Using the Tarot as a Tool of Empowerment – Part II
A two-part series
Click to read each part of this original series by Ronnie Allen Ph.D.
by Ronnie Allen, Ph.D.,
CTMI -Certified Tarot Master Instructor
This article was originally published in the American Tarot Newsletter, Vol.IV. NO.I Winter 1999.
The second installment in this series of articles focusing on using the Tarot as a Tool of Empowerment will describe how I utilize the Lotus Blossom Spread (MYSTERIES OF ISIS, by deTraci Regula, Llewellyn Publications, 1995, pages 230-232), to help my clients plan strategies and goals to change their lives.
According to Ms. Regula, “the lotus has its roots in the mud nourished by decaying matter in the darkness. But it sprouts blindly. Filled with faith in a light it can only dimly perceive, it sends up a green stalk traveling through the dark waters until it finally breaks through the surface, climbing into the light and air. Its leaves may float on the water, between the worlds of light and dark, wet and dry, nourishing a bud that will soon burst into bloom like a small vivid sun, fragrance permeating the air around it.” (P.231) It was this passage, so eloquently written, as is the rest of the book, that led me to pursue and use this spread as one of my Tools of Empowerment.
Let’s do an analysis of the passage and you will learn more about my approach which hopefully will assist you as well with your clients and readings. Every situation, problem, event in ones life, behavior and attitude had his roots in a belief system. This is usually unconscious. In our unconscious we harbor all unresolved conflicts that create barriers to our progress, health, happiness and prosperity in our present daily lives. This is what I believe Ms. Regula is speaking about when she talks of decaying matter. If we do not resolve these conflicts we cannot grow, because we are clinging to the aspects of our past. In quoting the philosophy of the world renowned behavior strategist, Anthony Robbins, “The past does not equal the future.” In using the Tarot, we try to help our clients resolve these conflicts and let go of emotions that are no longer serving them. If we sprout blindly, undirected and unfocused we still do not get the clarity of vision we need to be productive. We will repeat not only counterproductive behavior, but destructive ones as well. For example, children who were abused, if the pattern isn’t broken become abusive adults. If your parents are divorced, it doesn’t mean you need the same belief system about marriage. If your parents are substance abusers, you do not have to be. If you are currently living financially challenged, in the future you can have financial abundance. The list goes on and on.
When the leaves finally float on the water, between light and dark, wet and dry, there still is no focus or direction. When you meander aimlessly through life without a clear goal, or without knowing what you want to accomplish, your life falls flat. There will always be something you regret not doing, something you’ve always wanted to accomplish, but did not know where to begin. That may be as simple as finding the right resources to help you. Not taking action, places many people back into the negative situations they have tried to get away from. For example, many clients come to me for reading about how to get back the abusive man they just got rid of because they can’t find anyone else. It is their lack of knowing how to change their behavior that attracted that type of man to begin with that is the problem. Going back into the same type of relationship is a lot easier, and more hurtful, but to these woman it is less painful than changing their own behavior. In my first article I discussed the importance of owning your behavior, action and attitudes, and this is a prime example.
Let’s get onto the spread. It consists of 16 cards. I’ll use the Universal Rider Waite for this, but you can use your deck of preference.
1. Root or basic influence.
2. More of the present, oneself or close person.
3. Present environment, workplace, home, mental.
4. Beginning of culmination.
6,5,7. Opposite forces at play in the future. 5 is the key.
8. Key in near future, 9, 10, 11, 12 more details.
15, 13. One possible outcome.
14, 16. Alternative possible outcome.
For the purposes of demonstration, I think the best way for me illustrate this to you is to actually do a reading on a recent situation. Then you will see the strategies I put into play. A client (age 28-32) comes to me saying she wants to make a career change but has no idea into what field. She is a single parent without an ample extended family support system (babysitting) with two young children, one school age, one infant.
