When To Put Down The Cards

Imagine yourself in Sacred Space, instruments of magick laid out before you; the scent of juniper and spring rain heady in the air, candle wax dripping, potted greenery spilling over onto the wooden table at which you work. You reach for a weathered Tarot deck near the center of the table and start shuffling her well-loved cards, all the while feeling…absolutely nothing.

Perturbed, but determined to carry out the routine, you pull a single card which would surely solve everything…except it doesn’t. You’ve seen that same card a thousand times before, have known its message to be helpful in the past, and yet for some reason, today of all days, you hold this card in your hands and cannot seem to fathom what the fuck it means. Perhaps you pull out a guidebook or some other Tarot resource to find clarity and read word after word that simply does not resonate. Not in the mind, not in the heart, certainly not in your Soul.

Slowly, the truth dawns. You, dear Seeker, are in a divinatory slump, and no shiny new deck will solve it.

“Tarot, why hath thou forsaken me?”

Many Tarot and Oracle readers, myself included, have come to know and love cartomancy as a tool that makes Divine connection so much more accessible (and frankly, easier). We live for those moments when the cards so artfully move our Souls to recognize new truths or parts of ourselves. The clarity, the synchronicity, the magical mystery of it all is intoxicating to the touch. Intoxicating, to the point where the Tarot becomes the Devil itself.

The Devil card of the Major Arcana reminds us of the perils of instant gratification, the beginning of many addictions. Have a problem? Pull a card. Get the rush. Forget everything for a  while, and then crash back into the same old routine.

It feels good, doesn’t it? The awareness of wisdom, to feel its energy sink deep into the womb. For the next hour or so after, we’re a live wire, hot and electric, burning with a zest for life and a sly little smile that says, “I’m privy to a secret, and am therefore different now.”

To read the Tarot and embody its wisdom is a beautiful, wonderful, magical thing. It’s our birthright to know ourselves. But it is our responsibility as readers and Seekers to know where to draw the line, to recognize when we start to slip away from ourselves and abuse divinatory tools. The entire point of using the Tarot is to expand our knowledge and play with our intuition, not to become the source of our connection to the Divine.

Truthfully, when I begin to pull cards as a substitute for “adulting” or taking the time to meditate and connect on my own with my Spirit Family; when I start pulling cards mindlessly, with no purpose, that exploitation of the Tarot becomes another link in the Devil’s chains. It keeps me small, it keeps me from processing, it makes me feel like I’ve done something, when in fact everything is the same. Tarot is a conduit for magic and change, but it is NOT an action. It is a step in the right direction, but it is NOT a direct portal to a brand new life. Sometimes, Seeker, I forget that.

Luckily, the Tarot is a machine that runs on energy, and if we are off, the Tarot will gradually slow to a halt and we will be forced to set her down for a while as we figure out the kinks in our system. So if you, Seeker, have found yourself staring blankly at a card one too many times, I urge you to lovingly put away your deck. Tuck it back in its box, or put it on a windowsill with some quartz to let it charge in the energy of light and do not touch it until your connection with Spirit is restored by your own volition.

Connecting Without The Tarot

Remember what it was like before you knew the Tarot so well? You most likely approached the process of reading with much more reverence and respect. You may have taken a moment to pause, to meditate, to burn incense and give thanks to God for blessing you with such an instrument of revelation. Remember that feeling of connection before the reading even began? That is Sacred Space. And that is what we must cultivate daily before we touch our spiritual tools.

This is something I am working on myself, so here are a few things that I personally do to establish my connection with Spirit before I use any divinatory tools, and especially when I need to give them a break:

Set The Stage

Perhaps it’s because I’m a Taurus Sun, but I find that making my space beautiful motivates me to start my day in a sacred way. I love to have flowers, candles, crystals, incense, and other trinkets on my table. I keep a nice journal and pen, and I always make sure I have a cozy blanket to throw around my shoulders or across my legs if the morning is cold. Some days I play music on my phone, but most of the time I prefer silence, so I can hear birdsong or the wind in the trees. (My most favorite sound is the rain.)

