What 2017’s Tarot Challenges Taught Me
It’s been a busy year, as you might have noticed by the lack of posting activity around here… Still, I was able to participate in several different monthly tarot challenges as hosted by Tarot Rebels, and found that working with the cards in the monthly tarot challenge format not only got me working with decks that were new-to-me, but helped break the mould on some of my self-enforced tarot habits.
The challenges ranged from lighthearted to intense shadow work. I was unable to participate in them all while the group was working on them, but since there is no set time limit for working with the challenges, I can pick them up at any time! This means we can repeat the challenges to gain further insight as our life circumstances evolve.
Tarot Rebels hosted the following challenges, as created by various members of the group:
Tarot Rebels Challenge – an exercise in lateral thinking to stretch your understanding of any given deck
Tarot Pathways Challenge – working with the major arcana and lunar cycle
Shadow Work in 13 Parts – get to know yourself thru shadow work based on the zodiac’s 13 houses
Fairy Tale Challenge – find a new twist on old stories by reading for characters from various fairy tales
Archetypes Shadow & Light – understand yourself better by working with the tarot’s archetypes
Challenges are a great way to get to know a deck, and are fully suitable for beginners – you will find a supportive, educational, and welcoming group when you participate in them. Tarot challenges are all about self-discovery and having fun, so jump on in to the above listed challenged whenever you get the opportunity, and no matter your level of tarot expertise!
The Daily Draw
I must confess here and now that I don’t work with the tarot daily, and have never gotten into the daily draw as a way of learning the tarot. Participating in the challenges forced me to push that boundary, in that there is a question for every day that the challenge is being worked thru. Did I find it challenging to break out the cards and look to them for an answer every single day for a month at a time? Hellz yeah I did! That’s part of the challenge, for me at least. While I am still not a fan of the daily draw, I am a fan of the results that come from consistent practice and the discipline it takes to attend to something daily. Participating in the challenges helped me make some breakthroughs with some of my lesser used decks.
The Single Card
I realize that I’m coming off as a total curmudgeon here, but along with daily draws, I’m also not a fan of single card reads. I usually work with a minimum of three cards, but seeing how these challenges are often lighthearted or concise enough to work with a single card, I found myself breaking away from that habit, and encapsulating my read all on one card. The single card draw may not be a style of reading that I’ll be employing on the regular, but it was a good exercise in really nailing what that one card could mean in terms of the question it was being applied to.
The Shadow Card
I’ve been aware of the practice of using the shadow card (the card on the bottom of the deck after you’ve drawn all your cards for the read) as a general overview or additional advice card for years, but I rarely ever use it in my own practice. Since I had chosen to work using a single card on these daily draws, I started checking in with the shadow card after I had done my initial read to check whether I was on the right track. It was amazing how the shadow card supported my first hit with that first card I had drawn, and actually completed the picture further. Shadow cards have since found greater application in my tarot practice.
The New-To-Me Decks
Last but not least, participating in these challenges encouraged me to break out decks that aren’t part of my regular routine. Since we’re already breaking the mould on our tarot habits and the sorts of questions we’d usually ask the cards, it makes sense to explore a new deck at the same time. With Pagan Otherworlds Tarot, I found a fantastic bridge towards reading with lesser-illustrated pips. Those pips that were once intimidating began speaking clearly to me thru the challenge. I’m not sure that experience would have been as enjoyable exploratory without applying the lateral thinking demanded by the challenge of doing a daily draw using a single card, with the shadow cards as back-up when i felt the need for confirmation of what I was seeing.
Challenges are a great asset to the tarot reader. Not only did I get to explore and connect to the tarot community at large, but they encouraged me to push against some soft boundaries I had created for myself, and take a new approach to my practice. Some of it has stuck, and some hasn’t, but that’s the beauty of it – it gave me ample opportunity to see what does or doesn’t work for me, and why.
Got a deck you’ve been wanting to learn? Check out one of the above posted tarot challenges and jump right in – I guarantee you’ll learn a new trick or two.