Your idea of a tarot reader may look something this in your mind's eye: you walk into a hole in the wall voodoo shop. You see a sign that says "Psychic Tarot Readings Here." You muster up the courage to pass through beaded curtains where you see a woman wearing layers and layers of scarves and jewelry. She's stroking a crystal ball and mutters, "Come my dear. Let me tell you your future." She proceeds to tell you when you will get married, how many kids you have, and when you will die. You stay silent the whole reading and leave with an existential crisis in tow. Sound terrifying? Sound familiar? It probably does because pop culture is saturated in it.
AND IT'S SO WRONG.
Sure, you'll see some examples of this in real life (mostly in tourist towns), but they comprise a very small minority of diviners.
Some questions I get from my clients/friends/strangers:
- What the heck is divination and how does it work?
- Isn’t it just for “woo woo” and psychic people?
- What will I get out of a reading?
These are my most common questions I’ve gotten over the course of my 15 years as a diviner. Let’s lift the veil on what divination is, how it works, and how it can be a useful and practical tool in your life.
Let’s be clear about what we’re discussing. Divination. The word derives from the Latin term divinaire which means, “to foresee." It also means to uncover hidden knowledge (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Although there are many different ways to divinate, for brevity and clarity purposes, I’m going to stick to my lane and only discuss oracle cards (tarot is in the oracle card family) and what I have experienced as a reader.
Get to it! How do oracle cards work?
Oracle cards are simply images on paper with stories behind the images. Typically, images invoke a visceral reaction from us. What is your first reaction to this image? Quick! Don’t think.
What did you come up with? Happiness? That’s because this is a happy card about celebration and friendship. C’mon, who wouldn't be happy? It looks like a boozy Sunday brunch!
What about this one?
I get boss from this card. CEO. A king ruling his subjects. This is the Emperor; a true ruler but he has to be careful not to get too tyrannical!
These visceral reactions are what make art and divination so powerful! One of my tarot teachers, James Wanless author of the Voyager Tarot, called my attention to my now favorite Aristotle quote, “the soul cannot think without a picture.” The picture/card, becomes a bridge to our subconscious, connecting the conscious and unconscious mind. A tarot reader assists in guiding this connection and helps to look at your situation through the lens of the card, providing an alternative perspective.
But what about fortune telling?
The true gift of divination is not in telling the future, but in self reflection. I believe, in order to foresee, we must first survey where we are and check in with our authentic selves. If we just wanted to know our future without reflecting on our past and present that would be like trying to get directions when we don’t even know where we are!
There are divinatory tools that allow you to see POSSIBLE futures (I do some future work in my readings). That’s right, possible not certain! That’s because you are in control of your future. Seeing possible futures can be helpful as you can decide to stay on that path or veer off. It’s up to you to sculpt your future – you do have free will after all!
Okay, I get it. Divination is probably not going to give me the lotto numbers. What does it do for me then?
You know that feeling when you have an epiphany? A sudden realization or lightning bolt moment? That’s what tarot precipitates. I feel so lucky to do what I do because I see so many A-HA moments brewing or manifesting in my clients, (sorry, my Oprah love is showing). You define the scope and intensity of this moment. It can be something large or small depending on the questions you ask and what type of information you are seeking in your reading. Remember, you are always in control and can communicate the subjects you would like to survey in your reading. You never have to get a reading regarding subject matter you are uncomfortable with!
The benefit of getting a reading or just reading for yourself is that you reestablish the connection that you have with your subconscious mind. Interpreting these images and stories as they apply to your particular question/situation uncover our authentic feelings. Tarot is believed to be a map of human experiences. Applied to your own life, the picture on the card and story or stage of life behind it still invoke that same visceral reaction but in application to your specific situation or question. You’re able to see quickly how you truly feel and get to the heart of the matter more efficiently and authentically.
Once we understand how our subconscious mind feels, we are empowered to move forward and make decisions that are truly right for us. In short, divination unearths your subconscious mind and connects it to your conscious mind in a productive way, enabling you to move forward with confidence.
Doesn’t sound so “woo woo” huh?
So there you have it. Oracle cards connect your subconscious mind to your conscious mind through the images and stories depicted, revealing your authentic feelings/self so you can make your decisions from an informed and genuine platform. Let's get that fortune teller stereotype out of minds for good and get to sculpting our futures!
What are some of the images or artwork that have positively impacted your life? Let me know in the comments below.