The practice of meditation traces back to antiquity. Numerous cultures and religious traditions have incorporated some form of meditation, although it’s often related to Buddhism and Hinduism. Today meditation is used for many purposes; to promote relaxation, alleviate depression, ease pain in the body, increase compassion and patience, cultivate awareness, as well as religious practices.
Evidence of the Tarot has been found as far back in history as the fifteenth-century. The pictures and symbols on the cards depicted daily experiences, authority figures, laws of nature, and spiritual evolution. Many modern Tarot cards have kept with tradition, using the same or similar symbols and imagery as the original cards discovered centuries ago.
Since both meditation and the Tarot open doorways to the subconscious and Higher Self, each can be a catalysis for uncovering the deeper meaning and layered messages of the other.
The Major Arcana cards are numbered 0-21; they represent: psychological process, basic truths about the world, authority, power, and elements of the natural world. Choose cards from the Major Arcana for meditations concerning complex matters: life path, life purpose, psychological issues (such as negative, repetitive patterns), and spiritual enlightenment.
The Minor Arcana or Pip cards include the four suits of the Tarot. Overall, the Minor Arcana represent various aspects of daily life experience, and each suit deals with specific areas of that experience.
Cups – Love, imagination, dreams, feelings and emotions, intuition, history.
Swords – Thoughts, attitudes, words, communication, fear, turmoil, plans.
Wands – Business, projects, a mission, movement, travel, energy, education.
Pentacles – Health, finances, work, possessions, relationships, authority, religion.
Choose cards from the Minor Arcana for meditations concerning work, relationships, finances, transportation, communication, projects, etc.
Example meditation – Choosing cards from the Minor Arcana.
You’re considering a new job opportunity, it’s a compelling offer but it would require a lot of travel. You’re wondering if you should take the job? The suits of Wands and Pentacles are a good choice for this meditation.
You could choose the Ace of Pentacles to represent the new job offer, (Ace’s always represent new beginnings). The Three of Wands symbolizes the travel involved with the job, and you could choose the King of Pentacles for wise council and help with your decision. Use all three cards (Ace of Pentacles, Three of Wands, and King of Pentacles) in your meditation.
Or, you’ve been casually dating two people, but now one of them wants to take your relationship to the next level. You’re having trouble choosing. You really care for the person who wants a committed relationship, but you’re not certain about letting the other one go.
The suits of Cups and Swords are a good choice for meditating on this dilemma. The Two of Swords is a good representation of your difficulty choosing between the two people. Choose the Two of Cups to represent the offer of a committed relationship, and the Queen of Cups for insight into your choices. The number two cards are excellent for a meditation involving a choice.
Example meditation – Choosing cards from the Major Arcana.
You feel stuck, frustrated, and limited! Your choices have not brought what you expected, and you’re unsure how to move out of this repetitious and unfulfilling reality. For this mediation, you could choose the Hanged Man to represent your current fixed state. You might choose The Hermit, for guidance, direction, and a broader point of view on your situation. And the Fool can be helpful for the inspiration and courage to step onto a new and uncertain path.
Or, your life feels out of balance; it’s all about work, responsibilities, other people, and making ends meet. “Is this all there is?” you ask yourself. “Where’s the mystery and the magic – the joy of being alive and the freedom to be YOU!?”
Meditating on the Devil card can help with your perspective; it’s a choice to live your life as a slave to the material world. You might select The Magician card to take control, manifest, co-create with the Universe, and fill the spiritual void you’re experiencing. Choose The Sun card to remind you of joy, curiosity, discovery and how truly unique and special you really are.
If mediation is a new experience for you, you’ll need to do a few things to prepare yourself and your environment. Find a comfortable relaxing space where you won’t be disturbed during your meditation. Consider your surroundings: a pleasant environment will help you relax and get into a quiet state of mind.
Here are a few suggestions for creating a peaceful ambiance: soft or defused light, calm relaxing music, scented candles, or incense (you might choose lavender, frankincense, or sandalwood). Choose a comfortable chair or pillow to sit on and loose-fitting clothing.
Once your space is ready, take a little time to prepare yourself and make sure your Tarot card deck is close at hand. Get into a comfortable sitting position, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and begin to allow your body and mind to relax.
Let the activities of the day drift into the background of your mind. Keeping your eyes closed take note of your surroundings: soft music, pleasant scents, and personal space. Notice how peaceful everything feels.
