Sunday, September 26, 2010

Embodying the Cards

Next Sunday, the Third of October, will be my next magical chat at The Triple Goddess in Okemos. We will be focusing on court cards, so some of the reading techniques I will demonstrate include, “The Royal Court in Residence,” “Knight’s Quest” (i.e. “Pentacle Quest”), and the Medieval Castle version of the Dollhouse Oracle. Because I have only one castle, I’ll have to demonstrate for one person at a time. However, while you are waiting, everybody is free to look on and contribute their own insights, or just amuse themselves by browsing around the Triple Goddess. It is especially fun to use the various King Arthur themed tarot decks for doing readings with the castle.

Because of my interest in medical anthropology, I am currently reading the book, “Healing Dramas: Divination and Magic in Modern Puerto Rico,” by Raquel Romberg, and I’ve been thinking about how some of her observations can be utilized in the divination and magic that we do. Romberg did her field work among a number of individuals who practiced an eclectic mix of Espiritismo (Spiritism), Santeria (which draws from African religions), and brujeria (folk magic); they call upon saints, orishas (African deities), and other types of spirit guides for divination, trabajos (magic working), and healing.

Among other things, Romberg explores issues around body memory and embodiment as they apply to ritual and spirituality. The Puerto Rican healers believe that aspects of your self presentation, such as the types and colors of clothes you wear, as well as other expressions of your personal style tend not only to reflect your own personality, but those of your “protecciones,” your guardian spirits. I interpret that as meaning that we tend to have an intuitive sense of alignment with those protecciones, and that’s why we favor certain looks. However, you can get out of sync with the spirit powers that “rule your head,” as when you try to dress in conformity with the customs of some social group or institution. If you feel that you’re not in harmony with your spiritual forces, consider whether your manner of dress is the best expression of who you are. Colors are especially emphasized in the African derived systems, and seem to be common knowledge and a regular topic of conversation in countries where Santeria, Candomble, Umbanda, Voudon, and similar systems have a larger cultural influence. (I’ve encountered this in other authors’ works, too.) Also, when you want to align yourself with certain orishas or spirit powers to gain specific benefits, you can surround yourself with their colors and other symbolism. There is a lot more to the concept of embodiment than I can get into here, but people who relate to different spirit powers will find those qualities and personalities also being expressed through their body language, physical bearing, tone of voice, reflex reactions, and other somatic signatures.

A number of tarot practitioners will also try to attune to the qualities of a card’s archetype, mostly through choice of color, (though this will vary with different decks), but also through movement and other physical expressions. This can be done as a way of getting to know more about a card’s meanings, but it is also something you can do when you have done a reading for advice, and a certain card personality comes up in relation to a potential course of action. (My book Tarot: Your Everyday Guide is all about advice readings.)

Astrologers also suggest the use of color and other modes of personal expression for aligning with planets. A good source is Barbara Schermer’s “Astrology Alive: Experiential Astrology, Astrodrama, and the Healing Arts,” where she suggests role playing activities, including how to “walk” with the bearing of different planetary types.

While we are working with the court cards next Sunday—or whenever a court card comes up for you—it will be interesting to consider whether those cards’ personalities have been revealing themselves in your physical presentation. Also, if you haven’t read my article “The Hats We Wear in Tarot,” (see my Articles links), the different sorts of headgear featured in the cards’ illustrations adds another level of interpretation that is quite revealing.

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