When tarot is not enough

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By Sarah Taylor

I believe that tarot has a valuable (if not always as widely valued) place among those systems that we can draw on to help us orient ourselves in our lives — astrology, the I Ching and shamanic journeying being just three of many others.

Ace of Swords - RWS Tarot deck.

The Ace of Swords from the Rider-Waite Smith Tarot deck. Swords are associated with thought; the Ace specifically symbolises, among other things, the potential for insight.

For hundreds, maybe thousands, of years, people have looked to the tarot in its various forms to answer their most burning questions, and to give them direction at times when the way through feels obscured, or lost. As a tarot reader, I rarely see clients who are seeking only confirmation of something they already know. For the most part, it is because they don’t know that they come to me. (And it isn’t always that simple: some clients don’t know that they don’t know!) I, too, consult the cards when I am in a particular struggle to know. Both of these perspectives — of others and of myself — have helped shape my ideas about when tarot is constructive, and when it is a tool of delay, obfuscation and denial.

You see, tarot is frequently not enough.

Like all other methods of divination, there is a person at the receiving end of a reading — a living, breathing, thinking, feeling entity. But the risk is that, in approaching a tarot reader, we as recipients of a reading can forget this: that we are active participants in the process of living our lives. And perhaps that is the point — that we often see ourselves more as recipients than participants. Add to this the relatively recent understanding (in the Western world, at least) that a large part of us is locked away to ourselves — what in psychoanalysis would be referred to as the unconscious — and we run the risk not only of believing that it is the reading itself that is going to be an agent of change, but of believing that we are fully aware of our motives and motivators at all times.

It is at times in our lives that we are feeling helpless that we feel most moved to seek answers in divinatory tools. And why not? They can be powerful agents in communicating information. The problem for me lies in the word ‘helpless’, because what can happen in those moments when we feel like we have lost the ability to get a handle on things, is that we receive the wisdom from these tools with a certain helplessness too. We want answers; we want clear instructions as to what to do; or we want confirmation of a hope that we have, rather than the courage to face perhaps a painful truth.

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Sarah Taylor

About Sarah Taylor

Sarah is now taking applications for her online tarot training - a five-week course starting in the fall. Find out more on her website: www.integratedtarot.com/services
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5 Responses to When tarot is not enough

  1. Sarah Taylor Sarah Taylor says:

    And thank *you*, everyone!

    Linda – I think the words “I am important; I matter” lie at the heart of that realisation that we are our own agents of change. The way that I hear you say it doesn’t feel ego-driven at all. Instead, it feels like a vocalisation of situating yourself in your world in a way that defines you as worthy. The corollary to this is that when we see that we matter, we also see how responsible we are for who we are and what we do — which I think is just another way of saying that we start to grow up. :)

  2. Lea Burning River says:

    Kudos, Sarah. Brilliant.

  3. Lizzy Huffy says:

    Lovely, wise piece, dear Sarah – which once again – ties in so beautifully with today’s astrology blog: “Insight is the moment when we are able to make a connection — to see the relationship between cause and effect. When we have an insight, what we are really saying is that we recognise the active role that we have been playing in our experience”.

  4. awordedgewise awordedgewise says:

    TYVM Sarah, I find this article particularly uplifting and helpful. Your reassurance that there is importance in doing self-work and searching for self-insight (that this is not ego-driven and therefore “bad”) augments my life’s meaning; my existence.

    I awoke this morning with these words on my lips, “I am important; I matter”.

    Not profound to someone else, perhaps – but to me very much so.

    Your timing on this idea, rather than another card reading is truly in sync with the letting go and letting in processes I am working through.

    Thank you again.
    Linda

  5. Hugging Scorpio says:

    Thank you Sarah…
    :)

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