I was sixteen the first time I saw a deck of Tarot cards. I had heard of them, and been intrigued by the concept. But my knowledge of the spiritual realm was strictly superstitious. I’d been taught that Tarot belonged in the occult category: highly suspect and deliciously naughty, but not something to be taken seriously.
No one taught me the history of Tarot, or worked with me to gain an understanding of the cards. My first deck was gifted to me with little instruction. I tried to learn them for a while, but over time, put them aside, then finally gave them away when the culture I lived in deemed them dangerous.
Fast forward twenty-five years to the recent past. Various circumstances led me to view the world with different eyes. As a human, I became more open to ways of understanding the world that weren’t easily reconciled with Evangelical beliefs. As a writer of fantasy and science fiction, I began to research mythologies and magic.
Then one day, over lunch with friends, I heard about a place called Cassadaga, billed as the psychic capital of Florida. Not only does it sit on a ley line, but it was founded by people specifically intent on connecting with the spiritual realm. I was intrigued.
Not surprisingly, my next fantasy story was set in Cassadaga, giving me the perfect excuse for a research trip to the little town. Since one of the scenes in the story includes a Tarot reading, of course I had to have my cards read.
By the end of the trip, I was more than intrigued. A new Tarot deck, along with a book on how to read the cards, sat in the passenger seat, and I spent the ride home with the psychic’s words revolving in my brain. Several of her predictions and comments turned out to be correct. Others remained unprovable or ephemeral, but the positive experience led me to explore the cards for myself.
As I researched the history and nature of Tarot, I found that most of what I had been taught was skewed by a world view whose agenda I was only beginning to apprehend. The cards aren’t powered by evil. Nor are they, as it is commonly understood, a method of fortune telling. Instead, they are a medium for conversing with the Divine. That conversation can lead the seeker to making better decisions, and therefore building a better future. But mostly, the cards offer a path to understanding, both of the Divine and of myself.
Tarot has not been the only change in my belief system. There are questions and objections to the beliefs of Evangelical Christianity surfacing now that I buried for decades. Tarot has simply been one way of seeing that has recently opened up to me, helping provide a path to change that I didn’t know existed.
It is unsettling, and often painful, to find that so much of what I believed for so long is less true than I had been taught. But it is also fascinating and wonderful that a new connection to the Divine is possible.
So, here I go. Stepping out onto a new path, one card at a time.