Exploring the Mind/Body Connection in Tarot

My husband got sick five days ago. It didn’t worry me–I don’t automatically get sick just because he does, and I felt absolutely fine. A few evenings later, however, my nose began to run. About a half-second later, I felt my body slacken and weaken. Goddammit, I thought. I don’t have time to be sick right now. I poured myself a cup of respiratory health tea, threw a blanket over my head and breathed in the goodness. I’ll be fine by tomorrow.

At precisely 3:40 AM, I awoke to an unbearable pounding in my sinuses. The pain was so intense that I couldn’t sleep. I dampened a towel with water and some Lavender essential oil and threw it in the microwave. Once I had the compress on my face, I began thinking. And thinking. It wasn’t the good kind of thinking, mind you, but the freakin’ nine of swords kind of thinking. By 4 AM, I’d convinced myself that I was dying of skin cancer. I picked up my phone and began scrolling through photos online, trying to find one that confirmed my diagnosis. I knew that it was completely useless to act this way and that all I was doing was fueling anxiety that would keep me from sleeping. I couldn’t seem to stop, however. I continued compulsively surfing the web until I’d given up on answers and was so exhausted I didn’t have a choice.

Hypochondria is certainly a condition that I’m known to exhibit, but only under severe duress. If my health is in good working order, I’m not carried away by compulsions or irrational thought. As soon as I’m in an overwhelming physical or psychological state, however, it’s as if the levee breaks and all hell rushes forth. This got me thinking about the mind/body connection, and how important it is for us to nurture both systems if we want to maintain a general sense of health and wellbeing. And this got me thinking about…tarot, of course!

The pip cards do an awesome job of illustrating this mind/body connection, which is why we need to give these cards their due in terms of attention. Now, don’t get me wrong–a lot of majors in a reading certainly does indicate that something huge is afoot, but it’s the pips that help us break it down into single serving portions of understanding. When the six of wands appears in a reading, for example, I’m likely to interpret it as an indication of stress in the most physical sense of the term–a prolonged adrenaline reaction that causes anxiousness, sensitivity, clamminess…the list goes on. Determining the stressor is a great first step, but taking some viable action is necessary in terms of getting your stress back under control. How do you do that? It’s easy for a tarot reader to say, “Do work that makes you feel empowered, not stressed.” “Your relationship with your mother triggers you? Maybe you should stay away from her for a while.””The cards indicate that this relationship isn’t working out. Perhaps you should consider moving on.” These are all amazing suggestions, and given the situation, may be exactly what the doctor ordered. However, many of these are likely to increase stress, especially in the short-term. In the interim, treating the body may be your best bet in terms of stress reduction. Meditation is a statistically proven way of relieving stress regardless of the existence of stressors in a person’s life. Likewise, exercise is known to lessen the effects of depression by half. And yoga…don’t even get me started on yoga.

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As a metaphysical practitioner, I help others navigate the landscape of their subconscious so they can reach clarity in terms of what’s happening (and in rare cases, what may happen) in their lives. But the truth of the matter is that there’s so much more in terms of wellness that must be addressed in order to make major headway. Therefore, when cards like the six of wands come up, I may suggest a more physical stress relief technique (of course, only those I practice and have greatly benefitted from). Likewise, when a card such as the nine of wands appears, it’s an indication of physical exhaustion, and prioritization of responsibilities and activities is in order (read: your body need some rest).

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On the flip side of the coin, the King, nine, and ten of pentacles are indicative of comfort and vibrant health. I mean, they’re practically wearing blankets–these lords and ladies know how to take care of themselves. Given the question, their appearance in a spread may mean that the querent would greatly benefit from a spa day. Literally. Physical relaxation breeds psycho-spiritual contentment and vice-versa. One rarely exists without the other.

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Now, I’m no doctor (as my ethics very clearly state!), but I’ve been around for thirty two years and in that time, I’ve learned a thing or two about the body. And given that I draw from both my personal experience and scientific research, I find know qualms with suggesting a meditation session within a tarot reading. If a client mentions that he/she has recently stopped exercising and my reading indicates that this is an issue, my interpretation will most likely include actionable advice about getting moving again. Why? Because it’s good advice. And I have enough practice and experience in tarot reading to know how to do this lovingly, gently, and productively, and how to connect it to the psycho-spiritual issues that led her to consult me in the first place. I figure that if one client in ten is inspired to view her situation more holistically, the suggestions are well worth it. Sometimes, all it takes is the right combination of word choice and context to make something real to a person. And if that word choice and context comes through one of my readings, more the better.

Much Love,

Jessi

Deck Interview With The Wild Unknown

I’m late to the party.

I’ve always been skeptical of this hipster deck–The Wild Unknown–because it looked so damn simple. Too simple. Like, where’s the symbolism?  Where are the people? How will it interact with more in depth, psycho-spiritual readings? Will I be able to bond with the animal imagery (I have my totems, but otherwise, animals generally don’t speak to me in terms of the collective unconscious)? And seriously, where are the people?

As time passed, it rose in popularity. I bided my time. And then Kim Krans began mass producing the deck, and I thought, The Wild Unknown is iconic. It’s the gold standard for the new age of tarot. Get over yourself and buy the deck and see what all the hype is about.

And so I did. And when I clicked “purchase”, a funny thing happened–I felt excited. Giddy, even. Okay. I’m listening.

