78 Notes to Self: A Tarot Journal

We are all wanderers on this earth. Our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I Hereby Resolve....

It's that time of year. An old year ends, a new begins and one can't seem to help but make at least a few New Year Resolutions.  Why do we do this to ourselves? We know from sad experience the disappointing sound of old resolutions popping like so many champagne bubbles, floating out of our reach and falling, spent, to the ground.  I don't think it's our fault, really, that so many intended changes don't happen.  I think we just don't get how to make them real.  Our goals tend to be too big, too unweildy, like the 7 of cups, big ideas with no foundation.  We want to "lose weight" but we don't know how much and we only have a vague idea how to do that.  We want to "get a better job" but only go as far as revamping our resume and looking through the first few weeks of classifieds or signing up with an online job search engine and after the fifteenth "Get Rich Making Money At Home!" email we block the spam.  Whether the resolution is to stop smoking, learn a new skill, take up a hobby, or even reconnect with old friends, we have the best of intentions but somehow the passion dissipates somewhere in February, if it lasts that long.

What happens to those intentions?  It dawned on me today as I was writing something on the grocery list that I perpetually keep on my refrigerator that writing that list is an act of intention.  Making that list doesn't result in the items appearing in my kitchen but only specifies what I need to manifest there.  The actual manifestation will involve physically going to the store and purchasing the items then bringing them back to my apartment.  But making the list is an important step.  I have shopped without a list before and I've done alright, but the chances of not manifesting a few items are pretty high.  Some people thrive on lists, to do lists and such.  I'm the sort that takes the list to the store then forgets it in the car.  But I have been in the store, list-less, and have closed my eyes and visualized the list and been able to remember what was on it.  The very act of writing it down seals it in my memory, and if I'm lucky I can recall it.  So even if I don't carry the list with me, the writing helps a lot with seeing the intention through.  So I should think step one in making a valid New Year Resolution would be to Write It Down.

I've had that perpetual grocery list for many years.  I remember when my oldest was in high school and his girlfriend Jessica once surprised me by writing her desired item on the list.  She wasn't even at the house when I saw it and it made me laugh out loud.  There, nestled between bread, milk, cheese, and laundry detergent was her request for a pony.  Since then, my kids have randomly written their wishes on my grocery list and it's still amusing to see the unlikely items they'd like me to pick up at the grocery store.  There's a second clue about making viable New Year Resolutions: make them realistic.  While there may come a day when Super WalMarts carry ponies, that day is not today, at least not in my town, so I would have to limit my list to that which I can reasonably assume would be sold there.  So I need to make my intentions realistic and achievable.

Beyond the shopping list approach, I don't usually have to concern myself too much with the "hows" of grocery shopping.  Not so with my other goals in life.  If I want to lose weight, for example, I need to break that goal down into smaller achievable goals that I can reach on a daily basis.  Drink more water.  How much more? Write it down.  Eat fewer meals out.  How few? One night a week? A month?  Exercise more.  How much more? Walk daily.  When? How far?  Write it all down.

If you're having trouble sorting out in your mind exactly what goal you want to make your priority, tarot can lend a hand.  Ask the deck to choose a goal for you and then draw a card.  Once you interpret the goal, draw more cards to show three things you can do to reach that goal.  Draw cards again to show the pros and cons of each path to the goal.  Tarot is a fantastic tool for brainstorming and for getting to the unsurfaced subconscious desires.  The thing with manifesting anything in your life is that you have to really want it.  I mean really, really want it.  Because if you really don't give a crap then it's not going to happen because you just won't find the motivation to move it along.  For example, I've been saying I want a new car, but I'm nowhere near that goal.  I realized today that what I really want is a new laptop to replace the one with the motherboard that fritzed out after 18 months or a way to get that one fixed.  Now THAT I want.  Because sharing one computer between me and my boyfriend is, well, inconvenient.  And we can't play World of Warcraft together and that just sucks.  I've researched prices and specs on new laptops and have even decided on one I'd like to buy when I can.  I've researched and priced replacement motherboards for the old one and found them to be about 1/3 the cost of a new computer, but with labor will likely make repair the old one unreasonable.  I've looked into selling my old laptop for spare parts. I have put time and energy into the new laptop desire but virtually nada into the new car desire.  So pay attention to what you focus on and where you spend your energy and you may realize that what you think you want isn't what you truly want after all.  Get behind what you really want not what you think you want.

