So. Last night, I tried to do a spread for my sweetie and couldn’t make much of anything out. I told her that I felt like I was getting interferance from my own head, so we packed up the spread and the plan is to try again in a day or two. (Does anyone else have this happen?)
Consequently, rather than doing “D is for Deities” as today’s Pagan Blog Project entry, I decided to write about:
D is for Divination
I’ve been experimenting, off and on, with various types of divination (palmistry, tea leaves, “rune cards”) for… ye gods… going on twenty years. O.O (Gosh, grade nine was a long-ass time ago…) But I got my first tarot deck – a colourful, Made In India set with a very one-dimensional “decoder book” that my brother found in the discount bin at Chapters – for… probably my 22nd birthday. So about ten years ago.
I admit I didn’t like it much. The pictures didn’t “talk” to me and the decoder book, as I said, was pretty simplistic. The suit of cups was only about romance. The suit of rings was only about money. That kind of thing.
But I used it.
Eventually, about five years later, I was gifted another deck – the Osho Zen Tarot, which I had already “met” through a friend of mine who also uses it – and this one talked. Maybe that’s because each of the cards has a name – the Queen of Swords, for example, is named “Morality”, the Four of Wands is “Participation” – that basically tells you what that card is about at its root. Or maybe it’s because the art is just so much more evocative – the suit cards don’t look like playing cards, they’re pictures of situations and, thus, are a huge help in terms of relating the cards, and the various layers of their meaning, to specific situations in my own life (for example, the Three of Water in my deck is my “polyamoury” card, the King of Air and the Queen of Fire are two different ways of being a domme – aka two different ways of holding, and dealing with, power)… which, in turn, helps me sort out what they might mean in a reading for someone else.
I like doing divination and, periodically, end up doing it for random strangers in cafes around town. When people ask – sometimes with a little trepedation – about how it works, this is what I tell them:
When I read for myself, I tend to look at tarot as a way for my unconscious mind to talk to my conscious mind. My unconscious mind, which is the part of my brain that actually knows what’s going on, talks in pictures (among other things). It can’t talk clearly with my conscious mind (which talks in words, and which thinks it’s in control and freaks out if it feels otherwise). Using a symbol-set – like the tarot cards, but it could be any other kind of divinatory system, too – is a way for me to translate pictures into words and, thus, give my unconscious mind a way to communicate effectively with my conscious mind.
Now I have no idea how this works when I’m dealing with someone else.
Most of the readings I do are for people I know fairly well. Even if I don’t know what their Question is, I can usually pull together a relevant reading based on (a) what the cards are saying, and (b) what I know about the querant. (And, yeah, in that order. I try not to go in with a bunch of assumptions about what a reading’s going to be about, even if I’m, say, doing a reading for my recently-divorced friend or trying-for-a-new-job sibling and the Big Thing in their life right now basically has the gravitational pull of Jupiter).
Sometimes, particularly if I’m working with a stranger, I do ask what they want to know about. Case in point: A gal sat down next to me in a coffee shop a couple of years ago and asked for a month-ahead spread… I – being rather new to this and not having done such a thing before – laid out a card for each day of the month. The last card was the Queen of Water.
When I asked, the lady explained that her daughter was getting married. I asked for the date. The last day of the month.
Which suddenly made a whole hell of a lot more sense.
I pulled two more cards – The King of Air and Integration (major arcana) – and was able to tell her that they were likely going to balance each other really, really well.
(Which was a huge relief to me, I don’t mind telling you. I don’t know what I would have done if Thunderbolt had shown up…)
I find that, working with a deck that speaks to me, I can (sometimes) do divination with straight-up playing cards now that I have a (much) better understanding of what their tarot correspondences are.
However I still have days – enough of them that the thought of reading for money (rather than reading for friends, fun, and the occasional cup of free coffee) makes me nervous – where I end up just staring at the cards, drawing a total blank, or hearing rehashed (and currently irrelevant) phrases running through my head for what a given card might mean… but not in the context it’s in right then.
So my question is this: What do you do when you’re drawing a blank? When you’re tired or distracted or stressed and you’re getting interferance from your own brain about what a reading is about. How do you put your Self on the back-burner while you do a reading?
If anyone has suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden. 🙂