We continue our exploration of Mary K. Greer’s “21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card” with Step 16: Embodiment.
Are you ready to get physical? To experience the cards with your body? In this chapter, Mary has us assume the same physical pose as the figures in our Tarot cards, including gestures, posture and muscle tension. Once completed, we then move into motion. According to Mary, this can provide some unique perspectives not gained by simply looking at the card — and oftentimes, the best way to learn something is to physically experience it. Of course, some decks work better with this than others. You would naturally be more successful using this technique with a deck that displays movement by human characters. For instance, it may be difficult to employ this technique using the Tarot of Trees.
There are two activities for the non-adept section of this chapter. For the first one, you will need the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. In this lesson, Mary has us look at and then mimic the figure in the Four of Pentacles card. During this lesson, we are to maintain our awareness of all four pentacles simultaneously. The instructions for this exercise are a bit lengthy but basically involve your awareness of the energy/muscle stress needed to maintain all four pentacles – and how it then feels to release them. I completed this exercise and had several interesting personal revelations. One thing in particular that I noticed was how much energy it took me to hold on to certain things – and how releasing this clutch freed me up for other more important things. It’s difficult to “reach out” when you have your hands full. Another thing that I found interesting was that I also felt a sense of “paranoia” during this beginning of this exercise – a fear that others were out to steal what I have, causing me at first to clutch all the tighter. Give this one a try yourself (pages 184-185 in the book) as it certainly seems to yield some interesting results.
The second exercise (page 186 in the book) involves using our chosen card and contains the following steps:
– position yourself exactly as the figure in your card: every gesture, placement & angle
– Ask what your body wants in awareness & wait until a sensation arises
– If action is suggested by the card, then do it, with awareness, as many times as needed. If no action is suggested, then ask what your figure wants to do next & allow movement to emerge naturally.
– Return back to your sense of self. Has anything changed in your body or perception?
– Write down your experiences
I did this with The Seeker card from the Gaian Tarot and added a lengthy entry about it in my Tarot Journal (you do have a Tarot Journal, don’t you?). I had some quite interesting realizations which I won’t go into detail here. But one that really stood out for me was the weight of the stick on my back, namely the small bundle that floated behind me on the end of the stick. I felt that I couldn’t fully move forward because of the baggage of my past. It was weighing me down, keeping my feet glued firmly in place. The stick I held in my right hand was light and easy to manage but the baggage over my shoulder was more difficult to manage. It was only after I dropped the stick with the bundle that I truly felt free. Quite an interesting revelation for me.
Having experienced these exercises for myself, I can definitely vouch for their effectiveness. Mary mentions in the book that she rarely does a reading these days without some form of physical enactment, even if it only involves mimicking what the hands are doing. Based on what I experienced, I think I shall start adding this method to my readings as well.
Give it a try. It’s quite an eye-opening experience!
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