How does Tarot work? — Part 2
Have you ever wondered how the Tarot works? I recently asked a variety of Tarot experts, each with their own unique perspective, to give their thoughts on this question. In Part 1 of this exploration, we went from variations on a theme of “I just know that it does work” to a comparison of the Tarot to the Internet. In this second of two parts, we will further consider the Tarot in terms of levels of consciousness and messages from the Divine. Again, I hope you enjoy the following thoughts and theories about how the Tarot works.
James Wells says that our intention creates a meaningful connection —
At the time of writing, I believe that the tarot works because we intend for it to work, we want it to work, we make it capable of working. Humans are creative beings, pattern finders and meaning makers. These capacities help us to survive in a world that so often comes across as chaotic. I can get through the grief of a relative’s death or surprising health diagnosis because something in me wants or needs to find something in these experiences that will serve my mental-emotional survival during and beyond the events.
When I apply this to our use of the tarot, I believe that taking an idea or intention into time set aside for exploring it primes the creative, “meaning finding aspect” of ourselves to discover something in the symbols, characters, and concepts of whatever card(s) we select from the deck. As I look at the card with my issue or topic in mind, the convergence of question and card sets something in motion within me that creates relevance. My imagination blends the context I have set with the tarot image so that meaning emerges.
James Wells is a tarot consultant and teacher who is the author of Tarot for Manifestation and a forthcoming book of original layouts for personal and cultural transformation. You can book personal sessions and group learning experiences with him through http://jameswells.wordpress.com/
Bonnie Cehovet references Jung’s concept of the “collective unconscious” —
For me, the Tarot works because the images are reflective of life—of archetypal energy (the Major Arcana), and of the energy of day-to-day life. It reflects the experiences that are common to all of us, and what Carl Jung termed the “collective unconscious”. To facilitate our understanding of the images and their relationship to each other, we overlay this foundation with what we know of things like the elements (Fire, Water, Air, and Earth), Numerology, and Astrology. And, of course, of our own personal experiences. In the end, we know one thing … it works!
Bonnie Cehovet is the author of Tarot, Birth Cards, and You, and the upcoming Tarot, Ritual, and You, both from Schiffer books. Her website is www.bonniecehovet.com.
Johanna Gargiulo-Sherman refers to levels of consciousness, and has some fun in the process —
Ready, Aim, Fire! The field of battle is a card spread or layout, the question your target, your weapon of choice the Tarot, the objective—to obtain an answer.
The Tarot acts as a trigger mechanism that responds to the many levels of consciousness within a time / space continuum. A pat answer at best, but does one always hit the bull’s-eye? No. Does proximity count? Yes, and in many cases this is what is experienced. One cannot discount the skill of the reader in the course of a reading. They must not only psychically tune into the seeker’s energy, but also recognize the cards’ pictorial symbols and language, thereby trusting the revelations surfacing from the subconscious.
How does the Tarot work? As a weapon against ignorance.
Johanna’s work-for-hire, The Sacred Rose Tarot is seeing its 33rd year in publication by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. She is known for her psychic abilities, and her mentor in this field of study was the former Professor Hans Holzer, author, lecturer and paranormal investigator. She is currently revising and expanding her book Guide to the Sacred Rose Tarot originally published in 2003 and currently out-of-print.
Lisa Hunt likens tarot cards to storytelling and says that it stimulates our active imaginations —
Our lives are comprised of stories and experiences. Some are hopefully wonderful and others are inevitably unpleasant, but all provide a narrative about who we are and what we may become. I liken tarot cards to storytelling and see it as an important devise for stimulating our active imaginations.
For me, seeing and feeling meaning and stories in pictures helps to bring things into focus. The visual stimuli break things down into basic components that invigorate clear, creative thinking. It provides a way to get in touch with our intuitive senses and to see our inner and outer worlds with an objective lens.
Our intuition is often clouded by rationalization and conditioned thinking. Sometimes we simply ignore what we deep down know is best for us. This can lead to impulsive behavior and even bad choices. But I think tarot cards help us to engage the senses, opening up the channels between different layers of consciousness and providing us with invaluable insight. Suddenly, elements of our dream-world start blending with our conscious thoughts and provide us with patterns, symbols and themes that can help us to sort through problems, disillusionment, fears, hopes and all manner of conflicts and curiosities.
I don’t think reading tarot cards is as difficult as some may think. It is a matter of opening up the heart and mind and letting the images tell the story.
Lisa Hunt is the author / artist of many tarot decks including the award-winning Ghosts & Spirits Tarot published in 2012. She is currently working on an oracle deck entitled Winged Enchantment to be published by US Games. Her website is http://lisahuntart.com/ and the Lisa Hunt Art Facebook group is https://www.facebook.com/groups/48275231055/
Ferol Humphrey talks about the levels of consciousness that access the infinite knowledge of the Universe through our intent —
How does Tarot actually work? It seems that we must ask this question if we wish to approach Tarot as a serious process. We cannot know, but we may ponder.
When I use Tarot for investigation, I imagine that I am performing a corollary of the Sugar Supersaturate String Crystallization process which I observed in child science lessons. For me at age 13, this very basic lab science experience seemed like a philosopher’s answer to how the human brain works in conjunction with the quanta of knowable information. The lab demonstration: A solution of sugar water is prepared in a glass, sugar added to the water continually until it no longer dissolves and lies on the bottom of the glass — the water is now a supersaturate of sugar. Introducing a soft cotton string into the sugar water, one need wait only seconds to see sugar crystallizing on the string like rock candy.
