Tarot, Tantra, and Tavernaphobia
We may not know the future. We may not be able to predict it.
We may never even experience tomorrow…
I started teaching myself the Tarot. I recently began a structured, self directed course. However, I have been in the process of familiarizing myself with tarot for several years if not decades, as I started considering myself a feminist witch around age 8.
My first deck was the Ancient Egyptian Tarot. I found it at a Goodwill in Texas. I thought I would use it in my collages, however as soon as I opened it, I began to uncover its secrets. Upon this discovery I was hooked and could not bear to do anything but treasure and practice with those cards and its accompanying guide book. I took them with me to Asia. And then to Switzerland. I don’t know where they are at the moment, I’m sorry to say.
This year,` on my first weekend after officially moving in to my new hometown, I found another complete deck that instantly called to me the Elements Tarot.
I have been getting to know it — with incredible uncannily accurate results so far. From the Lovers, the Ace of Pentacles, to reversed knight of Pentacles, reversed Page of Pentacles, reversed 10 of Swords, 2 of Swords … tonight.
My guard is up, I’m erecting impenetrable barriers. Becoming defensive and cold in a fortress of hard logic. No, it does not feel good, but how can I stop? where else can I go emotionally? I feel defenseless…
Against his demons. Because I want to be with him, all the time. And I can’t, because … Wemonsters: potheads, underemployed, hungry, on edge, off meds, and in love, insecure, and/or on drugs. If he does not decide to break the cycle like a chain that keeps him enslaved to those “meds,” those drugs, that poison that has literally sickened him… Opiates! Again! It’s just like that gypsy woman AKA Italian traveler girl said, never fall in love with a junkie! Yet I do it, again and again. A love junkie. Just like I can’t stop using slurs, like, LOL BITCH! My nigga, What’s up?
The word Stereotype comes from the early days of the printing press. A stereotype was a short hand for printing an image without having to recreate the original plates. A stereotype was always a cheat, a shortcut, dishonest.
But what if the world, our world — at least in 3-D and the third rock from the sun, on Earth — is created, “written,” told, even evolved in symbols? As in mathematics? As in Archetypes, dreams, visions and images… Archetype, not stereotype. More psychedelic than dogmatic.
I would still say fuck stereotypes. All the more so! And not out of a need to be PC… Stereotypes are cheating, cutting short, half-assed. Blind. I, like everyone else with any taste or style, like my asses full like summer moons.
Like the summer I inherited a set of genuine gypsy tarot cards from my then boss in Zurich, an antiques dealer. I do not use the word gypsy lightly here, these cards are Hungarian in origin and a friend of mine who is both of Hungarian and Roma descent is the one who told me the cards are “real gypsy tarot cards.” Then she immediately and expertly proceeded to give a reading for me in the way that her Roma-gypsy grandmother had taught her. These cards, which remain an honor in my possession, are completely unlike any other set of tarot cards I have ever come across, anywhere. In addition to detailed full color illustrations, each card is translated into 6 languages: english, french, german, czech, roma.
An archetype, on the other hand, is an attempt at a universal language through a particular image or symbol or word or language that projects a set of other meanings. Like an arrow and bow creating an arch in midair aiming for a target, an archetype, in opposition to a stereotype, upholds a spectrum and range of options, images, choices, perspectives.
Time and the Tarot / Tarot and Timing … How many cards to draw at once and for how long does each reading/drawing “last” / to how much and which time does it pertain (in addition to exact present moment the near past and/or near future? how does one tell in which ratio? by subjective judgement + feedback… Time is indeed relative. But how real are our projections? How accurate? Especially given the nature of dimensions and perspective in space…
That’s where LSD comes in. Salvia Divinatorum. And UFOs. Flying Saucers, syzygy, and shooting stars… Magic mushrooms / aliens from outer space, faith, imagination. Where one is defenseless against the unknown in one’s face… getting known like never before.
