An alchemist strives for proficiency in the art of transmutation (converting base metals into precious metals). Spiritual alchemy uses the metaphor of transmutation for pursuing soul growth and development. A spiritual alchemist works toward inner transformation by fine-tuning their thoughts, feelings, desires, and actions to achieve greater balance and harmony with the spiritual and physical world.
Achieving this type of harmony requires deep introspection. It requires facing fears and addressing deeply buried wounds. Committing to this work can be challenging, but the resulting transformation is more precious than gold.
Tarot for Spiritual Alchemy
Tarot cards serve as a storytelling device and are an excellent tool for introspection. By understanding the archetypes and how they connect to your lived experiences, you can use the Tarot framework to tell and examine your life story.
Since the cards assist us in telling the story of our lives, the type of story you tell with Tarot depends on the lens you choose to examine your life through.
A Tarot deck contains 78 cards divided into two parts, the Major Arcana (22 cards) and the Minor Arcana (56 cards). The Major Arcana represents the significant themes in the human journey. The Minor Arcana adds detail and clarity to those themes.
Many readers use the symbolism and archetypes embedded within Tarot to craft a story related to daily life (eye-level view). This lens provides a picture of our everyday interactions, thoughts, and feelings.
Reading Tarot through an eye-level view answers inquiries related to a current job, current relationship, or current mental landscape.
Bird’s eye View
Readers can also examine life from a bird’s eye view. This type of storytelling helps you critically reflect on your lived experiences using a wider lens. It can assist you in connecting the dots of your life to discover themes, patterns, and soft spots.
Reading Tarot through a bird’s-eye view can answer inquiries related to your career trajectory rather than your current job. Instead of examining your current relationship, for example, a bird’s-eye view would discuss the recurring themes that run throughout all of your relationships.
The bird’s-eye view is the form of Tarot reading that has been instrumental in my journey. Viewing my life through this bird’s-eye view helped me pinpoint areas of strength and opportunities for growth. And ultimately, this lens revealed the authentic me waiting to emerge.
The Major Arcana
Many Tarot readers view the Major Arcana through the lens of the Fool’s Journey. The Fool’s Journey has many similarities to Joseph Campbell’s description of the Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell was a mythologist who studied story structures common in today’s most popular films and novels. For example, Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Last Dragon, The Wiz, and Lord of the Rings follow the same structure, which Campbell refers to as the monomyth. Though there is great flexibility within this structure, it’s always cyclical. The hero embarks on an adventure/quest, is tested, and returns home. However, the hero does not return as the same person who left. Instead, they return with new skills or lessons learned.
We can view the Major Arcana (Fool’s Journey) through a cyclical lens like the Hero’s Journey. In our life, we will experience tests, initiations, wounds, love, deception, and more before returning home.
The Minor Arcana
The Minor Arcana consists of 56 cards divided into four suits: Wands, Swords, Pentacles, and Cups. Although the names of these suits may vary from deck to deck, their meanings are universal. In general, the Cups represent our feelings and emotions. The Swords represent our communication and perception. The Pentacles represent our material and physical world, and the Wands represent our passion and inspiration.
Over the years, the archetypes represented in Tarot have taught me valuable lessons. The Magician archetype taught me that my thoughts are causative. The Lovers archetype taught me that my relationships are mirrors. The Tower archetype taught me to surrender fully. The swords cut deep and helped me understand the wounds I buried.
These lessons shed light and brought awareness to areas of my life that I once kept hidden. Tarot allowed me an opportunity to view my life from a different vantage point to reveal the treasures within.
As a weekly practice, I reflect on the archetypal energies in my spreads. Then, I examine how these energies manifest in my life by asking myself many of the following questions.
- How do I feel when the archetypal energy emerges in my life?
- How do I make others feel when I express this energy?
- Is this feeling/experience one I want to replicate?
- What lesson has this energy come to show me?
Through the rest of the blogs in this series, I will introduce you to each Tarot archetype and reveal the life lessons they shared with me as I shifted my view from eye level to bird’s eye.
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