Grief and Tarot

I have old friendships that stretch back to the early nineteen eighties and the late nineteen seventies. I have good friendships that stretch back to the early or middle nineteen nineties. And I have some younger friendships as well.

I met one young lady half my age, whom I’ll call A., on a training course about a year and a half ago. She found out I liked to laugh and she found out that I read Tarot, and so occasionally in the times since we’ve met up on neutral territory for coffee and Tarot. Sometimes it has been formal, paid readings, other times it has just been coffee-and-friendship, and I’ve brought assorted decks along for her to enjoy looking at.

Today, A. rang me up and sounded terribly distressed. It was time for a sensible deck, so I packed one and left the house in a hurry. The situation she was so upset about (and rightly so) was close to her heart, and was a situation we had watched together through time, noticing improvements and changes as time went by. Yet suddenly it had crumbled into ruins without so much as a Tower card on previous occasions to warn us.

Why didn’t we get a warning? Is Tarot wrong or worse, ineffective? I don’t think so. For a start, we hadn’t actually looked at that situation in quite a while – last time I’d seen her, we had only pulled a couple of cards which told her she  needed to pay more attention to her livelihood – which has been indirectly affected by this other sudden change. There was no obvious warning.

I spent a fair bit of time with her, not as her reader but as her friend. I’m old enough that I can get a bit motherly with her, and give her advice that hopefully she might take, and I really hope some of the things I said might help her over the coming days, which are going to be painful for her.

So why was there no warning? Was the Tarot wrong? Or ineffective? I don’t believe so. It goes to the core of what Tarot is. Yes, it can be used as a predictive tool, but mostly it’s an analytical tool. It triggers the power of mental association, it stirs the unconscious. It looks at the here and now, and at our own intuitions about our past, present and future.

But it makes nothing happen. It changes nothing. People’s choices and decisions are what change things. Right up until a few days before this event in A.’s life, the person who set it off only had the best intentions towards A. Something changed in their circumstances, and they altered the decisions they had made about A., affecting her state of mind. It was a decision taken quickly because of changing circumstances. If I had pulled cards for her in that couple of days after the dilemma had been posed but before A. found out about it, there would have been warning indications in the spread.

And today my deck told her she needed to do two things: cry a lot, and seek out the company of trusted older women. Both of which she was already beginning to do. I didn’t apologise for “being wrong”. She knows from previous conversations that Tarot cards don’t somehow change things in your life, they just point to things, and that she and the person in question are responsible for making their own decisions.

No, I didn’t apologise. I listened. I talked, without necessarily being as nasty to absent people as I could have been. I told her about Rescue Remedy. I insisted that she buy fruit to nibble on, as she had been starving herself. And I spent a bit of time energetically looking after her, in a fairly subtle way.

She’ll do fine, but it will take time, and there is a world of grief to deal with first. Tarot changes nothing – but it does tell me that she is stronger than she thinks she is right now. And with a distant future dominated by The Lovers and The Sun, she’ll come through this and do just fine.

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