Tuesday, August 13, 2013

How I Read Tarot Cards

Article © 2013 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

Still Life with Motherpeace - Well-Worn and Well-Loved  Tarot Tools

I learned to read tarot through the “wild woman” of all decks, the Motherpeace Round Tarot. In their unbridled femininity, the Motherpeace cards evoke intuition like a Full Moon.

This deck was a fit for me in the 1980s, when I was learning that my own lunar overdose was too much of a good thing waiting to be transformed into an asset. Because the Motherpeace literature suggested it, I began reading the cards, as a first step, without guidance from the classic meanings. I had so much success doing so; I almost threw out the book.

Eventually, I came to a middle ground and a three-step routine when reading for clients:

1. Client Take - Ask the client “what do you see” or “what stands out for you” for each card in the layout. Do this one at a time. Encourage her to go with her first thoughts or feelings. In doing this, she is connecting her subconscious with the images. Colors and images that are prominent to her are important. Clients will often see very different things in the cards. Even if something is glaring to you; it may be in the background for the seeker. 

I used the feminine pronoun here, mostly because more women have sought me out for the Motherpeace then men. There are lots of naked women in their untamed, instinctual energy in this deck, a little overwhelming for some men and some women, too. Its perspective is clearly feminist. Even if there's some initial discomfort, I've seen both genders alike take to this process, which is really a lot of fun once we get going. It's a journey into the seeker's inner life that can be a true adventure. Besides, we're both yin and yang and it does us all good to explore the full range of both energetics.

2. Reader Take - Next, I take the card in hand and say what I see or what stands out to me in the card. This often enhances or differs somewhat from the client’s take. My reaction to the card adds my intuition to the client’s, connecting both our inner guidance systems with the images. This process also links the intuition of both client and reader, a merger of spiritual forces.

A very personalized message begins to emerge. The reader’s take often uncovers what she may be too close to see when it comes to a pressing issue. If you bring a picture near your nose, it goes out of focus. The reader sees the client’s issues at arm’s length, because he or she is not personally involved. The client’s first reactions often cue me into the most personal impact of the archetypal images. This is so important because it’s this particular client’s reading and no one else’s. Obviously, an archetypal image has to be very encompassing to contain all the variations on the same theme. What’s important here is the element of personalization, something you just can’t get in a book. It’s not important that I prove I’m psychic; it’s more important to facilitate a waking dream experience we can interpret together in a way that is meaningful to the “dreamer.”

3. Classic Meaning - Lastly, when necessary, I include the classical meaning of the card. Often when I’ve worked with clients, we never end up needing it. We’ve already defined the message in much more personalized terms than we’d find in the literature, though there’s always a chance for some other spin to take into account. Discussing the classical interpretations of specific cards or looking in the book or literature provided with the deck is always an interesting, final check, time permitting. Some of the books on the Motherpeace have information about why certain images were chosen in creating a particular card. These details can enhance a card's overall impact and layers of meaning.

As with most oracles, over time you’re unlikely to need a reader/interpreter, except for those occasions  when you truly are too close to an issue. Read the cards for yourself in the same way. Although I work primarily with the Motherpeace, I have found this process to work with almost any deck, and especially well with those that are highly visual with complex imagery. A couple of my favorites in that category are The Voyager Tarot and the Faeries’ Oracle.

A Sample Affirmation Before a Tarot Session
 May we explore life's mysteries together in a way that enlightens, enhances and brings greater love and joy to you and everyone whose life you touch.

Just use whatever deck  appeals to you. If everything green stands out for you, perhaps you’re in a period of growth or are grappling with envy. Listen even to the most ridiculous things that pop into your head. Those oddball ideas have been the key to some of my best readings. It takes a little courage to roll with them, but I have never been disappointed when I’ve braved it. As with dreamwork, it’s a matter of learning to access your own response to the mirror of the tarot symbols.

I like to say a prayer or affirmation beforehand to bless any reading. Set your sacred space, and the dialogue will be divine.


Photo Credit:  Still Life with Motherpeace by Joyce Mason

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