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.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Back To School with Tarot?

So my car died.  The transmission was being stupid and every day it was being a little more stupid.  My mom bought herself a new car and gave me her older one, a PT Cruiser.  If I had won the lottery, the PT Cruiser is not the car I would have chosen but it is very nice and it certainly beats a dead car.  So I'm extraordinarily grateful to my mother.  In the process of registering the car, I had to produce my birth certificate to prove I am my mother's daughter but the problem was I couldn't find it.  I tore through some boxes of stuff in storage and found not what I was looking for but a whole slew of old tarot journals from when I was learning to read.  I didn't realize how many notes I'd taken, how many readings I wrote down, card meanings, musings, etc.  Many.

I'm frequently asked how to learn to read tarot.  Several people have asked if I offer classes.  I can do that.  One of the roles I play at my day job has been as a trainer.  I can teach adults the stuff I know.  But tarot is different.  Some people thrive in a classroom setting and there are some wonderful readers offering wonderful tarot courses and  classes, but I'm hesitant.  Because that's not the way I learned tarot.  I realize not everyone is an autodidact, a self-taught person, but I learn best when I research and practice on my own.  Besides, I'm not sure I can teach anyone how to read tarot exactly.  I can teach the history of tarot cards and I can show how to lay them out in spreads and I can hand out a set of acceptable meanings, but that's not reading.  Besides, you can get that within the little booklet that comes packaged with almost every tarot deck.  So what would a class really offer that one can't get on their own?

Maybe I'm being dense.  Learning tarot in a class is much like learning anything else.  If I took a class on cake decorating but then didn't practice on my own at home, I wouldn't get any better at creating rosettes.  If I took a language class and yet continued to use the translation dictionary, the words, the subtle meanings and the natural flow of speaking and understanding wouldn't embed itself in my brain.  Maybe this is why I don't take classes unless they are a means to an end such as earning credits toward a degree. If I have a passion to learn something, I just go do it and learn as I go.  I have thoroughly enjoyed taking classes, don't misunderstand.  I love learning new things.  But learning a skill is different and learning tarot is more different still.

While there is a right and wrong way to bake a cake and pronounce a word in another language, there is no right or wrong way to read tarot (or pronounce it, for that matter).  While I can equip you with the basics, you must take it from there.  You will need to work with your cards every day several times a day.  You will be thinking about them even when you're not working with them.  You will be reading about them, talking with others about them, writing about them and yes, reading, reading, reading them.  You will make discoveries and apply them to your readings.  You will study the cards, research symbols, colors, numbers, and incorporate what you find.  Or not.  Maybe you will find whatever you find in the cards.  Maybe you will develop your own set of meanings and symbols and use those.  No one can teach you these things.

Because the language of tarot comes from your own conscious and subconscious connections and experiences, every reader speaks a different dialect of tarot.  When I read for someone who also reads tarot, I am often asked how I arrived at a particular card meaning.  I don't know?  I can only tell you what I know about the card itself but how the connection came to be made between that and what I told you in the context of your reading is a complex domino effect of associations that happens so quickly in my brain that I couldn't begin to unravel it for you.

The first tarot reading I received was so mind blowing for me that when I began the process of learning tarot, I wanted to read like THAT.  I wanted to be able to read those cards like a story, connecting them in a way that not only made sense linguistically but made sense in the life of the one I was reading for.  Just as learning a language is best done by immersing oneself in the culture and environment of the language, so it was for me with tarot, too.

That said, I've been thinking about offering something, though, along the lines of teaching tarot. Just because I learn best on my own doesn't mean everyone does.  I'm not against a tarot class, per se, but maybe a kind of tarot mentoring or coaching would be more beneficial?  For those who might be interested in a tarot class, what would you be looking for?  What would you want to accomplish by taking such a class?  When the class was over, what would you expect to be equipped to do?