When I consider an idea and shuffle my Tarot deck, I experience my subconscious, conscious, and superconscious awareness to be receiving and giving order to knowable information from an infinite field which is both personal and impersonal. I believe that in some combination of card fall and innate internal order, the answer has formed around my intent and will naturally be available to me if I wait quietly. The Universe, in my view, is a supersaturate of knowledge. I simply request pertinent information with my focused intent.
Ferol Humphrey is a dynamic and innovative personal development specialist working internationally. Using many forms of art and Tarot, as well as her large array of immersive techniques, Ferol helps individuals and groups quickly develop pioneer spirit—courage, character, honor, and truth—for living according to their own choices and values. To bring Ferol to your area and learn more, visit www.ferolhumphrey.com.
Donald Michael Kraig uses an analogy of a complex connection of psychic inputs —
After years of working with the Tarot I came to the conclusion that the Tarot works by triggering a pyramidal psychic and sensory link. Picture a tetrahedron. At the three corners of the triangle at the base are the Tarot cards, the reader, and the person being read for (or an aspect of yourself if you’re reading for yourself). At the apex of the tetrahedron is the Divine/God/dess/Godhead, whatever you want to call the Source of All.
The card triggers a flow of data from all sources, ranging from comments by the person being read for and subtle signs that the subconscious of the reader picks up to sudden insights from the Divine. The reader’s higher self filters, deletes, and, unfortunately, sometimes distorts (due to past experiences and limiting beliefs) all of this information. The best readers, in my opinion, are able to almost instantly objectively take the information and put it in terms the client can accept and use. I would add that the flow of data from all points of the tetrahedron is not equal. Sometimes, for example, a reader will get more from the card and less from the client, or vice versa.
Donald Michael Kraig, a longtime student and teacher of a variety of spiritual topics, is a Certified Tarot Grandmaster, has been teaching the Tarot for over 20 years, and is the author of books including Tarot & Magic and the classic text, Modern Magick.
Katrina Wynne says that it helps us access our deepest connection with Divine Mind —
My belief is Tarot cards are an intelligently developed tool, a cultivated process spanning millennia, from stones and other divination devises, to paper playing cards and Tarot decks, which function as a conscious intermediary between our subconscious mind and Divine Mind (universe, essence, God/Goddess, etc.).
Delving into reading Tarot cards, and other oracles, begins as a Fool’s leap into the unknown, with a desire to know life, self, the Divine. Once we initiate this channel of communication, between our conscious mind, intuitive awareness, and Divine energy, the cards become the language of dreams, the intermediary, the Rosetta Stone, that allows our human perception to translate communications from other dimensions to ground in our earthly realm. Used as the Magician’s magical tools, the cards then become the wings of the eagle, sending our prayers up to heaven.
Tarot cards channel the message from and act as the medium for accessing our deepest connection with Divine Mind. Like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, all we need do is click our heels and remember we are already home. In other words, Tarot cards are the training wheels of our Chariot on the psychic highway. Once we no longer need them as a tool, we are ready to release our attachment and realize the unitive message of the World/Universe, that we are one with spirit and have come home.
Katrina Wynne, MA is an internationally recognized teacher and professional psycho-spiritual counselor. She combines over 40 years experience with Tarot and other metaphysical traditions with 25 years as a mental/spiritual health counselor to support your most wonderful life. Her latest book An Introduction to Transformative Tarot Counseling is available on her website and on Amazon as a Kindle eBook. Her websites are:
Transformative Tarot Counseling™ classes & sessions: http://TarotCounseling.org
Oracle Soup – a podcast with Katina Wynne & Gina Thies: http://oraclesoup.wordpress.com/
And finally, we have this arcane explanation from the inimitable Enrique Enriquez —
Tarot cards operate under the same principle as dollar bills: once we inscribe pieces of paper with symbols we see them take off and have a life of their own, to the point that we intertwine our fate with theirs. Symbols are meeting points. We trace them so they can outline us, in a process that is never vertical but horizontal: symbols are bridges, not towers. Once we agree to their veracity, symbols hide their true nature as imaginary solutions behind the consensus of “reality”, which in this case simply means that space where we don’t feel alone. This way we walk around our cities with our pockets filled with paper, feeling safe.
While handling tarot cards, as well as dollar bills, we would do well by remembering that, from the point of view of the table, a piece of paper simply blocks the light.
Enrique Enriquez is the author of Tarology, a book that deploys the pataphysical poetics of the Marseille tarot, and EN TEREX IT and EX ITENT ER, a two-volume set of conversations with some of the most active tarot practitioners in the world. He is also the subject of Tarology, the Poetics of tarot, a film by Chris Deleo. Once a week Enrique makes language behave like a tarot pack. To get on his private e-mail list, please write to email@example.com and answer one question: “what is the fastest letter in the alphabet?”
So there you have it: A variety of thoughts about how the Tarot works! But the discussion should not end here. If you’ve enjoyed these theories and ruminations, and you would like to join in on this conversation, feel free to add your comments here.