Many people are getting the feeling that this quarantine has unique and potent curriculum for all of us. Aside from forcing us to learn to live with a great deal of uncertainty, I am hearing more people talk about taking up new forms of exercise or meditation, or those who are dusting off their former hobbies, or new ones they are now finally exploring or discovering. I am certainly in this category and I am a little embarrassed to admit that the teacher and introvert in me was sort of giddy at first.
A few months ago, after listening to some podcasts, I got curious to learn more about the Tarot. When I used to think of tarot I imagined the gypsy woman in a tent with crystal ball, laying out cards on a table and while dramatically telling people their futures to take their money. I never thought of the tarot as something helpful, or particularly enlightened, nor had I ever considered its extensive history. I could even say it reminded me of the old toy eight-ball fortuneteller I had as a kid. But I’ve known about the connection between Astrology and the Tarot for a while, I had simply never rolled up my sleeves and gotten down into it. I knew I was getting overdue for a primer.
Perhaps I was intuitively guided, because several weeks before this whole virus thing even got started I made a stop at Body, Mind, Soul Bookstore in Houston on my way home from an event on President’s Day in February. BMS is one of the better metaphysical bookstores in Houston with beautiful crystals in a nicely arranged, trendy shop. It is fun to explore and meander, so my daughter and I dropped in to do a little browsing. While I was there, I purchased a Rider-Waitte Tarot deck. When we were finished, we sat down to lunch at the taco joint next door, which by the way had amazing shrimp tacos, and I opened up the deck and unfolded the tiny instruction booklet. I was shocked to see how many cards the deck contained and really had no clue what to do with it. I realized, perhaps a little daunted, that this would be a bit of a research project. I put the cards back in the little, yellow metal box. I finished my shrimp taco and lemonade and drove home. My normal daily responsibilities and routines resumed. The deck of cards sat untouched on the shelf for a couple of weeks, though I knew one day I might be able to delve more into it. “Perhaps, in the summer,” I thought to myself. I didn’t worry about it. But then it just so happened my research project would not have to wait very long.
Fast forward two weeks into March. We discovered we would be at home from our schools and our jobs for quite an extended period of time for Coronavirus quarantine and the light bulb went off in me. “Well, now I have some extra time to read, study and learn the Tarot!”
I decided to approach this study by making myself a handmade reference book with my own hand-drawn images of the Major Arcana deck to incorporate another hobby that has sat neglected, drawing with colored pencil. It had been about two years since I had really used my colored pencils. I got excited as I sat down with a beautiful, turquoise journal book that I had been saving. The cover of it had a botanical imprint and it had a bamboo spine.
Someone who knows I love to write gave it to me as a gift. I really decided to relish this whole process as artistically as I could and steep myself in the symbols and the study.
It turns out that what intrigues me the most about the tarot is the symbols, and that is what I love about astrology also. I love astrology for all of its clean mathematical relationships, the wonders of astronomy, and precision of the planetary cycles. But the symbols themselves contain the essence of their wisdom in picture form. The tarot combines that same mathematical quality with the power of symbols and the archetypes of story. Now as I reflect on my research project of studying the tarot, it is rather like, “Where have you been all my life?”
So this is the start of something new, like taking French lessons or learning to cook Indian food and perhaps in my next segment about this I will give a little book report on the tarot. I hope that you are faring well in the quarantine, and perhaps if are reading this, you too have unearthed some special hobbies or lessons for yourself in the hidden curriculum of quarantine.