Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Mabon Blog Hop: Trusting Intuition


Greetings, and Happy Mabon! Please use the links at the top or bottom of this post to access the other wonderful blogs in this circle.

Our wrangler for this hop, Morgan Drake Eckstein, has asked us to consider and write about a time when we feel we made a "quantum leap" in our understanding of the cards. At first I didn't know what I might write about for this topic, because learning and integration of Tarot (as with any divination system) feels so gradual, and in some ways implicit.

But one afternoon I received a reading request from a client, and it wasn't about love, or work, or money. She had been studying the cards for years and felt she wasn't making any progress. She wanted to know what was creating limitations for her, and how to be a better reader. These are the kinds of questions I really love to explore with clients, and as we worked through her reading we found that she was over-intellectualizing the process. She was treating divination like math class: memorize the formulas, understand what the symbols mean….and once she's done that she should be golden, right? But she wasn't golden. She was stuck.

As we explored her blocks and how to address them, I was brought back to that "quantum leap" I'd made in my own studies, and I knew just what to write about for this hop…

That little voice that speaks to us….
Photo Credit

When I first started to really study and learn Tarot I used a Marseilles-style deck; the Major Arcana was beautifully illustrated, but the cards in the Minor Arcana featured just the appropriate number of elements for the suit. In other words, the 6 of Pentacles showed just six pentacles. There were no images that might help a novice learner understand the energy being represented. I'm an academic, and I'm very methodical about learning. I went to the library, found a nice book on Tarot meanings that also showed the Rider Waite images for each card, and I studied and memorized and studied and memorized. I created lists and charts, and I learned that deck. When I saw the 4 of Swords, I didn't just see four swords, I imagined the Rider Waite depiction, and it helped make meaningful connections to my own deck. Great?

Sort of! Except studying in that way is like crafting a mojo bag without breathing life into it. It's static and stale. I wanted my readings to come to life, become more dynamic, but I had spent so much time memorizing those book meanings that I was afraid to let them go. Eventually I decided I needed some help - I needed someone to encourage me to let go of my limitations, to tap into something more than my intellect. One day I saw an advertisement for an "Intuitive Tarot" class at a local metaphysical shop, and I signed right up.

The instructor was a wonderful woman who had been working with the cards and as a medium for over 30 years. The first thing she said was "bring whatever deck appeals to you." I had brought the Radiant Rider Waite because I assumed that would be the deck of choice for a formal class. But she felt that the most important thing about becoming a reader is not to memorize meanings, but to pay attention to the art - what does it say? What parts draw your attention? How does it make you feel? How do the colors mesh together, and what message does that send? To read that way, it's best to have a deck that you're drawn to, not necessarily the most common or traditional deck.

Golden Tarot - Liz Dean

To be clear, she wasn't encouraging students not to study card meanings - she felt that in the long run knowing the meanings would be very helpful. But she wanted everyone in the room to leave class on the last day with the ability to give accurate readings, and knowing book meanings wasn't essential for that. (As a side note, I suspect there are many people who never read Tarot because they're overwhelmed by the prospect of having to learn all those meanings. This particular method teaches that you can give great readings by trusting your intuition first, and there's still room to work on traditional meanings and structure over time). Whew, I was in the right place! In fact it was harder for me than for other students because I was so attached to those meanings; I had to unlearn a bit in order to loosen up and open up my intuitive channels.

That class was wonderful in that it gave me "permission" to let the cards speak to me personally, to delve into a deeper level of reading than what I had been allowing myself to experience. And in the end I was able to find a reading style that struck a comfortable balance between my intuition and rational mind, so that I was able to honor both; my readings became so much richer and more profound. That was rewarding.

High Priestess, by Panskiduf

But trusting your intuition is not always easy, especially when you're first learning. And in the case of my client who'd been studying for years and wasn't making significant progress, her blockage hinged on her fear of honoring her intuition and letting it speak to her. Most readers have had that experience - you have a "gut feeling," or a hunch, or a proverb pops into your head seemingly out of nowhere. Do you tell the client, or keep it to yourself? What if you're wrong? Too risky, better just stick with the standard meanings. Then the client starts chattering away about the details of their situation, and everything you were feeling turns out to be precisely the case, and if you'd have just said that then your reading would have been so much better! Well, that's the process of learning to trust yourself, and it takes time and a pinch of bravery, but it's so worth it in the long-run.

With that, I send you on to the next Blog Hop post - Mabon Blessings!


22 comments:

  1. It is hard to trust your intuition of those seemingly out of nowhere things as usually they make no sense at all and don't seem to relate to the question... yet they make perfect sense to the other person. I think if it's relevant and something the client needs to hear, it will just refuse to go away and will burst out anyway :D sticking with standard meanings...well... then you get those days when you turn a card and you think... no way... no way does that mean that today :D I guess it's just to keep reading... know your 'meanings' and know when they are meaningful and when they are meaningless... :D

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    1. Very true! Having the courage to leave the book meaning when you feel that something else is being said! :)

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  2. Yes - giving myself 'permission' to see what the cards wanted me to see was also my turning point with Tarot. It is interesting how so many of us have that same pivotal moment. We are all threads on a cloth, woven together to make beautiful connections. Blessed Mabon!

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    1. Lovely words, and yes, I've also noticed that it's a common theme, learning to honor our inner voice!

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  3. To learn and study first gives a great foundation for intuition to leap from :)

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    1. That is how I learned, true enough, though sometimes I wish I could go back and do it a bit differently! Thanks for reading, and Happy Equinox!

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  4. In everything, you need to learn the basics before you can go on to greater things

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    1. The foundation is the key, that and patience! Thanks for reading!

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  5. I like running with my intuition, but I like to do it in such a way that I can explain myself to another Tarotist and while they might not necessarily agree with HOW I'm interpreting the card, they would at least be able to see where I'm jumping off from. Yep, intuition is important in our line of work :-)

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    1. Thanks for sharing your approach, that's a smart way to do it - to be able to explain how things fit together for you personally :) Happy Equinox!

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  6. A firm foundation in standard meanings is key, but the real magic happens when we allow ourselves to blurt out what we see.

    Oh look, I made a poem. Call me Alexander Pope. :)

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  7. A pinch of bravery. Yes yes and yes!

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  8. Such beautiful writing! I do identify with this "her blockage hinged on her fear of honoring her intuition and letting it speak to her

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  9. My problem with the "just speak your intuition" thing is that for me it often comes as songs, and there's no way I'm going to start singing during a reading :D So, I have to figure out the song's message and how to express it within the reading context...

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    1. Hehe, I can imagine! I have had the proverb thing happen several times but fortunately that's rather easy to pass along!

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  10. Loved your intuition/traditional meanings journey. Interesting to start with a Marseille deck; that can be really challenging with the Minors, and I see why you found the Rider-Waite pictures easier. I do like my combination of traditional meanings/intellect and intuition that I've developed over the last couple of years. I would not want to do with just one or the other. The mythological wealth of symbolic meaning reinforces my intuitive perceptions of the situation.

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    1. Thanks, Joanne! I agree, I think that blending different "sources" is a great way to approach reading.

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  11. It wasn't clear that the learned meaning and intuition could go hand in hand, like a sibling. I get that now, seems others had the same issue you and I had :)

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