A column by Bles Carmona
For the week of Aug. 27-Sept. 2, 2014
USING THE TAROT FOR PROBLEM-SOLVING
In our English 1A class this summer, our professor asked the whole class what our respective passions are. I told my group mates Luis and Markus that mine are astrology, tarot, and metaphysics in general. I told them how I love the feeling of being able to inhabit that sacred circle with my client to counsel or simply to listen. I told them that it is my honor and privilege to be of help that way. All of that is true. Add to that my desire that my client leave the consulting session with renewed hope and a sense of wonder about the events in their life after seeing them in a different, more positive light, and I have the perfect formula for my personal passion, indeed.
However, as we know, there are segments of our society that are against the use of divination methods such as astrology and tarot for the following reasons: 1. Only God knows the future. 2. The Bible warns against soothsayers, especially in the last days (see the Book of Revelation). 3. Fortune-telling is like listening to angels and then predicting the future from angelic messages and this is haram (forbidden), as can be read from The Quran chapter 53-The Star (especially 53/38). (Technical note: That’s how we write chapter and verse from The Quran, so the previous numbers mean “chapter 53, verse 38.”) 4. Other people turn it into a fate-versus-free will issue and believe that they alone are the masters of their own fate. 5. Astrology can go hang, and the tarot, too, in their estimation. They simply do not believe in these things.
Well, you could say that I’m a tarot apologist, having used these cards to my clients’ satisfaction since 2004. My personal tarot story actually began during Christmas 2003, when I was still in the Philippines. With the usual Balikbayan Box from my parents and youngest sister living in Hayward, California came gifts and goodies of all sorts, of course, but included with all those great stuff is this large-ish red box addressed to no one. I was immediately drawn to it because the transparent hard plastic cover reveals what’s inside: “The Tarot – The Traditional Tarot Reinterpreted for the Modern World” by Adam Fronteras. I immediately thought that this, among others, is surely a gift to me of my youngest sister Edna, my benefactress and moral supporter from afar.
I appropriated the book-and-deck set for myself and started teaching myself the meanings of all the 78 cards. I found that writing down the meanings straight from the book and into my journal aided me a lot in retaining what I was trying to memorize. I read the cards for myself. I read for my relatives and friends. When enough people had been telling me months after their reading that “what I said” actually came true for them (more on this later), that’s when I decided that I could do this: read tarot for others, and that’s exactly what I did.
These days I prefer giving tarot readings rather than astrological readings, which requires more “prep time.” A tarot reading to me is more in-the-moment, more spontaneous, but no less helpful than an astrological reading, in which I have to ask the client for date/time/place of birth. Usually people don’t know what time they were born, so only an “approximate chart” could be done in the meantime. With a tarot reading, on the other hand, birth data is optional so my client and I can concentrate on: problem-solving.
Here are some facts that I know to be true about the tarot:
1. If you’ve been browsing through tarot books like “Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom” by Rachel Pollack, “Pictorial Key to the Tarot” by Arthur Edward Waite, or “Tarot for Yourself: A Workbook for Personal Transformation” by Mary K. Greer (all in my personal library), you will find out that these books designate the element of Air to the Suit of Swords and Fire to the Suit of Wands. Contrary to that, Adam Fronteras assigns Fire to the Suit of Swords because one needs fire to fashion this weapon, and he assigns Air to the Suit of Wands because its original material, wood, needs air to grow and thrive. Although Fronteras’ view is not the conventional one, I have followed his system from the very start and as I did more and more readings, his system made more and more sense. So the suits’ designations in my reading style are: Swords-Fire, Pentacles-Earth, Wands-Air, and Cups-Water.
2. Please do not be afraid of the Death card (XIII; the Scorpio card) or the Devil card (XV; the Capricorn card). The Death card is “NOT about physical death but more about transformation, the death of the old self and the birth of a new person (Fronteras).” When this card appears in the reading, one needs to regenerate and set new goals for herself. It is advisable to “welcome the changes – refuse them and they will be forced upon you.” On the other hand, the Devil card warns about getting too materialistic and being excessively under the influence of others. Like the Death card, this one is also about change, “the person can and should make changes in his/her life.” The Devil card may also indicate “excessive concern with sexual conquest” and as a card of temptation, it serves as a warning to the “seeker” or “querent” (what we formally call our clients).
3. The lowdown on “what I said came true”: If any of the seekers whom I have served are reading this, I hope you remember what I told you about this in my introductory spiel before or during the reading. The reading is totally about you! You’re the one who shuffled the tarot cards while thinking of a wish (remember?) so right from the outset, from that point on until the end of the reading at least, the tarot cards are yours. You’ve imbued them with your energy and if you were truly totally open, you were accessing your subconscious/spirit/whatever you want to call it so that you can contribute your share to the consultation. The ten cards you chose for the first part of the reading (there are 5 to 6 parts of the readings I give) are the choices of your Higher Self, which according to some is just another name for an Angel. In effect, your Higher Self=Angel was sending you messages through the cards that you pick from a face-down deck that you had just shuffled. That should be enough to baffle and mystify you. So therefore it’s NOT I who “said something that came true”: it was YOU, yes it’s you who made it happen! You manifested in physical reality what was already said and done first in the higher realms, the realm of God. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” right? One prays, one consults oracles trying to confirm a fervent hope, one prays some more, and if it’s God’s will, then it shall come to pass. As above, so below.
I have been told that because I have a mole on the right side of my upper lip directly under my right nostril, I am a “powerful psychic woman.” I tried to make sense of this remark because I don’t feel psychic at all vis-à-vis my clients saying, “Hey Bles, what you told me actually happened. How did you know what’s down the road?” How? Like I told you, I merely translate/interpret the cards that the seeker has chosen. He/she is also entitled to three questions answerable by Yes or No. We also read from the Spiritual Rx, Fairy Oracle, Angel Oracle, and Saint Raphael Healing Cards. For “audience participation,” I usually have the client write down his/her own affirmations and card meanings based on what was picked from each deck. After doing all of that, it is my hope that the client will come away feeling that some of her prayers have already been answered through the reading, or that she has been asking for a sign and a particular card turns up for her, or it may be one of those yes-no questions that finally settles some matter in her mind – it could be anything. The entire process gives me personal joy and fulfillment, knowing that I am helping my client, just being present with her, lending a listening ear or a giving a word of advice, when asked. Like I mentioned earlier, the sacred space enveloping the both of us, counselor and counselee, is what energizes the two of us into an insightful exploration of her dilemma. Tarot at its finest is not just about fortune-telling, and I do not have anything against fortune-telling. But I do feel that for those of us charged with using the tarot to actually help clients solve their problems through symbols and metaphors, then we have a serious responsibility indeed.
As Spiderman’s Uncle Ben had said, God bless his soul: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Please smile. Let me try an Oscar Wilde-ish quote of my own: “Think only with half of your mind and leave the other half for thinking about nothing at all.” —original quote by yours truly. Now please smile again. Abyssinia next week!
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