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Tarot and the Wise Woman
Wise women for thousands of years have been assisting people in their families and communities through a variety of divination methods, as well as through their gifts of healing and magic. Drawing upon their innate and acute connection to natural rhythms and their keen receptivity to the sacred, they have shared their deep intuitive wisdom to guide others in the human quest for happiness and fulfillment. The lineage of these wise women continues in our own time and culture, with women who carry on these uniquely ancestral traditions, caring for the people of their communities.
For many, it is the comprehension of the Divine, or Sacred, Feminine that leads them on and powers their ability to prophesy and counsel. Goddess traditions are ancient, and the Goddess is an inherent element in much divination work today, including the art of tarot reading.
If we follow the history of the tarot back to its known origins, we find ourselves in the Middle Ages, in an area of Europe immersed in Christian fervor and suspicion. We do not find the Goddess in the language of the tarot then; rather, we discover distinctly Christian elements and icons. We find a Popess and Pope, an Empress and Emperor, and a Devil with horns and cloven hooves. These were all appropriate and adequate images for the time, and today they can effectively symbolize very real archetypes, when their meanings are understood correctly.
But if we look for the origin of the power behind tarot work as an intuitive art, in the lives of today's wise women, what do we find? Where are we led? We are led within, through a spiraling history of womankind, and there meet simple village and country women, persecuted witches, and powerful priestesses. We see the bright spark of the Divine Feminine, gifting us with sight, knowledge, and understanding. We stand within Her, feeling ourselves as one, and from this source, we intuit.
Intuitive insight has been likened to the womb of the feminine, the Great Mother. It is a process of receptivity; an opening awareness to what is otherwise unseen or unclear. This largely feminine process empowers us. Through this process, some people receive psychic vision; others use tools of divination to seek the answers waiting to arise.
As an intuitive tool thus connecting us to the Divine Feminine, the tarot is superb. It is a collection of seventy-eight symbolic images, representing archetypes, spiritual concepts, and aspects of daily life recognizable to the subconscious mind of every human being. Each card has the power to speak to us, and the underlying message of each card is made clearer by our ability to intuit, or be receptive.
When we are truly receptive or open, we conduct tarot work that is transforming and healing. This fluid interaction between ourselves, the cards, and the energy of the Divine Feminine raises our awareness. Though there are many approaches to tarot, including the humorous, fun, and light-hearted, we do need to take this work seriously. We can assist the people in our communities just as our foremothers did, through this unique and potent work. Tarot work that is inspired and fueled by a connection to Goddess energy is in essence open, wise, compassionate, and whole. Answers are motivated by the human need for expansion and growth, and therefore, readings can be truly holistic and have the potential to be highly significant to each individual. In this light, the cards really do go beyond their origins, and we can recognize that each one reflects a spark of the Divine.
It is often recommended that a short prayer, meditation, or ritual be performed before reading the tarot. People of myriad faiths use the tarot in their personal, spiritual practice. Many readers pray to God before picking up their cards, others to the Goddess, in Her many names. Some readers acknowledge a higher source without naming it, and still others simply sit in silence for a while. To call the energy of the Goddess into a tarot reading, any personal wish for Her presence is acceptable, as long as it effectively brings us within to that place where She resides. We can touch the Divine Feminine, and can pull forth a powerful source of healing, sharing real truth and clarity with those we are reading for.
Originally published in The Beltane Papers
All writing and photography © N Levine - Illumination Tarot, unless otherwise noted. 1999-2019