Where the two dimensional becomes 3D. Like, the first time you went to Disneyland as a young child, if you had that kind of luck. Remember? Seeing Goofy? That kind of thing always scared me. Those fake cartoon characters, larger than life. But I always tried to mask that fear, with whomever, everyone, because I agonized moreover that this was a singular affliction, with false cheer. But it’s not just fake cartoon characters and not just as a child that this fear, which I suspect now to be not only my own (anyone else? out there?), shows up. It has come out with me as a wild child, bad at adulting, too. On psychedelic trips, mostly, episodes of possible semi psychosis, and/or during raves/festivals/parties/mosh pits, fights, roadtrips, occasionally the morning after…
It, in the lack of better words (but we are not in this day) one might call it “hysteria,” has made itself known to me as social anxiety, “agoraphobia,” fear of the marketplace, technically, from Ancient Greek. Or, as I like to call it, “Tavernaphobia”: fear of bar and nightlife scenes, also from the Greek… Fear of places where I am defenseless against flirting and whatever else it might lead to, whether I want it — such interactions — desperately or not at all.
I have a kind of dual, double edged sword fear and obsession with sex. Just like everyone else. I guess. Or maybe no one else. I feel like sex should in an ideal world equate to some form or kind of love. Yes, I do. And I hope that is not anti feminist to say, but in fact I don’t believe it is. I believe cuddling post coitus is one of those in-the-bedroom the private becomes political hidden issues. Women want it. People need it. So why do men ignore this so willfully? What’s the big deal? Why is love a four letter word? I know I may have written otherwise before, however I do not think I contradict myself to speak of the importance of affection in intimate relationships.
Especially when and if you engage in Tantric sex. I can’t imagine advising this practice to novices who have not even opened a book about tantra as an aspect of Buddhism having virtually nothing to do with sex or sexuality … However what — and how dangerous — could tantric sex really be, right? Sex is made up mostly/most often of two bodies, and there are, even with wildly vivid imaginations, only so many combinations and techniques to experiment with. So gentle blessings on those who awaken the power of tantra and Tantric lovemaking without the proper crucible, chalice, context in which it is respected, best enjoyed, and fully appreciated — (psst, here’s a hint:) by the woman!
(In the art of Tantric sex the woman practitioner gets to be the judge of how effective it is. Her orgasms are considered, by some, to be a powerful representation or microcosmic form of Shakti — pure primordial divine energy).
Tantra is not really about sex at all, though. It’s spiritual. Yet to describe what, how it describes what it does, even when on the cosmic or practical levels… comes out in terms that can almost only be described as sexual: up and down, masculine/feminine, union. Which is why, therefore, traditionally, tantra must not be spoken of, much like Wittgenstein’s final Tracutus Logicus item. Sharing qualities and fringe practices with voodoo, candomble, and Santeria, Tantra is clandestine, secret, even taboo.
Who is your magic partner? It is your one. Your true love. You. The triple goddess is me myself and I … The one your work on deep secret transformations with, your muse, whose pain can inspire you, whose joy motivates you. It is you and none other. But all the parts of you, all of your roles throughout life, the full revolution of your perspective and its evolution through space and time.
“Right now, as you are, at your height, at your weight, with your the intelligence that you have, and with the pain that you carry, can you enter into an unconditional relationship with yourself?”
How do we accept that part of us that is the part our parents couldn’t (perhaps still can’t) tolerate? That part that reminded one parent of the other, and not in a good way. The parts of us that remind us of our parents and the not so nice ways they sometimes treat/ed us?…
To be honest, I don’t know. I know what it’s like to be at war within oneself.
…Those parts we use to inflict our pain onto others hoping, in a last ditch of emotional desperation, that it will save us from having to deal with our pain. Ultimately, of course, it will not. This only perpetuates pain into the future, in another form. The reproductive life of hurt. That’s what I learned about from my Magic Partner.
Sometimes yes, you do have an other magic partner, a lover, a mentor, a friend, whose existence tells you we are (all) our own reflection on (all over) earth.
Tarot is asking, formulating, forming a question and posing it to the universe, local energy, ancestors, the cards, universal archetypes, human psyche’s images whatever you want to call it, and receiving guidance, a suggestion, directions, inspiration, what have you in return and then using that combined with one’s own intuition, experience, and desires, perhaps finding an answer. Tarot is a language, of images and emotions, a conversation in symbols and consciousness.
…What is the essence of your guidance? Ask yourself these questions:
What is the problem or conflict?
What is my role?
What does my Inner Guide want me to understand?
What is the projected outcome?
How do you feel about that?
Do I sense any recommendations for action?
