While I am away in Peru this month (leading a retreat and writing away on my book) I've decided to do something fun with this newsletter. Over these past two years, I've talked a lot about my own self-care process yet always want to share more of what my clients are learning through their inner and outer work.
So this month while I'm away, I'm inviting three amazing self-care warriors to share what they've learned by focusing on their self-care. As you'll read, there have been ups and downs, a few surprises and overall a richer experience of life than they had previously imagined.
Read the first guest post from Katherine below. In it, you'll learn how this DOJ employee discovered that the Tarot deck was a powerful tool for her own self-discovery.
While Gracy is away, I’m excited to share a few self-care practices involving tarot and oracle cards. Having your cards read by someone is a great experience, but there are other ways to use tarot and oracle decks on your own for self-care. No prior experience necessary!
As a short primer for the uninitiated, tarot decks following the popular Rider-Waite-Smith system usually have 78 cards that are divided into 22 major arcana cards depicting archetypes/karmic forces/life’s journey, and 56 minor arcana cards depicting personalities and temporary day-to-day situations. These cards have traditional meanings, with many variations and personal intuitive meanings. The Rider-Waite-Smith is a great deck to have if you want to study the foundations of tarot. But any tarot deck that interests you will work wonderfully for the practices I’m about to describe. Oracle decks follow no established structure and can have any number of cards. They are usually designed around a theme such as affirmations, angels, shamanic wisdom, chakras, the natural world, goddesses, etc. Many modern tarot and oracle decks come with lovely detailed guidebooks, and there are lots of free tarot resources online. You can buy decks at bookstores, Amazon, Etsy, and directly from independent artists.
Practice One: Self-Awareness for Self-Care
Tarot and oracle cards are typically flexible enough to encompass the whole huge realm of human experience. So we can use the cards to identify things we know about ourselves or a situation, but are maybe having a hard time putting into words. The cards can act like intuition triggers. A simple-yet-powerful practice is to take a centering breath, identify your question, shuffle the deck, and draw one card. Sample self-care questions could be:
Why do I feel [feeling]? What energy do I need today to achieve my goals? What does my body need right now? Why does [situation] bother me? What are my needs in [situation]? Why can’t I sleep tonight? What would a friend tell me to do? What does the universe want from me today? What would inspire me today? What do I need for healing?
After drawing your card, take a moment to reflect. What does the card bring up for you? You can build meaning from your own intuitive response to the images and symbols, the guidebook, or additional research. The card doesn’t dictate the answer; it’s just a tool to help you recognize the truth within. The message might even be the exact opposite from what is depicted on the card. I find this process most rewarding when I transform the message into a concrete action to take. This process can also be useful to prompt journaling or creative writing. You could start every day with this practice if it feels interesting.
Practice Two: Meditation
Don’t feel like meditating and focusing on your breath today? Resisting meditation in general, but still want to do it? Try shifting your focus away from the breath and towards an image randomly (or not) drawn from your deck. You can keep your eyes open, or visually memorize the card then close your eyes. Notice feelings and sensations. To go further, imagine yourself stepping into the card. What do your senses pick up? What interactions do you have with the scene? For yogis with a home practice, a variation on this activity is to place a card at the top of your mat in lieu of setting an intention.
Practice Three: The Support Group
The booklet that came with my favorite goddess deck suggests creating a support group by drawing as many goddess cards as you need in a particular moment. I’ve adapted that practice by drawing a collection of goddesses for insomniac nights. It’s surprisingly effective! This doesn’t need to be limited to goddess card decks or sleepless nights. You could surround yourself with any kind of card that feels supportive and makes you happy in the moment. Line your windowsill, frame the doorway, encircle your laptop, magnet them to the fridge, etc. Nobody ever has to know how many soul flower or moon cards are taped to your computer monitor to encourage you through a tough project. J
There are so many joyful ways these cards can be incorporated into a self-care practice. My first oracle deck sat in my amazon list for a year before I finally pulled the trigger. I didn’t know how I would use it, I felt silly, I didn’t “believe” in it. But if this interests you at all, just go for it. And please be in touch if this sparked your interest! I’d be happy to give deck recommendations, and would love to hear about your experiences.