Sign in

A Cynic Learns the Tarot
Image by valentin_mtnezc from Pixabay

Like many people, 2020 left me feeling unbalanced. I tend to approach solving most of my problems in a rational way (I love a good chart!). I think leaning too much on that side of my personality is part of what was pushing me out of balance. I began to feel the ways in which my intuition was blunted. Towards the end of the year, I stumbled across tarot readings on YouTube, and they gave me a strong push in the opposite direction.

​I determined it was time to turn inward and engage in an extended period of self-reflection and thought…

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

It can be hard to set boundaries with other people, especially those we care about. It may be even harder to enforce those boundaries. Human beings are a social species. We need each other to survive. None of us is an island. Even so, we often need space and time just for ourselves. It is important to create that space and defend it.

In the tarot, the Seven of Wands represents standing up for yourself and defending your territory. In traditional illustrations, the card often depicts a man standing at the top of a tall hill fighting off challengers from…

Photo by Joshua Golde on Unsplash

Victory can be hard to come by. Fortune favors the few, and they nearly always have to be bolder than everyone else. At least, this is what I used to think. One of the consequences of creating high expectations for yourself may be that you don’t celebrate your wins. You may not even see them. Life is lived in the details. It’s why those moments of achievement you strive for can be disappointing. After a brief high, there may be a huge let down. Depression may even set in for some people. Your victory may not exactly be pyrrhic, but…

Photo by Richard Lee on Unsplash

Conflict gets a bad rap. It is a necessary part of life. In order for difficult problems to be solved, they have to be confronted and wrestled with. Vehement disagreements have to be hashed out in order for compromise to be struck. Sometimes, there can be no compromise, especially when there are grave injustices in play. The conflict must intensify until one side is defeated. It’s possible to achieve harmony without conflict, but, if the stakes are high, it may be unavoidable. Conflict is inextricably tied to justice, and avoiding it delays the advent of fairness. Conflict can bring balance.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

We need other people. Community and cooperation are the bedrock of civilization. On an individual level, feeling loved and supported is better for your mental and emotional health than feeling cast aside. In the tarot, the Four of Wands represents togetherness and the celebrations around it. Traditional illustrations of the card show a couple under a garlanded canopy supported by four wands. While the Four of Wands generally indicates family and community, it is also considered one of the marriage cards of the tarot. When it turns up in a love reading, it often symbolizes a stable, harmonious, long-term relationship…

Photo by Katherine McCormack on Unsplash

Much of life is spent in limbo. We set goals, make plans to achieve them, and get to work. Depending on the scope and difficulty of the journey we embark on, there can be long stretches of being unsure if we’ll ever reach our charted destinations. There is a lot of waiting in life, even while we’re acting with deliberateness. The Three of Wands card of the tarot captures this energy of expectation without clear results. In many traditional illustrations, the card is very similar to the Two of Wands (a robed man staring out to sea), and may seem…

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Making a new start is often thrilling. It can also be overwhelming and even frightening. The passionate new beginning represented by the Ace of Wands needs to be guided and maybe even tempered, so the flame doesn’t rage out of control. This requires planning.

I love a good chart. I like distilling information into easily digestible portions and using those tools to help me make decisions. Learning the tarot was, in part, an effort to balance this highly rational part of my personality and approach to life with a more intuitive attitude. I was surprised and pleased to learn that…

Photo by Yaoqi LAI on Unsplash

Our lives change. That is the only thing besides death we can be absolutely certain of (even taxes can be avoided). Shifts in our lives can be grand and deep, and these twists and turns and the lessons they provide are represented by a journey that begins with the innocent leap of faith of The Fool and ends with the completion and unity of The World in the tarot’s Major Arcana. The Minor Arcana of the tarot (comprised of four suits usually called wands, cups, swords and pentacles) contains archetypes and patterns that are used to interpret everyday events. The…

Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

It’s hard to dream big, to truly want things that seem out of your reach and go for them. There are many twists and turns in life’s journey, and what we hoped to accomplish often gets postponed or even jettisoned as we try to hold on and get through the day, then the next. Practicality can seem like the enemy of hope. We are pulled in opposite directions by the drives of our inner selves and the external demands of surviving in the world. That division often creates disharmony. We are at odds with ourselves. Healing that inner rift takes…

Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay

I’m a judgmental person. I don’t recoil from the label. Judgment is necessary for human survival. It’s how we identify and mitigate threats. It’s how we determine what our boundaries should be. Judgment underlies all of our choices. I find it’s better to be firm than it is to waver. Even so, rigidity is the enemy of progress. Bright lines sometimes move, or we realize we have to cross them. Our opinions have to be flexible enough to change with new information, otherwise they can become toxic ideologies. As we judge others, so we are also judged. …

A Cynic Learns the Tarot

A cynic’s journey into the world of the tarot

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store