Those of you who have been reading for others for any amount of time know that the cards can elicit powerful emotions in people. I recently had a client who, when I turned over the Emperor card, pointed and screamed, “That’s my boss, the bastard! I hate him!”. Needless to say, this made for a very interesting reading.
In Step 3 of the wonderful book 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card by Mary K. Greer, we look at emotion. We are to examine the emotions, feelings and attitudes of the figures on the card, as well as the mood and atmosphere of the environment. In this chapter, Mary makes an extremely interesting point. She says that:
“Emotions color all of your perceptions; they are the hidden source of value judgments and a major factor influencing actions and decisions. There is no such thing as a truly objective attitude. Even the most impersonal decisions are dictated by emotions”
Mary also mentions that it is not always easy to know what an emotion is. She uses the example of feeling cold: This could refer either to the physical temperature of the air or being in a state where there is a lack of emotions. Sometimes stating “I feel cold” or “the figure in the card is cold” could be could be a reflection of one’s inner environment. The metaphors we use often indicate something occurring on a deeper level. I have seen this time and time again with clients. That’s why as a Tarot card reader, it is extremely important to listen to what the client is saying, for just the simplest sentence can perhaps point to the client’s inner emotional environment – and can lead the reading towards the issue that really needs to be discussed.
For the exercise in this step, we are asked to describe the card in terms of the emotions, attitudes, and feelings of any figures on the card, as well as the mood or environment. You can speak, write or tape them.
Below is my interpretation of my chosen card (The Seeker card from the Gaian Tarot), this time looking at it from an emotional point of view:
The environment is warm and sunny – it is a beautiful summer day. Birds are singing and flying about and butterflies flitter in the air. A young woman stands completely still, contemplating the journey ahead of her. She pause for a moment, wondering whether she has made the right decision. She hesitates and takes a deep breath as apprehension fills her. She knows she is leaving behind all that she knew – her home, her loved ones and all that is familiar. She looks over the landscape and the long, blue swerving river before her. Her heart thumps in her chest and her emotions sway back and forth like the river: should she go or should she stay. No, she had made up her mind. She is putting her old life behind her and is ready for a new adventure, she is ready for whatever lies ahead. Her eyes fill up with tears and she feels an emptiness – a hole in her chest, now that she is decided for sure that she must go. She is taking nothing with her but a small blue bag and two white feathers.
She grasps her stick tightly, her body clenches with fear and wonders whether she is crazy to be doing this. Who knows what dangers lie before her? She breathes deeply and out of the corner of eye glances at fox that has decided to tag along. It seems to want to be her companion but she can’t help but wonder if it is instead a bad omen – isn’t the fox known thought myth as the trickster? Perhaps the universe is trying to tell her that she is only tricking herself in her belief that this is the right thing to do. No matter. She breathes deeply and grasps her walking staff even tighter. No regrets. It’s time to go, it’s time to let all the doubts go and for once, take a leap of faith. She smiles at the fox and proceeds to take her first step of many.
Now we are asked to repeat what we just said above, but this time in the first-person, present tense, as if we were feeling all these feelings, had these attitudes, and were in an environment with that kind of mood or atmosphere.
The environment where I am standing is warm and sunny – it is a beautiful summer day. Birds are singing and flying about and butterflies flitter in the air. I am standing stands completely still, contemplating the journey ahead of me. I pause for a moment, wondering whether I have made the right decision. I hesitate and take a deep breath. Apprehension fills me. I know that I am leaving behind all that I knew – my home, my loved ones, and all that is familiar. I look over the landscape and the long, blue swerving river before me. I feel my heart thump in my chest and my emotions sway back and forth like the river: should I go or should I stay. No, I have made up my mind. I am putting my old life behind me and am ready for a new adventure, I am ready for whatever lies ahead. My eyes fill up with tears and I feel an emptiness – a hole in my chest, now that I have decided for sure that I must go. I am taking nothing with me but a small blue bag and two white feathers.
I grasp my stick tightly, my body clenches with fear and I wonder whether I am crazy to be doing this. Who knows what dangers lie before her? I breath deeply, trying to calm down and out of the corner of eye I glance at the stray fox that has decided to tag along with me. It seems to want to be her my companion but I can’t help but wonder if it is instead a bad omen – isn’t the fox known thought myth as the trickster? Perhaps the universe is trying to tell me that I am only tricking myself in believing that this is the right thing to do. No matter. I breathe deeply again and grasp my walking staff even tighter. No regrets. It’s time to go. It’s time to let the doubts go and for once, take a leap of faith. I smile at the fox and proceed to take my first step of many along this new journey.
Loved this exercise! By doing this exercise – especially in the first-person present, it is easy to see the depth of emotion that one card can stimulate. I look forward to trying this with more cards in the future.
But we are not done yet – Mary added a third exercise to this step. We are to now, based on our own retelling of our chosen card, identify a recent situation in which you and your environment have shown such qualities or characteristics. Earlier in the chapter, she says, “…the card mirrors your life, it also mirrors your own feelings.” This immediately made me think of my client that I mentioned above who immediately identified the Emperor card as his boss. The emotions he felt from the card mirrored his own feelings and the issue that was on his mind. This led into a wonderfully focused reading.
Personally, I can relate a recent situation in which I felt the emotion that the woman felt (as I identified them above). I recently made a major life change and experienced all of these emotions: fear, doubt, hesitation, mistrust. Even the fox made sense to me for while I struggled with my decision, I felt that my emotions were “tricking” me into thinking that this is the right path for me to follow. Like the woman, I too put one foot in front of the other and began my journey.
There are many other exercises in the “Way of the Adept” section but we will leave them for another time. As we journey through the book, I will be focusing only on the main exercises; otherwise, these blog posts would be quite lengthy. Who knows? Maybe I’ll do a second run through of the book down the road and focus on the “Adept” exercises.
So how did you do? Were you able to relate the emotions experienced in your card to a recent situation in your life?
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