Last week, I spent several days in New York City taking part in tarot-related events. The first of these was the one-day Tarot and Psychology conference hosted by the Tarot School on Thursday, April 24. This was the second time that the Tarot and Psychology day was offered. I appreciate that there is time dedicated to the meeting of these two arts through three presentations.
Our first presenter was Dr. Joseph Schippa, a licensed clinical psychologist. Joe occasionally employs tarot in his work, as needed, in addition to Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) also known as “tapping”. EFT involves tapping on certain accupressure points while repeating agreed-upon phrases in order to send a calming signal to the amygdala (the part of the brain that encodes emotions and long-term memories) and reset the hippocampus (the part of the brain which compares past threats with present signals). The presentation also covered employing the tarot as a projective psychological tool much as one might use a Rorschach inkblot or Thematic Apperception Test. The blend of the tactile, visual, and verbal when one employs the tarot, projective techniques, and EFT carries great potential for rich insight and real inner change, allowing the reader to deepen her/his practice and clients to integrate the tarot encounter in their lives. I can see myself employing this blend of techniques with myself and with certain people who consult me because I truly want to use the tarot in a helpful change-making manner.
Kooch Daniels and Dr. Victor Daniels provided the second presentation, Gestalt Therapy and the Tarot. Victor and Kooch emphasised the representational use of tarot cards. In this way of working with the tarot, the client selects cards from a face up pack to represent specific elements in his/her life rather than choosing them at random from a face down deck. The consciously selected cards are then employed in projective dialogues in which one card representing oneself engages in a conversation with one or more cards that represent another person, other people, layers of emotion, or another aspect(s) of oneself. The presenters invited an audience member onstage to take part in a dialogue with someone in her life with whom she had had a conflict, speaking alternately as one card then the other. We were given time to do this process in partners at our tables. I chose to encourage a dialogue between two parts of myself: Comfort Creature (represented by the King of Cups from the Connolly Tarot) and Earth Healer (depicted by Temperance from the Connolly Tarot). After a heated argument, these two subpersonalities agreed to explore the meaning of the term “quality” as a team. This powerful process is very useful, allowing clients to interact with the information and expertise that is already in them. I already employ some of these ideas in my tarot work and it was helpful to expand on them in order to add to the repertoire.
Jeannette Roth, co-proprietor of the Tarot Garden, gave us the gift of the Rosetta Stone Method, a tarot-based approach to improved relationship communication, applicable to all forms of relatedness — romantic, professional, community, friendship, therapeutic, etc. The practitioner and client choose a spread that addresses the client’s issue or question. The client chooses two different tarot decks, one that s/he feels is like her/him-self and another that s/he feels most feels like the other person in her/his life connected with the topic under discussion. A reading is performed using the first deck, then the corresponding cards from the second deck are laid out. Both reader and querent compare the cards, looking for similarities and differences between the two sets of tarot pictures. Similarities show metaphors that both parties already understand in each other while differences demonstrate metaphors about which each party might not yet be aware or are ignoring. The point is to bridge differing metaphors so that the two parties can communicate more clearly with one another, lessen misunderstandings, and stand a better chance of having their needs heard and met. Jeannette’s method is elegant and immediately applicable. Just like the Rosetta Stone, it cracks codes of communication between ourselves and those who matter in our lives. When I used the process, I realised that what I believed I did well when I communicated with a certain person was actually what *they* did well and I needed to integrate more of it into my interactions with them. Pow!
The Tarot and Psychology conference was enlivening and catalysed fruitful discussion at the evening cocktail reception and over the next few days at the next event. Gratitude to Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone for calling and hosting the event and to Joe, Kooch, Victor, and Jeannette for taking us and the cards into fascinating fresh territory.
Images: The King of Cups and Temperance from the Connolly Tarot by Eileen Connolly & Peter Paul Connolly.