That's an appropriate greeting for this post.
I think one of the stereotypes of witchcraft is that we all read tarot. A girl I follow on Tumblr somewhat recently revealed to her followers that she is a Christian witch, and one of the first questions she got was "Do you read tarot cards?" And I laughed at that, because it was funny to me that as soon as some people hear "witch," even a Christian one, they think of fortune-telling and divination. Now, it turns out she DOES read tarot. I'm not saying it's not an ACCURATE stereotype! But a stereotype, nonetheless. Not every single one of us does it.
That bothered me for years, because even though I was given an oracle deck several years ago and I picked it up pretty quickly, I never felt able to understand tarot. There was a lot more to remember--my oracle deck is based on characters from folklore, and already knowing their stories, it was easier for me to feel "off book" than with tarot where the symbolism was new--and so many people were expecting it of me. My mother is a tarot reader, and she's done shows and parties for people, reading many people's cards to rave reviews. People would always ask if I was also a reader, or if she was teaching me, or, on the rare occasion I would meet someone who would come up to me and say, "You're a reader." Not a question, but a statement.
I've known my whole life that I love symbolism and hidden meaning. I love explaining things and making what looks complicated more simple for people. But I couldn't seem to do that for myself when it came to cards. I still felt like I had to read the meanings to remember, and I didn't like reading the meaning and then applying it to people. I felt like it was no book, or no reading. So for a while I was quite resentful when people thought that my being a witch meant I had to read tarot. I must be a tarot reader, for I was a witch! I didn't like that idea, so I would tell people that I do have an oracle deck but I don't read tarot and I've never read for anyone else because I don't feel ready.
This summer, I met a reader who also told me I was a reader. She understood my hesitation, realizing I am the kind of person who doesn't want to do things half way. She recommended that I really give it a try with no book at all, but go with my instinct and then double check with the book later if I want to, to see how I'm doing. She held up a card and asked me what I thought it meant. All I had to go on was the imagery of the card, and it was a deck I'd never seen. Still, I made some connections based on the symbolism, color, design, and number. Then she told me what she thought the card meant, and what her book said it usually meant. I wasn't exactly on with her or the book, and her ideas weren't straight from the book, but there was a certain similarity between them all that we could point out. So I said I would try.
I did. I dove into my oracle deck, seeking to finally commit my own interpretations to memory. I tried to do one a day and when my studies got in the way I would catch up on a few of them at a time. Then I stopped for a LONG time as I got busy going to England and then graduating and trying to find a job, so that now I'm still not ALL the way through, but I'm almost done going through and writing down my thoughts as compared to what the book says. I've started reading a couple books on tarot, putting together some meanings that never fit before, but I'm nowhere near ready to do a reading with a tarot deck. Not at all. I could probably very easily read with my oracle deck, but I still haven't read for anyone else with it.
I went to a Mabon ritual with a small group and one of the women there brought her deck of cards to do some readings. She used the book and then explained it in layman's terms. It wasn't ineffective, at least. But I still really don't want to do that. Still, it made me feel a little more confident with what I have achieved so far. So, when someone sent my mom several new tarot, oracle, and message decks recently and my mom got out all her decks to separate what she wanted to keep, sell, or pass on to me, I gave it a shot.
We picked up a message deck called "Celtic Messages." We opened the box, mom picked four random cards (one from each category of card types, they're not "suits" really) and I read them by looking at the basic meaning--the cards have keywords written on them and a fuller meaning in the book--and reading what the symbol on the card WAS. They are all Celtic things, so for example it would say the card's key words, then "this is what dogs symbolize in Celtic lore," and then give the card's divinatory meaning. So for some, I didn't know what the thing even was, so I read that description but then interpreted the cards myself.
It was right on point.
Random cards, not even pulled with a question in mind, and my interpretation made sense to her situation. After that, she gave the deck to me and we started going through the Major Arcana to see if the notes I was able to put together to start learning matched what she'd come up with over the years. It seems like I'm on the right track, just still not the type of person to do "practice" readings on other people. I also went through my oracle deck, explaining the meanings to her, and through that I finally made some connections I was unsure about before.
A few days ago we realized our dog is getting much worse with his health. He's getting very old and can't really walk anymore. We weren't sure if he'd make it through the night. He was laying in our shed, unable to walk across the yard and up the steps to the house, so mom put blankets and things out there to make him comfortable. I decided to use the Celtic deck again to do a quick reading.
|"Celtic Messages" deck, Past/Present/Future reading for our dog|
Present: The Sacred Grove. A place of sanctuary, solitude, and healing. Connecting it to his life is completely obvious. That was his LITERAL present position.
Future: The Hounds. The hounds symbolize cooperation and working together being the best way to get things done, but I think the relevance to his situation was just in the fact that the card depicts lithe dogs running happily through fields.
Zeus--that's his name--made it through that night and a couple nights since. He's still out back, but he crawls his way out of the shed to lay in the yard. It won't be much longer, but for now he's alright. He seems to be happy and comfortable, if a bit annoyed that he can't go anywhere he pleases.
Long story short, I still can't read tarot but perhaps I will someday. I am, however, pretty good with oracle decks, and prefer them by far.
Thanks for reading.