Unlearning Tarot

Since beginning my spiritual apprenticeship I have experienced a radical shift in my perspective. I have learned that my happiness depends on my willingness to unlearn things. Even before I began a focused spiritual path I had thought as much but I had no idea how far this concept would extend.

My unlearning experience started with tarot. I have  over ten years of tarot data accumulated from various places. Things I think, learned, ways I view myself, labels and tarot-related self identity. I decided several months ago that memorized details were getting in the way of my readings. Sure the information was useful and it gets in the way of what my cards were intended for in the first place. What I’ll call connection to the unknowable or to the divine. I have rituals for how I do readings. I have followed them for almost as long as I’ve done tarot, longer than I have done anything else in my life. Unless you count things like worrying, eating and speaking. When my perspective shifted I realized I needed to let go of these rituals.

Tarot is a good metaphor for recent transformations that have been happening. Frightening, beautiful, difficult, paradigm shifts. During a reading I use language to communicate information to a querent. Recently I realized that I communicate more than the results of a reading to the querent. I communicate my world view, my beliefs and superstitions, everything I was taught. As long as I committed to memorized interpretations of tarot I was committed to the world view I had when I learned/accepted those interpretations. I was barely yet a person when I picked up my first deck. What happens now that my world view shifts? How do I read my cards? Rituals can become rote. Now I didn’t know this when I decided to unlearn my tarot. I just knew that I needed to become more flexible if I was going to trust the messages in the cards. I knew that the world was not as black and white as I’d originally thought and neither were my interpretations.

I wanted my tarot practice to reflect my worldview
and to change when I do.

Three years ago I bought my most recent deck as a valentine’s day gift to myself. It’s raunchy, kinky, quirky and until my recent unlearnings it was impossible to read. Some of the images were so perverse I could not understand them until I had done the things they depicted. *clears throat* I had no language with which to interpret them and I was not flexible enough to meet the cards on their own terms. My attachment to old interpretations prevented me from reading what they were saying.

The world right now feels like a fresh deck of tarot cards. If I use my old interpretations I can sort of read this deck but there are details left out, the picture is unclear and there is a lot of fear and confusion. My old interpretations are comfortable, predictable, un-challenging and feel reliable even as they leave out the bulk of the story. And to someone who is unaware of the limitations of these old interpretations, they sound good! They make sense. They seem workable. I am creating new interpretations. The new ones are not written in stone and depend on my ability to see the reality of the cards or the reality of the world. A reality still biased but  less clouded by old interpretations. My awareness of my ability to choose is… kind of heavy. I am often tempted to be lazy and rely on old information, old habits. How do I go back after having touched the unknowable? or after having experienced consistent joy or peace of mind?

I don’t want to go back. So I am examining what I think and believe about everything. More than that, I have been unlearning. Things that I am used to doing without thinking are now being done with attention and deliberation. Even when I make old choices I watch myself, like an avid fan of the most ridiculous reality TV show imaginable. It. is. wild. I can’t even explain how wild it is.

*long awestruck pause*

I suppose I should lay back down and get back to the business of having a fever, flu or brain tumor or whatever has been ailing me. Off to dream about the dream that life is.

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