Straw into Gold at 2010 Readers Studio
Dr. Elinor Greenberg presented a workshop on using the Tarot for healing work. More specifically, it dealt with ways to find the healing gold hidden within the painful lead of a “bad” card. She discussed three techniques —
1. When you do a reading, begin by setting an intention, which I have rephrased this way:
How would you like to feel right now, and what kind of person would you like to be?
So in a reading, consider the “bad cards” as a starting point for transformation toward your intention.
2. “Burden to Blessings” Reading
Dr. Greenberg noted that “an event gets its meaning from its context,” so it is how we view, interpret and react to our bad experiences that defines them as either a burden or as a blessing.
The spread that Dr. Greenberg presented is intended to help us reinterpret “bad” cards that may come up in a reading (i.e., getting the Tower card in the “Probable Outcome” position in the Celtic Cross spread) in such a way that we can find the healing potential in the experience they indicate. This spread begins with that bad card and then adds several other cards to expand upon our interpretation of it — to find both blessings and helpful advice in it. Similarly, this spread can help us transform “bad” experiences from being burdens into being blessings.
I don’t want to infringe upon Dr. Greenberg’s proprietary material by giving away her spread here, but the concept of doing a reading to find the blessings in a “bad” card can lead you to create your own spread that can do this for you. (See my book, Tarot: Get the Whole Story, for more about how to create your own spread.)
Suffice it to say that my “bad” card was the Five of Pentacles (“being left out in the cold”) and the gist of the message that I got from doing a reading with this spread was the following:
Don’t let this situation create stress in my life. Instead, see this as an opportunity to improve my ability to forgive, to get in touch with my own inner sense of wholeness, and to strengthen my connections with the people with whom I do share a loving connection. And finally — with time will come healing and reconciliation.
Note that this technique is a great add-on to any reading that ends up with a problematic card.
3. Gestalt Tarot Therapy
Lastly, Dr. Greenberg presented an interesting technique that involves speaking aloud as if you actually are the various items in a “bad” card. The following is a brief statement of the theoretical underpinnings of this technique:
The act of projecting oneself into a picture and speaking in the first person as the different parts of the picture often brings a sudden, useful increase in self-awareness and new insights into one’s situation.
Again working with the Five of Pentacles, one of the figures in this image reminded me of Tiny Tim (A Christmas Carol), and seeing myself as this figure and then speaking with his voice placed my situation into a new perspective.
The following is a final note about this workshop:
I think that the more accessible technique here was the idea of using an adjunct “burdens to blessings” reading to examine a “bad” card from a reading in order to see how to find healing and transformation in the situation it describes. I encourage you to come up with a spread of your own to do this. It doesn’t have to be complex at all, but it can change an “Oh shit!” reading into an uplifting and empowering one, which will make all the difference in the world to the person you are doing a reading for.
For a somewhat different perspective on this workshop, see James Wells‘s take on it.
 This spread can be as simple as a three card spread beginning with the “bad” card (“What is the problem here?”) and adding cards for:
What can I learn from this?
What hidden benefit is there in this situation?