Avoiding Self-imposed Results When Reading for Yourself

So I had a chat with my fellow tarotiers as usual this morning, and the experienced amongst us warned against what she called the “yellow car effect”. I am just going to paste what she said here: 

Sometimes a card keeps showing because we are subconsciously looking for that card, thus it will appear. It is a “yellow car” effect, a term coined by my husband. When we play the “tap your friend when you see a yellow car!” game, suddenly yellow cars are everywhere. It is your mind playing tricks on you. Same as seeing so many people dying. We see so many because we subconsciously looking for another, and another.

There are several ways to break away from that effect. One of them is to break away from the routine. Change your perception every now and then. Change your ways every now and then. That way your mind won’t try to actively seek what you believe as true. Really beneficial in training impartialities. 

Stop reading, or do reading on another time. Stop for two days and then read again on night time instead of morning. 

What we believe as the truth and the truth itself often are so different. But yellow car effect creates mindblocks – a dangerous thing that a reader shouldn’t have.

Break the cards too. Put them upside down. Find another way to shuffle. After you have done that several times and it still appears, means that probably it is the truth. Probably – for the real truth, we often don’t know.

I also found another blog post here which shares tips on how to read for yourself objectively. Detachment is difficult when we try to read issues concerning ourselves, so needless to say these tips require a lot of practice. 

A Spread for Emotional Turmoil

So…my beloved fellow translator and tarotier shared this wonderful spread with me from Biddy Tarot. The “Release and Let Go” spread sounds like a wonderful stress therapy and a good spread to shine a light on our negative feelings. I know that the general advice is that you should only read tarot when you feel calm and focused, and maybe thats true when you are trying to find a solution to an issue, but what if the issue is your emotion? You need to take it out first, lay it bare and accept it for what it is before you can resolve it.

I had to try three times before I got the spread right. The first did not work because I did not use reverse, as I did not feel experienced enough to read reversed cards. But in this instance I just got to use them, because the spread is about reflecting stress and negative feelings after all. So I tried the 2nd time with reversed cards, but the reading was off and I realized I missed one card I put aside on the first attempt! Needless to say my third attempt has lost some steam, but I think it still holds some truth. 

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  1. What I am feeling now? Queen of Pentacles reversed. I am feeling incompetent. My house is a mess, I cannot get myself and my family in order, and none of my strategies and plans work.
  2. Why do I feel it so strongly? 8 of Swords reversed. Because I am done with cares and worries. I am sick of dodging swords all the time. I just want to break free from all burdens and restrictions. I want to be able to do whatever I want regardless of other people and situations.
  3. How can I release this feeling? The Empress reversed. Be selfish. The hell with others, at least for a while. Satisfy your spiritual, emotional and physical needs first.
  4. What is the feeling transforming into? The Lovers. Hunger for affection, for people who will take me under their wings and love me as I am, without any expectations.
  5. How can I rise above this feeling? 10 of Pentacles. Surround yourself with the right people and with abundance. Soak in your achievements. Count your blessings. That will increase your self-esteem and clear your heart and mind.
  6. What is my new beginning? The Magician. With God’s help, I hopefully will heal from emotional imbalances and gain wisdom and confidence to use all the faculties He has given me to achieve my life purpose.
  7. What have I learned? Three of Swords reversed. Let go of past hurts, learn to forgive both others and myself. Don’t get too emotionally invested in anything or anyone so you can heal from emotional pain quicker. Rise above your emotions.

Overall, this sounds like a selfish and heartless advice that advocates abandonment, but it is not that contrary actually. The Bible says: “…cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Matthew 23:26) and “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them” (Mark 6:11). Love and help others, but never ever let yourself be poisoned with their negativities.

Overall, this seems like a good therapeutic spread that I will most likely use often. Kudos to Biddy Tarot for inventing this!

Life Hacks with Triple Goddess Tarot

I didn’t rebuy the decks I’ve given away in my third time of picking up tarot. Instead, I chose a newly published deck called Triple Goddess Tarot created by tarotist Jaymi Elford and artist Franco Rivolli. I won’t do a review of this deck as I kinda suck at reviews and there’s already a nice one written by Benebell Wen here.

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photo credit: Llewellyn Worldwide

Anyway, what drawns me to this deck first and foremost is its RICH COLORS and VIVID IMAGERY. I needed a strong deck which would tell me what I need to know plainly and bluntly before my eyes, so that was the deciding factor that made me pick up this deck. That’s not to say I didn’t have my doubts, because some cards were (and still are) a bit ambiguous to me, such as the Devil card which shows an elderly lady walking away from a pleasant house and field to dark forest (?), the Four of Pentacles which shows a woman about to give out one of her four coins to someone unseen (isn’t it supposed to be about keeping ALL the coins to herself?), and the Queen of Cups which shows a woman opening a large cup with a shocked look on her face. Nevertheless, these are minor weaknesses and the LWB seems to provide clear and concise keywords to understand the imageries anyway, so I went and bought it.

