Friday, February 15, 2013

School for Contemplative Practices: Tarot

Tarot is an esoteric system which helps us to connect with what is, especially with what is going on in the spiritual dimensions of our lives. It is not a tool for predicting the future, though the more clearly we see the present, the more the likely future can be made apparent to us.

Three skilled Tarot practitioners are collaborating to introduce us to this ancient science. On March 2, 2013, as part of our series in the School for Contemplative Practices, they will give us background on how to understand the cards and the layout or “spread” and then will give us each a chance to experience the various decks and to see what it is like for them and for us to invite the cards to guide us into deeper insight into our Selves.

One of our presenters, Jacki Richardson, is someone I have known for many years but I only recently learned of her interest in Tarot. She asked me what it was about Tarot that appealed to me most. I think my answer may be of interest to others as well, but first I want to address more fully what we are trying to do in Sacred Soup.

A central assumption of Sacred Soup is that all wisdom is one. If it is true, it is true for all everywhere. Religions differ over how they speak of truth or which aspect of truth they focus on, but all truth is one. This is known philosophically as Perennialism or as the Perennial Philosophy. One famous articulation of this perspective comes from Aldous Huxley in his book, The Perennial Philosophy, a short summary of which is that all reality is an expression of the Divine Source, humans are a material expression of this Source, and our greatest purpose is to discover and act from an awareness of our fundamental union with this Source.

With this in mind, Sacred Soup is a community to which we all bring our own truth and offer it up to enrich the awareness and practice of each other. This is exactly what Jacki did when she asked about doing a presentation on Tarot.

I will admit to a certain caution when she suggested that idea. Tarot is an esoteric system that doesn’t appear to have roots in any major world religion. There are some aspects that resonate with the Kabbalah, a mystical branch of Judaism, and there is evidence that Christian monks used the system five centuries ago, but it certainly isn’t something the Bible speaks of.

Nevertheless, in practice it is much like the use in Eastern Christianity of icons as a focus for meditation. Each card is an icon. It represents an aspect of the universal relationship between the Creator and the Created. It has relevance for issues of power, relationship, and choice. While there is something ultimately arbitrary about the 78 cards [the I Ching uses 64 pentagrams for a similar purpose] that is far more aspects than most of us hold in our awareness. This system is quite literally mind-expanding.

While it is universal (all decks have 78 cards) it is also personal in that one can choose between many decks (while they have the same cards, the art and to some degree the emphasis may vary between decks) and there is a relationship that grows between the person and their deck. The deck becomes a trusted confidant and, as the relationship grows, the power of Tarot to inform our awareness grows with it.

Join us on March 2 as we learn from Jacki, Jason Turner, and Josh McMichael about how they use Tarot in their own lives and offer us a peek into how it might inform our own spiritual journey.

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