Tarot is like learning a language. When you learn the basics of a new language you feel proud at your new skill, feel excited to try your new skill out (or conversely, feel scared to look like an idiot). You flex your wings, practice forming new sounds with your mouth.
Inevitably at some point in your studies you come to the realization that the more you learn, the less you feel you know. Those moments of excitement and pride become a distant memory, as the deep reality of true learning sets in. This often serves as the dividing line between serious students and those simply caught up in the fleeting fun of being able to order a coffee in French. The latter become overwhelmed, realize that it takes a lot of time, a lot of practice, and a lot of investment - on many levels of being - to truly be fluent in another language, and quickly fade away. The former stand back in awe of their "smallness" in the grand scheme of the acquisition process. But they are moved by that awe, appreciate it, learn from it, are humbled by it, and continue on their way with even-keeled determination. Once they learn their first new language they are wise enough to know that they will always be a student; learning never ceases to occur or be necessary. And when they start to learn their next languages, they start to anticipate the awe, the precipice, and they begin to savor that feeling. It serves as a marker of how far they've come, and while they have so much more before them, they now know that they can, and will, reach their goals.
I had a great afternoon with my mom today. In a way she was my first Tarot teacher, and will always be a role model for me in terms of cultivating honor and trust in our intuition. She is in town visiting for a week (my daily draw today was 6 of Cups) and she asked me for a reading. I was admittedly a bit nervous, though happy to comply. She knows what she's seeing in the cards, and I haven't had much practice with 1) verbalizing my story weaving, and 2) feeling the need to figure a spread out quickly and begin to relay the messages. So I wasn't sure how it would go, or how I would feel. It turned out well, in the end. I had my first real-life experience of reading something that wasn't at least partially based on prior knowledge....and being correct despite my anxiety and self-doubt. I also had my first experience of being nearly entirely stumped by a card, and having to simply describe it. Turns out it did speak to her, but it related to aspects of her life I had no awareness of. I was sitting there trying to figure out what the card could possibly mean, offering a possibility (based on what I do know about her circumstances, though it didn't feel right). When she thought about it for a few moments, she realized exactly what the card was referring to, and we chatted about it. I realized that I don't have to know or have a strong idea about a particular card in order for it to speak to a client loud and clear. Or maybe not even loud and clear - it could be that, like my mom, after some time thinking about it, it suddenly clicks into place.
She asked me about my path with Tarot and I said that I had kind of accidentally fell into this as a calling. We talked about how I worked with Medicine Cards as a kid, and how her Tarot storytelling always captivated me. I said "remember how I always wanted to be a doctor, except for that unfortunate issue of advanced math and chemistry? Well, I'm following that deep desire to help heal people. Instead of modern medicine, I think I can do it through herbal study and Tarot." She nodded her head in acceptance and understanding. She's a counselor, and highly intuitive, and still an active card reader, and she knows what I'm talking about. She told me a story so I would understand how intuition doesn't always make sense, but how important it is to go with it, no matter what your brain is telling you:
When she was attending a workshop many years ago the attendees were doing an exercise where they were attempting to tune into a partner's emotions. My mom was struggling, and finally asked if it was okay if she could touch her partner's arm, and was given permission. She suddenly saw an image in her mind of a stuffed rocking chair in the form of an old woman. It was the same kind of chair she'd seen before in a children's museum. She was totally confused by the image, but decided to report it anyway. Her partner broke down crying because he'd recently lost his grandmother with whom he'd been very close. I'd heard that story before, but I never tire of hearing it. It's an important reminder that Tarot doesn't always involve puzzle pieces that fit together seamlessly. Sometimes the story doesn't seem to make sense, or there's a piece that seems awkward with the others. Sometimes you see a clear message that seems odd or not perfectly in line with textbook card meanings. It's okay. Report what you see and feel, trusting in your intuition.
I'm loving how I feel this night as I peer out over the precipice of Tarot acquisition. I'm moved by it, humbled by it, grateful for it, and deeply drawn to what lies before me.