By Lorette C. Thiessen
When your alarm clock rings, summoning you to class, you probably don’t reach for a Tarot deck with two sugars and milk.
But I do.
This morning, I pulled the Ace of Wands and the Eight of Pentacles. You see, I was extremely tired because I was up late last night working on a tricky history essay that started to come together just as I had an idea for a short story I was working on. I was wondering how I could juggle all my inspirations and fitting them into my timetable. Along comes the Ace of Wands, symbolizing a burst of creative energy and the beginning of new projects, encouraging self-confidence and action. T he Eight of Pentacles, or Coins, means I have skills and purpose to complete and will be rewarded for my projects. With this kind of advice, I am propelled into the world.
Before she’d ever had her cards read, Shanti Zachariah, a third-year journalism student, was a little anxious about having someone watch her life unfold in a set of mysterious images. “It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be,” she says. “I thought the cards would tell me that my death imminent.”
“I guess it’s true that Catholics are closet pagans. The reading opened my mind. I had to stop and take stock of my life.”
Zachariah believes Tarot is a legitimate and useful way to analyze one’s life. “If I had some questions that needed answers, I might go [to Tarot] for guidance,” she says. “My questions are clarified, but ultimately, the answers are up to me.”
Maybe “psychic” is the word that scares people. Maybe knowing the future is best left in God’s hands and we should not tempt our fates.
James Wells is a Toronto Tarot consultant who practices privately and also at the Omega Centre, a metaphysical bookstore at Yorkville and Bay Streets. “When I refer to physic I mean of the soul,” he says. Indeed, a dictionary defines the words as “pertaining to the mind or soul, mental, as distinguished from physical or physiological.”
“I see the Tarot as a healing tool,” says Wells, who has been studying Taro since he was 12. “It helps people access deeper parts of themselves.”
He uses the symbolism of Tarot in a counseling approach with his clients. “The Tarot is like a dream laid out on the table before you,” he says. “The Tarot provides a deeper insight into the world. It speaks to every race and religion.”
Wells charges $80 for an hour-long consultation based on 19 years of experience and study. “I’m not from the Madame X school of Tarot reading,” he tells me.
Amber Jayanti has been teaching Tarot at her Santa Cruz School for Tarot and Qabalah Study since 1975. She sees Tarot as a way of bringing higher powers into everyday life.
“If by divinity you mean ‘bringing down the divine,’ then yes, that is what I± am doing,” she explains.
For Jayanti, Tarot is an illustration of the Qabalistic Tree of Life and the paths between the spheres, you learn the Tarot to be a pictorial elaboration of the Hebrew letters,” she says. The Qabalah is an ancient Jewish system of thought and beliefs where words and numbers have certain symbolic powers.
“When you study deeply, doors start to open in your own being,” says Jayanti, who also wrote Living the Tarot, a book about recognizing the Tarot in everyday life. “I love giving people information and positive questions. The tarot depicts the steps that are paving the spiritual path.”
Jodi Schachowskoj used to work on a psychic phone line. “I had some problem with taking money from a cheesy hotline, but at the time I was unemployed,” she says. “The whole thing immersed me in study. I stopped dabbling and started reading and learning so that I could offer the callers something substantial.”
Schachowskoj says that she started to recognize the cast of Tarot characters in her every day life — the tricksters, the moody mysterious woman, the studious loner, the know-it-all. Schachowskoj sees the characters embodied in our psyches. She believes we have something to learn from each one of them, and form each person we encounter.
“I kept drawing the Queen of Coins,” she tells me. “I see her all over — women I meet who are money-smart, secure, confident, talking about investment portfolios and selling their skills. I’ve always explored so many different things that I have never focused on controlling my financial future. With the reappearance of this controlled, affluent, confident Tarot lady and her human counterparts around me, I started focusing on how to get out of retails and make some real money.”
Four years ago, the card I used to get most often was the Wheel of Fortune, symbolizing the spin of destiny, the inevitable nature of the unpredictable, and the recognition that whirlwind change is the only constant. The card aptly described the uncontrolled flurry of my life. I was a traveller. I lived in New Orleans, Vancouver, Atlanta, wherever. I never knew what city I would wake up in or where I would go next. One day, I realized that the card was not so much telling me what my life was like but perhaps suggesting I take control over the wheel. I needed to take stock of my emotional investments and rootlessness to bring control into my life. I wanted to go to university but I had never lived in one city for longer than a few months. Years of disciplined consistency at a university would not be easy. But I took control of the chaotic thrill of restless living and started to change my impulsive behaviour dispelling negative influences from my social sphere. It wasn’t magic, it was just a good idea that I finally caught on to.
Now I am tempering my chaotic nature with persistence and a better understanding of human motivations, including my own. It looks like getting my degree is in the cards.