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13 December 2012 @ 06:02 pm
YaaD Work: Class 12: Specialties: Tarot  
This is one of the reflection papers I wrote as part of my Year and a Day (YaaD) of study with Fieldhaven Coven.

The question is drawn from the Greenhaven Tradition; the YaaD course is not published on the Greenhaven Tradition website, but is made available on a person-to-person basis. Material that is not so closely held is available at http://greenhaventradition.weebly.com/

Class 12, Paper 2c (after class discussion): Choose a skill that you don’t have but would like to have. Do something to explore it – read a book, attend a workshop or lecture, take a lesson with someone more experienced, work with a kit from the craft store, etc. – and see how much you can learn. Write a one-page report on your experiences.

Assignment submitted October 21, 2012, 2012

Writing Assignment: YaaD Class 12 - Specialties

Tarot cards appear to date back to 14th Century Italy, and while 19th and early 20th century writers "found" links to Egyptian hieroglyphics and to Kabbalah, it is more likely that the cards were based on Turkish Mameluke cards. [Istari] The earliest known Italian decks used the now-accepted Tarot suits of coins, cups, swords, and batons; later French decks changed those to the common playing card suits of diamonds, hearts, spades, and clubs. [Istari] The cards were originally used for games starting in the 1300s; the first use for divination appears to be not earlier than the mid-1400s. [Istari]

Tarot cards can be used for divination (discovering hidden knowledge or forecasting the future) or for meditation; some sources argue that the Tarot should only be used for meditation and study, not for mere fortunetelling. [Tuppence], [Renée] Based on what I've read, though, and on my personal beliefs, I suspect that divination is itself a form of meditation; the interpretation of the cards will be personal to the reader and may be a way of accessing unconscious or subconscious awareness of existing patterns.

One simple way of using Tarot for meditation is to draw a single card and then brainstorm, ideally in writing, everything that comes to mind about the card – both what is physically present on the card (figures, colors, shapes) and the thoughts and impressions generated by those images. This free writing should be treated as a form of brainstorming; that is, every thought should be recorded, and there should be no self-criticism and no editing. Alternatively, one could attempt what Renée calls "deep description," which is to write down only descriptions of the images on the card, with no analysis at all until the complete description is finished. [Renée] I don't think I actually saw this in any of my readings, but it occurs to me that another form of meditation might be to draw a card or a few cards from a face-up deck, and then consider what led the querent to choose that/those card/s.

Using Tarot for divination can involve any number of cards. The spread I'm most familiar with is the 11-card Celtic Cross, but I've also run across a 10-card Tree of Life (based on Kabbalah). [Desy] There are simple one-, three-, and five-card draws, and someone has even come up with a full-deck spread. [Unicornis]

The care and feeding of a tarot deck is fairly straightforward. All sources I found strongly suggest finding a deck that has imagery that works for the individual – and every possible source has been used for Tarot decks, from the "traditional" Rider-Waite-Smith to faeries, Egyptian symbolism, woman-focused symbols, ferrets, and computer hackers. Most but not all sources recommend wrapping them in silk or keeping them in a box; however, there is no one true way. No two sources seemed to agree on whether it is "safe" to let others handle the deck: some say never, some say "if you're reading for someone else let them shuffle" or "… let them cut the cards", and some say it's not a problem. Based on this, I would suggest that each individual should what's comfortable for him/her. Finally, every source strongly suggests that if someone is going to work with Tarot, whether for meditation, divination, or both, s/he should do so on a regular basis.


Istari. "A Brief History of the Tarot." Retrieved 21 October 2012 from http://www.witchvox.com/va/dt_va.html?a=ukgb1&c=words&id=8956. Reference in text: [Istari]

lila Desy, Phylameana. "Tree of Life Tarot Spread." Retrieved 21 October 2012 from http://healing.about.com/od/tarot/ig/Tarot-Spreads/Tree-of-Life-Tarot-Spread.htm. reference in text: [Desy]

Tuppence. "Tarot Divination." Retrieved 21 October, 2012, from http://www.paganlibrary.com/reference/tarot_divination.php. Reference in text: [Tuppence]

Renée, Janina. "Other Uses for the Tarot: Meditation." Retrieved 21 October 2012 from http://www.llewellyn.com/journal/article/1678. Reference in text: [Renée]

Unicornis. "Full Deck Tarot Star Spread." Retrieved 21 October 2012 from http://www.paganlibrary.com/reference/full_deck_tarot_star_spread.php. Reference in text: [Unicornis]