I was watching the news reports about the latest devastating snowstorm and found myself pulled into the images that were strewn about the screen, and then it hit me like the snow hurricane hit those houses. These images were taking on the property of an archetype. They brought up all the primal and sweeping feelings that an archetype does. They were calling my soul to attention. This was a whole new deck of tarot cards I was looking at. The Tower was on steroids with the 5 and 7 of Swords doing their dance on either side. The Empress is crying and the High Priestess is still, so still with memories that sometimes weigh her down to her throne. The moon’s waters are roiling with emotions and The Hermit, The Hermit has just turned away from the moment for he knows that now is not the time for illumination. That will come and he will hold his light in front of us for each of us to follow. He will us lead to where we need to be to best see. But now we need to just feel and let the initial emotions flow back out to sea as the winds subside.
So how can Tarot help me in the precarious situation between the state of balance and the swells of despair swooshing me downstream? What is my relationship to “The Tarot”? Is it a tool that I use when I am in need of guidance and emotional clarification, is it a spiritual practice, is it a tool to use for clients as a mode of income and that I use while healing, is it a vessel that holds all the mystery and archetype of the universal divine mind? Perhaps my real question concerns what presence Tarot plays in my internal self. Is it an outside ‘thing’, or are the images and the process of reaching and comprehending these images, and the process by which I go about arriving at this particular threshold, part of my interior makeup that has made the Tarot a component of my very being. I think it is all of these and more that I have not mentioned.
Well, now that we have that conundrum solved…..not.
But what does Tarot really mean and should we always capitalize it? It is not a faith, it is not a place, it is not a name; but it is a frame. Oh, so the Tarot is a noun. But it is also a verb (come on readers, don’t tell me you have never told someone to go Tarot themselves knowing they have no clue just how wicked that remark is). And yes, the Tarot is a structure in the philosophical sense. These beloved cards of ours clearly have a metaphysic and teleology worth investigation.
My initial flash of why we have the inclination to use the capital ‘T’ is the same reason one capitalizes one’s name. Well, there are all these people walking about the deck and we are, at heart, rather simple creatures, that the Tarot has become a living being to us. Yup, simple yet elegant. And it certainly comes in handy when, let’s say, one is on a precarious first date. Just ask the card nearest to the truth about whom you are sitting across the table with coffee, tremulous in your hand, to show up. Lots to be learned, that. Hmmm, who is standing in back of this person that only I can see? The Two of Cups?, okay I’ll give this a chance. Knight of Wands-nope, it is back to the therapist for me. Well, you get the idea.
The cards are also beautiful and that is why so many of us collect and design them. To understand and appreciate true beauty means to understand true balance. Beauty is not just an aesthetic and particular structure of composition; rather being in the state of beauty is a path toward completion of action, meaning and place of soul. It is a visceral and spiritual state of being. It is what moves your heart. Balance allows you to let everything in and accept it for what it is. This does not mean you become passive; indeed, the beatific consciousness is a very passionate place. Think of it as the breath you take in that enlivens you to the very core and you will know what the Tarot is.