The Tenor & the Vehicle: Therapy & the Tarot
Before I was blessed with health insurance; before I had the privilege to take my overthinking and my casualties to my therapist, I practiced what you could dub, an organic-healing ritual. Without trying to sound too new-agey, it’s simply the act of being present in the bad feeling. To let it run, and sweat, and tire itself out. I indulged it, in whatever amounts it needed to be felt. But, like any dedicated athlete of the psyche, you must have proper training equipment. You must be able to reflect back on the workout once the tenderness subsides. You must build new muscle to carry heavier loads.
Therapy has been the kindest thing I’ve ever done for myself. The search for it however, became the stretching of limbs before the big race. I can’t even begin to explain how many therapists I personally had to “interview” in order to find the right one. You must feel good in their presence, they must reflect something back at you that is intangible, and felt in the gut. You both must have a silent understanding that this is a learning opportunity for the both of you. But once you find the right fit, the healing immediately understands it has a place to rest, a place to calm its heavy breathing. It is clay. Warm in your hands.
In addition to the amazing gift of therapy, I took to incorporating the Tarot as part of that healing. Once home, and in the privacy of my own thoughts, it was easy to use the Tarot as a tool for deep understanding and reflection. I had weaponry for everyday, thanks to the cognitive processes handed to me by my therapist, but now, I had weaponry for when I delighted in my hermit tendencies. A ritual that was private, and indulgent, and all mine.
Everyone needs rituals.
This healing tool, this sacred tool of mirrors showed me where the healing was taking me, what it was teaching me and how to unfold through the discomfort. The misconception with the Tarot, is that it carries answers. That it will guide you to the exact place you hope to end up. That it will bring you what you ask for without having to work for it. But this tool, much like cognitive processes, is medicine. A medicine that begs you to heal in present time. To not only reflect on the healing, but to willingly plod through the gunk of everyday, and understand that you will rise, even if you’ve fallen. It is an invitation extending from the Magick of your subconscious.
What is the Tarot?
In its simplest terms, (and I mean, the simplest of terms) the Tarot is a deck of 78 cards, constituting of the Major Arcana, the Minor Arcana, and Court Cards. These cards are said to beset the entire circular experience of what it means to be alive. To be human.
The Major Arcana (Macrocosm)
From The Fool to The Hermit, these are the cards we must submit to, as they carry the tempestuous/calm climates of our personal currents.
The Minor Arcana (Microcosm)
The Minors are our feelings, our thoughts, our experiences and beliefs. Each suit (Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles) represents a different area of our lives.
Wands (fire): The Wands are where our creativity, passion and sexuality live. Where they all meld and bloom.
Cups (water): The Cups are our intuition and our love. The love of others and the love for ourselves.
Pentacles (earth): The Pentacles are our spirituality in the material world. They are about our finances, our health and our security.
Swords (air): The Swords are where our mental struggles live. Where we get fluent on what is true, and what is not.
Court cards (Advanced energies)
The Court Cards are the Pages, Knights, Queens, and Kings of the deck. They usually represent people in our lives, but sometimes, they can also represent aspects of ourselves we haven’t yet recognized, and in some cases, refuse to.
The key to having the Tarot be beneficial, is to be able to practice patience with the card meanings. I am reminded of a book by Paulo Coelho, Brida, where a young Irish girl is introduced to the Tarot and is instructed by an Elder to sit with the cards alone and in contemplation to take in their context. Typically, she becomes frustrated, but once she relaxes into them, their meanings become clear and intuitive. Much like the complexities of a human being, the cards too, hold their own flesh and blood.
Like therapy, the Tarot asks us to percolate, to coddle our wounds and slowly and lovingly heal them. To write down our fears and worries and applaud them for making us dive into bedrocks we are now adept to handle.
Through my own jaunt, I’ve come to embrace the absolute need to re-discover old lessons, old wounds. It helps to write these down, it makes them tangible, and available, and real. They become something you can carry around, like a talisman, like a tender reminder of what’s been asked, and what has yet to be unveiled.
One of my favorite Tarot spreads is an easy one. It’s a three-card spread that represents the Mind (Background), Body (Problem) & Spirit (Advice). When I shuffle the cards, I let them sort of fly out of their own accord. Once all three cards have jumped out, you can begin to read them according to the spread and the previous explanations of their meanings.
Use your intuition.
Take your time.
This is your time to finally listen to yourself and cut out the white static of outside noises.
If by chance three-cards don’t suffice and the advice is still unclear, go ahead and shuffle and add another row of three cards and place them under the one’s already laid out.
Use your intuition.
Take your time.
I walk away from this ritual much like I do when I leave my therapists office on Thursdays. In complete contemplation, and a knowing that I will take heed to the counsel that was just made feasible.
To let what needs to sink in, sink in—our bodies know what parts of the medicine it needs, and what parts it will discard.
The Magick of these tools are ours to bend.