No Guru, No Method, No Teacher, Pt. I
For a very long time, I considered myself a bit of a charlatan.
I've been a jack of all trades; and a master of none. I have talked about, and worked with, tarot, but I have never managed to fully tread the path of the adept in anything tarot-related.
The number of tarot courses I've signed up for and then left in my wake has been numerous. In fact, I'm not sure I've completed anything run by anyone else - save for the initial workshop that introduced me to tarot in 2005. My Tarot "Continuing Professional Development" has been defined by my absence, not my presence.
All this time, I have berated myself for not being able see anything through, and not having the commitment that is meant to validate my standing in the tarot community. I came to believe it was because I had no staying power.
I have now come to believe that this statement isn't true.
I now know that my own particular path is the path of the stubborn renegade. It’s one that by definition I’ve had to forge for myself.
I'm not one for following; I never have been. But I'm not a leader either. I've tried to market myself as a tarot 'authority', and it runs counter to everything that makes sense in me. I've felt some envy of, and wished I were like, others who can harness the power of self-marketing and of social media ... and at the same time I know it hasn’t been me.
My life has been challenging, and it has been experiential, and I have always been an outsider. In the words of Van Morrison, I have had "No Guru, No Method, No Teacher". All have been conspicuously absent. This has been painful in moments, but it has also been my greatest instruction.
What I've learned from it is this:
To try and replicate someone else's experience is to live a life that isn't true. If I am to have anything that is my own, I have to strive to live my own life.
And I have found that is easier said than done.
It’s one thing to say, “I have to live my own life and be my own person!” I said *that* when I marched out of my first marriage at 35 and thought I’d got everything figured out. But the lived experience of ‘being my own person’ has been somewhat different to the romantic notions I had about it.
I’ve learned - I continue to learn - that to live my own life is to be in a state of seemingly perpetual flux and doubt. My romantic notions had thought that a path would magically open up for me, but for the most part it has meant beating a path through new territory.
No yellow brick road on the way to the Emerald City. Just infinite jungle. Or desert.
And when I’ve been beating my way through jungle or desert, with no path, I haven’t thought, “Hey, look at me! I’m a pioneer!” I’ve been thinking, “Shit - where the fuck am I?!”
The “no-path” option is no guarantee of success. “No-path” hasn’t felt reliably successful at all! And yet, looking back, it has all made sense, even when the outward trappings of success have been absent.
And so why this post? It’s all part of that no-path approach that, at times, prompts me to take up my axe, my blade, my walking stick (depending on the nature of the landscape I’m traversing) and to use it, even when I don’t have much clue what it’s about. Maybe I’m simply talking to me, about me - and that I have something I’m working through that has little direct relevance to anyone else. I have a feeling that’s more true than I’d care to believe.
But maybe I’m talking to me, about me - and at the same time what I’m saying makes some sense to others too. You won’t be on my path; you can’t be. And I can’t know yours. But we can travel similar journeys and share notes at various junctures where notes are important and mark the difference between continuing or giving up because it feels too hard, or confusing, or impenetrable.
Do you give up and try something else? Or do you keep going? I don’t know. That’s not my journey to dictate. But perhaps at this junction, we can simply look at each other and acknowledge that, wherever we are, each of us here, we have decisions to make. And no-one else can make them for us.
And just what the hell does this have to do with tarot?
There’s a reason there is a Major Arcana. There is a reason why there are 22 Soul cards that are there to guide us. There is a reason why there are myriad decks. There is a reason why each and every - every - reading is unique.
There is a reason to work with the cards when you understand that they have the capacity to be the truest reflection of you … because, in some cosmic way, they ARE you. Unlike anyone else, no matter how near and dear, the cards will walk with you as long as you want them to.
I have walked away from tarot. I have come back. The supposed ‘charlatanism’ has simply been the reflection of a particularly winding road through my own no-mans-land. There are no mistakes. The tarot continues to reflect that. Some paths are straighter than others, with fewer junctions. Others are like mazes. The only mistake is to think that one is right, and the other wrong. The truth is simpler.
At the end, at the centre, at the heart of it all - there is just “me”.