Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Gypsy Skin

One of my recent reading victims -- Muahahahaha!-- wanted to know how I got into tarot and learned all this vast reservoir of tarot knowledge. I will tell you all a secret: I am a tarot newbie. I've only been reading the cards for about four years.

About 20 years ago I had my first tarot reading. A friend of mine read my cards at her dining room table. The pictures on the cards made no sense to me, so I just walked about the room making sure my four year-old son didn't do anything he shouldn't do, listening to what she said. At the time I had just recently left my first husband, was semi-seeing an old boyfriend for comfort's sake, but was really more concerned with gaining legal custody of my child and staying alive. My ex was psycho and I didn't know what he was liable to do. So when she told me that he was going to remain in my life for a long, long time to come, I was, needless to say, really disappointed. She also told me that a new guy was coming into the picture, not this old flame I was sorta seeing, someone else that I would be seriously involved with. Well, at least she didn't say I'd be getting back together with my abuser ex. I wasn't thrilled with the reading until later, years later in fact, I remembered what she had said and realized it had all happened. My first husband did indeed remain in my life for years as he insisted on visitation with our son even though he did not pay child support, and he continued to be a threat and a thorn in my side until our son turned 18 years-old. I didn't continue seeing that old boyfriend either. It was just an itch that had to be scratched. And that October I met the man I would marry a year and a half later. Hmmmm.

Meanwhile, I had become Born Again, was a pretty darn serious fundamentalist Christian and tarot cards were doorways to demonic activity. I still couldn't shake that feeling - the cards were right. Luckily, I wasn't the kind of Christian to check my brain at the church door, so I eventually read my way out of Christianity. Reading the Bible is probably the best way to do that, but that's a whole other discussion. As I came to more fully understand and grasp grace and freedom, I found my interest in tarot pique once again. I started by reading about tarot online, then in books, and in tarot forums. I got another friend to do a reading for me and once again, right on the money. That was it, I had to get my own deck. So off to Border's I went to purchase a beginner tarot book and deck of cards. I tend to avoid woo-woo. That's super-spiritualistic speak. I've learned my lessons in all that the hard way and nothing but down to earth, real, and sometimes getting dirty and gritty, just like real life, appeals to me. So I had to wade through some books to find one with a minimum of woo woo. I settled on Introduction to Tarot by Susan Levitt. Interestingly, she used both the Rider Waite Smith deck and the Thoth to illustrate the cards. I was torn between these two decks as I really adore the art nouveau of the Thoth and the early 1900's storybook art of the RWS. I finally settled on the Universal Waite deck and planned to maybe purchase the Thoth at a later date.

The book helped to do exactly what it said: introduce me to tarot reading. I went looking for more, more, MORE! I found so, so much online and yet the best place by far that I found was Aeclectic Tarot Forums.

Wow. This place was jam-packed full of all manner of tarot readers from your skeptic to your newbie to the very seasoned professional. Deck artists, writers, dabblers, teachers, students all. I learned so very, very much there. Interacting with others, posting stupid questions, getting wise and not so wise answers, exchanging readings, chatting live, reading live over IRC all helped me grow in tarot at, I believe, an accelerated pace. However, one person truly helped me come into not just knowing what the cards meant but actually reading the cards as well as the space between the cards. On the forum she is known as GoddessArtemis. I won't unveil her identity here as I do not have her permission to do so. She was so open and friendly with me and we became very good friends, though we have never met in person. We read the cards incessantly together, for each other, for ourselves, bounced interpretations off each other, researched meanings, connections to astrology and symbolism, and got entirely obsessed with readings, the cards, decks, etc. She encouraged and supported my decision to start reading professionally and has been such an incredible mentor and friend, apart from tarot.

It was GA that said, "Stop over-thinking the cards! Say what you first think and see!" If ever there exists the best EVER advice about reading tarot, that's it. In all our studies and classes and practice, we so often second guess, and third and fourth and so on only to come back around to that first rush of intuition. Or we ignore it and find out later we were right. Hate that!

