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The Language of Tarot

Sep 25th, 2016 caitlin Practice

This past Saturday, I attended a friend’s backyard birthday party. It was a familiar scene as we gathered under the trees, drinks in hand, catching up around the fire pit. Then Gel gave me that sly smile: “Did you bring your cards?”

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I did—I almost always do. So then and there we sat down on the Earth to ask ourselves some questions, and remind ourselves what we already know. Others came up to pick a card, to engage in their own knowing. And, the inevitable questions arose.

"How do you remember all the meanings?"

“Where did you learn?”

“How long did it take you?”

tarot workshopMy answers, though, may not be what folks expect. I assume that they want to hear about an apprenticeship under a Master Psychic. (Do those exist? Please put me in contact.) Or that it runs in my blood from my great-grandmother’s lineage. Yeah, no. My answers are less exciting, but open all of us up to this beautiful instrument for self-knowledge.

See, the thing is, I taught myself. I’m teaching myself, still. Tarot is an art form that simply makes sense to me. It’s a language we can all speak and interpret. There is no certification required to pick up a deck, and learn with the cards about yourself, about your friends, and about the opportunities on your path. I learned, and I continue learning, by reading for and with others.

In Intuitive Tarot, offered for the first time at One Down Dog, we will collaboratively learn with one another and lots of amazing decks. Certainly there are basics to tarot: what each suit represents, or the form of the Major Arcana, for example. Yet there are far more interesting questions hidden in the cards. Three of Wands asks what you envision for yourself, and the Queen of Cups reflects back your own intuitive advice. In gathering together we will act as mirrors for one another while we gain confidence and deepen our understanding of tarot.

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Valerie Smith

A beautiful and short reading you can do for yourself or a friend is by simply pulling four cards from your deck, representing your Mind – Body – Spirit – Heart. There are many questions that can be asked with this foundation, but the importance comes from holistic self-examination.

(For a beautiful story on the importance of connecting with all four of these elements, see Walking the Talk, A Sacred Responsibility.)

The Mind: What stories am I telling myself? What underlying assumption masking itself as a truth? What logical line of thinking should I be considering at this time? Or, for a twist: What teaching and learning can I cultivate during this phase?

The Body: What actions do I need to take? What messages is my body giving me about this situation? How should I nurture my physical form, in order to thrive?

The Spirit: This question depends deeply on the individual, since spirit means so many different things (or nothing at all!) to different people. But some questions include: When and where I encourage inspiration in my life? How is the world calling to me? How can I improve the energetic influence of my spirit in my community?

The Heart: Not always included in similar spreads, I had to add in The Heart, because it is so important to listen to the beats of our very own drums. What practices do I need to help foster a healthy, open heart? What is my heart crying out for?

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