What I’ve learned

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Studying tarot and reading tarot are two completely different things.

I started my tarot journey by being interested in the symbolics of tarot: The art, the Jungian archetypes and personality types, numerology, astrology, Kabbalah.

Everything about tarot was a learning experience. I spent hours every day studying the cards. I knew their different meanings, what the numbers meant, what astrological sign affected them, what the flag or flower or arch meant.

And then I started reading for others. And I soon realized what was really important. It’s the link that happens between the client and the reader and the cards. It’s the exchange that is important.

As I am writing about the paintings that I’ve done of the tarot, I’m always torn between the “real”, multifaceted meaning of a card, and then its practical meaning in a tarot reading. Sometimes it’s the same thing, but usually, the practical meaning wins.

Yes, I think it’s very important to study the tarot and its wonderful deep meanings. I also think it’s important to read the cards, to have a relationship with them.

It’s the experience with the cards that makes a difference. From experience, you know what this card has meant in the past, and if it still holds true today. This is where reading tarot becomes an art form.

I’ve learned a lot by studying, but I’m learning just as much from the cards that show up for my clients, and my clients’ reaction to them. It’s a dialogue, always.

Being a good tarot reader means to be a good listener, a listener of the client, but also a listener of that voice inside you that knows what has to be said.

I am a good tarot reader.

Johanne

The Chariot

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The Chariot: Movement, moving forward, bringing opposites together.

The classic Chariot card shows a chariot with a man steering two horses, one white and one black. The chariot isn’t in movement yet. but it is ready to go.

This card for me means to make sure that everything is okay before you take the next step. To bring everything together. This card is governed by the Cancer sign, so there are emotions involved in the making of the plans.

I chose to paint the horse instead of the chariot, because the horse is the heart and soul. He’s the one that brings the Chariot into movement. The horse is patient, and yet full of vitality.

When the Chariot shows up, it’s a big yes. What you are working on is worthwhile. There is still details to look at, but the voyage will begin soon. You are the one holding the reins.

Johanne

The Lovers

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The Lovers: Love, partnership, choice.

This card is mostly about love. This is the card you want to see when you’re looking at questions of love. My clients are usually looking for this card. Who wouldn’t? Everybody loves love.

I’ve painted my lovers holding hands, but standing tall, separate from each other, not entwined. They are looking ahead, not at each other. Love is about finding someone you want to discover the world with.

I chose to paint my couple as a man and a woman, after a long hesitation. I could have also painted a man and a man, or a woman holding another woman’s hand. Being bisexual, I know how it’s frustrating to not feel include in the imagery. I went with the classic man and woman, but please know that all love is love. No matter the gender.

I have depicted my couple at the ocean, looking at the possibilities that the future has in store. The ocean also, because it takes courage to delve into a relationship. Darkness and all.

As I’ve stated, the Lovers can also mean a good partnership, not necessarily in a romantic way. It can show that things will be running smoothly, falling into place, good communication, fairness.

This card can also be about choice, as the classic tarot card shows a man having to choose between two women.

I love this card. It speaks to me of harmony and peace. I hope that this is what I’ve achieved in my painting.

Johanne

The Hierophant

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The Hierophant. Tradition. Higher knowledge.

This card usually depicts a priest, but I’ve painted him as a monk. It works better for me and my beliefs.

This card is about tradition. What you have learned in your formative years. Stability. Power.

The Hierophant is also known as the High Priest. He is the male counterpart of the High Priestess. While her knowledge is about hidden, unconscious things, he is about conventional, formal teaching.

When this card comes up, it says to stick with the tried and true course of action. This is not the time for unconventional thought.

I like the idea of a monk as the Hierophant. It symbolizes for me years of practice and also a calmness and inner confidence in what you know.

This card is also about higher learning, going back to school, getting a degree.

It’s also about a traditional link with the sacred. The Priest in the traditional version shows this link, as being the intermediary between us and God. Again, we can compare this with the High Priestess, who shows us that we are the only link we need to get in touch with the sacred.

What is the positive side to being accompanied by the Hierophant? He can help us on our journey to knowledge. Tradition can show us how it has worked in the past, and how it can work for us too.

How do you see the Hierophant?

Johanne

The Emperor

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Ah, The Emperor. The last card I painted in the Major Arcana. I have issues with him. It’s complicated.

I think the Emperor is a bossy pants. I have a problem with authority, so he always is a warning sign for me.

The Emperor is the Father figure. He is the king of his domain. He likes order and power.

When things are going well, he is a benevolent leader. He is supportive and cheers you on.

But he can also be kind of a power hungry asshole.

Sometimes he comes up to tell me that the client’s relationship is about power struggles. That one partner is perishing while the other is taking up too much room. He also comes up with clients that have issues with authority and/or their fathers.

When he comes up in the advice position, it means that it’s time to be firm and stand up for yourself. That it’s time to get things done.

When he comes up in the warning position, it means to be careful with your power, or to be on the lookout for how you are being treated.

The Emperor can be bossy, but I respect the fact that he knows what he wants and is not scared to do whatever needs to be done to get it.

How do you perceive the Emperor?

Johanne

Card 3: The Empress

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She started it all.

In 2010, I started learning about tarot because of the Jungian personality types and archetypes. I didn’t think of using them for divination. Then she showed up. Constantly. To represent myself. At that time my four kids were 2, 4, 8 and 10. And I was like dammit, these cards can read me. And I was hooked.

The Empress is the mother archetype. She’s the one that takes care of everything. She is mothering, empathic, but also a force to be reckoned with.

She expresses the creativeness of nature. This is why I painted her surrounded by nature.

When she shows up in a reading, she’s there to tell you to take care of yourself. To bring a coat with you because you never know it might get cold. She tells you to bring out your creative side, to go write, or paint, or produce something that has meaning to you.

There are a lot of ways to be a mother and create.

Johanne

Card 2: The High Priestess

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The High Priestess. Pretty much every tarot reader’s favourite card. With good reason!

She symbolizes the unconscious. One of my favourite things. The High Priestess knows all, sees all, and hides a lot of stuff. She knows how to keep a secret.

She’s mysterious and alluring. She holds the key to knowing yourself at a deeper level.

The Magician makes outward things happens, but the High Priestess is responsible for our inner growth.

Her dress turns into the ocean, to symbolize this depth of knowledge into our own unconscious.

How do we listen to her? By listening to our dreams, both when we’re awake and sleeping.

She is our inner voice, our intuition. By listening to her, we honour the fact that we are not mere rational humans, but that we have more depth than we can imagine.

When the High Priestess show up in a reading, it means that it’s time to listen to what we’re really saying, beneath that big loud rational voice. It means we need to peer into the depths and discover what wisdom the High Priestess has waiting for us.