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Tarot Reflections

February 15, 2005

A Life's Journey: A Meditation on the Major Arcana



Maighread is a clairvoyant, empath, and medium. She has been a tarot enthusiast for over ten years, and is currently working on her Tarot Master certification. Maighread is the founder of the metaphysical organization, whose mission is to provide a variety of high quality spiritual and metaphysical services in the Greater Los Angeles area by professionals maintaining a high standard of integrity, excellence and ethics. She also reads for the Free Tarot and Free Reading Networks.


As a performing artist, one of the ways I enjoy looking at the Major Arcana is as a story, complete with a hero (or heroine), a beginning, a surprise ending, and lots of plot twists and turns along the way!

As our story begins, we are introduced to our Hero. As The Fool , he's ready to begin an adventure, possessing an open mind and heart, and very little else. He has the innocence of a child, and the bubbling energy and enthusiasm that naiveté creates. Unfamiliar with the idea of consequences, he eagerly approaches new situations with playfulness and great optimism, willing to take chances. He has a few things in a knapsack that he's not quite sure how or when to use. He is poised to walk on his own for the first time, ready to take his first step into the unknown. His dog is at his side, playin

g along, encouraging him, and cautioning him to be aware, but our Hero's eyes are far ahead, skimming the environment around him in a somewhat superficial way, unaware of all that may befall him if he doesn't take a closer look.

As our Hero completes that first step, he encounters The Magician , and learns that the contents of his knapsack are valuable after all. He learns that he has an amazing potential for creativity: the ability to create his reality through his thoughts. He learns that he, too, is an alchemist, and that he has already been given all the tools he needs to manifest anything he desires. The trick is to balance the power Above with the power he possesses Below. The Magician passes our Hero the understanding that He Can, and that with God's help, all things are possible.

This heady piece of information is about to become overwhelming with the power it presents, but fortunately, our Hero next meets The High Priestess . She teaches him that he only has to look inside to connect with his Higher Power. Through meditation and prayer, he learns to listen to the silence, trusting that he will receive the knowledge he needs at the correct time and place. She teaches him that inner work is a necessary part of the adventure, and that there is much to be learned in her mysterious presence.

Just as our Hero begins to disappear into the mysterious and unseen forces that The High Priestess has begun to unveil, he encounters The Empress , who shows him that there is a lot to be learned and experienced in this world, as well. She introduces him to the sensual comforts and luxury that the world has to offer, and teaches that rewards are often reaped through persistence. Our Hero is introduced to the cycle of planting, fertility, growth and harvest, and sees there is much to be gained and enjoyed throughout the entire cyclical process.

Our Hero is so excited and aroused at the world The Empress has shown him, he begins to become enveloped in the sensual pleasures and passions they provide. In the nick of time, The Emperor appears to teach our Hero that in such a world, there is a need for structure and order to prevent chaos and hedonism from taking control. The Emperor's authority stems from knowledge gained through experience, while his power and vitality come from his control over his own passions. The Emperor teaches our Hero that the world requires rules to function in an orderly manner, and that he must take control over his desires before they control him.

As our Hero contemplates the lessons he's learned and the people he's encountered, he begins to question if there is any deeper meaning behind to it all, which is when The Hierophant enters the scene, reminding our Hero that there is more to life than the power and sensual pleasures available in the natural world, and that he must decide where his beliefs lie. He presents the option of organized religion, knowledge from those who have come before and established one path to spirituality. Our Hero finds solace and comfort of a different kind than the Empress offered, one based in tradition and values passed on through generations. He begins to formulate his own ethical code.

With the entrance of The Lovers , this presents a crossroads. The temptation and mystery of his own dual nature, natural and spiritual, becomes overwhelming. Does he continue on the path of those who have gone before or does he continue into the unknown? He feels the deep karmic attraction of the subconscious but is unsure how to connect with the superconscious. He is shown that it is his own dual nature that he must accept in order to move forward, that it is not one road or another. As he finally chooses a direction, he encounters the next intriguing character in this adventure.

The Chariot has conquered wild emotions through the use of self-control, harnessing them; struggling with them, but controlling them nonetheless. He tells our Hero that imbalanced and excessive behavior will pull him in many directions, effectively getting him nowhere, but that through the use of self-discipline, he can 'will' these same opposing energies to pull him towards the achievement of his goals.

Before he becomes too caught up in the forceful approach The Chariot advocates, our Hero meets Strength , who teaches him the delicate art of balancing his contradictory emotions, how to develop an interaction between his instinctual impulses and his intuition. She tells him that brute strength is not the answer to calm the beast within, and that courage, patience and determination will outlast the day. She possesses the inner strength that comes from spirituality - a personal relationship with God, the Higher Power - and the confidence in God's strength over all.

This new lesson puzzles our Hero with its immense implications, and as he contemplates all he has encountered so far, his path crosses The Hermit , whose lantern - lit with the Hermit's own personal revelations, wisdom and experience - reveals that some of the answers are to be found on a solitary path. He suggests that discipline may be found through inner reflection and study, and that the solution to our Hero's quandary may ultimately be found within. This encounter calms our Hero, who begins to feel a sense of security in the understanding that ironically, his own personal feelings of isolation are part of what link him to all.

This security is short-lived with the dramatic entrance of The Wheel of Fortune , which re-introduces our Hero to the concept of cycles, only this time, not just those of the natural world. The Wheel reveals that although there is a large component of an individual's choices in their path, there is also the rhythm of the universe with which to contend. This wheel of destiny reveals that there is a season for all things, and that if our Hero can flow with the directions of the universe, there is much to be gained, but ignoring this truth or fighting it will only bring repeated dysfunction, an existence out of sync.

