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.

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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.