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Tarot Self-Empowerment Techniques:  Your Own Fool’s Journey

August 29, 2022

When doing a Tarot reading for ourselves, we often find that the chatter of our hopes and fears invariably intrudes. Because of this, it is important to find out how we can silence the voice of our rational mind long enough to enable us to hear our intuitive wisdom. To enable you to do that, I have created a variety of non-divinatory techniques for using Tarot cards to empower you to create the future you want. Here is one that I call “Your Own Fool’s Journey.”

Note: Before reading this, you might want to read my introduction to Tarot Self-Empowerment Techniques.

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Many Tarot authors have related accounts of the Fool’s journey of spiritual development through the Major Arcana cards. (In fact, my Tarot Coloring Book relates a simplified Fool’s Journey also.) Usually in these stories, each Major Arcana card represents a lesson for the Fool to learn in order to facilitate his psychological growth and spiritual transformation, and typically these steps are presented sequentially, beginning with the Magician (1) and ending with the World card (21).

But this orderly progression is basically a storytelling convenience, an over simplification to make the point easier for the reader to grasp. Our lives, for which the Fool’s Journey is both guide and metaphor, are never so simple or orderly. Each of the Major Arcana cards represents many layers of psychological and spiritual lessons through which we progress in a manner both recursive and seemingly haphazard. Thus, for example, at one point in time we may gain a valuable insight about materialism as represented by the Devil card. Then perhaps later we might learn something of what the Empress has to say about nurturing. Next, we may grow through experiences represented by several other Major Arcana cards, and then find ourselves having to deal with a substance abuse problem that makes the archetype of the Devil our lesson and teacher once again. Consequently, our lives are a continuous string of challenges faced and lessons learned (or not, as the case may be) as we journey through a psycho-spiritual landscape populated with an infinite number of variants of the archetypes represented by the Tarot Major Arcana cards.

Some of these experiences, however, may stand out as being more critically vital or noteworthy to your development than do others. For example, a first love, the death of a parent, or the challenging discovery of a new spiritual belief system — any of these experiences may be singularly unforgettable and seminal in your growth process. A valuable exercise in self-exploration, then, is to sit down with the twenty-two Major Arcana cards and write your own “Fool’s Journey” to explore the story of your life — past, present, and future.

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STEP 1: Find an association.

For this procedure, consider each of the Major Arcana cards one at a time. Get into a relaxed and contemplative state of mind, and as you consider each one, meditate on it in whatever way feels right to you. Allow the card to speak to you about your life, and eventually you will see how it represents or comments on some aspect of your life. This may be an event from your past, an experience you are going through now, or a goal or aspiration you hope to fulfill in the future.

If nothing of this nature comes to mind, do not worry about it. You can set the card aside and come back to it later. Perhaps during the remainder of the day while you are not trying to think about it, a flash of inspiration will strike, bringing to mind an event that reminds you of the meaning of this card. Or maybe at night a dream will reveal such an association.

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STEP 2: Explore these associations.

Once you have found an aspect of your life that a card represents to you, write about it. First describe the event or situation and explore its significance to your life. Then note why this card called that aspect of your life to mind, and discuss what the imagery, symbolism, and meaning of the card say about this. What insights about this experience does it yield? What lessons does it say you can learn from it?

As you do this exercise, remember that in your life’s journey, each of the twenty-two Major Arcana cards will be your guide and teacher often, and rarely will they appear in the sequential order in which they are presented in a Tarot deck. Thus, the ordered Major Arcana cards need not represent chronologically ordered events in your life, and some of the cards may call to mind several disparate events or aspects of your life.

As an analogy, we can consider the twenty-two Major Arcana cards to be the guests at a cocktail party, which represents your life. As you mingle with these guests, you will converse with one for a while, and then another. You may engage in a conversation with several at once, you may return to one you spoke to earlier, and sometimes you may spend a moment or two by yourself, absorbing and assimilating what you have talked about with these guests so far.

The point of this analogy, and of this technique, is that the significant events of your life can be illuminated by the energy of a Major Arcana card. Thus, a valuable result of this exercise is that it will help you review and reevaluate your past as well as purposefully envision your future in order to both heal and empower yourself in the present.

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There are a couple of alternative ways to use the Major Arcana cards to bring understanding to your life. The first is to do the preceding process in reverse. In this alternative process, begin by considering a chronological sequence of milestones in your life, whether they be tragedies, victories, joys, sorrows, or opportunities lost or gained. Make a list of such milestones, and considering each in turn, write a quick paragraph about it. Then for each one, look quickly through the Major Arcana cards, and use your gut reaction to choose the one that best relates, illustrates, or corresponds to that event. Carefully consider that association, as you did in Step 2 above.

The second alternative was inspired by a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” For this process, consider each of the twenty-two Major Arcana cards in turn (in whatever sequence you prefer). Meditate upon the card, considering how it may comment on the question, “Who am I at this time?” Alternatively, instead of meditating on each card, you can do a guided visualization into the card to ask a figure in it that same self-exploratory question.

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