21 Ways* to teach Tarot in 21st century
Interestingly, the most precious and exalted states of being and human relating are the most difficult ones to define – Love, Friendship, Spirituality, Devotion…
They mean number of things to each and everyone of us. In my view, its not because, as La Rochefoucauld says ( True love is like seeing ghosts; ) we all talk about it, but few of us have ever seen one…
No, firstly its because these experiences exceed the limits of our rational thinking, thus are difficult to verbalize; and, secondly, its because indeed experiences vary from one individual to another – probably in accordance with individual perception, personal history – and, more esoterically, in accordance with individual life tests and karmic work (given that you believe in reincarnation – i do.)
The same with Tarot.
Hardly you’ll find two Tarotists under the Sun who’ll agree on what that deck of cards exactly is and how does it work… except that all agree that it does work and that indeed its a process.
Working with Tarot has all kinds of effects upon the student/initiate ; the consciousness expands, perception shifts, most fundamental concepts and believes – prior taken as postulates – become questioned; one starts thinking over and over on questions that boggle human mind from its dawn – is there destiny, is it possible to change it, is it possible to predict it, is it possible to create it…
I am blessed to be a third generation reader – and while i wasn’t handled down any super secret techniques that belong exclusively to diviners from my family – what i was passed on and what is the scope of this essay , is the most precious asset of all: LACK OF FEAR…
as its Fear that’s opposite to Love, not Hate – as some might hastily conclude.
For that very reason i am profoundly grateful i was born to a secular family of intellectuals – as much as i am certain there is that loving force that moves the universe and as much as i perceive Him in the framework of tradional Judaic tenets – was my brain limited by dogma from the childhood, none of this would be possible.
Its interesting that, at least in the most traditional and widespread forms, Abrahamic religions whose holy texts are full of prophecies, magick and divination teach to refrain from those… or shall we say, the interpretations that we are handed down presume we’ll trust blindly whatever the intermediary between you and the Source would tell you… sorry, but that insults my intelligence, as i prefer my own answers – while being perfectly aware those might be in discord with the ultimate truth and objective reality (whatever the latter is.)
Is there one answer and one truth for all of us? I doubt it. Its said that 600.000 people stood with Moses on Mt. Sinai when Torah was given – and each and everyone understood it differently. Can anyone else give you fixed recipes on how to live your life and which choices to make – be it a priest, rabbi, a guru… i doubt it. We wouldn’t be given analytical minds in that case, i believe.
Right, some great mind’s conclusions do make sense to the rest of us – but i am convinced that each and everyone of us has to do their own bit of thinking and doubting it all – for themselves… and Tarot is an irreplaceable tool for that purpose.
What prompted me to write down these thoughts – nothing new you’ll rightly notice – is the experience i’ve been living for the last month at my Muscovite university and some synchronistic events that lead to mine giving an informal intro to Tarot to various people here at campus (mostly MA students of humanities).
As a digression – i must add that i never thought Tarot formally (neither have i taken formal courses and classes); my own experience in teaching consist of (formal, institutionalized) teaching of foreign languages, Russian literature and diplomatic protocol – and last but not the least – by formal education, i am PhD candidate in the very field of Methodics, as abstract as it is.
But, the circumstances were such that i did introduce many people to Tarot, and i’ve been honored to meet the most enquiring, unconventional and unusual minds – among them some publicly recognized great minds, even one member of the Academy of Science; couple of genius poets; couple of internationally influential politicians; some of world known crooks; some spiritual/religious figures with numerous followers and , in whom i take pride the most, numerous so called common people whose personal influence usually does not exceed their own families and close circles of friends, strangers to media and politics of all kinds.
So, what is it that i tell them, upon the introductory: dear such and such , meet Tarot...
1. Its an amazing deck of 78 cards of unknown origin
2. its been around for at least 5 or 6 centuries
3. some of the humanity’s greatest minds have given it serious thought and practice
4. you can predict future with it
5. you can create your future with it
6. at this time there is plenty of excellent books and manuals around, as well as many great teachers
7. at the same time – there are plenty of mediocre and downright useless books as well as bad people and poor teachers
8. its a spiritual tool
9. its a map of the universe
10. its a map of your own psyche
11. it consists of 22 Major Arcanum/ Cards/ Secrets, 16 Court Cards and 40 Minors
12. the meaning of the 22 Majors will probably take you a life time to comprehend, and your perception of them will grow and change as you do
13. Court Cards are other people… and aspects of yourself at the same time; whatever aspects of yourself you enhance – these will be reflected in people whom you attract in the outer reality
14. Tarot is a process; this very moment could be marked as its beginning – it does not have an end though
15. you’ve just embarked onto one of the life’s most wonderful adventures
16. the four suits are Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles, they could ( but don’t necessarily do ) denote, respectively, the initial desire and motivation; emotions ; thoughts and the final manifestation in the material world
17. you can fit it into Jungian thought
18. you can fit it into Kabbalah and Qabala, as well as into Christianity, Buddhism and every other major philosophical and/ or religious system
19. you could think of it as system of its own, that can be fitted into any pre-existing system (of thought and belief)
20. you MUST have fun with it, enjoy it and laugh a lot; wherever you feel light, wisdom, humor and love – that’s it; fear and bigotism it is not
21. now go and learn… and be so kind, pass it on.
*due credit to great Tarot mind Mary K. Greer for the inspiration , the title – of course – is inspired by her classic 21 WAY TO READ A TAROT CARD