We humans seem to have a difficult time dealing with change. Even positive change, or change that we have chosen for ourselves, is often difficult to handle. At the same time, we hate to feel stagnant, and we often long for the very changes (new job, new relationship, new baby, new home) that cause us so much stress.
One of the scariest-looking cards in tarot is Major Arcana 13, the Death card. Most readers believe the Death card doesn’t predict a physical death. It predicts a change; maybe even a drastic one. I often see the Death card as indicative of a marriage or a pregnancy! This dichotomy between the scary image and the positive event really reflects our attitude about change.
Change falls into a number of categories. There are the changes we choose, the changes we don’t choose but have to endure, and the larger changes in the world around us. No matter what, change is stressful and unavoidable.
The changes we choose are often stressful because we question the decisions we’ve made. Did I do the right thing taking this new job? Is now really a good time to change where I live? Will I really be ok if I leave my abusive relationship? We have a hard time trusting ourselves to make the right changes in our lives.
The truth is this. We will make mistakes. Nothing is perfect. At the same time, moving forward is usually better than standing still. Every change we make leads us somewhere. Either it will bring improvement, or it will bring a lesson, or both. Usually, it’s both.
The changes we can’t control are stressful, too. Sometimes these are unpleasant changes. Sometimes they involve loss and grief. Here, acceptance is the key. Getting to the new normal is challenging. But the more we resist the inevitable change, the harder the change is to get through. Sometimes we fear that we aren’t strong enough to face the changes that have been forced upon us.
Many of the Major Arcana cards offer spiritual lessons about change and acceptance. The Wheel of Fortune reminds us that we are all subject to the changing tides of life. The Hanged Man offers advice in finding enlightenment through our discomfort. Justice soothes us by reminding us that it will all come out balanced in the end. The Tower warns us that if we refuse to make needed changes in our lives, the Universe will do it for us. The Fool tells us to be fearless in the adventure that is life. Judgment tells us to relinquish the past and be reborn into the new day.
For me, tarot provides a map to help me navigate the changes in my life. This is true in tarot reading, both for me and for my clients. But it is equally true in simply studying the cards, and embracing their messages.
The I Ching is the Chinese method of divination. It is called “The Book of Changes.” Perhaps one of the purposes of divination in general is to give us wisdom about the many changes we encounter in life.