I found this helpful worksheet on The Road To Well Being website.  I thought it lent itself quite well to exploring one's desires and setting goals and I also thought it would work well with a tarot deck in hand.  Using the questions on the worksheet, or adding your own, ask these questions of your deck and see what you come up with.  I tried it and my first goal is the Six of Cups.  I interpreted that as getting back to what genuinely makes me happy, what used to make me happy, which I have let go a bit.  Returning to a love, following my bliss and blessing others in the process.  Three paths to that goal: The Magician, The Fool, and the Queen of Wands.  All viable options, but one is the best way.  So I clarified those and The Magician was clarified by the Page of Pentacles which means I would probably need to learn more, find out more, practice more, and it might require some investment.  The Fool got the two of cups which would mean I would need support and possibly a partner to pick up my broken pieces when I dashed myself on the rocks.  The Queen, however, got the Sun.  I'd say that was the more powerful and compelling option.  So in order to reach my goal I need to tune into my inner Queen of Wands, take charge of things around here and move into action with passion and commitment.  All of the options were good, but one was better.  Working down the list this way with the cards helps refine and clarify one's goals and maps out a viable path to making them happen.

Let's make 2010 a year in which we indeed follow our bliss, but better yet...find the way there.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Are You Psychic?

There's an uncomfortable question tarot readers are often asked and because it doesn't have an easy answer, it sometimes causes us to shift a bit on our seats. Are you psychic? Well...no, ahem...yeah, actually...um...maybe?

I've been asked to perform some pretty amazing feats with these tarot cards. I've been asked if I can feel someone's energy through the cards, if someone will meet their soulmate, if someone will win the lottery, and if the cards can diagnose a medical problem. These are valid questions but they are more appropriate for a psychic reader, a doctor, or another professional than a tarot reader. Then again, I've heard of and have done some pretty amazing psychic readings with these 78 pictures. Basically, it comes down to what process is in operation in the reader. Is the reader using a psychic ability or intuition or a combination of the two?

I stand by what I said here in that I believe that a Tarot Reading involves applying basic historical meaning of the cards with intuition. It does not have to involve any psychic abilities whatsoever. Tarot reading is a skill that anyone can learn and while it can be used with psychic abilities, it does not have to be. Amazingly, the combination of archetypal images thrown in a random spread and interpreted via knowledge, understanding, and intuition can yield a most amazing, chilling, and goosebump-raising reading. Here you'll hear me mutter something about a "universal consciousness" and "the common human experience" and "somehow we're all connected" amid coughs and generous shrugs of the shoulders indicating I really don't know how it works so precisely, but it does. And it does so without a iota of psychic woo-woo attached.

I'm all for woo-woo. I love it, in fact. When I have experienced it either in myself or in another person it's crazy and spooky and makes me smile really big. I love it when things are said that could not have been said except that the person received that bit of info extra-sensorially. I feel just like those guys on Ghosthunters when the lights on the meter go off and they have no explanation for it. Willies galore! But psychic abilities vary widely from person to person, just as any other talent or gift. While I believe everyone has psychic abilities, not everyone is psychic. I can sing just like anyone can, but I can't sing well and even with training I won't be able to sing professionally. I think that's how psychic abilities work, too.

Basically, there are three major types of psychic abilities: clairvoyance, clairaudience, and clairsentience. Clairvoyance is the ability to see images, scenes, visual impressions in one's mind's eye that are extrasensory messages about another person. Clairaudiance is hearing things spoken, listening to guides, spirits, or departed ones. Clairsentience is feeling, smelling, tasting or otherwise physical sensations that communicate extrasensory messages. One or any combination of these abilities can be exercised in any psychic reading, depending on, of course, the particular bent of the reader. However, none of these abilities are of much use without intuition that filters the messages and allows the reader to make sense of them, to interpret them, and deliver them in a relevant manner. While a tarot reader may possess and use any of these abilities, she relies heavily upon intuition to guide her through the reading, to discern between meanings, images, messages and in choosing which of the sensory and extrasensory input to apply to this reading for this person right now.

I have experienced some of all three types of psychic input but none of them to any great strength, usually. During any given reading I will often hear words or phrases that will explain the specific meaning of a card for someone and my intuition must apply that to the reading/situation in question. That makes me somewhat clairaudiant, but I am not a medium or channel. I sometimes see pictures, with or without accompanying words, and I can just sense what they mean, but I think that's my intuition kicking in. Rarely have I smelled or tasted or had a physical sensation apart from empathic feelings. The hardest part of it all for me has been to trust that this input is not my own imagination. Working with tarot has certainly helped me in developing these abilities but I do not claim to be psychic. I am simply using these abilities as I can to enhance readings that I do. I have done many readings without the use of these abilities, relying purely on intellect, knowledge, and intuition and the readings are no less accurate or insightful.

