Me and Tarot

by noelyovovich on March 11, 2015

Let me say right up front, I am a rationalist– an analytical person who wants and expects, even needs, to make sense of things, and for things to make sense. That may seem contradictory for an artist, but I guess it must not be since being an artist is one of the few things that has been clear and true my whole life.tarot 10 of swords

My father was a naval engineer, and an artist. My mother was a math teacher, and a musician. We all live with internal contradictions– maybe that is part of what makes a person interesting. As Whitman wrote, “Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself (I am large, I contain multitudes.)”

But I digress.

A few years ago, I was offered a tarot reading by a woman at a Unitarian retreat. I was curious, and agreed. I didn’t really take much of anything away from it except that there was one card (the ten of Swords) I was convinced had been interpreted too literally– to mean that my marriage relationship was dead and I should let it go.

As a result otarot bookf that, and a general curiosity, I bought a tarot deck and a book about the tarot. If I were inclined to believe such things, I would say that I was providentially led. The book I chose (by reading reviews on Amazon) is wonderful– intelligent, reasonable, insightful, easy to use. It is “Tarot for Life” by Paul Quinn.

OK, so it has turned out that her interpretation of the card was just fine, she was right, I just wasn’t ready to hear it. But ever since, I have been doing tarot readings for myself, and occasionally others, with results that are inexplicably useful and on target. My favorite simple example– Three years ago, I was in Bellingham, Washington, having taken a job there and moved 2200 miles from Evanston, where I had lived for 30 years and raised my kids. I had decided to return to Evanston to take one last shot at rehabilitating my marriage (my husband was still in the house we raised our kids in). I had asked my friend Eve Alfille’ for a job (she had offered me one I didn’t accept a few years earlier).

As days dragged on and I didn’t hear from her, I was anxious to know whether she was going to hire me, as that would make moving back a lot easier. I asked the question “What can I do to secure this job?” and drew a single card. It was the seven of Pentacles, which shows a gardener leaning on a hoe and looking at his crop. The book’s guidance said “Despite our most controlling efforts, the things we cultivate ripen by their own timetables. Still others fail to take root. The Seven of Pentacles illustrates that all we can do is plant the seeds, nurture them to the best of our abilities, and patiently allow Nature to do what it will”. I took this (and other parts of the pages on this card) to mean all I could do was wait and see.tarot 7 of pentacles

Just this week, I decided to do a layout about the next six months, which should see a great many changes in my life (if you want to know more about that, read my previous blog posts, especially the most recent one). I drew two cards for each month, the first to show what energy I will need to bring to the challenges, the second to show the possible outcome.

So here’s what the tarot has to offer, in very short form, about this time of upheaval for me:

March: 1) Two of Wands– examining the journey, contemplating change; 2) Ace of Swords– narrowing options, cutting to the essence

Yup, no kidding– time to narrow my choices for what I do once my house is sold, figure out my new path.

April: 1) The Magician– Awareness, consciousness, vision, decision, action; 2) Five of Pentacles, reversed– beginning to recover from setbacks, accepting help, overcoming disability (physical or psychological)

So, get out there, be prepared to decide what steps to take if the house sells and it is time to go. Boy, I hope actually taking action will feel better, get me unstuck, as this suggests.

May: 1) Three of Swords, reversed– protecting the heart, letting go of pain; forgiveness; 2) Eight of Pentacles– meticulousness, attending to detail, improving yourself

Sounds as though my divorce will finally get moving, and may go well if I give close attention with a watchful but loving heart.

June: Seven of Swords, reversed– candor, directness, honesty, showing true feelings; 2) Nine of Pentacles– fruition, being self-reliant, independent, disciplined, successful

So if I stay true to myself, things will come out well (from your lips to God’s ear!)

July: 1) Eightarot shufflet of Swords– resisting or accepting limitations or restraints; self-restraint; 2) Knight of Cups– being romantic, spiritual, loving; offering forgiveness or making amends

Sounds as though we will make progress on the divorce terms, and it will be good if I decide it is, and make the best of it.

August: 1) King of Swords– being analytical, fair, logical, handling legal matters; 2) Ace of Cups, reversed– feeling empty, disconnected

OK, so it sounds as though I need to set aside emotion to settle details of the divorce; wherever I have moved to, or if I am on the road, it may be tough and lonely. Makes me wish I had done September too.

I don’t know whether I’ve managed to communicate how spot-on all of this seems to me. And I once did a full layout for one of my daughters without knowing the question… As I went through the cards, telling her what they suggested, she got more and more agitated until, close to the end, she burst out “OK, OK, I GET it!!!” I still don’t know what the question was.

While I find this fascinating, it poses a dilemma for me as a reasonable, clear-eyed, Jewish Atheist Unitarian intellectual. I love the notion that there is more in heaven and earth than is dreamt of in our philosophy. I know that there is a great deal that is true even though it goes contrary to what we believe, or want to believe. But cards are just pieces of colored paper with no more power than an old shoe. And I absolutely don’t believe there is an unseen personal god or spirit arranging the deck for me. Except… it sure does seem as though there is.

I would love to think there is some force that is watching over me in some way, and will guide and protect me. But the very idea seems, if nothing else, arrogant. If I thought that were true to begin with, a recent trip to the Adler Planetarium overwhelmed me with evidence that our whole planet– hell, our whole galaxy– is less than an infinitesimal speck out of the totality of what is out there.

Well, as I said at the outset, we all have to live with contradictions.

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