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

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Going From Flat to 3-D

It's clear from the responses on the last post that there aren't one or two universal cards that draw blanks for all of us.  For each reader it's going to be unique to them.  It's frustrating and annoying when these cards show up because you just know you're missing something, particularly if the card starts reoccurring in your reads.  As I said, I'm not referring to the occasional blank spot that can happen in any reading at any time with any given card, but a card that consistently gives you very little no matter where it lands in any reading.  And I'm not talking about The High Priestess either, I think she's meant to irritate a bit because she's asking you to look deeper within for your answers, the ones you already know and therein lies her meaning.

The Sun.  Good card, right?  Great card, in fact.  Happy, happy, joy, joy!  Happy nekkid dancing and carefree innocence.  But I can't seem to get any farther than the "book meaning" with this card.  Oh sure, if it comes up as an outcome, I'm pleased to report all things will be fine.  If it comes up as advice, I might say one should spend some time relishing in the simple joys of life, remembering what it was like when you were a child and had fewer worries and concerns.  Approach the issue without judgment and cynicism.  But then it stops.  Is that enough? Well, it can be, but I feel like I always give the same report with this card, whereas with other cards the meanings are more fluid and change with the reading, with the query, with the position.  This one seems more static to me and that feels off to me.  If there's one thing I have learned about tarot is that the cards do "speak" individually to each question and situation.  Sure, each one has a basic meaning, but then it can flow and branch out from there.  Not so with this card for me and maybe a couple others, too.

What can we do to enlarge our perspectives on these flat interpretations?  It's harder when one is doing a live reading and feels the pressure to say something, anything, right away.  Much better to work on this when one is not rushed.  Better still not to do it when reading for oneself on a particularly sensitive issue.  I rarely "meditate" on a card, but in this case it might do some good.  It also may help to do some background research and look into the history of the images, digging into what the various items pictured on the cards mean symbolically.  I do  that regularly here at 78 Notes To Self because it has been a great help to me in digging deeper into a card's meaning.  For example, in my post on the 3 of Wands, I looked into the ancient cross-cultural symbolism of boats, even though the boats are not front and center in the card image.  For a long while, all I could focus on with that card was the feeling of waiting in positive expectation for something or someone.  The boat symbolism added a lot more to the range of meanings for this card and allows a reader a much wider berth to work with. 

Another action to take is to post one's dilemma on a forum of tarot readers, such as Aeclectic Tarot Forum, to receive varied perspectives from different readers.  Since others don't always struggle with the same card, you're bound to get insight from others' views. Interacting with other tarot readers has always been beneficial to me.  Besides, not all readers use the same deck, and since decks vary widely in their depictions of each card, you're liable to get varied interpretations based on which deck the reader uses.  Thoth-based decks, for example, have different associations for the card, as do Marseilles-based, and, of course Rider-Waite-Smith. Historical decks, modern decks, themed decks, art decks, all have various takes on the images and each artist often chooses which aspect of the card to draw to the eye.  By examining various decks, either your own or at a site like Trionfi, helps to break one out of the frame of the card you have always known.

Doug Gibb, author of the blog Tarot Eon, explored this question in this post from last year.  He suggests that one reason we might have consistent trouble interpreting a card or card combination is because the issues represented in those cards are ones we ourselves need to work on.  We haven't yet faced nor dealt with those particular "karmic challenges" to the degree that we need to in order for that card to flow easily from us.
I remember speaking to Paul Hughes-Barlow a couple of years ago about how some combination of cards were easy to understand while others weren’t.
Paul suggested something that was truly inspirational. He had observed, through his own experience, that even doing a Tarot reading for other people can teach us about ourselves. One of the most interesting things Paul said was, “you spend months trying to understand a combination of cards, and when you finally understand them, you’ll never see that combination again”.
It’s almost as if, in understanding a difficult combination, in the very act of doing a Tarot reading for someone else, we ourselves begin to heal.   
For instance, he would spend months “seeing” the same combinations of cards appear before he finally understood their significance. Almost as if, in understanding that combination, in being able to accurately interpret them for a client, he had healed an area of his own Karma.

In many ways, the Tarot is our best teacher. It teaches us, not only through personal study, but also in the very act of reading for other people.
 So, the very act of delving deeper into that card will, in turn, provide us opportunities to grow, not only as a tarot reader, but as a person.

I'll give my perspective on the cards you all mentioned in your responses in a following post, and I'd like to hear what others think about my nemesis The Sun as well.


