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Be a Tarot Renegade - by Mary Lee Labay

The following blog was originally posted on Mary Lee Labay's website. It has been re-posted here with permission from the author. Mary Lee Labay will be hosting a two-part workshop at East West Bookshop on Friday November 15th and Saturday November 16th

Sometimes you just have to walk your own path, find your own way, that will lead you to your spiritual awakening and sharpen your intuition. In many ways I did this in my relationship with the Tarot cards.

While there are meanings to the cards that carry historical usage, and the energy of the centuries, there are also so-called rules that more modern cartomancers adhere to, and teach, that are worthy of examination and challenge.

Tarot is certainly one of the most accessible tools of intuition, that can be learned by anyone and used in nearly any situation. In developing the skills of reading the Tarot cards, it will become clear that other extra-sensory sensitivities are also enhanced along the way. 

You will never regret learning to skillfully read the Tarot cards, but let’s dispel some myths right up front.

Choosing a Deck

While many texts will suggest that Tarot decks have to be a gift, it is my opinion that the style and aesthetic quality of the cards are a highly personal choice.

When choosing a deck, look through the cards and find a set that has artwork that resonates with you. When you find the right deck, you will definitely know it by the energy and connection that is elicited within you.

When first learning to read cards, choose a deck that has pictures on each of the cards, including all the Minor Arcana cards. Many decks have only symbols of these suit cards, which makes it much more difficult to memorize their meanings. Using a deck that is based on the traditional Rider-Waite tarot may make the most sense until you are a confident and seasoned reader.

Once your knowledge and skills are fluent and natural, I encourage you to explore and play with many, many decks. I have had my favorites for different periods of time throughout the years, and the variety adds interest and intrigue.

But, please don’t wait for someone else to purchase the right deck for you. Your Tarot deck has a highly personal connection and will be a life-long friend.

Handling the Cards

Again, you may find sources that will direct you to not let anyone else touch your cards. And, again, I say hogwash.

Over the years, I have had great success being the only handler, as when reading over the phone, and with allowing clients to have some tactile input. I have even loaned my decks to friends, and allow students to use them in my classes.

I did, however, learn that most people in the general public do not know how to handle the size of the cards, or do not know how to shuffle cards. Therefore, I do the majority of the shuffling while establishing rapport with the client, asking about their concerns, and formulating proper questions for the cards. When I am confident that the cards are sufficiently mixed and infused with the focused energy of the question, I then ask the client to cut the deck. In this case, that is the extent of their input.

Relax and refrain from the paranoia often promoted by some authors and instructors about other people touching your Tarot deck. Remember, you let others pet your dog, but it knows that you are their master. Focus on developing the cards into a dear friend and confidant.

Reversed Cards

Many readers adhere to the philology of only reading their cards in the upright position. They claim it is a more positive reading.

First of all, some cards actually improve in the reversed position, such as the Devil, Death, Tower, 10 of Wands, and others.

Second, by reading the cards both upright and reversed, you double the vocabulary at your disposal. A reversed card has no other match in the deck. It has a meaning that would not be available for the reading if cards are only read upright.

My own philosophy is that every possible situation that could arise in someone’s life should have a correlation to a Tarot card or a grouping of cards within a reading. They should capture all of life’s issues, opportunities, events, and people.

Take the small additional effort to learn the cards in both upright and reversed positions to increase the scope and clarity of your reading.

Be an independent thinker! Be a renegade when it comes to following irrational rules! Find your own path by testing what works and doesn’t work for you as you practice reading your Tarot cards.

And most of all, relax and enjoy the wisdom that the Tarot cards put in your hands!

Mary Lee Labay will be hosting a Tarot workshop called "Wisdom of the Tarot" on November 15th and 16th at East West Bookshop.

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