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And it did not disappoint! It’s been a month or so now and this deck proves to be a friendly go-to deck for almost anything. Glenda (yes, I name my decks…see my previous post about bonding) seems to have the characteristics of a water sign, or in layman’s term, water sign traits that her creators infused into her. She is loyal, pliable and gentle, so gentle sometimes that I need to pry further to get more specific answer from her.

I am going to give an example of my reading today. I have had some serious emotional/spiritual setbacks and need to reassess what God has been telling me about myself and my role in the world. So I began by asking Glenda to confirm who I am, i.e. what I am called to be/do.

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Right…I had suspected my role is a Healer, and this is not so far off. It seems that I am more of a supporter, cheerleader, comforter. Am still not sure how I will do that though…as I seem to be the living embodiment of my birth Tarot card, the solitary and quiet Hermit. How can an unsociable Hermit be a delight for others?

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I then asked Glennie (Glenda’s nick) how to serve others without hurting/damaging myself. I have lost count of how many times I tried to help others and yet got either taken for granted or misunderstood as a result. You may say it’s just the way life is, but for someone with serious self-confidence issue as a result of childhood bullying, it’s way harder to stomach. Glennie gave me Queen of Pentacles, 9 of Pentacles and my stalker card these days, 7 of Swords. Based on the LWB, it seems that I need to get my house in order (i.e. resolving my internal issues) before I can help others, be proud/happy of my achievements, and “be shrewd as snakes” (Matthew 10:16).

And of course, being a trusting and naive person I am, I had to ask Glennie how to be “shrewd”.

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Of course. It is God who calls me to His mission and tells me to be “innocent as doves and shrewd as snakes”, so I have to go back to Him for tips!! And then with His wisdom and my God-given instinct and faculties, I can choose which way to deal with every situation. Most importantly, I have to realize that I am triumphant and whole in Him who has saved me, and no mistakes or slips can take that away. So be confident in yourself!

(P.s: after some interesting discussion with a tarotist, i realize that 2 of Swords can also mean impartiality. When you are impartial, it is much easier to deal with people).

That is an example of the many life-hacks Glenda has given me. Despite some ambiguous cards, I would strongly recommend this deck to those who are in the process of studying tarot and looking for decks that are honest, yet not imposing or intimidating.

Disclaimer

This blog is intended to share my progress of learning the tarot. In no means it should be taken as an expert view of tarot cards and their meanings and usage. Feel free to give me your inputs in Comments section if you feel my interpretation is incorrect or off.

Animism and Tarot

Most of my friends who practice tarot treat their decks like their best friends. They name them, ask their birth dates, give them personalities, place them in pretty pouches and boxes, and even chitchat with them. When I first got into tarot, I found this rather unbelievable, but then I understood that this is one way to “bond” with the decks, to integrate the cards with us and our spiritual energy, and therefore make reading and interpretation easier as the cards naturally become extension of our subconscious mind.

I have had my doubts though. A couple of weeks ago I had a friend used my new tarot cards, and for some reasons the cards got sticky and felt disconnected when I tried to use it afterwards. It reeked of my friend’s perfume and got soaked in her energy. I asked for advices and did whatever I could to cleanse the cards: slipped them in-between the pages of my published translations, fanned them under the sun, compressed them under thick dictionaries to restore their shapes, and so on. I even “talked” with them to restore the energy bond with me. The method worked, and I began to be able to read them again, but then the deck suddenly went berserk and threw me ominous-looking cards after two days.

My friends told me the deck has not recovered from the ordeal that changed her (she was being used multiple times that day for heavy readings) and the best way is to leave her alone in her usual storage place until the upsetting energy evaporates, while talking and humoring her. I followed the advice, yet at the same time I suddenly got reminded of ‘animism’, a word that has not crossed my mind since I encountered it in religion subject in high school. For the uninitiated, it means treating dead objects as if they were alive and had souls. I felt ridiculous for humoring the cards, wondering if I have gone a step too far in treating them like a person. After further discussions with my tarotier friends and some mulling of my own, I came to the conclusion that, while naming the decks and treating them like our favorite dolls does help in familiarizing ourselves with the cards, we also need to draw the line and establish that we are the mistress in the house of cards, not the other way around.

So I did a tête-à-tête with the cards, confirming that I am the mistress of the house who serves the Lord as the highest command and that my deck is a mere assistant whose job is to translate our communication. Please be aware that I was actually talking to myself, establishing that thought in my mind to clear the confusion. It worked: I regained my peace once I made it clear about my position in relation to the cards, and my beloved deck again becomes my lovely assistant.

There is indeed a fine line between appropriate and inappropriate use of tarot decks, and every tarot reader must use their discretion and listen to their conscience to know the correct ways of using the cards. I am thankful of my God-fearing spiritualist friends who have been there and done that and able to share their experiences.