  1. For me it would be some of the court cards. In the Mythic deck, somehow I simply cannot realte to the Queen of Wands and Page of Wands.

  2. Anonymous5:25 PM

    Hi. I am new to your blog, but I like what I have seen so far.
    I have some difficulties with the Star. Things are getting better. We see the light at the end of the tunnel. We are more optimistic...but I don't get much more than that.
    As far as the Sun in concerned, I would add Energy and vitality, lots of it. When I see the Sun I also think that whatever we are looking at is growing very fast. Something is very intense. As an extreme I think burn out. There is a need perhaps to pace ourselves so that we don't spend too much energy at once and end up depleted.
    I hope it helps.

  3. Isn't it weird how fast we can run out of things to say about something purely and simply good in a reading?

    What you say about the Sun reminds me a bit of my experience with Hexagram 14 - which is Great Possession, or Great Being, and whose component trigrams (funnily enough) show fire in heaven. A wonderful image of wealth and potential... but I could talk for three times as long about something like Stripping Away. Oddness.

  4. Thanks Andre, I don't think I've really taken a look too much of the various parts and pieces of the card much. I think, like Hilary, I end up not having much to say about the happy cards. It's like YAY and that's about it. "...and they lived happily ever after...The End." LOL We don't examine joy, do we? Why not? It doesn't puzzle us the way despair does. We are motivated to find a way through sadness and darkness and confusion, but joy? Ah, just keep it coming, I promise I won't question it, that might jinx it!

    Hmmm....there's my karma card, right? I need to study JOY. How delightful. :)

  5. tarot faith, decks inevitably have those renderings in a few cards that just don't do it for you. You can love the deck on the whole, but there are those one or two cards that just, well, don't give it to you. With the Mythic deck, though, aren't there myths and stories that are supposed to go hand in hand with the cards? Do the stories help any with those two?

    Anna...the woman, the naked woman...front and center. You couldn't have missed her. ;) She's naked -- transparent, vulnerable, innocent. The Star is also about healing one's self, ones emotions, by allowing oneself to delve into them, unguarded, unencumbered, safe and yet vulnerable. The goal is afar off, but you're headed in the right direction but, healing first. You won't get there otherwise.

  6. Hello Ginny
    With the Mythic Tarot, the sun is represented by Apollo in mythology and, like other gods, Apollo is far from idyllic representation of the sun, heat, family, happiness etc. .. It has its share of Cruelty to play its role of god (sun) to which we should not resist and that should be followed. In the 5 Swords (the Mythic Tarot) Apollo is so big that I find impressive, selfish always wanting to be the center of the universe ... the coup, like the sun in the tarot but what it without the moon? a star that shines ... may be too much and burns.
    In this regard, I made a post on my blog about Apollo and Cassandra, you can read it here http://histoires-de-cartes.blogspot.com/2010/05/apollon-et-cassandre. html
    if it interests you.
    Good day and friendly thoughts from France.

  7. For me it has always been The World. The card seems to mean everything, and nothing at all, depending on the context.

  8. Cassandra5:56 AM

    This card isn't unfathomable at all.

    Going from astrology approach: if the moon child is Cancer and sun child is Leo, I could say that Leos always have good intentions. Without fail as I have seen. We Cancers are good at seeing the true intentions of somebody else. With Leos I detect nothing menacing. Their intentions are good. Look at Barack Obama for a fine example!

  9. In a bit of synchronicity I saw this just this morning:

    Even after all this time,
    The sun never says to the earth,
    "You owe me."
    Look what happens with
    A love like that.
    It lights the whole sky.

    - Hafiz of Persia.

    I've always found the happier cards the hardest to communicate in readings and to take in deeper for my own mental and emotional reference. I think there's something oh-so-human about the fact that most of our paths to understanding get forged in adversity and harsher times - when things are easier, we tend to relax and enjoy; there seems to be no real lessons to learn and "lighter" neural links are formed. It may have something to do with the fact that bad memories and experiences get deeply etched chemically/emotionally and make deeper recall pathways - we can get bogged down in bad emotions for hours whereas the feeling of joy is fleeting and only lasts for second - so maybe it's no wonder we can stuck describing and analysing The Sun because as intensely brilliant as all that good stuff feels, we can only remain in it for brief moments at a time..

  10. LOVE what you said, Sammy. I also wonder why so many of us seem to have to work so damn hard at happiness. It should be natural, a default. Instead, it seems backwards. Your musings have given a clue.


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