When I first learned Tarot, I was actually pretty skeptical. I’ll share my Tarot Journey and the lessons I learned on the way.
Just like Lessons learned from Zumba wasn’t really about zumba, this post isn’t really about tarot – it’s more about what I discovered as a result of learning and practicing tarot.
My Disclaimer: If it’s just a little too woo for you.. Or if this topic is a turn off for you.. I’m balancing out with next week’s post which is all about critical thinking – so keep reading!
I’ll share how I learned what I learned, what impact it’s had on my life and hopefully I can dispel some myths for you and share how you can use the lessons I learned in your own life, either for a topic like Tarot, or something else you might be interested in.
How I came to Tarot
Why is tarot a part of my life as a skeptic? Why was I drawn to tarot when I’m really not interested in the metaphysical or supernatural?
About 20 years ago, I was given a tarot deck as a gift. It was a unique and interesting gift that I put on my bookshelf and didn’t’ really do anything with. One night, I had a get together at my house, and one of the guests saw the tarot deck and offered to give us all readings.
It was so intriguing and interesting. Here’s was someone who didn’t know us personally, but gave us thought-provoking and accurate readings. I always remembered that night and how much fun it was. The guests were so excited.
Fast forward, 20 years later, I was listening to an interview with a self-described sceptic who doesn’t believe anything without evidence and always wants proof. He was bad mouthing psychics and mediums and tarot readers. He made the argument, in that interview, that anyone could just pick up a tarot deck, learn the meanings of the cards and then do a tarot reading.
I heard his claim that anyone could give a tarot reading and I remembered that fun night 20 years earlier and thought “Challenge Accepted! I would love to learn how to read tarot to re-create a fun night with my friends in the future.” I decided I was going to learn how to read tarot cards.
My Tarot Resistance
Very similar to the skeptic who gave me the idea to learn tarot, I was also skeptical about anything metaphysical. I didn’t want to talk about or hear about anything I couldn’t find proof for. I had previously taught Critical Thinking and just didn’t think I could get involved with something that had no basis of truth.
Even though I had this tarot resistance, I still wanted to learn how to read the cards and thought I’d just have this skill as an option for myself in the future.
Such a Surprise!
I started to see the benefits of tarot right away. One of the biggest surprises was that I got something that I wanted for a long time and didn’t know how to get for myself.
A Quick Introduction to Tarot
A tarot deck is a metaphor for the human experience. It represents the journey that we all go through in life. You could call it the hero’s journey. It’s where we face all of the trials and tribulations and encounter the joys and celebrations we go through in life. It’s the path to enlightenment or self-actualization.
If you’ve ever looked at a Tarot deck- you may see some familiar images and patterns.. One of the reasons it might be familiar is because you may have seen depictions in movies and tv. Hollywood loves to add suspense and mystery to storylines by including the most dramatic or polarizing cards as a plot device in order to create suspense or drama. Sometimes a tarot reading is used to deliver scary or bad news.
A Quick History of Tarot
It’s most likely that the cards were invented in the 1400s when paper became available and cards were able to be created. I believe that Tarot started in Italy – there are a number of card games dating back to those times and those card games were used for gambling. It’s probable the tarot deck that we use today derived from the Italian triumph game or Tarochi as those card games moved from Italy to the rest of Europe. The French finally dropped the ending of the Italian word and that’s where we get the modern-day word Tarot today.
When we look at the deck, we see 78 cards. The deck is made up of 2 parts. The Major Arcana (22 cards) depicts the journey we all go through in life. The images and scenes and meanings are relevant to different parts of our lives and the experiences we go through. The Minor Arcana includes the other 56 cards which you might recognize because they more closely resemble the playing cards that we use today for solitaire or poker. Think about a regular deck of cards today with the 4 suits and the court cards, that’s pretty similar to the minor arcana in a tarot deck.
How I learned to read Tarot
After I accepted the challenge to learn tarot, I decided to go all in. I watched online courses and videos. I got books. I joined study groups. I just decided that I would become proficient in reading tarot. My goal was to be able to do a reading without checking references or notes or looking up a meaning. I just wanted to be able to do an accurate reading seamlessly.
I watched other readers, I made flashcards and I practiced. As I was growing my knowledge, I realized that I really needed practice with other people.
Around that same time, I was learning about massive action. Meaning, the way you get what you want in life is by taking massive action towards a goal. I asked myself: How can I take massive action towards this goal of learning tarot?
The answer was, I decided I needed to do a huge amount of readings, like 100. So I made a goal for myself of doing 100 tarot readings so that I could have a lot of practice and get feedback and force myself to learn and become proficient.
Through all that practice, and study, and effort, I did become proficient in reading tarot and it has given me so much.
Best Lessons I learned from Tarot
I want to share the best lessons I have learned from Tarot. The six lessons are:
The value of my own determination
Life is all about cycles
Universality of Human Experience
Contradiction can (and obviously does) coexist
Welcome to Woo!
The value of my own determination
Since I wanted to be good and be able to deliver those readings, I was determined. That was what motivated me to practice and study and read. As I did all those activities, I started to see progress and notice that I was learning and could remember the meanings and deliver a reading.
Because I had the goal of 100 readings, I needed to figure things out and get creative. Pretty early on in the challenge I realized I wouldn’t have the time to sit down with 100 different people, so I needed to figure out a more efficient and time effective way to do readings. I realized that I could do readings as a personalized recorded video. Someone could send me a question and I could record a reading for them and email it to them. It worked so well and was still an effective reading.
