Sunday, August 4, 2013

Oracular Spectacular

A Primer on the Use of Tarot and Other Oracles

Article © 2013 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

 You’re not seeing double! The last post introducing this series included the first part of this article. Here’s the article in its entirety.

Q: What do tarot cards, fortune cookies, astrology, dreams and meaningful coincidences all have in common?

A: All can be used as oracles.

Oracle has many meanings from hokey to holy. I am most interested in #5 in the definitions, namely a divine communication or revelation.

Oracles are symbol systems or tools that bridge your intuition and the creative, manifesting forces of the universe. Oracles strictly follow the orientation of the seeker.

When you open yourself up to divine inspiration, the Holy Spirit, your Higher Self—however you see good guidance according to your personal beliefs—those are the forces that will shine through when using these symbols. If you are fearful, or if you want your “fortune told,” where you have no power or spiritual backbone to co-create your own dreams in divine partnership; don’t be surprised to find negative energy in a tarot reading or other symbol system consultation.


Like any tool, oracles can be used for higher good or dubious intent. Think of a knife. In the hands of a skilled surgeon or premier chef, this tool can perform miracles of healing or nurture. In the hands of a serial killer—not. Like all tools, oracles run the gamut of agony to ecstasy. Again, the difference lies in the hands of the user.

With oracles, the seeker often uses a medium—a consultant—rather than consulting the cards or other symbols directly, although people do both, of course. That’s why choosing a consultant is especially important if you use one. The medium is the message.

Let me start with a couple of bad examples. I once worked with a woman who consulted a well-known, local astrologer on all her investments and life decisions. This was in the 1970s, but I swear, if ATMs were in operation back then, she’d have consulted her “friend” before she made a $20 cash withdrawal. That’s how addicted she was to her direction.

You can probably predict what I’m going to say without an astrology chart. Ultimately, my workmate lost her shirt by turning her power over to this woman’s predictions. It was a stark lesson about making a god of either the symbol system or the medium. Ironically, the astrologer also worked herself out of a job. They both lost. After all, how could my workmate continue to pay her astrologer for advice after she’d lost everything?

The most horrible story I ever heard involved the same astrologer, a reading where she predicted the exact date and time of a client’s death—and he died exactly when she predicted! It happed many years ago, and the astrologer is late now herself. Yet I’m still appalled and feel she literally scared him to death.

Few people would want to know this information. To ask for it, is—well—asking for it! This is an example of power abuse, no matter how unwitting. Astrology can be (pardon the pun) deadly accurate, but an astrologer would have no way of knowing his fate for certain. Many aspects can be opportunities to leave the planet or to transform into a new life while still embodied. (I heard recently that we each have a good seven-eight opportunities in any incarnation as to when we cross over.) Even if his astrologer did suspect this man would opt to check out, “pronouncing” it took away any personal power he had over the outcome, which was not necessarily sealed.

Did the astrologer contribute to her client’s death? Depressing thought, but I think it explains why these tools have sometimes had a terrible reputation. It’s all in how they’re used. Fortunately, in general, they tend to be used for higher good by most people I encounter nowadays. This is a heartening trend.

Positive Outcomes

Examples: As a consultant, I have helped people out of thorny dilemmas and have foreseen the potential for happy marriages later realized in tarot or astrology readings. I use oracles directly for myself on an ongoing basis, and now with years of practice my use of them is refined. I am able to see new angles to problems and personal tendencies I want to change. Symbols never cease to amaze me with their simple wisdom.

How Does It Work?

My theory is that oracles work like a symbolic mirror and magnet. Symbols have strong universal meanings. A complex of information is contained within their simple patterns, and more importantly, the person who seeks guidance will fill in the blanks with the personal details needed to make the symbols meaningful.

The magnet part: Everything on earth has an energy field; every person and thing resonates. When we seek guidance, we are drawn to the energy (or it is drawn for us through the reader) that matches the frequency of the issue on which we want guidance. When you shuffle a tarot deck, for example, and put the energy of your question into the cards, the right cards fall into the layout that will “speak to you.” Magical!

