My dears –
Whilst it is indeed the case that every letter I write to you is a love letter, it is also the case that some of them are more obviously dear than others. This one is a reminder in two parts of something very dear to me, and something I believe with all my heart can help every one of us.
This letter is, shocking, I know, about discernment. But wait! There’s more!
It is also about something I know some of you find super fun, some of you disdain, and some of you simply have no experience with: Tarot.
Tarot, you say? Like, as in cards? Yes. Like, as in fortunetelling? Not as such, no.
Tarot, I say, as in the subject that many of my readers, friends, and colleagues have been asking me to write, teach, and think deeply about for the last few years. I’m just sorry it’s taken me this long.
Tarot is a powerful tool for discernment. So may any oracular device be, traditional or not—dice and playing cards can be as useful as ancient techniques like watching the flight of birds, interpreting the arrangement of entrails <<shudder>>, casting the Elder Futhark, or reading from the Ifa table.
But Tarot is the tool I know best. And it’s a great tool. It is full to BURSTING with visual, numerical, chromatographical, alphabetical, astrological, and angelic symbolism. It is associated with the Western Mystery Tradition’s obsession with Hebrew letters and the Tree of Life, as well as with the card game that lies at its roots.
It is precisely because Tarot is so full of symbolism both accessible and arcane that it is a great tool for discernment. You can read Tarot without ever studying it for a second. If you’ve never studied a single deck, you can read reliably by considering a question as simple as, “What am I missing that I need to know?” and drawing a single card. Then look at that card and pay attention. Just pay attention to what emerges for you. Pay attention to the colors, the person(s) or animal(s) on the card. Pay attention to the shape of the flowers and how many leaves they have. Pay attention to the way the clouds and the water look. Look at the left side of the card and then the right.
What emerges for you? Of what are you reminded? “Reminded” is the key word here because I believe Tarot never tells us anything we don’t already know deep inside.
Deep inside. Deep, written on the walls of our hearts where our dearest hopes, wildest fantasies, and most hidden terrors are inscribed.
If you’ve read my work before, or listened to me talk, taken one of my classes, allowed me to accompany you in any way on your spiritual journey, then you’ve heard me talk about discernment. And discernment is in part, at least according to Ignatius of Loyola, the discovery of what is written in the deepest desires of our hearts.
Tarot, a practice, play, study, and discipline, is something with which I have been close since I was twenty years old, twenty-six years now. Longer, even, than I’ve known I am a witch, and close to as long as I’ve known I have a calling to ministry. (When I was fifteen, I desperately wanted to be a Jesuit. Desperately, My best friend and I had a huge row about it, actually. I maintained that women would surely be allowed ordination by the time we were adults. More the fool me.)
And Tarot is the oracular discipline to which I’ve given money, study, time, energy, many charts and spreadsheets (I see you experienced practitioners smiling at me, knowing that charts and spreadsheets can have everything to do with Tarot.), and lots and lots of love.
So why am I writing this to you now?
I confess, I’m teasing you a bit. There’s something coming soon that will bring together these two loves of mine. (Now don’t you think for me a minute that I can’t have more than one or two loves. This is me, we’re talking about. Mr. Whitman knew what he was talking about when he said, “I am large! / I contain multitudes!”)
I love the practice, study, and discipline of discernment.
And I love the practice, study, and discipline of Tarot.
Furthermore, like many of you, I use the Tarot to help me discern next steps in my own life and to help others work with their own questions.
It’s a match made in heaven, no? At least, I think so.
So what shall we do about it, friends? What shall we do?
Well, I’ll say this much: Making Hard Choices: The Art of Discernment is coming up in August. Making Hard Choices is my semi-annual class in learning how to ask the right questions, how to put your ear close enough to the conch that you can interpret the rhythms of the waves of your heart, how to attend to your life as it speaks and has been speaking to you for years.
Making Hard Choices will be with us in August, and I know some of you have been waiting for the chance to dig in with some of the alumni of the course. I can’t wait to introduce you to some of those folks who have found that the practices I teach in Making Hard Choices bear the most fruit over time, with patience, and after letting them sink in a bit. I am so looking forward to working together so you can begin the process of deepening your practice of decision-making, learning to listen to yourself and your life, and sharpening your skills as a life mapmaker, as it were.
Making Hard Choices is in August, and I so hope you’ll join us there.
And what might come up in September? What might I have in my pockets for the month of the equinox, Precious? (Sorry, inappropriate Lord of the Rings references have no place here, I know, I know.)
But I’m going to have something FUN in September!
Will it be something for you Tarot aficionados who have been after me to share how Tarot and discernment meet and meld and come together? Something for those of you who have never laid eyes on an open deck of cards but have always wanted to? Something for those of you who unfairly call yourselves “dabblers” just because you’ve never had a teacher or because you just read the cards the way you see them without looking at the book? Something for you who don’t know the difference between the words, “Major Arcana” and “pips”?
Making Hard Choices and all its juicy goodness is on its way, never fear. The course that is changing the way some of our comrades at The Way of the River view their most life-altering decisions is indeed happening in August. I’m so looking forward to it. To the pieces that have come into play again and again, as well as some new work along the way.
And then Something Else will be trotting along after…
All my love, truly— (And don’t you think for a minute I can’t give all my love to lots of different people. That’s how love works, silly!)
PS – Oooh! I almost forgot! (I forget so many important things) There’s something fun for you to get your hands on Right Now!
There is a thing that we in the biz of online ministry call the Awesome Free Gift. Or, if you will, the AFG.
An AFG is the gesture, sometimes big, sometimes small, of thanks that I (like others) have made when you signed up to receive my love letters.
People can make a lot of mistakes with the AFG. Goddess knows, I have.
I’ve made them too small, certainly nothing to write home about! And I’ve made them too big—a whole book or an overwhelming pile of email, however well-meaning!
But my loves, I think maybe (you’ll have to tell me, because I won’t really know until that happens) that Goldilocks is among us. Because I’ve made an AFG that is indeed a gift—you need do nothing more to receive it than to go to the Facebook Community Group. I’ve made an AFG that is (of course) free of charge. And I’ve made an AFG that, well, I don’t mean to say it’s awesome, amazing, or astounding…but it’s authentic. I’ll say that for it. The new AFG: Authentic Free Gift.
This Authentic Free Gift will be what people receive when they sign up for Reflections. But if you’d like an early crack at it – just
go over to the Facebook Community Group, where you’ll find the link to a little bit of something fun, a little bit of something serious, and a little piece of me.