In our journey through the Three Ps of the Feminine as they might relate to the tarot, this second pause invites us to wonder about process.
When someone comes to me for a tarot consultation, I encourage hir to set an intent and/or generate some questions around hir intent. Tarot as process takes that intent and surrenders it to a set of symbols randomly drawn from a deck of cards and by a session that develops from the person’s needs. The readee and I can be surprised by what we turn over. This allows wonder and exploration to come into the session rather than to talk about the person’s situation, issue, or question as two people might do in everyday conversation. The randomly chosen images take us into regions we might not normally enter. Process!
Even the structure and uses of tarot have undergone a meandering journey over the centuries. From trick-taking card game to divination tool to Western Mystery mnemonic device to psychological growth catalyst. From an undecided number of Trumps to 22. From five sticks and some decoration to a picture of young men engaged in mock combat to an image of a bold fire-breather.
The tarot might be my primary insight tool, but I do my best to remember that it’s just that, a tool. It’s the process of a consultation that fascinates me, no matter what someone’s tool is. I’ve read many books on tarot, psychology, coaching, counselling, symbolism, mythology, personal growth, dreamwork, strategic questioning, and more. I’ve attended multiple workshops and councils on tarot, Jungian thought, shamanism, circle process healing, journal writing, and such. The moment that a client enters my space or calls me on the ‘phone, all of that head knowledge goes out the window. Before me is a person who is curious about something in hir life. S/He is not a textbook or a workshop, but a being of flesh, bone, blood, and soul. I listen to hir story and allow the session to develop from there. My favourite tarotists, astrologers, and agents of change are securely rooted in an effective system that provides structure and which is fluid enough to accommodate what needs to happen then and there. Process!
Two consultations from last week might illustrate this point. The first of these was for someone with a serious health condition, a sticky family matter, and doubts about vocation. Hir tears and frustration felt like they needed airing, so I kept the session very simple. After s/he chose a deck for us to use, I asked hir to place two or three cards in one section of the table surface to represent where s/he is now, another group of cards in another section of the surface to represent the life-giving potentials that exist in hir and hir life, and one more group of cards to depict the bridge from where s/he is to hir potentials. The first group allowed this person to vent the challenging feelings that were coming up. The second gave hir an opportunity to notice what is still alive and good in hir life and self. And the third inspired grounded strategies rooted in both academia and spirit. S/He left my space changed, and a couple of days later, I received a lovely note from hir stating how the session really shifted her outlook and helped hir to feel like s/he had power over hir life again.
The second session was far more structured. The client entered and stated hir intent to explore career options and relationship strategies. We spent time together carefully crafting layouts that contained very specific questions. We divided up the appointment so that each topic or option got equal time. Our card-by-card investigation opened up a powerful story of what the person really wanted and didn’t want. S/He left my space feeling like things were in order again and that s/he now carried a powerful personalised map.
So very different, yet so very appropriate for each person. Process, for me, is related to presence in that it comes down to listening to the moment and acting (or not) accordingly. It’s about being openness to throwing the plan over my shoulder and working with what I’ve got. I’m reminded of a phrase from Christina Baldwin’s The Seven Whispers: Surrender to Surprise. In the chapter about that phrase, Baldwin writes that if we do good work with life’s smaller surprises (unexpected traffic jam, dropping a dish, phone call from an old school friend), it prepares us for larger surprises (death of a partner, getting fired, a gift of a house in Tuscany). She encourages us to notice what’s happening, acknowledge what’s happening, and to work with what’s happening. A good tarot session honours that noticing, acknowledgment, and working with. Process!
I asked the tarot, “What is process?” and received the 5 of Wands, reversed. So process is:
- being OK with not quite knowing who I am at the moment
- grist in the mill of personal growth
- hashing it out with my subpersonalities
- a willingness to change my self-perceptions
- to challenge and be challenged by my core spirit
- hard soulwork