the first step to building your confidence.
Here are some techniques you can use to build your tarot confidence:
  • Read books & blog, watch vlogs, listen to podcasts, take classes, build your tarot vocabulary. (see posts here and here on this topic)
  • Play tarot flashcards: turn on of the cards over and say what it means to you. If you can’t remember put it back in the deck and come back to it.
  • Explore new decks (& study old ones): spend a few weeks with them when you first get them, read with them, study the images, find the symbolic meaning in the cards.
  • Read for friends, family, and yourself: the more you read the more you begin to tie the story in the cards together and the better you get at it.
  • Join a Tarot group (like Washington DC’s Capital Tarot Society): this is a great place to get a little education and practice.
Whatever you use, invest the time. Time is the one thing that will make you a better tarot reader, the more time you invest in learning about the cards the better you will be. For me, actually doing readings was the number one thing that helped build my confidence; studying the cards in context helped me solidify meaning and build my symbolic vocabulary. Time=Confidence.

Anatomy of the Tarot: the Sevens

Sevens (the Chariot) – Victory; the ability to find yourself in a situation; standing your ground against adversary. Seven represents both chance & reason. It is a sacred number, the time of rest in creation. It represents perfection, but also everything that can undermine it. Strong action in the world, seasoned & intense founded in experience & purpose.

Coins: Acceptance; integrating into a system without losing one’s individuality. The need to be patient, you have done everything you can for now. It’s also a time to re-evaluate where you are in a situation; if the results aren’t there, it may be time to cut your losses. Successful handling of a complex situation. Feeling industrious, but waiting for the results to be seen.

Wands: Struggle; someone putting up a fight against many opponents. Obstinacy, endurance, keeping one’s position. Being the sole voice in an argument. You’re in a difficult position, but you have the strength & endurance to overcome. Defending & nurturing a broad & noble vision. Sustaining the effort needed to realize your goals. Defending & nurturing a noble vision.

Swords: Inspiration; a new direction and purpose. Concentrated will & a no-nonsense attitude, keeping the original intent. Recent events bringing promises of brighter futures. Following what seem to be good omens pointing the way. Searching for the truth; secrets being exposed.

Cups: Illusion; focus on what really matters; putting value in things that don’t matter; wishful thinking. Things may not be what they seem. A need to refocus on reality & stop the day-dreaming. If your hopes are to become real, you need to temper them with practical & sincere efforts to actualize them.

Ethical Tarot: Objectivity

Objectivity (adj.) – the quality of being objective
Objective (adj.) – (of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts

Being a tarot reader is about taking information that you receive from the cards – the images, meanings, and symbolism – and synthesizing it into a coherent story and message that you pass along to the questioner. To do this in an ethical manner, requires a level of neutrality or objectivity. That is, it requires you to set aside your feelings and biases to understand the truth behind the cards.

When you read for yourself, it is insanely difficult to be difficult (as anyone who has ever tried to read for themselves knows). You approach the cards with your hopes for the reading and your knowledge of the meanings of each card, so you immediately start from a place where you can influence the information in the reading to suit what you want it to say.

The same can be true when you read for other people. To be objective in a reading, you have to first recognize the “baggage” you bring into the space and consciously set it to the side. You cannot allow it to interfere with how you read the cards or influence the outcome.

Being a reader is more about being a receptacle – a channel – for the information. You bring it to your mind let it flow out of your mouth, unhindered by your mental obstacles. Easier said than done.

When you allow your “baggage” to influence how you read the cards, you being to toe the ethical line. Consciously influencing a reading is unethical, regardless of the rational.

Case 1: A friend comes to you for a reading about a person they like (let’s call them Sam). Easy, love readings are your bread-and-butter. But here’s the problem: you also like Sam. Do you let your feelings influence the reading?

Case 2: You have a client who comes to you for a relationship reading. You’ve been reading for them for a while so you have a good amount of rapport. But they always come in with the same problem: things are not going well in the relationship. It comes out that their significant other is (what some might consider) controlling. But the reading shows nothing but good things, every aspect is coming across healthy. Do you let your preconceived notions influence the reading?

So here’s the take away. Being objective is easier said than done. It is impossible to 100% of the time not allow yourself to be influenced. That is just the reality of the situation. But being an ethical reader takes practice and patience. If you want to be objective, you have to first learn to recognize what you feel and learn how to acknowledge it and then ignore it.