The first year I read tarot the cards went everywhere with me. I read them incessantly. I read about them incessantly. I couldn't get enough about tarot, tarot, tarot. That tends to be the way I am, though. When I am into something, I go in up to my eyeballs, bathe in it, eat it, drink it, dream it. I still have a deck with me most of the time. However, I find there are days that go by now that I don't pick up a deck or read the cards at all. A full week can go by without a look at the cards. I feel very comfortable with my 20-some-odd decks I've collected and my one shelf of books. I don't need any more. I learn more and more about tarot all the time and mostly now I learn by reading -- both doing tarot readings and reading about the history and lore of tarot. I'm comfortable in my gypsy reader skin. Tarot just fits me and I found that out fairly quickly. Others have their own coming to tarot stories. I'd love to hear yours.

14 comments:

Tarot By Arwen said...

Marvelous! Thank you so much for sharing this post. I have been rattling around staring blank-eyed at my blog for days. This sparked me into saying something on mine about my own journey. :)

Anonymous said...

Ginny:

I have been an on/off reader for a couple of years. Your posts inspire so much. I check in to see if you've posted and get so thrilled when you do one of your amazing eye opening essays. Hope everything is going well for you.

Catherine

R.K. Foster said...

Ginny,

Sorry, here's that whole other conversation...

Reading the Bible is probably the best way to do that, but that's a whole other discussion.

Do you mean that the Bible will convince one of its "wrongness" or do you mean that it will prove how Fundamentalists are wrong in their beliefs? Before you go off half-cocked, I'm not a fundamentalist Christian but I do still have some Christian beliefs. I also read Tarot and see no problem with that. I'm just not sure what you meant by that.

Shannon said...

Oh, I totally connected with your comment about reading your way out of Christianity. My parents raised me as a Christian (and still are themselves) but also taught me the immense value of being able to think for yourself and not accept other peoples' answers for things. A tiny bit ironic if you ask me.
And I'm so glad you told us how long you have been reading the cards. I absolutely believe that great readers don't have to have decades of experience under their belts.
I'm totally going to write a post on my blog about how I came to tarot. I'll send you a link when it's done.
Thanks for your great post!

Ginny said...

Hi R.K...I don't mind having that other conversation at all. It's just that I could go on and on and on and bore a lot of people if I'm not careful. LOL

To answer your question, and Shannon actually touched on it in the comment following yours, reading the Bible, studying the Bible, searching for oneself and utilizing the historical resources and the research available, is one of the best ways to both disprove and prove the Bible's validity as well as disprove certain belief systems about the Bible.

I still hold some Christian beliefs myself and yet because I can't say I fully believe in some of the core beliefs I don't call myself Christian anymore. But there is some incredible, deep, vast wisdom in the Bible alongside some complete and utter bullshit.

What I find really amusing is how even the Bible literalists will pick and choose which parts to take figuratively and literally. The fact is, we ALL do that. We all decide for ourselves which parts apply to our lives and which don't and how to read it.

I'm not a Christian basher. I appreciate many aspects of the Bible and the Christian religion. I'm fascinated by the stories/myths/legends about Jesus and the early Christians. I've taken classes, read so many books, articles, papers, participated in discussions, debates, all out fights, etc. What I am against are the haters within Christianity that seek to institute a theonomy within the United States and push their very narrow Biblical interpretations on others and try to create civil laws that reflect their idea of God's law. That pisses me off because it's the very opposite of the humility expressed by and demonstrated by their own icon of the religion: Jesus of Nazareth.

As Shannon said, it's very ironic that when you are encouraged to think for yourself and come to your own conclusions about Christianity, one often comes to very different conclusions than those who encouraged you to do that. Which isn't to say one won't come to some very orthodox conclusions. Many have done that as well. CS Lewis is one example of a thinking person who was intellectually persuaded of the legitimacy of Christianity.

So whichever way you roll is fine. However, I really respect the person who has at least scrutinized and considered the various arguments and truly come to their own conclusions about things.

R.K. Foster said...

Gee, and here I was thinking you wouldn't want to touch my post with a ten foot pole. (guffaw, snort :)

I'm also a strong believer (there's that word again) in the importance of individual responsibility. Which of course can only come from understanding, considering others, how you will effect others, etc. That's how I interpret one of the main areas of what Jesus taught.

