Terrestrial Triumphs

A little more than two years ago, I started to do a daily tarot reading. I wanted to learn the cards effortlessly (that is, without having to actively memorize each of the 78 cards), and though I’m still at it, I have very little retention of what the cards mean, so after all this time, I still have to look up the meaning of each card. Adding to the confusion, each guide included in most decks offers a different interpretation of the cards, though there is a vague thread of similarity between each of those interpretations. Some of the major arcana seem obvious, such as the Wheel of Fortune or Judgment, but the minor arcana all runs together, especially the court cards (the people cards). These generally refer to the people in our lives, but I have very few people and none of court cards ever seem to have anything to do with them or me.

Actually, the readings themselves never seem to have anything to me except shallowly, the way newspaper horoscopes offer shallow advice or ambiguous prophesy. It’s possible that I am not doing the readings correctly, not opening myself to possible meanings, not meditating on the cards or whatever it is I am supposed to be doing since I am not gleaning anything about myself or my life that I don’t already know. It’s also possible that at this stage of my life there isn’t anything more I can know. That’s not to say I know everything about myself, just that I know what I know and can’t intuit what I don’t know, with or without the help of the tarot.

Still, I continue to do a daily reading, choosing a different deck each month. In the hope that by limiting the number of cards I use, I will be able to better learn the meanings, this month I am using the Glass Tarot, a gorgeous deck reminiscent of stained glass, that’s comprised of only the major arcana. (The title of this blog, terrestrial triumphs, is how the major arcana was once known; hence, the term “trumps” as another name for those cards.)

Today’s three-card reading included all cards that I am familiar with, and so my interpretation before looking at what the guide says, is that once I was naïve about certain matters, such as what grief can do to a person (The Fool), but then Jeff died and the world I knew came tumbling down (The Tower), and now I see things from a different perspective (The Hanged Man).

All true, of course, but it doesn’t tell me anything I don’t already know. (My question for the reading was “What do I need to know today?) Going by the definitions in this particular guide, the cards mean something else and deviate a bit from how others interpret the cards.

The Fool: Freedom from concern over material matters, extravagances, follies, light-heartedness, incomprehensible or inexplicable actions.

The Tower: Arrogance, pride, presumptuousness, upset equilibrium, danger, exile, collapse of mistaken convictions.

The Hanged Man: Disinterestedness, altruism, repentance, detachment from matter, moment of transition, utopia, art, punishment.

Even reading my cards from a different angle, perhaps that my follies let to arrogance and now I have to repent, doesn’t tell me much, though it is interesting to see how the same cards are subject to two completely different interpretations.

It does show me, too, that a few cards are sticking in memory, so my daily readings are helping me learn the cards, for whatever that’s worth.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

New Month, New Tarot Deck

Every month I’ve been using a different tarot deck in an effort to see if the deck feels the same as the rest, or if it resonates with me. Although I like a couple of the decks better than any of the others, either because of size or feel or the artistry, I haven’t felt any special affinity with any of the cards.

This month’s choice of decks is the Jungian tarot, which is based on archetypal images designed to activate the imagination. According to the designer of the deck, most of the current values assigned to the various cards were arbitrarily developed in the nineteenth century by occult groups. By contrast, he says the attributions in the Jungian Tarot were painstakingly researched in an effort to relate tarot interpretation to more ancient traditions.

Sounds good, right? Well, today’s card, the ten of wands activates my imagination not at all. The image gives me the impression of being weirdly inappropriate since it seems sinister, and the ten of wands is a rather benign card relating to careful management, functioning within a large organization, success, the loneliness that comes from success, and reacting defensively to badly organized ideas. Which is not a whole lot different from the meanings assigned by other tarot interpreters. Most say the card is about success and the perhaps oppressive responsibilities one has to take on because of that success; a need for prioritizing, delegating, and sharing your burdens. (None of which seem to have any relation to my life at all.)

It almost seems as if the major arcana (the cards most people have heard of, such as the fool, the hanged man, the sun, the moon, etc) are the cards that every tarot artist and interpreter spend most time on, and the others are “also rans.” (Which is why so many readings, such as online readings, use only those twenty-two cards rather than all seventy-eight cards.)

When I do graduate from picking just one card to doing a periodic reading (weekly or monthly), chances are I will only use those twenty-two cards until I get familiar with how the cards fit together to show . . . well, to show whatever it is they are supposed to show. I still don’t know. I do know the tarot isn’t really about foretelling the future; it’s more about communicating with our deepest being, but so far, there’s not a hint of what I might be hiding in my innermost depths. It could be I have no such depths. It could be the cards are not speaking to me, and if they are, I haven’t learned to listen. It could be that the whole thing is hokum.

So far, the only imagination it has activated in me is the possibility of using the cards as story telling cards — using each of the face cards as a character, and surrounding them random cards to see how their lives would unfold. But the idea has gone no further than that. Nor have I deepened whatever intuition I might have or learned anything I don’t already know.

But I have the cards, so it does me no harm to pick one every day just to see what I pick.

***

While sorting through her deceased husband’s effects, Amanda is shocked to discover a gun and the photo of an unknown girl who resembles their daughter. After dedicating her life to David and his vocation as a pastor, the evidence that her devout husband kept secrets devastates Amanda. But Amanda has secrets of her own. . .

Click here to buy: Unfinished