Therapeutic Thursday: Learning Tarot

How I never got into tarot until now, I have no idea. I’m beginning to think that Tarot is like the person I’ve known for many years but never talked to. For example, if we worked in the same company, I might say, “Oh, sure I know Tarot. I mean, I don’t know her, but I know of her. Like, I know which department she’s in.”

Somehow, Tarot and I have never exchanged more than elevator weather chat…and now that I’ve actually conversed a bit longer with this mysterious co-worker, I’m a little sad I didn’t know her sooner.

Because Tarot combines a lot of my loves into one concept:

Metaphors, archetypes, symbolism, and narratives. I love looking at the world through story, character, and imagery. I find it makes it easier to change perspectives, rewrite the day/situation, and recognize patterns in behavior more clearly. I am all about storytelling; it is the window I use most often to view the world.

Symbols and archetypes are everywhere if you know what you’re looking at. If I even try to look at any visual representation, whether it’s a work of art or a magazine…forget it, it’s all Tarot to me now. The subjects, colors, design, symbols… it’s all meant to convey messages and moods. I can’t not see it now.

Human spiritual and psychological self-reflection and growth. Tarot is a life-long journey. We are constantly changing — by the minute, the hour, the year — and tarot can show us the journey of a moment or a lifetime. Our spiritual and psychic worlds are entwined in a search for meaning. As a counselor with an interest in the expressive arts, I can’t help but find a hundred ways to connect Tarot to everything I’ve learned up to this point.

Various spiritual practices and perspectives. I find a lot of spiritual and philosophical concepts interesting, and whether or not I believe in them is always secondary. (I believe in being curious about the world and people around me more than I believe in anything else). I’m always looking into beliefs that I don’t personally believe or utilize in case I need the knowledge to join others in their worlds. When I began looking into Tarot, it was out of curiosity — and just like with many things I am unfamiliar with, once I did some reading up on the subject, I found myself pleasantly surprised.

Art. I learn visually and I’m always drawn to lots of color. Even though my strongest medium is writing, for me, it all feels like imagery, even spelling. I have a hard time grasping concepts with only abstract visuals (i.e. algebra).

Tarot, of course, is image-based. It’s all about artistic expression — from classic decks to modern, whimsical to minimalist. I suppose there might be a deck out there that just has the numbers and labels printed on them in black and white, but I think most people would find that less meaningful than the thousands of artistic interpretations.

So. Many. Decks. So much art to choose from. I keep seeing people online with tubs of tarot decks…and at first I’m shocked, but then…. Well, let’s be honest, they are no different than all my favorite antiquing people posting their shelves and shelves and shelves of Fiestaware, Blenko, Carnival Glass, and Polish Pottery.

Openness, creativity, and humor. Tarot creates a space open to interpretation where one can form an individualized view of their situation and find ways to work through it, even laugh about it. The cards love to call people out, even the most seasoned reader. Tarot has already taught me to laugh at myself more (thaaaanks 8 of Swords).

So here’s to a new creative practice for a new year of creativity!

Featured image is the deck cover art of The Maat Tarot by Julie Cuccia-Watts.

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