Yes, that’s me – at some point in the mid 1980’s – reading my tarot cards (the same RWS featured in this post) and wearing a purple cheesecloth kaftan. I’m pregnant, but that’s no excuse! Anyway, some would say that there is a worse faux pas being committed here: I’m reading my cards for myself.
I’ve always done it. I didn’t know that it would ever be frowned upon, and when I heard that I wasn’t supposed to, it just made me do it some more. I suppose the idea is that one can’t be objective, but, to my mind, that’s when self-discipline meets academia: you only ask the same question once and you consult the texts.
Anyway, I thought I’d demonstrate how I usually perform a reading for myself, with a genuine example from a reading I did a couple of days ago.
I choose a deck. I’ve dozens to choose from and literally hundreds have passed through my hands over the years (enough to pay for a trip along the Silk Route, I ruefully think to myself when I reflect upon my squandered past!). Anyway, I choose a deck and then I choose my question. I usually write the question in my journal, but sometimes it’s on the back of an envelope or whatever is to hand.
I like to shuffle the deck and formulate the question in my head at the same time. I’ll also frame the question in context, internally chatting to my tarot cards, telling them the tale and then decide what the question is.
Then I stop. Write the question down. Kiss my deck and shuffle it 9 times. 9 you see, is my lucky number. It might not be yours, but I’m explaining my usual practice.
Then I cut the deck, and look at the card.
So the situation that led to my reading – I’m feeling exhausted; mentally and physically. I’ve had some surgery, I’m bored, frustrated – my plans and ideas all seem vacuous. I feel pointless! I look at my 2016 goals and they all seem stupid and doomed to failure – so the question is – am I barking up the wrong tree?
That’s the question I write down. Then kiss, shuffle, cut.
The Ace of Wands
(full disclosure: I was actually using the Tarot of Vampyres, but thought I’d illustrate the post with an ‘easier’ deck)
Straight away I feel a sense of relief – the Ace of Wands is pure creative potential. Most of the items on my list were creative ones. The Ace is reminding me that I need to get my energy and enthusiasm back and move the things on the list from the realm of maybe to the realm of manifestation.
So, what should my next step be?
The Ace of Wands is all well and good; it’s encouraging but not particularly directive. So I needed to continue the conversation with the tarot.
The 2 of Wands follows the Ace, so I enjoyed seeing it appear (following the question, kiss, shuffle and cut of course!). In the Tarot of Vampyres, we see a warrior…so my immediate thought was ‘stop being such a pathetic wuss and start doing stuff’ ..the 2 of Wands is connected with Mars in Aries – powerful, volatile, dramatic and filled with fire-y energy. The image in the Waite-Smith deck shows a figure with the world in his hands. Anything is possible! However you have to actually do something with all this, otherwise you just get a headache or an increased sense of frustration.
At this point, I consulted my diary and looked at my general ‘to do’ list. I decided to resist the temptation to cancel things because I ‘felt tired’ at the very least and I also decided that the original plans and schemes were still valid and not to be abandoned yet.
Then I consulted a couple of tarot reference books – Phantasmagoria , the excellent companion volume to the Tarot of Vampyres, Tarot for Transformation by Willow Arlenea and Tarot Reversals by Mary K. Greer. The reason I do this is to see if any sentences *twinkle* at me. I read the relevant text that each writer has used to explain the 2 of Wands and see if there is something that feels pertinent. This is also a kind of bibliomancy – in this instance, the word ‘bridge’ really stood out. So I wrote it down, in capitals (!!) in my journal.
Then, because I like to do things in 3’s, I repeated the process. This time, I thanked the tarot for its advice and asked how can I support myself when I feel like this again tomorrow? Because I was doing this reading at the end of the day and we all know how one’s good intentions at bedtime vanish with the morning alarm clock!
Another card from the Wand suit!
The 4 of Wands is about celebrating your success, your rite of passage, counting your blessings, gratitude. However, whilst I was shuffling, this card fell out
and I heard/sensed the word ‘jihad’ – in the true Arabic interpretation meaning the ongoing struggle to be a good person and live a good life. I know the word itself has different connotations these days, but that is how it was explained to me, and that is how I understand it.
My interpretation here of these 2 cards: this is a recurrent challenging theme of my life (it really is 😦 ) and when in doubt and despair, reflect back on what I have done, created, achieved. Celebrate that and move on.
The 4 of Wands (Sceptres) in the Vampyre Tarot also reminds me of the need to maintain various ritual practises; continue to grow and henna my hair (a tangible reminder of what I have – my life!) and to honour and be grateful for my circumstances.
I didn’t look the 4 of Wands up in any reference books. Instead, I used the image to reflect upon. I imagined myself as that woman and what she was up to, sitting in that ritual circle. I won’t share the results of that process, as it’s too personal and wouldn’t be relevant here.
Other points: I was interested to see that I had drawn cards in sequence – 1, 2 and 4. What is missing of course is the 3 – where things are actually starting to fall into place and happen. I think I’d missed that – things are falling into place, things are starting to happen! My low physical energy had impacted upon my mood; the cards gave me a reassuring kick up the backside here.
The struggle against despair is my personal jihad.
I see the horror and futility of the world and forget the beauty and hope. The macrocosm reflected in the microcosm, as above, so below. I’m a very fortunate and blessed woman and should remember it more consistently!
Finally, I have written things in my journal and reflected upon certain cards. The reading, to all intents and purposes, is over and I begin to tidy up. The cards are wrapped in their silk, the journal is hidden under the bed. And I find a card that has fallen out, unnoticed. I’m not sure when. It’s the Queen of Wands – the kind of woman an INFJ like me would quite like to be. I’m also going on about her – and have to remind myself that she is there inside, I just deny her so much! I put her on the bedside table and instruct myself to meet her in a dream.
Taken symbolically – did I shuffle without including her? Because I ignore her voice in my head so much – she frightens me, the woman I want to be frightens me – how messed up is that?? Or did she hop out as I tidied up? Because she wanted to remind me of who I was aspiring to be when I wrote the 2016 list and cast those spells?
So, that’s how I read for myself. A mixture of intuition, text books, different decks, mediation, journaling and journeying.