Personal growth involves uncovering and examining our own personal beliefs, and whatever methods we use will only be effective to the extent to which this confrontation with belief occurs. Human beings have made use of Tarot cards for insight and inner exploration for centuries. When pondering how and why the cards actually work, we can be led to similar questions that are often asked about the I Ching, Ouija boards and other forms of divination. Is a spirit guide moving our hands? Is the unconscious mind choosing whatever images/words will best reflect its intentions? The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung used his theory of synchronicity – meaningful coincidence, or the correlation between inner causes and outer effects – to explain how such systems of “fortune-telling” may operate.
Synchronicity implies that our inner lives and our outward experiences mirror each other at least occasionally, or under certain circumstances. In reality, everything that we experience in the world “out there” springs into form from a source within us. The whole world – and all of the adventures that we may have within it – serves as our mirror. We end up moving through the terrain of ourselves. This is really the underlying principle behind divination, the natural law that makes tools like The Book of Changes and Tarot cards effective. They provide a clearer way for us to focus on what the world is reflecting back to us.
Tarot readings are basically rituals that encourage us to pay attention to a process that is occurring all the time. All the events of our lives are giving us the same sort of feedback about our inner condition. One could do a “reading” around an interaction at a convenience store or an accident witnessed in a parking lot. In such cases it can be harder to draw correlations between the outer events and the inner circumstances that gave birth to them, however. Tarot cards, which utilize a kind of symbolism that is so akin to what we encounter within dreams, can serve as a bridge between the two worlds.
What we reap from our experiences with the cards will be wholly dependent upon our level of self-knowledge and awareness. A lot of New Age practices are misused when this crucial fact is overlooked. Many people use astrology and Tarot as shortcuts to try and navigate their intimate relationships, for example. Sidestepping the necessary time that it takes to really get to know someone, they’ll say instead, “I’ll just do a reading about him/her and see if we’re right for each other.” But there are no shortcuts to intimacy, just as there are no shortcuts to spiritual growth. Divination tools are meant to help us to see our own thoughts and feelings more clearly and to understand that they are what forms our life experience. This is where the act of drawing Tarot becomes a form of spiritual practice. One reading shines light upon our inner world, and this in turn allows us to go deeper in our next reading.
Just as our outward experiences affect us in myriad ways depending upon our personal attitudes towards them, so Tarot cards will reward us most consistently if we approach them with care and respect. Beyond that point we can let go and trust; for as there are no accidents in life, there won’t be any mistaken readings. The mirror never lies. It always reveals exactly where we stand in the moment.