Seasons of Tarot
Lately I’ve been thinking less about tarot as a divinatory tool and more as a Sacred Text…an unbound book of wisdom. One of the reasons many of us use tarot as a tool of divination is to get advice on the “right” decision regarding choices we have to make. Tarot has proved useful to me and countless others in this capacity. However, my mind has been turning toward the idea of not making a decision because it will give us a particular desired outcome but because it is the right thing to do. These things are not, of course, mutually exclusive, but looking at questions from a different point of view can give us interesting information.
Because of this change in focus, the coming weeks and months will bring you a series of essays about Tarot as Sacred Text. The essays will be about my musings and will hopefully inspire you to discover your own unique sacred wisdom within the cards that we all love so well.
Summer is winding down. Every change of season brings feelings of endings and new beginnings, of change…sometimes a sense of satisfaction for a season well-spent or regret over missed opportunities. The changing seasons remind us that life is a cycle and this can be comforting, as we know that summer will come ‘round again, that the moon will wax and wane with predictable regularity. They also remind us that time passes and things can never remain the same. The wisdom I’m looking for here in the cards is how we can understand and face change in our lives.
The seasons of our lives do not always follow the regularity of the change of seasons. We live for a season, whether a year or a decade or years, as perhaps a student of some particular course of study, as an employee for a company, as a partner to a person. Sooner or later all these seasons end. Sometimes we fight the endings, holding on far too long to what was, comfortable in the familiar, even though we know, deep in our gut or in the center of our heart, that it is time to say good-bye.
There are lots of cards of endings in tarot. Death is one card feared by many, a very natural fear as death brings change and humans are generally not fans of change. Actual death can occur in many ways, from a quiet, natural, peaceful death to a sudden, unexpected, and tragic death. However, I think the Death card isn’t necessarily about all forms human death (by human death, I don’t mean only physical death but all the ways humans experience deaths in their lives). Rather, I see it as an organic, natural death, the kind that happens when we see an ending approaching, recognize it, honor it, accept it graciously, and move on to the next phase.
We don’t always do that, though. We often, as mentioned earlier, fight it, deny it, clutch tightly to what we think is ours. In those cases, time continues to move on and the experience of death isn’t the easy, peaceful, organic death of the Death card but the sudden, frightening, chaos-creating death of the Tower card. We don’t leave a job we know we should and find ourselves laid off or downsized. We don’t leave a relationship that we know is no longer viable, we don’t end it when we can part as friends who once loved each other but instead end up hurting each other horribly and losing a connection, perhaps forever.
Seasons mark beginnings and endings. The Fool card is one filled with the possibility of beginnings. Generally, an optimistic card of beginnings, we are presented with seemingly infinite possibilities. The other aspect of the Fool that we don’t usually acknowledge is that as soon as the Fool takes a step, certain possibilities are no longer available. Beginnings and endings all in one, which is why the Fool can sometimes feel scary. Saying yes to something means saying no to other things. Similarly, the World card, generally an optimistic card of completion (we almost always say “completion” as it sounds more positive than “ending,” which has a sadder feeling to it) also contains a beginning in it. After completing something, it is time to move on…because, as nature teaches us, nothing healthy is stagnant. We’ve achieved something worthwhile and are comfortable with the schedules and systems we’ve created to get there, whether it is a class schedule or a career trajectory. Once the goal is reached, we have to release those comforting routines in order to discover and create the new ones that will take us to our next adventure.
Change is an important concept and one we all struggle with. In the next essay, we’ll continue to look at how tarot teaches us about change as we consider the 5s…usually not anyone’s favorite, no matter the suit. And rightly so. The 5s are cards of change.
These are just a few of the ways I see the metaphoric idea of seasons in our lives through tarot. I’d love to hear some of your ideas and also if you enjoy reading longer essays such as this.