How Does Tarot Work? And Can it Make Me Happy?
It’s Mystic Monday today for the Guinea Pig Diaries and I’m pleased to welcome paranormal writer and Tarot reader, Kirsten Weiss sharing how and why Tarot can make you happier! Thank you, Catie Rhodes, for introducing us! Kirsten did a reading for me last week, and it was very reassuring. Take it away, Kirsten!
Several years ago, I was at a low point in my life and I went for a tarot reading at a fortune teller’s café. It was just for fun. I’ve been reading tarot cards unprofessionally for over fifteen years now, so I can read for myself. But I wanted to hear what someone who didn’t know me had to say.
The reader told me I’d go on a trip in mid-May and I’d meet someone. Maybe it was because I was watching for it, but I did go on a trip in mid-May. And yes, I did meet someone special.
So does tarot work as a self-fulfilling prophecy? A sort of psychic placebo effect? Or is it something else?
There are lots of theories about the origins of tarot, but the earliest known tarot decks were born in Renaissance Italy, and used in the game Tarocchi. What makes a tarot deck special is its fifth suit – called the trumps or Major Arcana. These are the cards most of us are familiar with from movies – the Lovers, Death, the Hanged Man. Tarot expert Robert Place speculates these trump cards were modeled on the Italian “triumph” morality parades of that time period.
The other four suits, called the Minor Arcana, are close to what you’d see in a deck of “normal” cards, though the court cards are a bit different. Tarot decks have four court cards per suit: King, Queen, Page or Princess, and Knight.
So how does it work?
Jung wrote about tarot: “[The images] are sort of archetypal ideas, of a differentiated nature, which mingle with the ordinary constituents of the flow of the unconscious, and therefore it is applicable for an intuitive method that has the purpose of understanding the flow of life, possibly even predicting future events, at all events lending itself to the reading of the conditions of the present moment.” So perhaps tarot allows us to tap into our subconscious understanding of what’s happening, to invoke synchronicity into our lives, and predict things at a deeper level?
Some readers treat tarot as a complex Roschach test, asking questions that lead the client to interpret their own cards. This can open up your hidden assumptions and beliefs, and force you to think outside your usual patterns. But is it future telling?
We tend to live in the same patterns over and over. Frankly, it’s not hard to guess someone’s future when we so often repeat the past. What if, however, we could use tarot to understand our patterns, and to break them?
And then there are some people (not me) who use the cards as a conduit for their own psychic connection. I even heard of one psychic who reads the cards face down. She intuits their meaning without having to look at them.
No matter how it works, in the hands of a good reader, a tarot reading can give a person clarity, direction, and hope, as that tarot reader did for me so long ago. It takes us outside of our regular thought processes, forces us to look at our lives through a new lens – the lens of a deck of 78 cards.
Frankly, I don’t care if tarot is “magic” or not. There’s something soothing about shuffling the cards, laying them out, puzzling out what they’re “saying.” And they’re simply beautiful.
About the Author:
Kirsten Weiss runs the Tarot Card of the Day for the @ParaYourNormal twitter feed and is the author of the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries: the urban fantasy, The Metaphysical Detective, The Alchemical Detective, and The Shamanic Detective. Book four in the series, The Infernal Detective, will be available May 21st on Amazon.
Kirsten worked overseas for nearly fourteen years, in the fringes of the former USSR and deep in the Afghan war zone. Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.
Kirsten, thank you so much for sharing your personal connection to Tarot with all of us. I had no idea how open the cards were for interpretation and like you said, how they can be an insightful tool, like journaling or blogging is for others; it can show us how we’ve grown and what’s possible. You’re right, that is beautiful!
See more of Kirsten on Twitter and catch her newest book trailer for The Infernal Detective!
When Reading Becomes Magic
It’s Guilty Pleasures Friday and I think it’s about time we talked books again here on the Happiness Project! I’ve been a bit slower with my reading progress this year, and feeling underwhelmed by some of the books I’ve started.
Therefore, it was a delightful change of heart when I finished reading Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins the other day.
Hex Hall is the story of Sophie, a teenager who cast a love spell gone wrong (hmm – I may have cast a few of those myself as a teen). Endangering herself and all magic beings by showing her power in front of humans, Sophie is sentenced to Hecate Hall, or Hex Hall as the students call it. A little bit Crime and Punishment, Hex Hall is the boarding school for misbehaving witches, faeries, shapeshifters, werewolves, and exactly one vampire – who just happens to be the most hated person at the school, and coincidentally, Sophie’s roommate.
Raised by a human mother, Sophie knows nothing of her magical family’s past, and with flying colors on her first day, manages to piss off the three snootiest teen witches she’ll ever meet. For Sophie, this is going to be a long year.
I must say at the start of the book, I judged it to be easily “figured out,” and thought the book contained too many similarities to the recent book/film hit, Beautiful Creatures.
I was wrong.