I got creative to figure out ways to meet more people. So as an example, I set up a table on Halloween to offer the parents of trick-or-treaters while their kids were collecting candy.
What was the value of all this work? Obviously, I became confident in my tarot abilities. I learned so many new skills including creativity and how to ask for referrals and how to figure out the technology side of it.
That determination gave me so many new opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
In the years leading up to me learning tarot, I always heard “trust your gut” or “listen to your intuition.” I wanted to do that. I believed in the value of intuition, but I didn’t know how. I didn’t know what my intuition sounded like. I didn’t know how to check in with my gut.
I noticed as I was doing readings, I didn’t just want to repeat back the memorized meaning I had learned. Each reading had a different question, or context or person. So I wanted to be more intuitive.
The cards gave me a reason to get quiet and listen. It’s almost like the cards helped me get out of my own way. Because I was so focused on the cards and the meaning, it gave me a chance to look inward instead of outward for the answers. It helped me recognize what my intuition was.
As I was doing readings, sometimes, I would get sparks or hits of intuition. Sometimes they would pop up for me. At first, I wasn’t sure if I should bring them up, but as I got more confident, and more familiar, when one of those hits would pop up for me, I would interrupt myself to offer it even if it had nothing to do with the card. It would be right. That’s how I started noticing what my intuition was.
And that taught me how to recognize and listen to and trust that inner voice inside of me, my intuition.
Life is all about cycles
The major arcana is a metaphor for the journey that we all go through in life. We start out as a naive, fresh-faced innocent beginner, then we go through all the trials and challenges, plus we get to celebrate the joy and connect with other people. That story has been told in tarot cards for hundreds of years. That story was told in Italy in the 1400s and also exists today in Arizona.
It just demonstrates to me how much life is about cycles and how much everything comes full circle.
Tarot came to me at a time in my life when I was facing some personal challenges. It was so helpful and confirming for me to recognize that just because I was in the situation that moment, didn’t mean I would always be in that situation. Just because this “negative” thing happened, didn’t mean it was always negative.
Tarot demonstrated to me that life is good and bad. Life consists of both dark and light and life is definitely 50/50.
Universality of Human Experience
When I think about Tarot being around for over 600 years and these same themes and images and meanings and interpretations being looked at and discussed 500 years ago in Italy, or 50 years ago in Australia, or today on the internet, it makes me realize how universal and common our human existence, thoughts, behaviors, experiences and fears are.
The fact that the same images and meanings and interpretations are still being used in modern day times that were used during the Renaissance, and during the Industrial Revolution proves to me that humans connect with the meanings and messages of the cards. Those meanings and messages didn’t just fade out because they were no longer relevant. They have stood the test of time.
Contradiction can (and does) coexist
The next lesson was so helpful and I call on it frequently. Contradiction can and does coexist.
Right around the time that I was studying and practicing Tarot, I was also being introduced to and started following some of my favorite teachers. I learned so many life-changing concepts.
Two of my favorite teachers who I’ve talked about in previous episodes, Brooke and Jess, taught me so much about how to look ahead at life and how to think about what was happening. I loved their messages. But at times, their messages seemed to be contradictory. At first, I had a really hard time reconciling this apparent contradiction. It was frustrating.
But, when I thought about those teachers and their messages as if they were cards in a Tarot Spread- I realized, of course those conflicting or contradictory messages can co-exist. Of course there’s not just one answer or one way to think about things.
Just like the Emperor and High Priestess can make sense in a spread, so can two seemingly contradictory messages from my favorite teachers.
I love that there are no rules in tarot. There’s no tarot authority- no “one true deck.”Tarot can and does evolve. People make it their own and use it however they want.
You can look at a card today and make it mean one thing, and look at again tomorrow and make it mean something completely different and both of those interpretations would be accurate readings.
Welcome to Woo!
Tarot was a gateway into the world of woo for me. Because I opened my mind and accepted tarot, I was also opened to ideas I would have previously dismissed.
One example of something that I would have rolled my eyes at in the past was the Law of Attraction or manifesting. Because I opened my mind with tarot, now I actively love and use and believe in the idea of manifesting something. It’s been so fun and interesting and helpful in my life.
Another woo concept I’ve been open to is the idea of using crystals to help solve problems or give different energy. I haven’t dedicated as much time to crystal as I did to tarot yet, but I’m so excited to learn more. I know I never would have considered if I hadn’t been introduced along side of tarot.
Tarot and woo in general has just opened my mind to people and groups and books. I have learned to get to know myself in a different way that I had completely shut off before. Tarot taught me to abe a little more open minded to something I would have never thought of before.
A love note, thank you card and fan letter for Tarot…
Thank you for being so popular that you’ve been around for so long.. That I could eventually find you and see how helpful you are.
Thanks for being both a fun party game, but also a creative and imaginative way to do thought work .. and self-coaching, even coaching.
I love that you’re so open and loose that artists and creators have used your basic elements to come up with the most interesting and beautiful and thought-provoking decks, and apps, and art pieces and calendars and other things related to tarot.
You’ve provided me with hours of entertainment, reflection, and self-discovery. Plus, you’ve been a vehicle for me to learn a new skill, meet other people, get in touch with my own intuition and so many other benefits.. And I’m sure so many more benefits to come too. Thank you Tarot!
Your Thoughts and your Reactions
What’s your Tarot experience? Can you imagine yourself using Tarot (or another tool) to help you learn some life lessons, recognize cycles, get in touch with your own intuition and connect with your own thoughts and beliefs better?
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