How A Deck of Cards Can Acquaint You With Your Truest Self

Whats in this story

I am a wild Thing.

A wild, witchy Thing, at that.

One that sings songs to the universe. One that feels as deeply as the oceans and dreams all the way up to the constellations I’ve committed to memory. I’m a Thing that connects to the world around us in an inexplicable, sometimes silly and childishly spiritual way. I like to believe we are all made of the same things. Stardust and energy and light and dark. And not just us, but everything. The trees and the animals and the paper we scrawl our thoughts on. The wine we drink and the food we eat. I believe that there is a path we are each meant to follow. One that was pre-designed (by fate or the moon or heaven knows what.)  One for you and one for me. And that those paths will lead us to the places where every inch of our secret souls will be fulfilled.

But I also believe that the path that was drawn for us is not always the one we walk down. That we can be led astray by any number of traumas or fears or outside influences. That in order to stay on our personal path we must follow a compass that is dictated completely and entirely by a truth only our heart knows.

But we have been conditioned by society to silence the heart. To think rationally, first and foremost. We have been made to believe that the heart is untrustworthy. That following its every whim will lead to our ruin. But what if the exact opposite is true?

I have recently created a deep bond with a deck of Tarot cards.

I heard that eye roll. But look…

I do not believe that a deck of cards is a fortune teller or a governor of fate. But I do believe that it’s made up of energy. And that things made of energy are inherently capable of also picking up and reading energy. More than that, I have come to find that as part of the human condition, an individual can make almost anything applicable to themselves. There are 78 cards in the Tarot. Each representing archetypes, situations and emotions that are intrinsic to all of us as human beings. When presented to us, it’s only natural that we identify with them and apply them to our respective circumstances.

So when you have your cards read (or read your own) it’s not about letting a deck determine your destiny. It’s about giving your subconscious something to work with. The way I see it, the cards are meant to lure out the buried truth and give us a new way of looking at something we were incapable of assessing with impartiality. To put it simply (and less magically), it’s looking at the cards that are dealt (with or without fate’s guidance, depending on what you believe) and letting your intuition interpret how your situation connects to them.  It’s about recognizing that the conclusions you draw from a reading are the truths you’ve always known but have been too close to see.

Most recently, I’ve been a little too close to the issue of where in the world I would like to live next. As I’m quite certain will eternally be the case, Florence, Italy is calling my name yet again. While a part of me knows I am ready for a new corner of the world, another part is constantly whispering that Florence is the first and only place that has ever felt like home. 

Since I was last there, I have certainly changed, and as it perpetually does, Florence has too. So on my quest for answers, I’ve planned a trip to my favorite city at the end of this month. One that I’m  hoping will provide me with clarity about where it is I need to be.

Out of eagerness and anticipation, I decided to consult the cards about my upcoming adventure…

I took them out of the bag they live in. Indigo, raw silk — hand embroidered with moons and stars and sweet little bells that chime at the slightest movement. The restorative scent of burned sage filled the space around me as the cards slid into my hands. I let them drop carefully from my left hand into my right, shuffling them as I asked the same question over and over in my mind.

“What do I need to know about going back to Florence?”

I felt the familiar ping in the pit of my stomach, insisting it was time for me to stop. I placed the deck down, cut it three times and dealt a simple, four card, clarity spread. It looked something like this:

The top card in a clarity spread is the most powerful and represents the overall situation. The three that lie beneath it are the biggest contributing factors, present only to flesh out the narrative and give you a more well rounded idea of what you’re dealing with.

At the helm of my spread, the Lion sits distinguishably on his throne. The card is Strength.  And not the obvious, devouring kind of strength you associate with the King of the Jungle, but a deeper kind. One that is rooted in patience, focus, compassion and self control. The Strength card is an archetype representing the mastery of emotions. And it’s presence in my spread was telling me that  in order to make the right decision about my next step, I have to use my time in Florence to harness that mastery for myself. Every bit of courage I need to make my next big decision is already there in my heart, I just have to mind it.

The first card in my trio of contributing factors is the Ten of Swords. Representing betrayal, melodrama, and bitter endings, it’s a notoriously unwelcome card. But pulling a Ten of Swords is not all bad, you see. Not if you treat it as a warning instead of a looming threat. It became instantly clear to me that the Ten of Swords was there to advise me. To encourage me to avoid anything in Florence that may be shaded with toxicity or ugliness. That engaging in it, or even acknowledging it, would be an act of self sabotage and could only incite turmoil when I am seeking everything but. And because the cards are for my interpretation only, I chose to celebrate that where there are endings (bitter or not) there are also beautiful beginnings.

My second card is the much adored Two of Cups. It is the face of harmonious connection, love and romance. When a Two of cups appears in your reading it signifies an impending relationship that is based in creativity and passion as well as support and mutual respect. I failed to mention before that I’ve been doubly excited about the trip to Florence because a boy who has recently become part of my present has agreed to fly to Italy and join me as I step briefly back into my past. And the Two of Cups was all I needed to remind me to remain open and ready for something that very well could be the real deal.

The last card in my spread is a difficult one to face in any reading. The Ten of Wands, made evident by its tangled and chaotic illustration, represents mental burdens, blockages and depression. It lets you know that for some reason or another, you are not getting through to what you want. And if it appears in response to a situation, you’d do best to recognize it’s time to let go and walk away, even if that’s the harder road to take. The Ten of Wands was there to comfort  me and say that if I need to let go of Florence for a little while to move on with my life, it might break my heart a little, but it also might be just what I need.

One of the most enchanting things about the Tarot is that you could get the exact same spread and assign a totally different meaning to it based on your own situation and desires. More than anything, it’s a guide to lead you down the path of intuition. It’s the ultimate tool for self-reflection because your instinctive reaction to the cards tells you everything you need to know. What you want to avoid. What you hope for. What you’re already cognizant of but have been too scared to say out loud. Contrary to popular belief, the tarot doesn’t have to be considered magic in the supernatural sense of the word to do its job. But as far as I’m concerned, anything that helps you listen a little closer to your heart holds a powerful kind of magic, indeed.