I expected a small group for our second-ever Tampa Bay Tarot Meetup at Panera Bread in Lutz on Sunday, December 7th. I had received a ton of emails; holiday parties, home renovations and seasonal sniffles were going to take a toll on our turnout.
I had a problem, too. Seasonal allergies had taken away my voice – literally. I woke up with laryngitis.
There were five of us at the meetup. Since things are rarely “accidents,” I interpreted my ailing throat as a sign I needed to let the students do the talking. Today, I wasn’t there to teach, I was there to listen and support.
This experience really taught me something important about teaching in general, and about teaching tarot in specific.
You see, I am an interpretive reader. That doesn’t mean I don’t use my psychic ability, or communicate with spirits, in a reading. I just believe that a solid knowledge of tarot archetypes and key words help to stimulate the intuition by giving us the language we need to accomplish the communication.
That means my tarot teaching is associative and interpretive. I ask my students to make associations between the Four Elements, numerology and astrology as they learn the cards, and I ask them to memorize key words.
As it turned out, none of my four attendees had memorized key words in their tarot toolbox. Worse, a few of them felt badly about that fact, sheepish that they hadn’t done their homework.
The theme of our meeting was “techniques practice.” Clearly, the only technique we could practice was intuitive reading.
Each person performed a short reading for another attendee. Then we did some group readings, where each person pulled a card and put them together to form a comprehensive answer. Finally, each person performed a seven-card reading for themselves.
This meetup had a lot of aha moments for everyone, but perhaps especially for me. In watching the students struggle with, and then master, the basic skills of intuitive reading, I realized the following important points to be true.
Whether from intuition or from past study, students know a lot more about the cards than they think they do. The anxiety of being “on the spot” in a reading, and of not having a solid memorized list of key words, seems to shut down the intuition.
Even beginning students need to focus on grounding, centering and breathing in order to tap in to the intuition and leave anxiety behind.
We can encourage students to notice different things about the cards by asking questions, such as “What color do you see most predominately?” or “What is this person doing in this image?” or “How does this image make you feel?”
The next step is encouraging the student to say what they feel. Two of our student readers reported strong feelings that had turned out to be accurate. They were embarrassed to share those strong feelings at first.
After each person used their intuition (and whatever knowledge of the cards they had) to perform a reading, I had them look up the meanings of the cards in their books. They were pleased and surprised to see that their intuition had led them to give accurate readings, and that what they said about the cards was in fact extremely close to the book meanings.
I will continue to teach the importance of memorized meanings, archetypes and tarot study. At the same time, I will add some new teaching methods to my own toolbox.
Anxiety – the fear of being wrong – may be a new tarot student’s biggest enemy. Allowing students to look at the cards and simply say what they see very quickly helps them to see their own abilities, as well as the cards’ astounding abilities to give us truth.
Once that anxiety is gone and students feel free to communicate with their cards, the acquiring of the larger body of knowledge should come somewhat less painfully.
Sometimes I say the prayer, “Lord, put your hand over my mouth.” Well, this time the Lord did in fact silence me. In that silence, I learned something new about teaching tarot, and my students learned something about their own ability to read tarot.
Today my voice has returned.
Our next meeting of the Tampa Bay Area Tarot Meetup is February 1. Join us!