About halfway through the book, I didn’t want to put it down! Things started getting dangerous! Students were mysteriously attacked, left with bite marks and no memory! It seemed like Sophie’s crush, Archer, may be more than what he seems. And the ghost who was randomly appearing to Sophie, was now giving private magic lessons in a graveyard! I love cemeteries!
The hardest thing for me to do right now is not give away the amazing jaw dropping twist the end of the book reveals! I’m dying to tell someone about it, but then why would you read it?
So you have to read it for yourself!
Sometimes, it’s fun to lose yourself in a story, even if it’s another YA paranormal read and you already have too many of those on your bookshelf!
Hex Hall was fun. And best of all, it was surprising. And I think more great things will come from the author, who’s completed the Hex Hall trilogy with the sequels, Demonglass and Spellbound.
Rachel Hawkins lives in Alabama and is working on another trilogy series currently. She taught high school English for 3 years before leaving work to pursue her bigger passion – the book that became Hex Hall.
If you’re interested in learning more about her, I linked to her blog by clicking on her photo.
Give me a shout! Have you read Hex Hall? What did you think? What other books have completely surprised you once you got into them?
And what’s next on your “To Read” list?
A Witchy Review: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
I’m having such fun with this book club I joined. Our book for June was The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe.
Connie, a graduate student trying to survive her oral exams, inherits (of sorts) a dusty, dirty old house that belonged to her grandmother. She moves to the house in the summer to clean it up and sell it, but what Connie doesn’t know is that this house will unlock a secret in history dating all the way back to the Salem Witch Trials.
The book is a fascinating read, imagined by the author through her own dissertation work at Boston University. Every day she would walk her dog on the trails between Salem and Marblehead, Massachusetts, the cities the book takes place in. Howe states the characters in her book are not autobiographical, but they are well developed nonetheless, and she herself is descended from two Salem Witch historical figures: Elizabeth Proctor, who survived, and Elizabeth Howe, who did not. Spanning the Witch Trial days and the decades that followed in conjunction with present day, she webs together a cunning woman of the 1600’s with a 1990’s stressed out student!
Last summer, I vacationed in Boston, MA, and took a day trip to Salem with my boyfriend. If any of you have upcoming vacations that way, plan to stay overnight! All the good graveyard and witch tours happen at night! As it was, we weren’t in on that loop, so we had to catch our train back to Boston, but we did spend a full day in Salem. Salem is a beautiful, seaport town with a mix of past and present in its streets. The locals you’ll meet are just as diverse covering the full spectrum of love/hate for the tourists that flock to its city, especially at Halloween. The city offers such tourist and historical attractions like the Witch Dungeon Museum and the Pirate Museum. Plus, almost all its shops offer psychic readings, tarot readings, palm readings, and a vast array of magical potions and herbs if it interests you.
We toured the Salem Witch Museum. The main room is set up like a theater, and you sit around the edges with its “stages” encircling you. The lights go up on various scenes to reveal still models in period dress, each depicting a moment during the Salem Witch Trials as the audio narrates. The role of Tituba in the Salem Witch Trials is not widely known, but she was a servant in Reverend Parris’ house. A slave from Barbados, Tituba would entertain the children with magic tricks and scary stories. Her name was the first name cried out from the “afflicted” girls. After that, many more women were accused of the craft. The most shameful accusation was that of Rebecca Nurse, a respected, God-fearing, elder member of the community. It is suspected her plea of guilty came more-so out of fear and misunderstanding than anything else. Historians say she was questioned twice at trial, but she was old and hard of hearing, causing her to nod in reply than speak up. She was one of the 19 people hanged during the Salem Witch Trials.
The hangings weren’t the only punishments given during during this time of suspicion and fear. A man named Giles Corey was actually pressed to death, with logs and boulders stacked upon him as a torture method to make him name additional suspicious townspeople. His last words are reported to have been, “More weight.”
In addition to the 20 deaths following the trials, many of the accused “witches” spent months in prison awaiting a suitable judge to arrive to port. And even those that weren’t hanged suffered a life in prison. At the time, if you were imprisoned, it was up to your family to pay for your imprisonment and upkeep. If you could not pay, which many of the lower class families could not, you rotted in jail for a lifetime to pay off your debt.
Many of the leading figures of the Salem Witch Trials make an appearance in Howe’s book, giving it a rich historical setting, and new perspective on its haunting past. The book is full of several mother-daughter relationships, providing great discussion at book clubs, if you’re looking for a new read. And since the main topic is uncovering Deliverance’s physick book, also called a spell book, receipt book, Book of Shadows, you can count on a little magic sneaking its way in.
As for Howe’s writing style, it was said by several book club members that the beginning is a little slow. I agree, at times the description of Connie’s actions or internal thoughts dragged on, but this is absolutely a book to stick with, unanimously liked by each member, especially the ending! It brought up a lot of interesting conversation about character development, gender then and now, how our perception of the world is based on the world we grow up in, and of course, witches! Do you believe in witchcraft? How has the term witch changed over time?
What do you think? Do you believe in magic, or is it all a bunch of hocus pocus?
Also, what’s a great next read I should tell my book club about?