One of the phenomena that I have become increasingly aware of when working with tarot is this:
Tarot doesn’t simply “be”. Tarot also “does”.
What I mean by this is that, when we do a reading, we aren’t simply walking a one-way-street. We’re not just looking at something static that reflects something static back to us.
We are delving into the workings of the unconscious – and the unconscious is very much active and responsive.
This means that a tarot reading doesn’t just have the capacity to reflect something: in the reflecting of it, there is a quickening. Things shift and move, and they change. (Note: but possibly not in the way you or your sitter *wants* them to change).
I believe that when we look at a reading, we are looking at an aspect of the unconscious. And when we become aware of the unconscious, the unconscious becomes aware that we are aware of it. This is one way to see what Carl Jung described when he talked about alchemy:
“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”
It’s all lovely and lovey-dovey to think that this quote is about ourselves and another person. (Crack out the roses and Champagne.) But what if it is about what lies in each of us, and the meeting of what we know about ourselves (the conscious personality), and what we *don’t* know about ourselves (the unconscious personality).
When both of those meet, therefore, both are transformed. And that, my friends, is a tarot reading in a nutshell. It is a catalyst. It is present, and seems to have no discernible role in how things play out … and yet its presence means that something happens that would not have happened without it.
This is why my intention with readings and trainings is always to go gently and lightly. In our day-to-day lives, we make friends by shaking hands, not at running at each other full-speed, after all 🙂 If we ran, we’d hurt each other, and an alliance would be harder.
But if we go gently, lightly, questioningly, with respect and due care and attention – knowing that we really *don’t* know about the other person we’re meeting – then our world can expand. And the other’s world can expand too. This is what it means to me to read tarot.
And so, finally, perhaps tarot evolves as we evolve. Perhaps we need each other equally.
[Card: Princess of Swords from the Röhrig Tarot, created by Carl-W. Röhrig © US Games, Inc.]