Consider the purpose of your meditation; are you seeking information for yourself or are you curious about the Tarot and contemplating the deeper meaning of a specific card? Once you’ve settled on the purpose of your mediation, think about the card(s) you’ll need, and whether you’ll find them in the Major Arcana or the Minor Arcana. Remember to consider the colors, images, symbols, and life experiences represented on the cards as you select cards for your meditation.
Place the cards you’ve chosen face up in front of you. Close your eyes, and relax into your meditation. Just be in the moment with the cards, your guides, and the Universe. Relax, contemplate the reason for your meditation (or the card you’re exploring), and open your mind to new insights, information, and understandings.
When you have completed your meditation, be sure to write down the purpose of your meditation, the cards you chose, and the insight and awareness that came to you. You may want to consider keeping a meditation diary for future reference.
If you’ve ever taken the time to look through more than a couple of Tarot decks, you’ve probably noticed color plays a huge role in most decks. From bright to muted, to somewhere in between, color sets the tone and dictates the “mood” of the cards. We are perpetually responding to the colors in our environment, but most of us don’t often take the time to consider just how much we are influenced by color beyond the occasional thought, “Will this color make the right impression on _________?” (boss, date, potential employer).
Here’s an exercise you can do to learn a little more about color and how it influences you. Check online or find a store that carries at least 3 of the various Rider Waite Tarot decks. Look for The Rider Waite Tarot, The Radiant-Rider Waite, The Original-Rider Waite, The Albano-Waite, The Universal-Waite and/or The Golden-Rider Waite. The pictures on the individual cards in each deck are the same, but the colors are different – which makes The Rider Waite Tarot an excellent example of how color influences a deck.
As you scan through the cards, notice how you feel looking at the various colors: happy, excited, bored, peaceful, or anxious. Doing this exercise, and paying close attention to your response to color will help guide you when you’re in a store, or online perusing multiple decks, wondering which ones you’ll resonate with and enjoy reading.
For many of us, certain colors seem to trigger similar emotions: blue tends to be calming, yellow lifts our spirit, green promotes growth and healing, and red we associate with action and passion.
With this in mind let’s think about the color red and its application to the Tarot. Along with action and passion, red indicates excitement, desire, danger, and anger: “He was so angry he saw red!” People wear red when they want to attract attention and be noticed. Think about the bullfighter. Just like the bull, people are attracted to, and activated by the color red. From an astrological perspective the color red is associated with the sign of Aries. Some of the characteristics related to Aries are: impulsive, hasty, aggressive, courageous, and adventurous.
Referring back to the Rider Waite Tarot, the person shown on the 8 of Cups, the 7 of Swords, and the Page of Swords, is wearing red shoes – and in each card, the person is in motion, showing some kind of action is taking place. When these cards turn up in a spread, you can see something is happening and action is being taken – or needs to be taken.
In this same deck the person shown on the 4 of Cups is wearing a red shirt and red shoes, but he’s sitting with his legs crossed and his arms folded. He’s being presented with a cup, but he keeps his arms folded and doesn’t even look at the cup. The red around his arms suggests he is aware of an opportunity to take action by reaching for the cup, but he is not currently willing to do so. Or, our interpretation might be that he is unwilling to reach for an opportunity that is being extended to him. Or, we can see desire, but no action. Since he’s sitting with his legs crossed, he’s also stopping himself from standing or walking. Again we see a desire or a need for movement, but no action is being taken.
We find a similar issue with The Hanged Man, he’s wearing red pants, indicating a desire to move or take action. Yet, since he’s hanging upside down with one ankle tied to a tree or branch, he’s stuck – in spite of the desire to move out of the situation in which he finds himself.
Contrast both of those cards with the person in the 2 of Pentacles. He’s wearing red tights, a red shirt, and a red hat. Not only are his arms and legs moving, showing physical action, but his red hat indicates he’s also thinking about the action he’s taking. In the 7 of Swords mentioned earlier, the person is also wearing a red hat, so we know he, too, is thinking about what he’s doing, and probably planning or visualizing his next move as well.
The Emperor card displays an interesting combination of the red messages. We see a man sitting on a throne, wearing heavy armor, but also wearing a red cloth around his waist and legs. Though he’s not moving, you can see he’s prepared and ready to take action or fight at a moment’s notice. With The Magician we see a man wearing a red robe; he’s standing still, but the position of his arms indicates movement. Since the robe runs the length of his body, we can assume his entire body is involved in the action he’s taking; he’s using all of his physical energy to create in his world.
As you consider the people, actions, and symbols on the cards, remember the colors have a significant influence on the overall meaning and interpretation of each card.
Color: A Secret Language Revealed, by Diane Ronngren, is an excellent booklet for those of you who would like to further explore the subliminal messages of color.