There are many ways to engage in Soulspeak, and tarot is one of many.
In a way, working with tarot is like doing hard translating work: it’s interactive, dynamic and complex. It requires patience, concentration, and flexibility. It requires you to go back and forth between two very different languages. Not only that, you have to be relaxed enough so that this conversation can be guided by your intuition, ensuring that you don’t fall into a deathtrap of constipated analysis-paralysis.
As a tarot reader, you facilitate the conversation between a deck of cards and your inner self. You are translating between the symbolic language of tarot and Soulspeak. Every time you shuffle and lay down tarot cards, you are serving as a Google translate screen. Your soul types out “I’m seriously stressed out” on the left box, and on the other side, 9 of Swords.
It’s funny. The more I think of it, the more I feel Google-translate is similar to the process of tarot. Google-translate can provide translations in between two languages. It’s a quick reference tool or dictionary for short vocabulary items. The translations may get a bit wacky if the text is length, but it is efficient enough to be able to provide you with the gist of things. You may be able to translate Soulspeak and Tarot back and forth, but the translations are rarely perfect, and to deepen your communication or strengthen the bridge in between these two languages–you’ll have to skill-build and have firm foundations for both of the languages you are working with. And as your proficiency of either of the languages grow, so does your understanding and your ability to communicate back and forth. You’ll be able to look at the “gist translation” and bridge the nuances and subtitles in your mind. You’ll able to fill these incongruent gaps organically with your knowledge, wisdom and understanding. And as you become more and more of an expert of Soulspeak and Tarot, you will need this translating process less and less. You’ll be more aware of the language of your soul and you will be able to work your way through life with a firm understanding of your self without having the need to consult a tarot deck so you can figure out just what the heck your soul is trying to tell you through a punishing tossing and turning session at 3AM in the morning.
If you want to know tarot, you’ve got to know yourself. You have to master the two languages to be able to translate them back and forth. You have to understand how you work. How you think. How you rise to a challenge and how you overcome it. What advice you resonate with and find insightful or useful. You have to have a basic foundation of your own personal Soulspeak before engaging with the “translating” work.
(Disclaimer: The inner journey is a lifelong journey–how you know yourself and who you are as a person will be in constant flux. Just like a language changes, grows and evolves through time and cultural developments–the quest for self never ends!!)
When it comes to learning the language of tarot, you can always memorize the definitions of each card-just like there are universal life lessons you can learn from the collective human experience, or wonderful books you can pick up from your local bookstore’s self-help or wellness section. But if you read tarot, you’ll know that definitions are enough to get you started, but quickly expire as you seek to bring more complexity and flavour to your readings. If you only stick to strict memorizing, you will undoubtedly hit a plateau.What next? Usually, you try to bring more of “you” to the table. As you sort through the universal and traditional definitions of each and every tarot card-you consider how do you personally understand each and every archetype, and how your unique experience as a human being can help you bring more to the tarot reading table.
That’s when you start to reflect on your perspectives and the wisdom that you have. How do you define masculinity and authority (Emperor)? What is the nature of hope and healing (Star)? You’ll find that some of those lessons or concepts carry more weight and familiarity than others. Those are the cards you have an immediate chemistry with. On the other hand, there are cards that you understand from an intellectual and logical point of view. You kind of know them in theory and you see how they can be relevant, but there is still a unfamiliarity to them that you cannot pinpoint. Lastly, there are cards that seem incredibly distant and alien–it’s like they are from a completely different world than the one you are in and you have no idea how to talk to them.
What are the types of relationships you can have with tarot? Here’s my take on it…
In the case of encountering a card that you instantly connect with (aka your peeps!) : you probably embody or display the archetypal traits in your personality and you have probably lived through that archetypal scenario, consciously or subconsciously, at some point in your life. For me, as soon as I saw The Devil, I high-fived him and invited him over for a cup of tea. I loooooved (and still do) shadow work and know that he will always be there to challenge me or find ways to mess up my spiritual jam. But that’s alright. Even though he’s always smirking and trying to bring me down, he’s a constructive troll and overcoming his challenges will only make my braver and stronger. In addition to the Devil, Empress was another archetype that I had great chemistry with: I saw her as the wild artist, creative and free. She loved deeply and saw beauty everywhere in the world, and she loved everything in the world like it was her children. This really resonated with my soft, caring personality, so I high-fived her too and offered her some almond chocolate chip cookies. She didn’t mind sitting next to the Devil. Not at all!!
Next, there are cards that you can somewhat relate to but are not so intimate with: your tarot acquaintances. You can see how the archetypal wisdom may apply to various parts of yourself and occasionally you strive for those ideals, but they may not have been fully integrated into your psyche or as a way of life. They’re like people on your Facebook that you set as acquaintances-you know who they are in real life but you don’t really know them in real life. For me, when I first started working with tarot, that was the Chariot. On a logical level I knew that one must pursue your goals and visions with persistence and discipline. That’s how you march towards victory. But at the time I often procrastinated and didn’t push myself to consistently show up for my desires and goals. I was going forward, sure–I was still working hard, but it was more like a distracted cruise towards the future. Definitely not in Chariot mode during those days!
Last but not least, you have the aliens. These are the cards that almost seem completely inaccessible at the beginning. You looked at the definitions and yes, you know what they stand for, but you find yourself shrugging your shoulders. And it’s probably because it is an aspect of yourself or of the world that you are not used to seeing yet. It is possible that it is something that has been oppressed by others or repressed by you, something that you don’t recognize within yourself or a way of thinking and acting that you don’t really practice. For me, that was the Emperor card. I have always had trouble with the Emperor. Throughout my life, I have struggled with expressing myself unapologetically, maintaining my personal boundaries and making my desires and needs known. The Emperor was an archetype that represented what I lacked or seldom practiced, and that was being mirrored back at me through my feelings of disassociation towards the Emperor card.
As I continued my journey with tarot, I developed better relationships with the cards that I initially couldn’t connect with. As I became self-employed and applied more discipline, planning and productivity to my life, I grew close to Chariot because I was learning the importance of hard work and steadfast progress. The Emperor also ceased to intimidate me so much, as I became more assertive about my personal boundaries and addressed my tendency to downplay my own desires and needs. I began to express myself more and pushed myself to ask for what I wanted in life.
Identifying the specific cards that I had a wacky relationship with definitely helped me with my tarot reading process. Since my relationships with myself improved, so did my relationship with tarot. When I saw Chariot, there was no longer any shaky “hi’s” or any awkward handshakes. It was more like a “SUP, here you are! I just knew you were gonna show up!” And when I saw the Emperor, I no longer freaked like a headless fly. I welcomed him with respect and invited him to speak (and most importantly, listened.) I no longer needed to go through the dull process of conjuring up the canned definitions or key words of this archetype in my head, then trying to expand on those definitions as I place them in the context of the reading. I could just connect and let my intuition flow.
As tarot readers always wanting to take our readings to the next level, we want to explore the symbolic potential of tarot, but more importantly, we must actively engage with our inner realm so that we can process our experiences as well as the wisdom gained from those experiences and transfer them into our tarot practice. As I gained more proficiency in the language of my soul or Soulspeak, as I smoothed out the wrinkles and the folds of my innerscape–unearthing the wisdom and untapped layers within my psyche–I was able to engage with tarot much deeply.
One of the magical things about tarot is that it reveals the wisdom that is already within us. It draws out that much-need perspective and emotional insight and gives us the “aha!” moment that we need. This is why I love tarot so much–it guides us to find the truth so that we can give it to ourselves or to others.