I don’t learn well from tarot books, although I have many. I learn by seeing, doing, and playing. I recently attended a court cards class with lot’s of tarot noobs. I love noobs, because I am no longer one of them! I can say… “I don’t know everything, but I know some stuff!”. It’s always hard doing your first “public” reading. One of the big reasons I like going to classes is that it gives me the chance to read for people I don’t know well. It’s one thing to read for my sister or my besty, but I know their problems better than they do at times. For strangers, it’s an added challenge. I’ve found that the noobs are often as overwhelmed and nervous as I used to be (honestly, it wasn’t even that long ago!). It was really cool for me to push myself, but offer a little bit of encouragement. “Dudes… I studied tarot casually for over 10 years, but I didn’t really learn to do anything until I took this class. You’re in the right place, and if you keep at it, it will get easier”. It speaks highly of the class more than it does of my skills, but everyone has to start somewhere. Even luminaries like Mary K. Greer, Rachel Pollack, or Lon Milo Duquette had to start somewhere, didn’t they?
Studying tarot is work. It’s great work… Maybe it’s even *The Great Work*, or at major cornerstone of it. It’s work I enjoy. The payoff is tremendous. I’ve noticed that for all my years of lazy, sporadically inspired dappling, I never felt as if I had any competency whatsoever until I actually sat down to make a serious study of it. Well… as serious as an Erisian who communicates primarily in “Squees!” and jokes can be. It’s not all about the jokes! But I like jokes! I think that might be what’s allowed me to take this journey. I can be serious (sometimes). I am serious about tarot (most of the time). My sense of humor seems to cut the tension in the room, with a paper athame. Like a paper airplane, except sharper. Ohhhhhhh… ORIGAMI ATHAME! That would be sweet! An origami altar would be a fun idea… I don’t ori any gamis, but… I see what I just did there. The Chao just tossed my Tao aside in one fell swoop. I go with it.
Yet, I find that I can keep up with it, despsite the setbacks. Mysteries are mysteries for a reason, and there is a certain sense of effort involved. It’s a check and balance for me. As long as I keep it fun to a degree, it makes the more difficult parts easier. A spoonful of sugar helps the absinthe go down! I remain anchored to the earthy cheerful pragmatism that helps me fake out the MunDanish.
Writing helps also… I’ve studied tarot with some seriousness for a number of years now, but it’s made a big difference for me also. The old dieter’s maxim in regards to recording what you eat is “If You Bite It- Write It”. For tarot, perhaps it should be “If You Read It- Write It”. I’m a lot more competent that way, and I find I catch more stuff.
Getting past the idea of tarot being solely for art appreciation or divination was what probably helped me the most. Seeing that there were so many possible layers to tarot as a discipline, a tool, and an idea that it could take a lifetime or two to peel them all away. I once heard someone say that all of the answers to the Western Mysteries could be found in a single deck, if you learn where to look. I agree. In working through tarot for pathworking, for healing, for unraveling the twisty bits of my psyche, to connect with my gods and the Collective Unconscious through it’s the archetypes and symbols, for magick, and trying to “see”… It’s gotten a hell of a lot more interesting. Tip of the hat, tip of the iceberg!
Work? Yes… of course it’s work. As a kid, I always felt a great amount of animosity for not being a prodigy like young Mozart. I always thought that if you had talent or skill, it would come naturally and effortlessly. I cursed myself for not being naturally gifted with such extraordinary talents. I felt remarkably unskilled, because nothing really came easy. If it doesn’t automatically, click… Why bother? I’m glad I’ve overcome that. I could have never become a decent designer with that attitude. Design school was hell, but I ended up okay. Writing amusing prose? I could have never written anything entertaining had I not written for long enough to find my voice. I played until I got it right. That was enjoyable work, but I didn’t realize it was work until it became easy to do. Tarot is much the same… I’m still finding my way, but it’s a huge playground. I made it to the swingset, but have a long ways to got before I can conquer the slide.
Reading for the noobs, I did fairly well. No deer in headlights. No brain lapses. No cards I was stuck on. I jumped in, and my accuracy was fairly spot-on for a Tuesday evening. It snapped, crackled, and popped. “I CAN TAROT… AND SO CAN YOU!”. Note to self… Not everyone is amused by referring to the Ace of Wands as “the penis card!”.
I’m no professional… Thankfully we weren’t reading any complicated spreads. More than 12 cards gives me a Third-Eye migraine. I took Sakki-Sakki and my Illuminated to the class, and the lighting wasn’t good enough to pimp the double-painty glitter goodness. It’s best to do a RWS based deck for an intro class, since that’s where most of them start. If the Local Purveyor of Tarot Goodness and Esoterica ever has a Thoth deck, or a Golden Dawn based class, I’ll be on it like gravy on biscuits at the Hillbilly Breakfast Club. It’s easiest for me to do public readings with RWS symbolism. I may go to the next class on Tuesday. I could use a “Major Arcana… Check Yourself, Fool!” refresher course. I have a handle on the basics, but I always glean something from workshops. I don’t think I’ll really feel fully competent until I can help to teach others.
Again… we stress the idea of work. How tiring. I hate you, Queen of Pents! Bah!