What you are doing is forming the answer to your question. Before the reading, you posed a question that had meaning for you. Your Inner Guide has responded, and now you want to capture that wisdom in a form you can remember. Try to summarize your story in one or two sentences.
Using What You Have Learned
The reading proper is over, but the inner work is just beginning. Your goal is to integrate what you have learned into your life in some way. If you don’t, your tarot practice will remain a beautiful pastime with no power to help you.
As the days go by, think about your reading and how it meshes with your life. Ask yourself these questions:
How meaningful was my story?
How well did the guidance fit?
Did I miss any clues?
Did I carry out an action, and, if so, what happened?
Did something unexpected occur?
Do my Daily Readings add anything?
What I have learned so far from the Tarot is that it is better to know. And when one cannot know then it is better to try to know — not to assume or guess — but to become and stay curious. To be curious takes courage. Courage requires vulnerability. Vulnerability is best fostered through love. Any love will do, but it must be real love. Self love always works. Now is always a good time to try it.
With vulnerability, self love, courage and curiosity all in tow, Congratulations! You are currently in possession of an open mind.
Intersectional (International) Feminist Social Justice Tarot
0 Fool = Baby Girl / Hedone
1 Magician = Shiva
2 High Priestess = Shakti
3 Empress = Demeter
4 Emperor = Zeus
5 Hierophant = Priest / Pluto / Pope
6 Lovers = Isis + Osiris / Tantra / Shiva-Shakti / Lingam-Yoni / Psyche+Eros
7 Chariot = Will / Living Will / Live Will / Will-Power / Jesus / fist
8 Strength = Courage / Mary Magdalene / heart
9 Hermit = Anchorite / Emily Dickinson
10 Wheel of Fortune = Art / Creative Expression / Tripping / Psychedelic /
11 Justice = Action / Activism
12 Hanged Man = Burnt Witch
13 Death = Change / Commitment / Stag
14 Temperance = Consummation / Veil / A toast / Laxmi
Devil = Ignorance / Neglect / Abuse / poison / Hades
Tower = Revolution / Crisis / capital/ism / plutocracy / third eye
Star = Persephone
Moon = Artemis / Hecate / Freedom/ Wilderness
Sun = Buddha / Jesus / Apollo / Light / God / Consciousness / Sarasvati
Judgement = Perspective / Love
World = Kali / Nuit / Goddess / Peace within the Great Unknown
Wands = Fire / Winter / Clubs / crone / spirit/intuition/will
Queen = Pamela Coleman
Cups = Water / Summer / hearts / mother / soul/senses/emotions
Queen = Amma-ji
Swords = Air / Spring / spades / maiden / intellect/mind/ethic
Queen = Sonia Sotomayor / RBG
Pentacles = Earth / Autumn / diamonds / stag / body/safety/health
Queen = Beyonce / Michelle Obama
Whitney Sparks who sometimes goes by Uati has always felt called to work in the forest ever since she was a small girl wandering the creeks of Austin, Texas, or a preteen at Not Back to School Camp in Oregon. Coming out of the art world, including solo art exhibits she set up in the forests of Switzerland, as an artist who works primarily with collage and filmmaking, Sparks is no stranger to the power of images and the importance of context. At last hitting her stride the Yogorgona has found her own modality combining forest bathing approach of Japanese tradition with the cultural praxis of Tarot card reading to create a unique healing technique that finds balance in nature awareness and creative expression, preferably simultaneously. Defying the element of time is a tricky business (Whitney’s orisha in the santeria/voodoo tradition is indeed the trickster deity, Elegua), yet Sparks, the suburban shaman, has never shied from complexity in her work. In fact embracing complexity and confronting the relativity of time in healing is one of the hallmark characteristics and key focuses of Sparks’s Forest Tarot, for which Tantra has also an inspiration. In the Ancient Asian spiritual schools called Tantra for short, all is one and one all, as above so below and vice verse, the macrocosm is the microcosm, fractals etc. In this way, philosophical, we mere mortal human beings can begin to approach an understanding of quantum physics as well as our spiritual destinies and human natures. We are meant to be together, throughout all space. The signs, sounds, or images that emerge from the dance between nature and nurture, biology and culture, are the most powerful archetypes at any given moment in whatever given space or “language” (open to interpretation) they appear. Where and when archetypes have the ability to empower they may incite a universal consciousness…