Saturday, 16 June 2012

ego and spirit

In this video I addressed the two kinds of intention I tend to witness in Tarot readings - ego intention and spirit intention. In this post I'd like to delve into this subject a little more and address how one kind of intention can fuel exploration into the other. So, I guess I should start by defining the two kinds of intention I've noticed. Ego intention is usually centred around the material, tangible realm and the way it relates to a querent's identity and personality. Issues like connections with others, work, money and health are usually the order of the day with this kind of reading. Things that can be seen, heard, touched, smelt and tasted are addressed and analysed. In spirit intention, the Higher Self is approached. Dreams, spirituality and the transpersonal subjects like our connections to the divine, to the world and to death come into play. But these two types of questioning don't tend to run parallel to each other. In fact, quite the opposite, one focus area tends to lead neatly and necessarily on to the other. A question about work concerns may lead into the urgency of accepting that work is not all there is to life and that the querent needs to look around, get in touch, feel the wind on their face and in their hair.. A question about the search for spiritual contentment may send the querent searching much closer to home for fulfilment, through suggesting that cracks in the family set-up or dissatisfaction with a living space is causing most of the trouble.

It has always been important to me that the readings I do seek to propel the querent into their own, very individual exploration. One-size-fits-all doesn't apply with human beings so the tools we use to help us realise, release, expand and change need to be flexible and possessed of infinite possibilities. This is why Tarot is so useful and so misunderstood. If a querent is being told the answers according to their reader, then in my opinion they are being passive and relinquishing ultimate responsibility. The way to ascertain if one kind of intention is linked to the other kind is to probe, to question, to encourage the querent to assess and weigh up. Telling the querent that the god-shaped hole they've described to you or their lack of ability to meditate or dream recently is certainly linked to their lack of job satisfaction is counter-productive because even if it is an absolute truth, the querent must lead himself there. Isn't it funny how you can listen to all of your friends tell you countless times that something is a bad idea, and yet go ahead and do it anyway? Then, a few months down the line, you are in certain agreement with them that it was a dumb decision, but you failed to listen at the time.. That is because it is your life. You are in the driver's seat and the choice is yours. All the sage advice in the world is sometimes no substitute for the act of doing it anyway and finding out for yourself. A Tarot reader is really offering nothing but another opinion amongst the many opinions. We have the same opportunity to help as anyone else in the querent's life, by dealing in absolutes and demands or by helping the seeker reach a conclusion that they feel comfortable with.

Both kinds of intention in Tarot readings are equally valid. Worldly, flesh-and-blood concerns are thought of, in some circles, as a lesser use for Tarot but this is ridiculous. Work, health and finances are integral to the plot of our lives and if we are discouraged from reflecting on them, we are basically being told that they shouldn't matter to us. This is a form of avoidance which is tantamount to spiritual snobbery or elitism. We are not all ascetics, sufis or nuns. We have not all decided to devote our entire lives to the pursuit of spiritual harmony and renounce shopping, films, music and fashion. Tarot should celebrate and aid who we are now, not who we should or could be in the future. The values and concerns that a querent brings to a reading are the focal point, and if that focal point is whether or not they should buy a certain dress, that's fine, as long as they are prepared to potentially explore the deeper reasons for their question. Ego questions often receive spirit answers and vice versa. Like Yin and Yang in Taoist thought, the two different energies are just two sides of the same face, two types of the same source. They mingle and play together in a harmonious dance and no matter how hard one might try to separate them, they belong together.

I think my point, with this post, is to stress how difficult it is to do a Tarot reading on one subject that doesn't at all spill over into other issues or deeper concerns. Problems are multifaceted, so it stands to reason that one issue may find its roots in another, or that the answer may lay somewhere unexpected.

For further reading on approaching spirit intention in Tarot, you might find this post useful.