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There are many reasons why I read Tarot. The ability It has to help manage my anxiety would be the number one reason, and truly behind how and why it has become such a personal mental health modality in my life.
Let's breakdown a basic one card management session. To be fair, I'm not suffering from anxiety at the time of writing this, but I did have a moment the other day when getting a quote on my backyard, so we'll use that as an example.
1. The shuffling of my Deck. This is probably the most therapeutic aspect of the process for me; whether I'm in the throws of anxiety or just fixing to get my daily dose. Depending on time and level of anxiousness, I will generally shuffle the cards until I get to a point where I can start to feel myself calm down. At a minimum, I can spend 2 minutes, just shuffling, staring into space, breathing. Sometimes I'll do a clean shuffle, where I mash them all around on a table for a full reset. Sometimes I'll break them down and shuffle them into piles of three. Fan fold, basic shuffle and or all of the above. There is no discipline, or fast and hard rules on this. I just shuffle as needed until I start to yawn (my personal and physical sign that I've connected) and feel the manic aspect of my anxiety settle.
2. Choosing one card. This is the only hard rule I have when I work with Tarot to manage anxiety. I only with with one card. As I'm most likely already in a state of overthinking, adding a substantial message from Spirit that requires deciphering will most likely prompt additional angst. I don't over think it, I just pull a card. Top, bottom, middle, fanned out or most drawn too... I just pick one card, turn it over, and exhale.
3. Breathing and note taking. This is a powerful step for me, as this is where I allow myself to disappear. As a hyper creative personality, storytelling and concept building can literally take me from wanting to burn the place down to immense gratitude within moments.
"As a hyper creative personality, storytelling and concept building can literally take me from wanting to burn the place down to immense gratitude within moments".
What's my process? I've pulled a card as an example (ironically enough, it is the second time this week that I've pulled this card, AND I also call this my 'Secret Garden card' ~ Tarot has a way of being blunt and obvious ;)
The 7 of Pentacles ~ Deviant Moon Tarot
Putting the card beside me, I place the deck back in the bag to prevent me from getting distracted. I look at the card and breath. Deep breaths if I can (again, depending on the level of stress I'm in) and just keep breathing until I start seeing things and/or feel the need to jot down ideas. Some of the cards I know really well, so I focus on finding things I haven't seen yet. Some cards I'm super new too, and end up with a full page of notes within minutes. Because I recently pulled this card, I know that She is a new Witch practicing her magic on a dead tree, to which 7 Pentacles bloomed. With this particular pull, the first thing I noticed was the phase of the moon. I don't know much about moon phases, so this is the thing I focus on. Google, here we go!
I observed that the moon in this card is most similar to the waxing crescent moon. Cool. So, does this phase have any magical meanings? Of course it does! It's time for planning, gathering, learning. Oh wait, that's the foundational message of the 7 of Pentacles!! Now I have an additional visual element to connect to this card, and I've learned about the symbolism of a waxing moon 🌙
4. Anti-Anxiety Affirmation. By the time I get to this step, I'm in a significantly better place. I've stepped away, breathed, learned something and practiced an element of creativity. I'm in a much better place to look at the cause behind the anxiety and come up with a small, but significant plan of action. As an example, the one thing that is lingering in the back of my mind is finishing our backyard. If I allowed myself to sit with the bigness of this project and how busy we're going to be this Spring and Summer, I would absolutely get lost in mental chaos. In this step, I will make use of what I've learned and create an affirmation based on the waxing moon:
"I am in control of planning my backyard.
I have the time, ability and resources to create a beautifully filled space."
And there you go. Four steps and an affirmation later, and I've self deescalated, filled my heart with open breaths and have creatively turned my anxiety into gratitude.
What do you think is at the foundation of why you use or want to learn Tarot?