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Tarot for Personal Development

As a Tarot reader, I've used my cards to answer a lot of 'outward looking' questions - anything from locating stolen property to predicting real estate purchases. Of course, the Tarot are wonderful for answering this type of question, but they are also perfectly suited to answering 'inward looking' questions. In other words, they are useful for examining our motivations, thoughts and emotions. For someone like myself, interested in personal development, they are a veritable gold mine of information!

I first became aware of this when I was still in the learning stages with Tarot. I'd read that it is important to take note of any patterns we see in the cards, and of the interactions of the cards. As you know, it's often the case that an individual will repeatedly draw a certain card that acts as a 'significator' - a card that represents them in a spread. In my own case, the Queen of Swords most often came up, while a friend might repeatedly draw the King of Wands, etc.

But what, I wondered, could this tell me about myself? And how useful could this information be? Over time, I found some rather interesting answers.

Using myself as a guinea pig, I focussed my attention of the Queen of Swords. First, I read through a number of reference books, examining the various interpretations of the Queen of Swords - what did her 'suit' tell me about her? What did her rank of 'Queen' mean? What visual cues were there on the card? Truthfully, I was so overwhelmed by the number of ways you could examine a card, and by the seemingly contradictory interpretations each author gave that eventually I simplified the question to - What thoughts or impressions came to me when I looked at the card...?

Queen of Swords - (the Queen sits on her throne, one hand empty and up-lifted, the other holding a sword)

  • up-lifted hand could be 'offering' or 'kind', sword hand could be 'defending' or 'correcting'
  • she's fought her way onto throne and will defend her position, use it to help/defend others
  • she can help you or hurt you
  • she's been through battles, will try to negotiate but will fight again if necessary
  • she's strict! on herself and others
  • she's got a chip on her shoulder

Well, being completely honest, that was me. In the cold light of day, I could be harsh, I could be too precise... and I could resist change, think myself too smart or too right. (LOL) But I was also loyal and helpful, I cared for and defended others, and I had high ideals and standards. Once I recognized these things in myself, it seemed a logical extension of the process to ask how others saw me?... again, this lead to new understanding of myself and my relationships. But it wasn't enough to stop there! Another question needed to be asked : how could I use this new insight to better or change myself and how I interacted with others?

When a Tarot spread indicated that others are seeing me as the Queen of Wands, for example, I can interpret this in a number of ways (by queuing on this Queen and the other cards involved). Others may be intimidated by my confidence or feel that I can be looked to for honest answers. If I'm seen as the Queen of Cups, they may think I'm a 'push-over' or see me as artistic. And if I am the Queen of Pentacles, there's a chance they admire my parenting techniques, or feel I'm too materialistic. Knowing this, I can make the choice to use these interpretations to adjust my behavior or to open dialogue on common ground, depending on the situation.

Over time, as my self awareness and life situations changed, I've been all of the Queens, and each has represented my personality or actions, motivations or thoughts, my emotions or my interactions with others. And each Queen has had lessons to teach me about myself and the world around me.

Of course, the Queens are not the only cards that can be used in this way - each and every card can teach us something if we are open to learning! And this is one of the points that I try to make to people who come to me for advice, especially those who are interested in becoming Tarot card readers... even if you never get past reading with guide book in hand, whether you make this a hobby or a job, if you do nothing else with the Tarot, you can use them to know yourself better - for your own personal development.

L. Doherty/Witchypoo ©2002

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