Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Tarot Mirror

The question, "How do you read for yourself?" was asked in the Question and Answer thread. It's a good question because so many readers, yours truly included, have trouble with self reading, sometimes to the extent that they cannot read for themselves at all and so just don't. However, there are also readers that read strictly for themselves and no one else. So once again, there is a wide range of practice on this subject that varies from individual to individual.

Some will make the distinction between divination and fortunetelling. Divination, or communing with the divine, is something to be done on one's own for oneself. Using tarot for this purpose is often seen as using it for spiritual growth and self-improvement. Fortunetelling is reading for others, using the cards to predict and foretell as well as see events that have happened in the past and present.` Both can be done for oneself, but somehow fortunetelling is harder to pull off. That's because we have less objectivity to the life experiences we ourselves have lived and the circumstances and situations in which we are currently intimately involved. As a friend of mine once quipped, "It's hard to see the picture when you're inside the frame."

It's sometimes easier to divine for oneself just to receive answers about one's own spiritual growth and development because you're not usually really invested in a particular outcome. You tend to be more open to hearing whatever the Universe, God/Goddess, your subconscious or some other supernatural source wishes to convey. Therefore, whatever the cards seem to be saying is what they're supposed to say. So divination for oneself tends to be less confusing, though some have a hard time with having enough objectivity even for that type of exercise.

Reading for oneself can be a very frustrating thing. Trying to be uber objective can be as fraught with problems as being too subjective. Trying too hard, period, is usually the problem. This results in second and third guessing the meaning of each card and being entirely confused about which meaning is being conveyed. In an attempt not to look at the cards through rose-colored glasses, one will often put a darker spin on them than necessary. Alternatively, a desire for things to turn out a certain way can cause the reader to put a more positive spin in order to get the cards to say what she wants them to say. Another pitfall is fearing the worst and so seeing the dreaded outcome in every card, no matter how "nice" the card may be. In such a state, even the Sun can be threatening. How to put this bias aside is the question and for most of us it is nigh impossible.

Using a deck you are less familiar with may help. This causes you to put aside your preconceived notions and rote meanings you've grown accustomed to with a more familiar deck. An unfamiliar deck will cause you to free associate more, tap into your intuition, and see things in the images you may jump past in a more known deck. Alternatively, you may feel more comfortable reading for yourself with your old faithful, a deck that speaks cleanly and clearly no matter what the situation or question. Try it each way and see which works best for you.

One reader suggested using a stuffed animal in place of yourself and to read for him or her asking the question as if the poppet were asking. As odd as this might sound, it can work by giving you just the distance and objectivity you need to read your own cards as if for someone else. I do a similar thing but without the toy. I look at the cards as if I were reading for a paying client. I also try to keep the reads I do for myself very simple with few cards and very direct questions. The fewer cards, the fewer opportunities to put my own spin on them.

I also tend to use confirming spreads when I read for myself. This is one time where asking the same question or reading on the same subject multiple times works for me. Because of my subjective perception of my situation, it's reassuring when, having done several readings on the situation, they all pretty much say the same or similar things. Then I know I'm reading the cards accurately for me. If, however, you find the readings all over the place and not consistent with one another, you may want to reconsider reading for yourself on that topic and ask a fellow tarot reader to help you interpret your cards or just read for you on that subject. Trading readings with someone else is a great way to not only sharpen your skills as a reader, but gain some objective feedback on your own reads for yourself. For when the other reader draws the same or similar cards for you as you had for yourself, you know that at least you were on the right track. If she interprets them similarly, too, all the better. But I've found that more often another reader will offer a slightly alternative look at the cards and this helps to gain perspective and confirmation on your own readings.

Reading for oneself is one of those things you will find warnings against, but there isn't anything at all wrong with it as long as you acknowledge the lack of objectivity and try to maintain a distance from your reading. By that I mean you understand that you could be too close to the situation to be accurate, so you hold the reading rather loosely, and look for confirmation either in events coming to pass or via others reading for and with you. You recognize your own limitations where reading for yourself is concerned. Alternatively, you may find you read best for yourself because you are able to put what you see in the cards in the context of your life, experiences, and spiritual understanding. It truly is a very individual practice and whether you are adept at it or not says nothing about your skill as a tarot reader. One can be a top notch reader for others and totally inept at reading for oneself. But I do believe you can get better at reading for yourself and the exercise in objectivity is good for lots of things. It can be very helpful, especially in times of heightened emotional crisis, to know how to take a few steps back and view your own self and life from a different, less biased perspective.




Maurits Cornelis Escher (Dutch, 1898-1972), Hand with Reflecting Sphere, 1935
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