Ethical Tarot: An introduction

If you live in DC, you should definitely check out the Capital Tarot Society. We meet once a month and one member presents on a topic and we discuss. Recently we had a presentation on professional ethics and tarot, by an amazing reader Emily over at Amplify Tarot. This sparked a rather heated debate about how to apply ethical principles to common questions in tarot. Whether you consider tarot a spiritual practice, a hobby, or a business, having a guiding set of ethics is important. Ethical principles guide us through difficult questions in our practice.

American Tarot Association, one of the leading tarot groups in the US, has an excellent code of ethics that it provides its members and the public. However, unlike other professions (like medicine, psychology nursing, law, finance, etc) these ethical codes do not carry penalties when they are violated. Having an ethical violation does not carry the same weight as in these more regulated professions. But that isn’t to say that ethical practice is unimportant. In my opinion, it is the opposite, it makes practicing ethical even more important.

In medicine and law, all of the ethical guidelines stem from ethical principles (in medicine: non-maleficence, beneficence, justice, autonomy; in law: confidentiality, avoiding conflicts of interests, duties to the client and courts, etc). When you are working through an ethical problem, you rely on these principles (and your profession’s guidelines and the law) to dictate how to successfully navigate it.

Every tarot reader should, at some point in their career, create a set of ethical principles. (Really, everyone should have guiding principles to navigate the “stickier” situations in life). What I intend with this series is to outline several ethical principles and how they can be related to tarot practices and talk about some of the different places those principles may be applied differently (such as for the professional reader and for the hobbyist).

The first in this series will come in the next blog post with regular updates to the conversation as we go along. Whether you read professionally, for friends and family, or for yourself, take some time and think about what type of reader you want to be and how to apply your ethical principles to your tarot practice.

Tarot Expectations

One question that I keep coming back to, throughout my whole tarot life/career, is what do I want out of it? Do I want this to be a career? Do I want this to be a hobby? Should it be a component of my work life? Or just something I do on the weekends? Do I want to read for friends or strangers? In person or online? And I honestly, don’t have an answer.

When I first started reading, I just grabbed a deck because I was reading a book about Arthurian myths and the deck was based on the myths. So I (impulse) bought it. Then I would read it, shuffle it, and put in on the shelf only to come back it a week or month later. But there wasn’t a coherent expectation or goal.

When I started this blog, I had a clearer expectation: share my thoughts on minimalism and tarot. Work through some of the best ways to integrate the two and give people the practical advice that I didn’t have. But it didn’t give me a goal with my own practice. It’s always been a haphazard. So how do we fix it?

  • Ask yourself what you (personally) want out of the tarot?
  • What tarot bring to the table?
  • How realistic is the tarot practice?
  • How likely are you to keep with it?

Once you can answer these questions and clarify your own expectations, you can commit to a meaningful tarot practice. And if the practice ends up being checking the cards when the sh*t hits the fan and you need that outside wisdom or your friends are asking for a reading, that’s fine too.

Anatomy of the Tarot: the Eights

Eights (Justice) – Movement & change; the power that comes from within & enables you to accomplish what you seek; bowing to your limits. Eight represents the infinite & Justice; balance & reception a state that cannot be improved. It returns on itself, but in a new & higher frequency.

Coins: Uniformity; practical considerations prove effective; a slow & patient advance, routine work. Intellectual or professional growth. Productive use of skill & knowledge; focusing your energy on work. Having a modest attitude towards accomplishments; they will speak for themselves. Achievements coming through hard-work. Approach accomplishments modestly.

Wands: Haste; signals that things are moving faster than anticipated; for time frame this shows things will be happening quickly. This is a good omen; a harbinger. Events unfold very quickly. The beginning of an effort that tests your resolve.

Swords: Defenses; putting up shields & blocks; psychological defenses. A need to be in total control, a well-guarded treasure. Feeling trapped in a situation; feeling safe but isolated & blocked. “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” your fears may be what is blinding & binding you. Personal effort & courage are needed to take advantage of a temporary route of escape. Needing to rely on the judgement of others. Take advantage of a temporary route of escape through personal effort & courage.

Cups: Letting go; letting go of something so that you may continue your journey. Feeling drained; being too shy to take actions; surrendering your current plans. Giving more than you are receiving or a problems lying beneath the surface. “The walls are there to show how much you want it” (Randy Pausch). Recognizing one has made a wrong turn, moving on or refusing to accept defeat. Being forced to abandoned a path; changing plans. Rework priorities; take the initiative to redirect your life.