There are many traditions regarding Tarot cards, from a possible origin in Ancient Egypt to a quasi-mythical lore on how to handle them. Whatever the truth may be about how Tarot cards manifested into the world, or if your first deck should be given or bought, there is a fact that most Tarot lovers will rapidly admit to: there is great wisdom in the cards. Without trying to take away the magic and mystery of the trumps, I am of the opinion that one of Tarot’s greatest strenght is that the images seem to depict almost every possible human experience, both earthly and spiritual. Which make them an excellent tool for meditation.
Both the Major and Minor Arcana certainly give a lot of food for thought, both from a spiritual and secular point of view. The Rider-inspired decks, which show life scenes in the minor arcana are the most appropriate and symbol-rich cards to use in meditation. Just by looking at them with an open, curious mind, you can access a wealth of inspiring ideas and knowledge, both for personal development and soul re-alignment, as for answering a particular question or find an stimulating idea for a specific issue.
Before starting on how to meditate with the cards, I must bring to the table the belief that some people have that this could be a somewhat dangerous practise, especially with some trumps from the Major Arcana, as (they think) the energy of the card can somehow negatively affect the unprepared mind. This has not been my experience –quite the opposite. I find meditating with the Tarot cards and inspirational and enlightening experience. That said, I do think that you should not try anything that you don’t feel prepare for. A solution would be to meditate with the “friendlier” cards, use a gentle deck such as Doreen Virtue’s Angel Tarot or carry out an energy protection ritual before starting.
Before commencing the meditation, choose a card and set your intention. Do you want to meditate on a card to understand it better in a future reading? To answer a specific question? Or to open you awareness to a greater inner wisdom that may find its expression in the card? As with any meditation, do your basic homework: find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for at least 15 minutes; have a light blanket with you and a glass of cool water; wear comfortable clothing; have a journal or notebook and pen to write down your ideas; and find a comfortable position, either sitting or lying, making sure that your back is as straight as possible. If you are a bit tired or you are meditating in the evening, it is best to sit down. If possible, eat a light meal an hour before, so you will not be distracted neither by hunger nor by a full stomach. If you like, you may play some soft, soothing relaxation music –just make sure that there are no lyrics nor abrupt changes in the tempo or rhythm. You may also wish to record the following meditation or have someone read it to you, until you are familiar enough with the details to do it from memory. If you do decide to record t, be sure to leave a long pause in between the questions.
Now, breathe deeply. Feel the journey of the air, from your nostrils to your belly. Feel the initial coolness, the way your diagram softly expands and your abdomen pops out slightly. Exhale gently, pushing the belly muscles a bit, to make sure that all the air goes out. Breathe this way seven to nine times. Now place your attention on your feet; then your calves and knees; your thighs, buttocks, hips, abdomen; your chest, lower back, upper back; your arms, wrists, fingers; the muscles of your neck; the muscles around your mouth and eyes; the back of your head; the top of your head.
Note: if you want, you can repeat this, visualising a protective white light flowing up, from your feet to the top of your head, encasing in a capsule or egg of soft, warm white light.
Look at the card carefully for a couple of minutes. What can you see at the corners? Does it have a frame? What and who is at the centre? How intense are the colours? What other figures are on it besides the main one? Do you know or can you guess is meaning? Now, close your eyes.
In your imagination, see the card as a giant portrait, a bit taller and wider than you. See the borders glow gently with a blue light, as the card becomes tri-dimensional, a portal into which you can step in. Walk into the card. Breathe in deeply. What can you see? What can you hear? What time of day is it? What season? What can you smell? What can you touch? What “ambiance” do you perceive? Walk towards the main figure/person. Can you describe her? What is she wearing? How would you say she is feeling? Ask if you can come closer, and if the answer is yes, do it. If the answer is no, it is best to stop the meditation here and try another day.
Talk to the figure. You can ask more about her Tarot meaning; you can ask her counsel about a certain issue; or you can ask for whatever insight she is ready to give to you today. Listen carefully. If thoughts try to push you away, just breathe in deeply and return your attention to the figure. When you are ready, give thanks for the information granted and step out of the card. See it become flat again and then shrink to its original size. Breathe in deeply. Become aware of the room around you, the chair or floor underneath you. Wiggle your toes and fingers. And when you are ready, open your eyes.
Stand up, and stamp your feet lightly on the floor. Drink the water. And then write everything that comes to mind, without editing, judging or correcting. Let the words or images flow freely. Put away these notes for a couple of days. And then re-read them. You’ll be surprise at all the insight and inspiration you will find.
Another modality of this meditation, once you have done the first one, is to revisit the card, but now you will see everything but the figure. Take its place, be it sitting on the throne or under a tree, and look ahead, all the landscape that is not shown in the card image. What does it feel like to be in that position? What additional information can you add to the previous one, with all that you sense now? Is there a part in you that is like the image/person of the card? If so, would you like to explore more those qualities in you and bring them forth in your everyday life? If another meditator came in this moment into the card and believed you were the Tarot figure/person, what will you tell him about this card, its qualities and energies?
You can visit the card as often as you like; it will usually give an additional layer of meaning with each visit. I find it very educating to revisit the same card, but from different decks. It’s fascinating that extra nugget of knowledge and information you can get from a Tarot artist’s interpretation of the card. Once you feel comfortable with the meditation, you can even get a card “mentor”. In this case, you would visit first the card where you mentor is, let’s say, the Charioteer, and then together you can visit another card, with similar energies to the mentor (with the Chariot I would suggest the sword or wand suit) and asks for the Charioteer’s input, either in relation to the meaning of the card, the meaning of the card in conjunction with the mentor card, a particular situation or theme related to the second card, or, again, for any wisdom the mentor card can give you. Be daring and explore this fascinating aspect of Tarot and the way it can help you connect to your inner and the Divine wisdom. It will enrich both your spiritual practise and your Tarot reading skills.
© Karem Barratt 2014