One interesting intuitive response I got from your comment, when I read "civil laws" my brain momentarily saw "civil wars". This is my main problem with hard-line Christian groups. Many of them cause conflict and outright hostility simply from their inability to be open-minded about certain things.

Ginny said...

RK said: "I'm also a strong believer (there's that word again) in the importance of individual responsibility. Which of course can only come from understanding, considering others, how you will effect others, etc. That's how I interpret one of the main areas of what Jesus taught."

Well you're in good company as obviously Paul the Apostle thought and taught the same. :)

Yeah, "civil laws"/"civil wars" -- ain't THAT the truth!

WinkleBeam said...

Hey Ginny,

Good to see you back on line!!!!

Mind sharing which books you found most interesting?

Wasn't it you, all those years ago, who started the topic on 'the margins' about the book 'when god was a woman'?

That makes me realize how long I've known some people on-line.

All the best!

Rebecca

Ginny said...

Hey Rebecca! Yeah, there were many books that helped me see the inconsistencies in the Bible. The first one was an old college text called "Paul and Women" that pointed out the gender of Junia the Apostle was actually female and that some translators had tried to disguise that by adding an "s" to the end of her name to make it masculine. I think the book I referenced on The Margins was "When Women Were Priests" by Karen Jo Torjesen. That was a very pivotal book in my understanding of the history of women in the early church and how they were pushed out of leadership due to the patriarchal cultural biases at the time that were not part of the religion but in order for the religion to become culturally accepted, the movement itself bent to those pressures. Not entirely, though, as women found a way through women-only monastic communities to maintain their freedoms. I wrote a research paper on this topic for an anthropology class and found even more through that process as well. It's fascinating, though sad. "Who Cooked The Last Supper" by Rosalind Miles is enlightening as well, but covers way more history than the New Testament era. "Who Wrote the New Testament" by Burton Mack is great and anything by Bart Ehrman on early Christianity is very well researched. Of course all of these are controversial books that the old-school orthodox Christian folks have issues with, naturally, but when I read them it felt like so much that I had already been thinking and knowing and feeling about Christianity was put into print. They also opened up even more questions for me. Good stuff. :)

R.K. Foster said...

Um, Ginny...
It's just that I could go on and on and on and bore a lot of people if I'm not careful.

Rebecca: Mind sharing which books you found most interesting?

Rebecca may have meant *Tarot* books???

Maybe I'm wrong. :)

Ginny said...

May have. :) I deduced the type only from her reference to a thread on another forum and the conversation here. As to tarot books, well, I have a few but I honestly haven't found many to be that useful for me. I like Robert Place's "Tarot: History, Symbolism, & Divination" and Mary Greer's "Tarot Reversals" helped a lot when I was trying to decipher those. Tracy Porter's Tarot Handbook is very useful and Rachel Pollack's two-book set for the Haindl is a must if you use that deck. I keep Nancy Garen's "Tarot Made Easy" around for giggles.

WinkleBeam said...

Hey Ginny,

you guessed right! Guess you don't always need the cards.

;)

Thanks for the book list. I'll add it to my Christmas and Birthday wish list.

Rebecca

the_nitelite said...

Hey Ginny.
4 years? I began studying and reading almost 4 years ago and am aspiring to be a pro...maybe...tippy toeing around it....jeez I need more experience haha.
I was surprised to see a pro reader and tarot personality with a relatively short amount of study. Timewise anyway. Makes me feel better.

La Belle Femme said...

Aw, I just read this blog and I'm touched. You wuv me, you really wuv me. ;) ((hug)))

I haven't touched tarot much lately and have stayed away from most things tarot (including blogs and forums). It's not been on purpose, but sometimes...tarot tells you things you don't want to know about (yet)...or it picks up on your own neuroses and exaggerates it ten-fold (remember?!). And I honestly haven't been in the mood for any insight or truth for a while. :D Ignorance IS bliss. LOL.

Hope you're well. Glad you're keeping up on your blog. You rock at it (and tarot).

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