When it arrived to the tune of our earsplitting doorbell yesterday, I ran down the stairs with anticipatory glee. The fact that it arrived with my husband’s Christmas presents (a clear, plexiglass ukulele and a slack line, because I’m an awesome wife) made me even more excited. I guess you could say that I’d fallen under its mysterious, pervasive spell.

And of course I did an unboxing video. It started off normal enough, but as I thumbed through the deck, I became curiouser and curiouser. I realized that I intuitively gleaned its meanings quite easily. Also, I was having a hell of a lot of fun. There’s something about this deck that lifts the deep and heavy cloak of tarot right off. And I immediately understood why so many are drawn to this deck in the first place–it’s accessible.

Halle-freakin’-lujah.

I realized that I wanted to give my first official deck interview, and so I went to the place you go to when you’re looking for amazing tarot resources–Little Red Tarot. Seriously, if you haven’t gotten over there yet, do yourself a favor and do. Beth Maiden has a simple, yet surprisingly encompassing Deck Interview Spread that I’ve been looking to try out, and I knew that this was the perfect time to do so. Why do a deck interview, you might ask? For the very reason we sling cards in the first place–to get a handle on something that’s a little confused, foreign, or unorganized and to use the overview as a foundation from which to proceed. With this in mind, I attuned myself to the positions:

1. Tell me about yourself. What is your most important characteristic?
2. What are your strengths as a deck?
3. What are your limits as a deck?
4. What are you here to teach me?
5. How can I best learn and collaborate with you?
6. What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?

 

Okay: the first three questions have the deck as the subject, and the next three questions have me as a subject. The first half infers static information, the last half dynamic. Got it. Let’s throw some cards.

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I took a moment (like you do) to process the cards as a whole. Four majors in a six card spread is A LOT of majors. Most of the spreads I’ve thrown recently have been saturated with majors. For the laymen among us, that means that intense shit is circling around me right now. Take Note: If your spread is mostly majors, PAY ATTENTION. It’s kind of a big deal. This spread also seems to be dealing out some serious yang energy–The Emperor, the Five of Wands, The World, and The Wheel of Fortune are definitely action, and not reflection, cards. As such, this spread let me know that this deck would generally be a good deck for readings addressing creativity, manifestation, and active transformation. In other words, this deck will help me and my clients to get up and go. I’ll leave the work of reflection to The Mary El for now. So, what does the spread mean positionally?

1. The Emperor

This deck is definitely no bullshit. It’s clear about what it wants, it’s unremitting in taking what it believes is its right, it’s fair in terms of logic and it has a definite code of conduct that it operates from. It’s meant to give straight, clear, actionable advice in the face of uncertainty and confusion. It possesses a certain protective quality that embraces those whom it reads for; it will make them feel as if that which threatens them cannot harm them. It will place its querent and its reader firmly in the seat of their power and will help them see the situation with the needs of the self in mind. It also infers that it is a “seeing” deck–it surveys the situation from a position of knowledge and authority, so trust its word when it’s speaking clearly to you!

Quote (and all those that follow) from The Wild Unknown Guidebook:

“It suggests reconnecting with the part of you that stands strong and tall and knows just what to do.”

2. The Eight of Swords

This deck’s strengths lie in acquainting you (and more importantly, those you read for) with your limiting beliefs. It will reveal some painful truths and let you know the ways in which you shoot yourself in the foot so you can let go of unhelpful behaviors and make room for helpful ones. It will coax you out of your chrysalis so you may face the psycho-spiritual threat lurking in the subconscious in an empowered, proactive way. Yawp.

“The Eight of Swords demands an answer. You cannot hang here much longer.”

3. The Empress

Ah, some feminine energy. Yet, she occupies the position that points to limitations. Given this, it seems that The Wild Unknown (in my hands, at least) is not a deck for nurturing and guidance, and it’s not a deck for the receptive creative process (think gestation and rebirth rather than getting your hands dirty). It’s a deck that moves you towards action, gives you some “tough love” guidance so you can get off the couch and back into the driver’s seat. It’s not particularly inclined to hold space in the traditional sense.

Duly noted.

4. The Five of Wands

So, this card called me the fuck out. I knew exactly what it was speaking to as soon as I laid the spread, and it made my lips curl up at the edges with this beautiful slyness I inhabit when I get called out and I was like, “I think we’re going to get along just fine.” Basically, this deck will teach me how to be more focused, more organized, more clear, more concise, and more straightforward. I’ve just recently overcome my struggles with paper planning, and I’m seriously ready to get shit done and it seems that this deck will be my copilot in that endeavor *high-fives The Wild Unknown*.

“Take this card as a warning: find ways to bring calm and focus to your mind, or these troubles will only increase.”

5. The Wheel of Fortune

If I’m able to suspend my disbelief and let go of my pre-conceived notions regarding the deck, we’ll work pretty damn well together. I’m also moved to interpret this as an indication that the strengths and purpose of the deck may very well shift as I become better acquainted with it, so I’d be well-served to keep an open mind despite this reading. Well played.

6. The World

I was so pleased to see this card in this position. I don’t read tarot in a bubble–as much as I enjoy reading for myself, I find purpose and fulfillment in reading for others. Since The Wild Unknown is such a well known deck these days, it will help me bond with others who are familiar with it and/or use it as their primary deck. I feel the swell of community like a warm blanket (thank you, Beautiful People), and The Wild Unknown promises that that amazing goodness will grow and grow. What an awesome parting fortune.

As above, so below.

Much Love,

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