But the most important part of any stage is my body.

You see, I have a funny little formality set in place, a prerequisite for any prayer or reading. I may come in my nightgown, bare-faced and with my hair all a mess, but I must always, without exception, be wearing earrings when I talk to God.

To be clear, this is definitely a “ME” thing. I’m sure God doesn’t care one way or another, but putting on a pair of witchy earrings first thing in the morning makes me feel “ready” in a special kind of way. Ready to listen, ready to be present, ready to recognize the Sacred when it comes. This small, nonsensical thing is the most important detail in my setting of the stage. Perhaps there’s something similar you can do to make yourself feel more “ready” to talk to God, Seeker? I know plenty of witches who do a quick yoga flow or spritz themselves with rosewater to set themselves up for a spiritual experience.

Ground

Grounding, for me at least, has always been a Necessary Something I would rather not do. It’s simple. It’s essential. And in the end, it actually feels nice; but for some ridiculous reason, I have to force myself to ground every day. It helps to have a guided meditation, like this one by Tess Whitehurst, but really all you have to do is connect with the Earth and let it purify your energy. While it’s not always something that I look forward to, grounding has been essential in strengthening my connection with Spirit and boosting the impact of any ritual, reading, or spellwork that I do.

Welcome Your Spirit Family

There are no words to describe what the presence of my Spirit Family means to me. This is perhaps the most important lesson I’ve ever learned in my years as a Seeker – that I am never alone, and that an ethereal council is always available, always ready to comfort, guide, and protect me on my path. Your relationship with your Spirit Family (your ancestors, angels, guardians, and guides) is something that you can begin to cultivate anytime, anywhere; but I find it most natural to connect with them after grounding, before divination or any other practice. All you have to do is say, “Hello. Welcome. And thank you so much for being here.” In time, you may be able to sense their individual energies around you and clearly receive whatever message they have to give. Sometimes you may sit with them in silence, and some days you may choose to converse with them alone rather than pulling from your deck of cards. Either way, I find welcoming them into my space before I do anything else to be incredibly centering and empowering.

Journal With Gratitude

I know from extensive experience that speaking and writing my Gratitude to the Divine completely transforms the rest of my day, and yet it can be easy to fall off track and slip back into the habit of asking questions, pulling cards, distracting myself with my phone and then closing my journal as though I’ve done something meaningful. What a one-sided exchange, right?

No more.

No more asking without the intention of listening. No more taking without the intention of giving something back.

When was the last time you sat down with pen and paper to simply talk to the Divine? To celebrate your connection and the blessings in your life? Just try journaling with gratitude rather than pulling cards for a week and see if it improves your reltionship with the Divine (and the Tarot!) at all.

The Dangers Of Overuse

A good Seeker will always ask, “Why, though?”

What’s the point? What’s wrong with using the Tarot if you love it?

My personal philosophy is that we should never allow a tool (be it a deck, a practice, or philosophy) get between us and the Divine. These tools are meant to enhance the intuition, not replace it. I LOVE divination. Tarot is one of the best things that ever happened to me. It saved my life! And still, I must caution that the Tarot can become an addictive escape mechanism, just like anything else.  

I’m not ashamed to admit that I have been obsessed with a fantasy version of what a reading actually is, what it actually does. I think almost ALL readers have been there at least once, frantically shuffling the cards, humming a delusional tune to drown out reality, denying responsibility for our lives. It happens subtly when we get into the habit of pulling cards out of anxiety, boredom, or obsession with a particular topic/issue. Sometimes we know we don’t need a reading, but we do one anyway, and that’s where the slippery slope resides.

So ask yourself this, Seeker: Do you feel disconnected from the cards? Do you need to take a break from reading? There’s no shame in recognizing you’ve lost your way. After all, it’s the first step to recovering your connection with the Divine.

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