In On Tarot

Beyond a deck giving you a case of the visual ‘mehs’, it can be revelatory to probe a little deeper into why we might be finding it difficult to connect with tarot artwork. Here are some tips to connect with individual problem cards and a personal anecdote about re-engaging with a deck I’d fallen out of love with…

Something that seems to be quite normal and part of the course of being a tarot reader and building a tarot deck collection is that you inevitably are eventually confronted with particular cards, or sometimes entire decks that you don’t jive with at all.

Or more sadly, decks that initially turned you on and you invested in them, and over time the spark dies and you fall out of love.

I feel like that there is a spectrum of reasons for why these things happen.

Sometimes it really is as simple as you don’t resonate with the aesthetic. There are dozens of decks that I’m not interested in owning or using because I simply don’t like the artwork. I think that’s natural – beauty being in the eye of the beholder and all that.

Occasionally though it’s more than just a superficial reason, and it’s worth our time digging a little deeper.

Avoidance, or aversion, is an interesting topic of exploration and one where we start to get closer to important psychological territory. It is known in Eastern traditions as a klesha (usually this translates to something like an obstruction to liberation in life).

There are a myriad of ways in which this concept applies to the human condition and it’s the kind of rabbit hole that’s worth falling down if you are interested in alternative narratives as to how you tick.

But in regards to why it’s a relevant concept for someone using tarot (or other systems of thought) it is that it can reveal something to us about our blind spots.

Aversion to individual tarot cards

A classic example of a card that has divided people would be the Devil card in the Morgan Greer deck.

It’s too severe; too ugly; too confrontational; just too scary!

The Morgan Greer imagery overall is heavily drawn from the well known Rider-Waite-Smith deck but this is one of the few cards that is really quite far removed from that inspiration, which is probably also a contributing factor to the struggle some have with it.


The Devil


If it’s the case that you have a few cards in a deck that are really putting you off then the best thing you can do is confront them (and yourself) and dedicate some time to unpacking why you struggle or avoid those particular cards.

Here are some suggestions for things you can try out:

  • Read widely on the meanings using multiple resources to get a cross-section of perspectives
  • Stick the card somewhere prominent so that you are confronted by the image regularly and get used to seeing it.
  • Try some journaling to address any strong (or difficult to identify) emotional responses that certain cards brings up for you. If you feel like a card is ugly, overwhelming, missing something crucial, etc; then make some time to write about it and ask yourself why you might be feeling that way. Is it possible you are projecting something? Often times it’s something within ourselves that we are not addressing when we experience irrational responses like this.
  • Last thing before you sleep spend some time with the card(s). You could even set an intention to obtain some downloads while you sleep/dream. Stranger things can happen – believe me!

I strongly suggest keeping a written record of any insights that come up for you to increase the chances of you retaining what you have learned.


Falling out of (and back in) love with an entire deck

I almost missed out on a beautiful romance with John Holland’s Psychic Tarot Oracle.

I invested in this deck after seeing it around for a while online. I wanted something a bit different to what I had and initially I did like a lot of the cards. But the figures have this kind of pseudo-natural thing going on that I don’t really jive with at all.

Soon enough, I realised I wasn’t really using the deck much and I was very close to giving it away. But I challenged myself to use it every day for a month for daily draws on Instagram and really enjoyed the readings that came from it. I ended up developing a lot more respect for the deck and it remains in my collection.

What I’ve taken from this experience is that even if the fires seem like they are going out, it can be worthwhile giving a relationship another chance.

Not all decks are useful for all situations and so it might be that it’s just one that you don’t want to use for yourself but works well with certain other people; maybe it’s a deck you should use for particularly deep work or conversely maybe it works better for more light-hearted situations.

Tarot and oracle decks have an underlying logic and often drive you towards certain types of revelation. It could be that you’re trying to stick a tarot card shaped peg in an oracle card shaped hole, so try mixing it up and see if you can identify if there are other situations your decks are most suited for.

I do believe that we are drawn to work with certain tools for certain reasons.

If it was your intention to actually use the decks rather than just have them as collectors items (which is totally valid), then honour that and put a little time and energy back into the relationship.

Sometimes, sure, it’s totally ok in regards to both individual cards or deck to just declare “I don’t like it” and that be enough of a reason not to continue the working relationship. Ultimately it’s your prerogative.

But then sometimes all you need to do is turn back one more time and look and you could be surprised to find a real treasure.

Thanks for reading. Do you have any cards or decks that you find yourself blocked with? I’d love to know your thoughts on this, and if you’ve done any work in trying to actively connect with them. Let me know!

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