I sometimes find myself doing complete Tarot readings in my head.
At a recent workshop, when we chose partners for a shamanic tracking exercise, a woman I'll call Mikki asked me to bring her guidance on creating a small holistic center. This was one of her longstanding ambitions, and she felt she was nearing the point in her life where she would have the resources and independence to fulfill this life dream. I asked her to give me an image I could use as a portal in embarking on a shamanic journey with the aid of drumming to find what she needed to know.
She smiled and said, "I see myself doing Tarot readings at the center."
This was perfect, given her intention. As I drummed, I let my bird allies fly part of my consciousness to an old brick building in a downtown area that was being brought back to life. I toured the rooms in the rented space that was being used - in a possible future - as the holistic center the woman wished to create. I had the impression that building was previously industrial, possibly a gasworks. I was drawn to a pleasant natural foods cafe on the ground floor.
I saw life-size paintings of major arcana on the walls, and found Mikki's double seated at a table with a Tarot deck in front of her, ready to do a reading.
I invited Madame Mikki to spread the cards to provide guidance for the Mikki who was waiting in the workshop space. Madame Mikki laid ten cards face down, producing the ten-card spread widely known as the Celtic Cross. One by one, she - or my secret working mind - turned the cards over, producing one of the clearest readings I have ever seen.
I was able to retain exact memory of the sequence of the cards, and drew this in my journal after I ended the drumming for the group. When I was able to share directly with Mikki, I took her, one by one, through the sequence of the cards, giving her my own attributions and associations, and weaving in hers. At the center, the High Priestess seemed to embody her big dream of moving to a new level of life and spirit, crossed by all that bound and bedeviled.
She was moving from the mature Queen of Swords part of herself that had an excellent brain and excelled at reason and planning (Mikki was an engineer) towards a less developed, passionate Princess of Wands part of herself that wasn't afraid to ride the tiger. In her own position was a powerful personality willing to cross the wilderness by inner light. On the horizon of possibility, the Lovers trump held the vision of union with the beloved, perhaps on several levels. In the position of her hopes and fears, the Tower, the prospect of the overthrow of familiar established structures. In her immediate environment, the Sun smiled on her; I reminded her that old-time Tarot readers sometimes say that if the Sun is in your spread, you have nothing to worry about. At the root of all, the King of Disks (called Knight in the Thoth deck); we talked about a history of patriarchy, in the family and at the job, to be recognized and moved beyond. The outcome? The three of Disks. Solid, steady work.
We noticed that six of the ten cards were greater trumps, suggesting that big forces were at play around her intention, to challenge and to support. Three face cards, suggesting the necessity to recognize and work with others (certainly essential to bringing clients and other practitioners to a center) as well as aspects of the self. A lone number card as the outcome, solid and steady. I like the three of Disks very much. She liked it too, saying she wasn't afraid of work.
Our discussion led Mikki to decide on concrete action plans, involving reaching out to others and scouting rental properties in a neighborhood she identified from my description.
Did I speak of doing Tarot readings "in my head"? That language may be inadequate. Tarot images can open doors into the imaginal realm, which is not inside our heads but rather, a realm we may sometimes succeed in getting our heads inside. Let's add that here the Tarot images may come alive and reveal themselves in forms beyond any of their painted representations.
I am leading a new workshop on Dreaming with Tarot in March. My latest book Dreaming the Soul Back Home contains a section on games to play in the Tarot Corner of your Secret Library.