How can we experientially access the mystery of the Tarot? What I know is that the Tarot is not just a quaint form of fortune telling but offers us a powerful doorway for accessing keys to our Western Mysteries. The earliest surviving cards date from Italy in the mid-fifteenth century; however, there are earlier references to many Tarot symbols from the Vita Merlini (the life of Merlin), a 12th century Celtic-sourced manuscript. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the symbolism of the Tarot was further expanded and the connection with ancient Western Mysteries was documented. The Tarot also connects with Astrology and the Qabalah, two other cornerstones of the Western Mysteries. Carl Jung commented on the Tarot as an archetypal window into our individual and group unconscious.
Moving beyond the archetypal and symbolic meanings of the cards, we can apply shamanic techniques to form a direct relationship with Tarot Spirits, who embody the wisdom of the cards. Using a combination of shamanic and traditional Western Mystery methods, these compassionate spirits can be contacted for healing or advice. This fits in with the shamanic tradition of accessing other realities to make a practical difference in this world. To be clear, the Western Mysteries are not cowboy detective stories, but include methods to achieve personal or gnostic spiritual experiences that provide direct revelation of spiritual truth as opposed to mainstream religious doctrine. Western Mystery methods engage us more fully in our daily world as opposed to Eastern esoteric methods that focus on detachment from the world. The Western approach may be more suitable to those spiritual seekers raised in Western cultures who wish to make practical changes in their lives and their communities.
As a long term (45 plus years) student of the Western Mysteries, I was amazed when the Tarot Spirits came to life for me. It happened in 2012 through shamanic adaptation of Tarot connection methods developed in the 1970’s by Edwin Steinbrecher. Since developing this shamanic practice, I have had a strong connection with many of the Tarot spirits, and delved deeper into the Western Mysteries with them. They have brought me gifts that have enhanced my intuition and shamanic insight. I have engaged the Tarot Spirits to clear challenging aspects in my natal astrological chart, and felt areas of my life lightening up, even in the 7th decade of my life. I balanced the mystic work with emotional work engaging shadow elements through non-ordinary psycho drama with the Tarot court cards. In all there was a combination of spiritual inspiration with emotional release that opened me to the next phase of my life.
Barriers to approaching the Western Mysteries include (1) centuries of negative propaganda from the Church—similar to the Church’s repression of shamanism, (2) a belief that much intricate rote learning is required, and (3) modern attitudes emphasizing a scientific approach that eschews any spiritual existence beyond what we can touch and measure. Moving beyond these barriers using shamanic techniques allows the seeker to reach their own conclusions based on experience and direct revelation. By entering the world of the Tarot Spirits with shamanic methods, a safe connection to primal spiritual forces can be made for either self-development or practical goals. The direct connection allows symbols to be explored naturally and meaningfully, rather than memorized through book learning.
This carefully designed process involves creating a connection with a Tarot Guide, using traditional methods to meet the Tarot Spirits of the major arcana, and working with the spirits in a positive, loving way to clear obstacles in life or gain personal insight into both spiritual and practical matters. There are ties in this process to the wisdom of the Qabalah and the information in one’s own natal astrology chart, along with exploration of one’s shadow self. This is all developed using reliable shamanic methods in a safe and effective process. Rather than just collecting “head knowledge” about the symbols and archetypes of the Tarot, the actual images of the Tarot are used as a bridge into the other world to receive direct information. These processes are presented step by step in two workshops: Tarot Spirits: Healing & Advice and Tarot Spirits: Star and Shadow Healing.
In closing, may the new year bring you prosperity and joy. May we all be gifted with spiritual inspiration as we contribute to a better world.