These were the cards that were spread after focusing on the question while shuffling the deck:
15(vi swords) 13(ix cups) 14(death) 16(hermit)
11(ix pentacles) 9(x pentacles) 8(temperance) 10(vii cups) 12(ii wands)
6(v swords) 5(judgement) 7(knight swords)
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I will go through the entire analysis and discuss strategies that I suggested to help her. Insight will be gotten throughout, but that is not enough unless you take action, no matter how small the steps. For my client her personality and soul cards are the single digit XX(JUDGEMENT) card, which came out in position 5, and her year card, VII(CHARIOT) came out in position 4.(For calculations of these please refer to Mary Greer, TAROT CONSTELLATIONS, Newcastle Publications, 1987.) These turned out to be very appropriately placed in my client’s reading and will give us in-depth insight. Consistent with the JUDGEMENT card, my client knew she had to make changes before she sank any further into despair, but she still had the issues of letting go of past hurts and was constantly trying to live with would haves, should haves and could haves. Using your JUDGEMENT means to be prepared to respect your feelings and those of others around you. The person you want to change may not be ready, nor will ever be ready to see it your way. JUDGEMENT implies it is the time to see through your own motivations, even if they are selfish or self destructive. In her case she was trying to get her former spouse to come back to her, to the sacrifice of her present relationship, because of child support, which came out as we went into the reading. The JUDGEMENT card shows a need to take responsibility for yourself. With the CHARIOT being her year card, it is her year of moving forward and living up to her full potential. She had just come out of a LOVERS year, in which she broke up with her present relationship, a possibly solid one for the future. In the CHARIOT year there are difficulties that need to be overcome. This card is an ego card. Either you can approach this year with the philosophy, “I will step on anyone to get what I want and I don’t care if I’m egotistical,” or “I better be careful not to hurt someone’s feelings.” Most of us would suggest going with a healthy balance, but it is something to be watched. The CHARIOT year is one in which one may relocate, and master abilities. Therefore this is a good year for my client to make changes regarding career and residence. You may say that this does not directly relate to the question, but I like to have a holistic view of my clients, what they have been through and where their negative beliefs have come from.
At the root, 1(JUSTICE), is the problem that is causing her to be unable to change. She is waiting so long for the court system to come through helping her get back child-support, that most of her income from her current job is going to attorneys. If she had more money for babysitters, perhaps this would free her up to have her children taken care of, while she looked for new job opportunities. I am not saying give up on the child support issue, but I suggested she speak with the attorneys about a more flexible payment schedule. Also, you get what you put out to the universe to manifest. If you simply wait for money to appear, and not take positive action to physically obtain it, the wait is going to be very long. You can’t survive and spend money that isn’t in the bank yet.
The card in the position 2(VI WANDS) shows that she will be victorious in what she tries. She needs to get over the self defeating attitudes that she can’t get a better job in the workforce. As also indicated by this card, her last two relationships were very damaging to her psyche, with them having a college degree and her not. She internalized this mental sabotage, and hindered her growth. This was to be a psychological journey as she needs to get rid of the decaying matter in her unconscious. She constantly went back to the child support issue (waiting for the money to come), because it was all the men told her she is capable of doing. Her family reinforced this as well, because it was all around her in her environment. She realized she had to get rid of the past.
The card in the 3 position (STRENGTH) shows that she needs to tame the lion within her before she can tame the lion without. These would be the feelings she had about women supporting themselves, and the conflict about dependancy. With STRENGTH being is this position, she realized it was time to use her power as a woman. This is a particularly powerful card for women. She needs to pay attention to what she really has a passion for and where her strengths lie. She is a professional computer programmer and works for a small company. She can take apart a computer and rebuild it without a hitch. She always wanted to be a private computer consultant. I told her if this was something she is passionate about this is one direction she should take. Private consulting would allow flexible timing so can work within her children’s schedules. This was one career change or income supplementation path to embark on.
As we discussed, the CHARIOT card, in position 4 shows it is time for her to master her abilities and take charge of the direction in her life. It is a time for major action, and the rest of the reading will clarify her options, and the consequences of not taking action. The choice will be hers.
