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.
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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