In my previous entry (Fear of doing a reading) I introduced the idea of doing a guided visualization with a Tarot card. I noted that this is like having a waking dream where the setting is a Tarot card and you interact with the people in the card. Many of the people reading this blog know how to do this, but now, for the sake of those who do not, here is a brief introduction of how to do a guided visualization into a Tarot card. (Note that this material is adapted from my book, The Soul’s Journey.)
STEP 1: Choose a card
In order to do a basic guided visualization you first need to choose a Tarot card with which to do it. There are several ways to make that choice.
First, there is the logical method in which you consciously choose a card that seems well suited to your needs. For example, if you want to know how to find a relationship, you might want to use either the Two of Cups or the Lovers card.
Another way to choose a card is to use an intuitive process. In that method, you look quickly through your deck with the cards face up while considering the issue at hand until you see a card that “feels right” for this situation. You should thumb through the cards as fast as you can, relying on your instincts and gut reactions to them.
The last alternative is the divinatory method. In this case, shuffle your deck and deal yourself a card at random, trusting that the Universe will give you the card you need.
STEP 2: Explore the card
Once you have chosen a card, find a quiet, comfortable place where you can spend some time with it, free from interruptions. When you feel relaxed and ready to begin, start by describing the physical details of the card.(1)
Describe the people depicted in it. How are they positioned, what are they doing and wearing, etc.? Also, describe any other objects in the picture, as well as the background scenery. This step focuses your concentration on the card, forcing you to pay attention to all the details in it so that the entire card becomes imprinted in your mind.
Next, describe the mood, atmosphere, and feeling of the card. Does it make you fearful, melancholy, cheerful, peaceful, etc.? What is the overall ambiance of the card? Is it one of celebration, contemplation, conflict, or sorrow? What emotions do the figures in the card seem to be expressing? This step will bring you further into the spirit of the scene and imprint it in your heart.
Now close your eyes and imagine the card in front of you, visualizing it as clearly and in as much detail as you can. Then open your eyes and look at the card again to see what details you may have left out. Make a mental note of any such omissions so that you will be sure to include those details as you return to visualizing the card.
STEP 3: Enter the card
Close your eyes again and perform whatever relaxation technique works best for you. Then, keeping your eyes closed, continue this process as described here.
Visualize the card vividly and in as much detail as possible and see it grow until it becomes life-sized. See the borders around the card become a doorway leading into its scenery, and then visualize yourself stepping through that doorway and into the card itself.
Once you are in the card, look around and notice everything that your senses take in. What do you see around you? Listen carefully to what sounds you may hear. Take a deep breath through your nose and notice what scents are in the air. What do you feel? Is it hot or cold? Is there a breeze, or is the air still?
Once you feel that you are fully engaged in the scene of the card, approach the figure with whom you want to interact. There are various ways in which you can interact with him/her. You might want to describe a problem in your life, and then ask for advice on how to deal with it, or you can ask for an affirmation that will help you overcome this difficulty. You can also ask the figure to tell you how this card applies to your life right now. However it is that you chose to interact with a figure in the card, engaging in a dialogue with him or her is a good way to enrich and clarify the experience.
Finally, before you exit from the card remember to thank the person with whom you have interacted. Then turn back toward the borders of the card and step out through that doorway, leaving the imaginary landscape of the card behind. Watch the card shrink back down to its normal size until it once again becomes just a Tarot card. Take three deep breaths, and on the exhalation of each, silently say your own name. Repeating your name to yourself helps to bring your consciousness back from your experience in the card and into your body. (Making that return transition is rarely a problem, but it is a good idea to make a habit of doing this.) Then when you are ready, open your eyes.
STEP 4: Assimilate the experience
Upon completion of this process, it is important that you immediately write down as much about it as you can, including your thoughts about what it meant to you. This is because a guided visualization is similar to a dream, and like a dream, if you do not write it down quickly, it will soon begin to evaporate, forever to elude your conscious grasp of it.
First, write down a narrative of the experience. Note the results of your interaction with the figure in the card. What came up in your conversation? Did anything interesting, noteworthy, strange, or surprising happen while you were in the card? If so, what do you think such experiences might mean?
Cautions and caveats.
I have found that students who have never done this sort of thing before sometimes have problems focusing on or maintaining the mental image required for this sort of work. This is not unusual, nor is it cause for concern. Holding a mental image is a skill that improves with practice.
Another skill helpful in doing visualizations is the ability to distinguish between the gentle voice of your intuition or higher self, and the more strident words of hope, desire, and fear that come from your ego. The two are of very different character. Your higher self speaks of love, understanding, and compassion, and it wants to lead you to wholeness and healing. Your ego, on the other hand, is fearful, defensive, and self-centered. The voice of your higher self is soft and gentle, while your ego typically speaks in a voice that is loud, aggressive, and even cruel sometimes. If you find that your ego’s loud voice has intruded upon your visualization, it may be best to exit it for the time being. Practice your relaxation technique to become more in touch with your higher self before attempting a guided visualization again.
Finally, this technique is not intended to be a substitute for professional psychological help. If you are (or need to be) under professional care, it should not be used instead of that therapy.
(1) There is a Wikipedia article that links to several relaxation techniques that will help you prepare for a guided visualization.