Opposing forces, (6, 5, 7), represent her decision making, or lack of thus far. Not knowing what to pursue, or who or what to leave behind 5(JUDGEMENT) was causing her to stagnate. On the right side, position 6(V SWORDS) was indicative of her inner turmoil. These were self imposed and petty obstacles that could be over come. But if she would assert herself as an independent woman would she win the battle and lose the war? The war being, would she lose the child support if she shows she can be successful without it? Should she hold out and only strive for the child support while others define her future? On the right side, position 7(KNIGHT SWORDS), brings out an option of becoming more assertive and taking charge of the situation. Should she charge forth to obtain what she wants even at the risk of losing her past beliefs about feminine dependence? We both looked at each other and laughed. She opted for the latter. But thinking about this isn’t enough. I asked her to do a writing assignment when she got home to list her beliefs about asserting herself. She was to list all the pros and cons, what would make her happy, and not only that, but actions she can take every day to make her happy. She was also to start writing strategies that she could follow through on to begin a computer consulting practice. She had to do this herself, because she knew the field.
The near future card, 8(TEMPERANCE), was a very reassuring card. With time, and patience, balance and harmony will result. In every day she will look for something beautiful and calm to make her feel good, while at the same time take action towards that goal. She is going to integrate all aspects of her life into a complete functioning whole. We talked about the opposing factors on the right and left of the key cars. On the right, in the 10 & 12 positions, respectively, (VII CUPS, II WANDS), shows someone who is so overwhelmed and harboring inner grief and emotions that they have not let out to anyone. Their judgement is clouded and they know they need a breakthrough but have not made the effort. One of the aspects she was considering but has not discussed with her parents was the chance she had to relocate. Here in New York, her parents could not give her the babysitting support that she could have used. However, her sister, in another state would be happy to help her. She had emotional issues about leaving her aging parents alone, but at the same time she is harboring anger about having to be so attached and neglecting her own needs. These cards indicated the need to speak openly to her parents and clarify the situation.
Very often in this spread, the cards in the last row 14, 16 in this position, the right, give insight as to the consequences if you do not carry through on the suggestions from 10 & 12. As you can see DEATH & HERMIT are in those positions. Regarding the DEATH card, my client has to make a decision to move on with her life. Issues with her parents came to the forefront here. Even though they couldn’t help her with the physical parameters of her life, she has a close emotional bond with them and she could visit when she wanted or they needed her. She needs to be prepared to give up that close proximity. She also needs to have a sense of conclusion so that the old behavior patterns and belief system can be put to rest. The HERMIT has shown she had done enough self reflection in solitude wallowing in her misery. She needs to realize she cannot be the hermit anymore, and it is okay to have help in fulfilling her dreams. This is not contradictory to what I said before. Getting help in moving forward is not the same thing as letting someone else do it for you. She also needs to see that the answers lie within her and they are waiting to come forward.
On the left side, positions 11(IX PENTACLES) & 9(X PENTACLES), we spoke about the small house she owns. Other options came up, and she could either use some equity or sell the house. If she moved to her sister, she was thinking of selling her house. Regarding prosperity, this side could also indicate going forwards with a new career opportunity instead of the opposite side which indicates stagnation.
Above these cards on the left, 15(VI SWORDS) & 13(IX CUPS), indicate that a move or relocation may be one direction to take now. She will be moving from rough waters to calm (VI SWORDS), and has the emotional will and strength to push her forward (IX CUPS). As you can see the alternatives to not taking action and making a positive change will have more detrimental effects on her life in the long run.
This session was an hour. Since it was very recent, my client still has to get back to me with the specific actions she took that were suggested in the reading. I know she felt confident that many options were given and her thinking was clarified. It is up to her to carry through on the strategies, and plan for her life. We can open a doorway for our clients, but it is up to them to walk through and utilize the resources within it.