Finding God’s Call through Tarot

I used to be very scared of Tarot.

Like many orthodox Christians, I believed that tarot is a form of occult and divination that is shunned by God and a tool for the Devil to deceive and mislead people who crave instant answers to everything. I never even thought of going near tarot cards until a couple of spiritualist friends who share similar belief system as I do began to show interest in it.

At first I was only a fascinated spectator, then I thought perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to buy a deck just for fun. After all, I didn’t mean to take the whole thing too seriously, just like I read astrology without even believing in it. So I bought a used deck online, and my first introduction to tarot was a disaster. I suffered several minor misfortunes after buying the deck, and I was frightened that God was angry with me for even considering it. So I gave the deck to another spiritualist friend…and stayed away from tarot until I read my Christian friend sharing about how she became more in tune with God’s messages after using tarot to support her devotionals.

I had a lengthy discussion with her and finally decided to buy another deck, this time a new, fantasy-themed one that does not seem to be as imposing and scary as the first. I learned from my friend that tarot cards themselves are harmless objects, that they were originally just playing cards with Christian symbols and archetypes on them until some people began to use them for divination and occult. From Internet research, I also learned that a lot of tarot practitioners do not use these cards for fortune telling, instead they use them in very much scientific way, like psychologists who probe into their clients’ subconsciousness to unearth and underline internal issues they are probably not aware of. So I tried to learn tarot with this new perspective…and the universe seemed to side with me. I experienced no more strange incidents, and began to enjoy the way tarot showed me aspects of myself and my personal issues that I failed to notice or recognize otherwise. Soon I bought my second and third decks, two for daily readings and one for more in-depth, philosophical reading, and joined tarot challenges in Instagram to sharpen my intuitive and interpretation skills.

After a while I got addicted to tarot, and I joined one challenge after another. I could do like 11 challenges in a day and played tarot for hours daily. But after a while things got tedious, my new hobby started to feel draining instead of invigorating, and I still felt alone and demotivated most of the time. Then by God’s grace, my attention was shifted to other issues and new projects, and I abandoned tarot reading for the second time as I got busy and excited with other things.

Eventually I ditched my decks for the second time after stumbling upon this article. Since the guy himself used to be a seasoned tarot reader, he most probably did not write it out of blind speculation. And what he said did make sense to some extent. After all, the Devil is a master of disguise, and who can tell who is really behind the answers we got in tarot cards? So I told God that I will get rid of my decks right away if He would keep me happily busy and productive, and that’s what happened.

Apparently though, my journey with tarot did not end there. Even though I have ditched my decks, I still joined the private discussion group with my fellow professionals cum tarotiers and still enjoyed their exchanges. And of course, with time, my interest in tarot resurfaced. Just mere months after giving out my decks, I had a strange feeling as if God, in fact, was not against this practice at all. Partly because of that feeling and because of the way my Christian tarotier friend sails forward in her relationship with God, I decided to give tarot a third chance.

And this time, I finally know how to use it properly.

Now, I am not discrediting what Alec Satin said. After all, we share the same faith in God and I am sure God has spoken to both of us. But I now begin to realize the main issue with tarot, and I have to admit there is a fine line between using and abusing tarot cards. Before, I used tarot cards for everything: to delve into my psyche, probe into just about any issue, even predict the future sometimes. Instead of feeling enlightened, I actually felt myself getting confused and overwhelmed with all the information. Tarot is indeed a powerful tool, and it can be easily used both ways. The power of tarot as analytical tool may easily induce people with sharp intuition AND desire for power to use these cards to play God, to tell things they shouldn’t tell and open doors they shouldn’t open. The cards themselves are indeed harmless: what they end up as depend on the psyche and intent of people who use them. In my third attempt with the tarot, with the guide of my God-fearing spiritualist friends, I try to look at it not as a key to answer everything but as an ASSISTANT, a way to visualize what God is trying to tell me through my subconscious. Sometimes, God’s nudge or advice or warning can be drowned in our skeptic and noisy mind, and the cards is one way to bring those messages out clearly. Through the symbols, we can interpret what our conscience and instinct have been trying to tell us while we ignore them in our daily lives because of fear, stubbornness and self-denials.

Now I use tarot more sparsely and wisely, only to back up my daily devotionals and to cut through confusion by affirming the answers I have already known deep inside. The key is to keep ourselves close to God and seek His answers in the Word first and foremost before using the Tarot to confirm and clarify. I believe now that tarot can actually be used by God to communicate with people who are spiritually insensitive or just plain dull through  vivid symbols and colors. In this sense, it is important also to choose tarot decks from artists who are NOT involved in dangerous occults or dark magic, as the images may reflect their darkness and instill some of their ideologies in us.

My discovery of the tarot is in no way final and I am still learning about this fascinating tool in my walk with God. So far though, it has been my wonderful assistant in confirming the messages God has first put into my heart before I pick the cards. I hope to share more of my knowledge here in this blog as I go along.