A psychic may use tarot cards, or not, but relies primarily on extrasensory input combined with intuition. A tarot reader relies primarily on knowledge of the cards and intellect combined with intuition and possibly, though not necessarily, some extrasensory input, depending on the person. So, are tarot readers psychic? It depends on the reader. He may have well developed psychic abilities or he may not, it's highly individual, but psychic abilities do not determine the skill of a tarot reader.

As a client, how can one know whether one's tarot reader is psychic? Certainly you can't really know anything about a reader's abilities unless you've splurged for a reading. Even then, you really don't know how the reader obtained the information she relays to you. Intuition is eerily accurate and doesn't require messages from "spirit" to access. To be very honest, I don't know how it works. Maybe it's all "messages from spirit" and we think it comes from our own heads or gut feelings. I don't know. I do know that I have delivered readings that contained information there is no way my conscious or subconscious mind could have known. At other times, the cards just read like a story and it only takes figuring out the conjunctions between the cards that allow the story to be told.  Maybe there's something to Jung's theory of a collective unconscious that we all share and are able to tap into, the connective threads between us accessed by those of us willing to trust and listen.  Jung described the collective unconscious as the 'inherited potentialities of human imagination. It is the all controlling deposit of ancestral experiences from untold millions of years, the echo of prehistoric world events to which each century adds an infinitesimal small amount of variation and differentiation. These primordial images are the most ancient, universal, and deep thoughts of mankind.'  

Our minds are amazing computers.  Nothing is ever lost, it is stored and categorized and accessible at any time. It cross references all words, images and experiences we have experienced in our lifetime.  Most of this activity is done below our conscious surface.  This lends credence to the experienced reader, someone who has a number of years and readings beneath their belt.  Her mind will naturally compare and reference the various combinations and placements of cards and with analytical reasoning she herself may not even be aware of, come forth with some amazing understanding. I lean towards a combination of theories.  While the idea of a collective unconscious intrigues me, and I think it is valid given what we know about how all energy and matter is interconnected, I also give credit to the human brain to sort and sift and analyze the data presented.  Together, the end result may be what we call "intuition" or even "psychic" phenomena.

But wait -- that all makes sense when you're talking about past or even present events, but how are tarot readers, psychics and intuitives able to predict the future?  It hasn't happened yet, so it can't be stored in the collective unconscious, it's not able to be retrieved from the mind's database, so how in the heck do some of these people tell us precisely how something will play out?  Once again, I think its a matter of both tapping into the collective and the individual consciousness.  Human beings have not changed significantly in thousands of years.  We really do respond and react in pretty predictable patterns.  Oh sure, there's always a time we get caught off guard and surprised with some uncharacteristic move on someone's part, but if one were to place all of human interaction and history into a huge computer, I bet that machine could predict the next thousand years of our actions.  Ok, that's only part of it.  How did that psychic know about the washer breaking down or the windfall of money that was to come your way?  Honestly? I don't know.  Therein lies the mystery and the fascination with getting a reading.  We stop thinking, "How do they do that?" and start thinking, "When will this happen?"  Now you are a co-conspirator.

I truly do believe in the ability we have to draw unto ourselves the things and experiences we focus on.  Some call this the Law of Attraction.  I don't know if it's a law as such but it sure seems to happen.  So when one receives a reading and is given a prediction, even if it isn't something grand, it plants a seed in your mind and even if you consciously forget about it, your steel trap of a brain hasn't.  Am I suggesting the Power of Suggestion?  Maybe a little. But it's not that simple.  I see things all working together and one's own power of attracting to oneself that which one expects to happen is quite a powerful force, especially when combined with other energies in play.

So, am I psychic? Yes...and no.  It depends how you think of psychic and it depends what you demand from someone who promotes their psychic abilities.  Personally, I don't think we can demand any predetermined product from psychic or tarot people.  They provide a service, but the results aren't dependent upon them alone.  They are but an element in the grand scheme of things.   As the motto I've claimed as my own says, "The cards may be in my hands, but your destiny is in yours."

“We are a psychic process which we do not control, or only partly direct. Consequently, we cannot have any final judgment about ourselves or our lives.”
--Carl Gustav Jung