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Although most people don't know it, the Tarot is kind of like the Swiss Army Knife of self-help tools. The seventy-eight cards of the Tarot deck are well known as predictors of the future, the favored instrument of fortunetellers. But did you know that the Tarot can help you find solutions to problems, focus your meditation, enhance your journaling, supplement your magical practice, and increase your personal growth? What Tarot Can Do For You outlines methods and practices for all these topics, including exercises and examples.
Fortune telling will probably always be Tarot's crowning glory. Really, who isn't intrigued with the idea of knowing the future? But unless you believe that the future is set in stone, that everything is pre-determined, and that you have no free will, the future cannot be predicted, right? Well, yes and no. If certain events are set in motion, then there is a likely outcome. Think about predicting the weather. The further out a prediction is, the more likely things will happen to change the forecast. The daily forecast is always more accurate than the seven-day forecast. Even with the daily forecast, unforeseen events can change the weather very quickly.
A Tarot reading, or divination, is most effective if used like a weather forecast. It can tell you what will probably happen if all things remain as they are, and give you a clear picture of all the elements involved and how they affect one another. But unlike a weather forecast, the Tarot can also help you determine your best course of action in those events over which you have control. Because the Tarot acts as a bridge between your subconscious and your conscious, it can help clarify your thoughts and feelings regarding a situation. The Tarot is also a spiritual tool, serving as a connection between you the divine—it can provide guidance in times of turmoil. In short, it can give you information about a situation and help you find answers or make better decisions.
By looking at an image on a Tarot card and focusing on what draws your attention—or even your reaction to an aspect of the image—can help pinpoint or clarify issues that, while apparently clamoring for attention, might be difficult to see clearly. Also, considering the actions depicted in the cards can provide inspiration for new ideas or new ways of looking at situations. This makes the tarot very useful for problem solving.
One problem solving method involves doing a reading. There are many ways to interpret the cards. In her book Tarot: Your Everyday Guide, Janina Renee describes a method that is particularly suited to problem solving. In addition, it is well suited for beginners. Ms. Renée suggests reading the pictures—looking carefully at what is going on in the scenes and adapting those actions to the situation at hand. By focusing on the scenes, a beginner can use the cards without extensive study. In some cases, knowing too much about the esoteric meanings can actually hinder this method, as readers may be tempted to focus on their interpretations of the cards rather than the specific actions. Sometimes extreme familiarity with a deck can stop a person from seeing the cards with fresh eyes. If you find that is the case, you might consider using a deck with which you are unfamiliar, to force yourself to examine the cards more carefully.
The method is very simple and works well with a one-card spread. Consider your problem. Shuffle the deck, asking the Tarot for advice on how to handle the situation. Draw a single card, look carefully at the picture, and determine how the action depicted can be applied to your situation. Keep in mind, this method entails far more than merely aping the actions shown on the card. This exercise is about tapping into the energy and power contained in the image and translating into your own life. Consider Susan's experience:
Susan, a single woman, is taking a class on French cooking through a local store. The class is nearing its final weeks. In addition to enjoying herself, she has met several new friends who share a common hobby. In particular, she is interested in a man who seems as shy as she is. She'd like to ask him out, but isn't sure how to approach him. Her problem: how do two incredibly shy people connect? She is surprised when she draws the Seer of Wands (Page of Wands) from her World Spirit deck. The woman on the card, all fire and determination, fearless as she pets a large cheetah, seems the very opposite of herself. She meditates on the figure, trying to find that aspect of herself. Feeling just a bit silly, she stands, adopting the pose of the Seer—feet spread, feeling grounded and balanced, her face determined and confident. After getting used to the pose, imagining the power of the cheetah tangible under her hand as she touches the cheetah's fur, Susan finds she is able to tap into her own boldness. Its confidence and boldness fill her. She practices feeling comfortable with this attitude so that she can slip into easily when she next sees her classmate.
Susan sought a solution to a situation through her Tarot cards. The simple act of focusing and visualizing helped her access a part of her personality she hadn't developed. And this may lead to a date or friendship that she might have otherwise missed. Overcoming her shyness could positively impact her life in other ways as well.
Actively searching for solutions, doing exercises, thinking about things from another person's point of view are all excellent ways to solve problems. Check out What Tarot Can Do For You to learn other ways you can use Tarot to take control and improve your life.
Barbara Moore (Saint Paul, MN) has studied and read tarot since the early 1990s. She wrote the bestselling Tarot for Beginners and more than a dozen other books, and she has contributed to many bestselling tarot kits, ...