The introduction of the Wheel stops our Hero in his tracks, confused and a bit upset that something seemingly so arbitrary should have such an effect on his existence. Enter Justice . She reveals that there is a balance to the cycle of The Wheel, and that he has more impact on that cycle than he had realized. The concept of karma, cause and effect, is introduced and our Hero is amazed to realize that with his actions come far reaching consequences. He begins to see the impact his previously impetuous decisions have had on his path, and realizes that he must weigh those decisions more carefully. With this heavy lesson, Justice counsels him that with the power of judgment comes the gift of mercy, as well.

All of these revelations have taken their toll on our Hero, and as he reaches another crossroads, he once again pauses in confusion. He sees The Hanged Man , and identifies with his immobility but strains at the lack of direction he feels. He is frustrated with the holding pattern he is in, but the Hanged Man points out that this new position provides him with a new perspective, a new way of looking at events. He tells our Hero that though this hiatus seems a dead-stop, this spiritual surrender is actually moving him towards his next step, a sort of gestation period, if only he will take advantage of it.

As our Hero accepts this new information and becomes comfortable in the private spiritual transformation he is experiencing, he sees Death riding towards him on a white horse. His fear at this impending and imposing persona creates a desire to run, to resist. He wants to remain solitary, maintaining the spiritual lessons he has learned so far through a sort of isolation, without the distractions of the world around him. Death, however, is unavoidable, and counsels our Hero that he must leave all these past misconceptions and attitudes behind. He teaches that with each ending is also a new beginning, with each death a resurrection and rebirth, and there is nothing ultimately to do but to accept this change and release it.

Having passed through Death's door, our Hero is greeted by Temperance , who is there to welcome this soul liberated through death, and assist our Hero in uniting his spiritual and physical nature. He learns that instead of rejecting his worldly side, he must accept it as part of himself, a part with foibles, but valuable, nonetheless. Temperance teaches our Hero how to blend his ideas and emotions with his actions, along with the powerful lesson that he gains control over his 'shadow-self' not by rejecting it or letting it rule him, but by accepting it as a key aspect of who he is. He learns the power of moderation, of balance, and the gift and importance of living fully in the present.

With the acceptance of his 'dark side', our Hero is tempted by The Devil , who promises that allowing his desires free reign will give him ultimate power. His fear at his own inadequacy to meet the challenge of all that he has been presented with so far on his journey cause our Hero to be tempted by that which The Devil offers. The attraction of projection and the blame that ensues, along with fear and pride, become a heavy foe for our Hero, and he struggles to utilize what he has learned to overcome his Achilles' heel.

As he eventually overcomes this struggle with his ultimate fears and frees himself from his own chains, he feels a sense of confidence that is quickly shattered. He sees the remaining false foundations of his old beliefs crumble all around him in The Tower . Caught by surprise at this lightening bolt from the sky, he begins to see how his former sense of security was a false one, built on a structure of sand, and that now, it is simply the inevitable that is taking place. All the unnecessary and worldly comforts, attitudes and defenses that were not shaken from him through Death are destroyed in an earthquake of divine perception and proportion, and the intense purging that takes place leaves our Hero standing alone, shaking.

The Star is revealed to once again remind our Hero that there is always hope if he only has faith. She encourages him to look up and rediscover his connection with his Higher Purpose, to realign himself with his visions and dreams. Make a wish, she says, and remember why you're here. She counsels him to use what he learned from the High Priestess, and re-attune with his Higher Self in a time of meditation for spiritual nourishment and direction.

By this time, our Hero's personal spirituality has grown substantially from The Fool who encountered The High Priestess so long ago, and by attuning to the powers above, he encounters a new set of possibilities and temptations he had not been aware of before in The Moon . The Moon's light reveals that things are not as they seem, and that there are hidden things to be learned, hidden realms to be discovered. But what is real and what is illusion? As he slowly stumbles along this dark path, our Hero struggles to utilize all the lessons he has learned on his journey, to have faith, not to resist the process, and to continue to listen for the guidance his intuition will provide.

The light at the end of the dark tunnel is that of The Sun . His ecstasy at his success is again the exuberance of a child, only this time, not through the eyes of naiveté and ignorance. Our Hero has won the day by gaining wisdom through his experiences, by trusting in himself and his Higher Power, by learning to balance the physical and spiritual world. He has lost his fear and his inhibitions, and now may enjoy the victory. His experiences have not weighed him down, but given him a child-like optimism and joy.

As he relishes his accomplishments so far, he becomes aware once again, through the appearance of Judgement , that his journey is not through yet and there is more to learn. Here at last is the surprise ending: the startling revelation that our Hero had the tools he needed to succeed all along. Judgement shows him that he did not have to earn that which was freely offered from the beginning. As our Hero sits astonished at this startling news, he now has the final choice to either accept or deny his reward. He may take this opportunity to reunite with his Higher Self, awakening to the important realizations about his path, shedding the last remaining old values, or he may ignore it and stay where he is, now aware of a final layer of darkness he had not seen before. Can he accept this cleansing and grace that is offered without punishment or retribution, without being earned or even deserved? Can he show this final act of faith?

Our Hero, thankfully, can and does, with the expression of The World . The final enlightenment has taken place, fulfillment has been attained and our hero has reached the final achievement of all his worldly expectations and desires on a greater level than he had ever thought possible. Our Hero has become one with his Soul. This final step of freedom from all restrictions has been made, and with it, the impending first step of The Fool is right around the corner, promising a new beginning, a new journey, with untold excitement and adventure ahead!


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