I walked away. I got to a point where I was so sick of thinking about tarot that I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I had the privilege of being asked to speak at a conference about tarot history and I had the opportunity to present my ideas to one of my tarot heroes as well as the author of one of the first tarot books I ever read. It was a high point and at the time I felt that it was the fitting end to my tarot ‘career’. Where could I go from that I had wondered, why not just stop while I’m at such a high point? And so I did. I packed up a lot of my books and a significant part of my collection and I started to read about other things and do other things. This would have been all well and good except for the enormous gaping void I felt was now a part of my life. The sense that something was missing was overwhelming. It was like I had lost a part of myself. What was I supposed to do now? It’s wonderful when we find something we are so passionate about, learning is no effort, and you seem to almost inhale books and manage to remember vast amounts of information. So, when you walk away it feels quite painful. I wondered why I had dedicated so much time and effort to something that had effectively led to nothing. In retrospect I don’t feel so much like that now, I see how valuable it was for my personal growth alone, but at the time I felt like I’d wasted so much time and then just thrown it all away.
As you can see from the posts on this blog I did try and hold on to it here and there. I’d come back to the cards, have a play around, try and write something new. I tried different ways of looking at tarot, experimented with different systems, but it just didn’t hold my interest the way it used to. It had become an effort, rather than a joy. I was lost.
I can now see that a lot of the 12 years I spent learning about tarot was in part me seeking some meaning for my life. Tarot gave me the opportunity to learn about Astrology, mythology, Qabalah, neo-Platonism, most world religions, numerology and much more. I began to use tarot as a framework to build my own personal philosophy around, and that was the bit that was hard work. I could never make everything fit, I explored the Golden Dawn system, Etteilla’s system, intuitive tarot, pagan tarots, and mythology based decks and on and on it went. I could never find the perfect system to make it all fit. But I tried.
When I walked away from tarot it was like giving up part of what I believed about the world. I was so lost and so empty I began to see that tarot was a crutch for me in many ways. It allowed me to use my intellect but in some ways it prevented me from gaining real wisdom, too much thinking, not enough doing. The fact was, for someone so interested in tarot, my real interest was learning about tarot rather than using tarot. This of course is fine but as I was in a position of teaching others to read the cards it started to feel a touch inauthentic. Another reason to walk away.
It’s now almost two years since I let go of my passion for tarot. I’ve had a few brief encounters along the way but otherwise I’ve been doing other stuff. A home renovation was a perfect distraction as it consumed me for about six months. Does the gaping void feel any smaller? Not really. I haven’t found a new passion and I sometimes wonder if I ever will. I did however, just the other day, have a realisation about the meaning of life. Quite by accident, less than a week later, I found myself with a deck of cards before me. How lovely it was to pick them up and shuffle again. I was amazed at just how familiar it seemed. It was in many ways comforting to know that all that I had done and learnt in that twelve years had stayed with me. The break away has given me a new insight as I’ve been able to take a step back and see the bigger picture. I also feel a lot less pressure knowing I don’t need to use the cards to ‘work out’ the meaning of life, or to be a framework for my beliefs. I’ve sorted that out separately. Now the cards can be for pure joy, no pressure, just going with the flow and seeing where the journey takes me. I’d love to think that I can somehow bring tarot back into my life. I so loved teaching others about these fascinating cards, and contributing to the tarot community. I felt inspired enough to write this blog entry despite my absence of nearly six months. I can’t imagine what will happen from here or how or if I’ll integrate tarot back into my life. I guess time will tell.
When I first began typing this post I drew the Moon card from my favourite deck, The Ancient Italian. In many ways this is perfectly fitting. I'd like to hope that the Moon peeking out from behind the clouds is some kind of sign that I can somehow 'see the light' again. Perhpas the lobster on the plate is a sign that much of the work is done. There are ships sailing on the horizon. Flowers are in bloom. Maybe a good thing? Maybe an illusion? Maybe I've connected with tarot again? Maybe not? Maybe I'll fill that empty space at last? Maybe I'll keep wandering, aimlessly searching for something new? Maybe? Maybe!
You can read more about the wonderful Ancient Italian deck here.