It’s no different with any of the other symbol systems. We are drawn to want an astrology reading when the vibration of the issue is creating internal pressure for resolution, so we seek out an astrologer when we have significant transits or activity in our astrology charts. (This, to me, is why horary works—casting a chart of the moment the question is asked to get the answer.)  Our subconscious gives us dream material, as does our internal synchronicity meter, our magnet for meaningful coincidences.

Once when I taught a dreamwork class, I spoke about encountering people I was thinking about or repeated encounters on a topic I felt were “signs.” A surprised participant said, “You talk about real life the same way as you do dreams.” Exactly!

When we have the eyes to see, the symbols and signs are all around us. Our subconscious is in constant dialogue with our conscious self, and when we pay attention, we can get limitless Higher Direction.

I Want to Try It. Where Do I Start?

If you haven’t done this before or haven’t done much of it, here are my suggestions, probably good for the seasoned oracle users, too:

1. What system appeals to you most?  Start there. If tarot fascinates you, go there first. If you can’t remember dreams, maybe you need a little more work on bringing the subconscious to waking awareness before you can use that one. Does the pendulum call you? Runes? The I Ching? If you don’t know, visit a metaphysical bookstore where you can look through many of the symbol sets or spiritual tools along with books on them. Let yourself be drawn to the images or system that calls you.

2. Approach oracles with the wonder of a child. These systems are completely about connecting guidance to your own inner tracking device, your intuition. Play with them and respect them with wide-eyed wonder. Their optimal guidance will flow through your openness.

3. Get trusted referrals for consultants. A personal referral from someone you know and trust who has seen a particular astrologer, tarot reader, or dreamworker is always best. The metaphysical bookstore or resource center is another referral point. Try someone at a local psychic fair, the one with the longest line. Reputation rules when it comes to trusting someone to work these channels with you. If someone “doesn’t feel right” don’t open yourself to that person. Another thing to consider: Some practitioners do more than one system or work them together, as I have done with my Astro-Tarot readings. That’s a two-fer, where you can get your needs met through more than one oracle by the same person, sometimes even in the same sitting.

4. Take what fits, toss the rest. This was the advice of my first mentor in all things intuitive, the late, great Betty Bethards, a San Francisco Bay Area psychic and meditation teacher. I have lived by this counsel with optimal results. No reader can be 100 percent accurate because his or her own experiences can’t help but influence interpretation, at least a little. That can be handy, if the consultant has like experiences and lessons to learn, or it can put you off track, if they don’t.

While most good readers do their best to avoid putting their own “stuff” into interpretations, the translation of symbols is a tricky business. The analogy I like to use is a ballpark. It’s easy to get into the right ballpark or neighborhood on an interpretation because of the breadth of content each universal symbol holds. That’s what makes them so powerful, like the oak tree contained in an acorn. However, to find the right seat in the ballpark really takes reaction, dialogue, and sorting from the seeker. If you don’t actively participate, you will suffer pronouncements instead of helpful insights … which brings me to the final point.

5. Be an active participant in all readings with a consultant. Ask questions. Give your opinion. Say when something feels right or when it feels off. Be sure you walk away getting your key concerns covered. It might not be quite as complicated as being a patient in an HMO system, but the idea is the same as navigating this bureaucratic form of medical care. You have to be your own patient/seeker advocate

The best readers will welcome you as a co-pilot on the adventure of going a layer deeper into your inner growth during your time together. You enter the sacred ground of your psyche in every session. Your reader needs to properly respect the inner sanctum, your needs, and the importance of your help to make it a meaningful journey.

Sealed with a Ms.

I thought it would be fun to draw a tarot card to seek Higher Guidance in wrapping up this article. At first when this idea came to mind, I thought, “Huh?” Using these tools has made me respect these inspirations, no matter how silly the light bulb over my head might seem at first.

Turns out, I’m also going to be able to illustrate how anything can become an oracle. I “got” that the words I should Google were tarot oracle. They led me to a new deck I hadn’t heard of, literally called the Tarot Oracle. Click on the link and look at the Magician Card, that Mystical Ms. She’s for us; I’m convinced of it! She’s juggling the stars and her key words are Intuition and  Taking Chances.

Take a chance on your intuition. Oracles will expand your sense of inner knowing and connection to All That Is.


Photo Credit: Oracular Tools © sannevdberg -

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