I’ve been a fan of Theresa Reed since long before I met her, and then she became one of my favorite people of all time. When I heard she had, with Shaheen Miro, co-authored a new book called Tarot for Troubled Times, I was delighted. This book is what we all need right now. It’s a navigational tool in troubled times.
Tarot for Troubled Times is like the oxygen mask on the airplane: Take care of yourself first, before you can take care of others.
Troubled times are taxing. As I mentioned in my last blog, times have always been taxing for some. Many have only had the luxury of realizing how tough they have become. At the same time, certain elements (e.g., climate change, the threat to global democracy) have made this taxing time unique in human history. During trying times, communities can bond, but they can also stress one another. Skins become thinner, words become barbed. I experienced this after Hurricane Sandy. In some ways, the aftermath was beautiful. Within my community, we saw the best sides of one another–putting aside differences to work together to help those in need, as you might expect. However, we also saw our shadow sides. Stress and insecurity occasionally made us harsh on one another.
I loved that this book named that. Miro and Reed focus on the problem of psychic vampires, a concept often described in memes but rarely anywhere in-depth. That one Covener who is always playing the martyr? The community member constantly having fits that need attention of the event organizers? These are just two examples of psychic vampires–the people who suck all the energy out of the room. Miro and Reed talk about the problems such people can cause for others, particularly empathic or psychic persons. However, they also remind us that these people aren’t bad–they are hurt, likely because of the tumultuous times we are in. The book also offers compassionate ways for readers to take care of themselves when they encounter such individuals.
This is just one example of things the book covers. It also takes readers on a journey of exploring the Shadow self and working on healing past injuries, so that readers themselves can be stronger so they can help address important work in the world.
You don’t need to be proficient in Tarot to appreciate this book.
In fact, the first section of the book barely touches Tarot! Miro and Reed bring the Tarot in about 1/3 of the way through, but with easy and accessible exercises. I used a couple of them, myself!
The Personal Year Card Exercise
I used the Tarot Birth Cards as Archetypes, as my birthday is next week. Using the calculation Miro and Reed suggested, I discovered that the card for my previous year was Judgement and the card for my upcoming year is The World.
Miro and Reed said that for Judgement: “…Signals the end of a chapter. Something is coming to a close this year. This is the end of one way so that a new one can begin….there is no need to hang on to the past–this must be released if you want to rise up to your full potential.” The section goes on to describe things being revealed in a whole new light. This was very true for me. I let go of some old relationships–a painful letting go, but a necessary one nonetheless. I also learned to stop waiting on apologies, and realizing how long I’d been waiting for justice to right when I felt I’ve been wronged. It only took me 37 years to figure it out…but better late than never (right???)!!!
The Grief Spread
Because of some of the losses mentioned above, I’m still finding myself dealing with anger and grief. I appreciated the Grief Spread, which is based on the Kübler-Ross stages of grief, because it helped me work through some of these things. Here’s what it said about my anger over my losses:
Card 1: What do I need to look at right now? The Knight of Wands. I see this as a hot-headed card, perhaps the Knight is riding a spooked horse. I feel it’s telling me to ask myself, “What is the true source of the anger? What specifically triggered it?” It’s an important question instead of being angry out of the habit of being angry.
Card 2: What can I learn from my anger? Ace of Swords. To me, the Ace of Swords is a tool card. Long ago, another Tarot reader told me to use anger as a tool. Last night, I dreamed I was screaming at a politician about climate change. Maybe I can channel anger there?
Card 3: What can I do to find peace with the present moment? Ace of Wands. Create! Writing has always been a way for me to process tough feelings. I guess I better keep doing it!
Card 4: What is my sadness trying to tell me? 9 of Cups. This is a card of love. I’m sad over losing people I once loved very deeply.
Card 5: What do I need to accept at this time? 9 of Pentacles. Tend the garden. There is only so much I can do. I can only focus on what’s immediately around me and control my own behavior, understanding I can’t control the behavior of others any more than the woman in the 9 of Pentacles can control the bird on her hand.
It really reiterated what I feel I’d already gathered from the situation, but sometimes those are the most helpful lessons–the ones that remind you of what you already know, but perhaps didn’t trust yourself enough to embrace.
Putting It All Into Practice
The final chapter, Socially Conscious, leads the reader out of self-reflection and into the practical work. Once we’ve done the work of healing ourselves…then what? The chapter discusses creating an altar for balance, social justice, and change. I often include my own causes on my altars, but I liked the idea of putting one together just for those causes. It helps create a personal and energetic boundary (something I’m totally crap at doing!). It also describes some rituals for justice, prosperity for all, and creating group Magick (a la a candlelight vigil).
This is a particularly helpful section for people who want to get involved with the causes that are meaningful to them, but aren’t sure where to start. As a reminder, Magick itself is not enough. It must be combined with boots-on-the-ground. But my sense is that by working some of these rituals, you may be lead or inspired to where your own boots need to go.