Tarot As a Problem Solving Tool
Archetypal Symbolism Accesses the Subconscious Mind
As a Behavioral Science Specialist, I believe that tarot is an excellent tool for problem-solving. There are many excellent books that explain the origins of tarot as well as the meanings of the cards and many different layouts and spreads that can be used. That is not my purpose in this article. Here I would like to explain how a Christian (like myself) or anyone else for that matter, can use tarot in a simple layout, or no layout at all, to access the subconscious mind and arrive at solutions to everyday problems.
The method I use originates with the ideas of psychologist, Carl Jung, who set forth the theory of archetypal symbolism. In short, there are in existence, symbols that are meaningful to all humans everywhere. These symbols are so powerful that they directly and effortlessly access the subconscious mind. Using them as meditative tools can help a person access the power, knowledge and wisdom of the subconscious mind.
It is my own theory that the soul, each person’s direct line to God, resides in the subconscious mind. For me, tarot is just one of many ways to access that power, energy and information. The other ways include prayer, meditation, time in nature, exercise, and many others. I do not believe God is picky about how we communicate, as long as we communicate.
The Classic Rider Waite Deck Uses Lots of Christian Imagery
There Are Cards to Dovetail With Every Interest
A well designed deck of tarot cards contains depictions of every possible scenario that could occur in a person’s life. From the innocence of infancy, through the ebullience of youth, the struggles of adulthood, the attained wisdom of middle age, and the peace of old age, all can be found in the illustrations of a well-designed deck. The main topics of life are illustrated: Spirituality and emotions, intellect, work and creativity, and money and earthly matters. These pictures and the symbolism incorporated in each one are easy for any person to relate to. If you are put off by the classic Rider Waite tarot (shown above) as many are, there are decks designed to appeal to any taste. There are even decks that illustrate the life of Jesus and stories from the Old and New Testament.
Illustrations and Symbolism Encourage Thought
To use tarot as a meditative and problem solving tool, here is what I do. I choose the deck that appeals to me - I have many. I shuffle the cards with my question in mind and lay them out in four piles. I turn over the top card of each pile. The first card gives the tone and general intent of the consultation. The second card indicates my thoughts at the moment. The third card indicates things that I should keep in mind as I consider the question. The fourth card indicates possible outcomes.
It is important to note, that it doesn’t really matter what cards are drawn, and you don’t have to do it in this order. The true purpose of the cards, when used this way, is simply to act as springboards for my own thought processes and to act as a tool to gain access to the strength of the subconscious mind, where the answer to the question is likely to be waiting fully formed. Each card has a story associated with it, and it is helpful to tell the stories of the cards as a starting point, but it is amazing how quickly the mind begins working and paints it’s own pictures and quickly arrives at it’s own conclusions.
Universal Stories Encourage Personal Solutions
When I use this process for others, I do not ask them what their question is. I just lay out the cards and then tell them the basic, bare bones story that is being presented by the cards. Because the stories told by the cards are universal, the person is sure to relate in some way and will quickly “correct” me or agree or say something like “Well, I hadn’t thought of that, but that’s a different way to look at it.” Before you know it, we are brainstorming and arriving at a solution to the person’s question.
In this way, the cards act as a way for a person to open up and access thoughts they didn’t know they had. I am always careful to tell the stories of the cards in positive and empowering ways that leave the person feeling ready to move forward in a positive way.
Positive Presentation Empowers & Encourages
For example, one young woman asked me to help her sort out her feelings around going to college. She was afraid she would not be able to withstand the pressure because she had experienced problems with drug and alcohol addiction in the past. I don’t remember exactly what her cards were. I do remember the Three of Cups which depicts three women dancing in celebration with wine cups turning up in the second position (her thoughts at the moment). This is the kind of serendipitous event that I believe indicates God is present and eager to use this tool to communicate.
The result of this consultation was that the young woman gained a sense that, even though alcohol and drugs had been a problem in the past, it was a problem that was indeed in the past. She was well aware of it. She possessed all the strength and faith she needed to move forward now, redirect her energies, and do her best.
The Cards Provide a Springboard for Communication
When I finished this consultation, her little brother shyly asked me to help him with a problem he was having controlling his temper at school. A very gentle consultation with a very light-hearted deck helped him to see that he is a sensitive and intelligent young man who may see things differently than others. However, fortunately for him, he had all the tools he needed to be able to recognize that he was about to be upset and to remove himself from the situation, take some deep breaths and look at it from a different perspective (as represented by a card called The Hanged Man - a positive depiction of a young man engaged in a practice of discipline and meditation).
In this situation, the cards provided a very fortunate opportunity for this young man to ask for help when he might not have asked for it at all or known that help was available for this kind of problem. The cards can be a very good “conversation piece” for working with young people, not unlike play therapy that uses dolls, toys and so on for acting out situations and arriving at solutions. The pictures and symbolism encourage creativity and positive problem-solving.
What Would Jesus Do?
Used in this way, there is nothing “occult” about tarot cards. It is important to remember that cards are just cards. They are pieces of cardboard with pictures printed on them. Any power they have is imbued by the user. No object is inherently good or bad. Any object can be used for negative or positive purposes - including the cross!
What would Jesus do? I am a Christian with a very strong and personal faith based both in my own experiences and in some formal study. I believe that, used in this way, Jesus would be very supportive of tarot. With His love of parables and story-telling and helping people to see how His universal stories relate to their day-to-day lives, this method would have fit right in to His ministry on earth. I personally believe that Jesus is open-minded enough to want to reach people in any way they will be reached. Tarot was not invented when Jesus walked the earth. If it had been, tarot might now be widely seen as a positive alternate way of problem-solving, worshipping, praying, and meditating!
And that is how I see it!
Copyright:SuzanneBennett:May 26, 2009
For more on tarot, visit...
- TAROT TALK! - My Decks
Here is a collection of some of my decks and books.
More by this Author
I ran across this question recently and set out to answer it. I have to say that the more I looked, the more conflicting information I ran across. In this article,my aim is to set forth several photos* that I believe...
In this article, I share the experience I've had so far gathering equipment and developing a do-it-yourself physical therapy program for my broken wrist.
Learn to assess the appearance of a person systematically and describe that person in a way that helps your listener form a clear mental picture.