THE UNITED STATES OF TAROT:
Taking a Candle into Your Subconscious Mind
At the end of 2016, I began gaining interest in numerology. Despite having received a book on the subject a few years back, it wasn’t until a friend suggested I try a free online numerology report, that it clicked. By “clicking” what I mean is I have a color-coded spreadsheet in my Google Docs for numerological entries I’ve since obsessively collected. We can talk about that another time.
Researching the meaning of numbers though, I soon discovered they were just as an important part of the Tarot as the illustrated images. Each card being numbered, they followed an ascending story or spiritual journey based on the principles of numerology.
What little I knew of numerology back then, I knew even less about Tarot. However, I was curious enough to purchase a deck and stare them down for a week or two before I began to shuffle and draw cards to do readings on myself. All in all, what I found was a tool, much like a morning mirror to check in with. To see where I am and what’s happening on the surface and how it correlates on a deeper level with what’s happening on the inside.
At first, the cards can definitely seem intimidating. They’ve been around since at least the 15th Century, then known in Italy simply as playing cards called “Trionfi,” (Triumph of Trump). But unlike normal playing decks we still use today for Poker or Spades with 52-54 cards, the Trionfi set was a little different.
What set them apart were the additional 22 cards that made up the trump suit. These are the Major Arcana of the Tarot, beginning with 0 / The Fool and ending with XXI / The World (some decks begin with I / The Magician and end with XXII / The Fool).
The remaining 56 cards, or Minor Arcana, are made up of the 4 suits: Chalices, Wands, Pentacles, and Swords. Each suit has 14 cards, consisting of 10 pip cards (1-10) and 4 face cards (King, Queen, Knight, and Page). That’s 78 cards in total! And every one of those cards has its individual meaning which can alternate depending what it’s paired with and on what side it’s drawn (right side up or reversed). It can seem like a comprehensive nightmare but in all honesty, what I’ve realized to be the most difficult part of the Tarot, is explaining how it works to others.
This is because there is no definite right way. Obviously, the cards can be used to play a game. At one point it was the most popular card game in all Europe, which to me, knowing only the divinatory tarot, sounds hella weird–Like using UNO cards in a fortune reading (to which a “draw four” would fuck my whole day up).
In terms of divination, the Tarot exercises our intuition, which is based on our individual experiences. Certain imagery engages us in unique ways, much like a rorschach test with ink blots, prompting associations from our subconscious mind. Cards will mean different things to us individually. Likewise, we’ll have our own preferences for how to spread the drawn cards and why to pull them in the first place.
Some people pull or have cards read for them to gain insight on the future and how best to prepare for it. Others do so to take inventory of their present actions and thoughts + how to maintain life at their best vibration. There’s all sorts of reasons but what’s at the core here?
I asked my homegirl, Lucia, a licensed massage therapist currently living in Tampa, FL, who’s used Tarot cards longer than I have (she was the one who gave me that numerology book) and she put it perfectly. “It’s just like using a candle in a dim room–We already know what we’re looking for in there, it’s just not well lit.”
Lucia uses the Tarot to bring more clarity and detail to her predictions/intuitions. She feels the imagery along with the numbers and other symbolism help set a story to her feelings or abstract ideas.
Yes, clarity! Whether you’re looking at the future, the present, your relationships, career, etc. Tarot readings provide a clarity through the metaphorical narrative found in the interpretations and their relevant connection to our lives. It gives us a deeper exploration we normally wouldn’t pursue. The Tarot tilts the angle, tricks our mind to give up information possibly because of its inherent game-like nature.
Divination comes from the random cards that are drawn. The selection is served to us by the universe. You can put as much weight on that as you’d like but the fact remains, by revisiting your thoughts under the story told by the cards, we investigate ourselves thoroughly and thus arrive at deeper revelations.
Also in Florida, my other homie, artist/graphic designer, Nia Perry, who illustrated her own deck to further personalize her readings, told me the universe communicates with us via sound, imagery, and feeling. She views her “Self” as a fragment of that higher intelligence. “My use of Tarot stems from my belief that the universe is intelligent and has a larger perspective of time and space than I ever could.” This perspective offers clarity when our five senses can go no further. Again clarity!
But Nia reminds me of the idea that our subconsciousness is part of that bigger entity. It’s the channel that’s forever tuned in regardless if, on the surface, we’re not. The subconscious absorbs more information, it acts without our permission, sometimes to our regretful detriment. An active relationship with our subconscious mind is an active relationship with that channel through which the universe has direct access.
I use the Tarot to tap into that channel. It’s already in my mind but as Lucia stated, it’s in a dark room for which a candle is helpful. Will I always need a candle for that room? Maybe not, but Life’s journey, for me, is one that takes you from new room to new room. Its that Radiohead music video for Daydreaming, in which lead singer, Thom Yorke walks through door after door.
In addition to clarity and universal alignment, what’s perhaps most engaging for me about the Tarot and why it works as an effective self-maintenance tool to guide my conscious mind toward balance is the fact that it requires creativity. I get so wrapped up in figuring out the “jigsaw puzzle” that I forget the completed picture is a self portrait. One that indeed resonates + makes me check certain behaviors or offer more energy where it’s needed.
Imagine playing Connect Four and when you win you realize you were those four discs and connecting them helped you face ideas you previously hadn’t given the proper attention to–And the only reason you did just now, is because you thought you were just playing Connect Four and didn’t think shit would get this real!
That said, I wouldn’t know how to tell you when and how you should incorporate Tarot in your life. It could very well not be for you. You could have that same self-discourse via dreams or certain types of meditation, journal writing, or fuck it maybe even Connect Four!
What’s important is you do check in from time to time to see how you’re doing. Especially if you sense self-sabotage or a disconnect between your thoughts and your actions. How can you be you if so much is happening on autopilot, informed by a secret room your conscious mind is not permitted entrance to. Your most primal of emotions operate at a level similar to extreme sound frequencies, too low or high for the human ear to register but they still affect the air–Likewise, these emotions still affect our inner space, influencing actions on the outside.
If you’re curious about Tarot cards as I was and are wondering if you should get your hands on a deck My reply is that you’ve already answered your own question. There’s no wrong way to start and despite the different decks, spreads, tutorials, testimonials, etc. the one thing necessary is your intuition and an open mind.