I've been aware for some years that the Centre for Psychological Astrology in London, UK runs Tarot weekends, and I finally attended one 10 days ago. I'd had an interest in doing Tarot for years. I particularly remember about 13 years ago, as Pluto was dismembering my youthful, wilful self, picking up a pack of cards and being hit by the power in them - or the power it awoke in me.
But I'd always been put off by the fact that I'd have to get to know the meanings of 78 different cards. Astrology is no less complicated, and that took me years to learn, because since I was 18 I haven't done book-learning well at all. I was good at book-learning at school, but then something switched off in me, as if to say, "We're not letting you learn in that one-sided way anymore." I have a 3rd House (Education) Saturn (Achievement, obstacles), conjunct Moon (Emotional Needs) at the end of the 2nd, and Neptune (Dissolution)was coming up to hit these in 1976 when I got switched off. I scraped through my degree in Mathematics, and I remember the one time I did try some serious revision feeling awful and dreaming about a glowing head. There was something in me that was not impressed by the cultural norms around academic achievement, and was taking me somewhere else - under protest! But it is only now, 30 years later, as Pluto (Transformation of old issues) is finishing conjoining that Moon-Saturn, that I'm starting to feel free to fully use my mind again. In particular, I have always loved reading novels - I'm just finishing George Eliot's Middlemarch for the 3rd time - but it has been a stop-start thing for years due to the residual consumerist, achievement-orientated attitude in me. But it all seems to be finally sorting!
INTERLUDE ON THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM
So my history in this regard makes me very sensitive to the sort of pressures they are putting schoolkids under nowadays. In the UK there is this endless testing from a very young age. And what it can do is to stunt children's natural desire to learn. And that's apart from leading them to feel that what's most important in life is getting a degree and having a successful career. Which is bollocks. In the UK they are getting more and more kids to go to university, and it seems insane to me. Unless you have a genuine interest in the subject, or there is some sort of vocational training involved - e.g. to become a doctor, what's the point of it? We're not usually ready to know what we have a genuine and deep interest in, that merits 3 years of full-time study, when we are 18 or 19. And as far as a degree improving your employment prospects goes, unfortunately it does improve those prospects, but in reality the degree will not have proved you any more capable or intelligent than you were when you left school. All it does is amass loads of unnecessary debt. Far better to attend university when you're older and you know what you're interested in. And even regarding the vocational training e.g. to become a doctor, I think those things are often learnt much better 'on the hoof', through an apprenticeship where you're actually using, or seeing used, what you're learning. A lot of this relates to the Sun-Square Saturn theme in my blog of 2nd Oct.
So I learnt astrology slowly - through talking to astrologers, through attending the odd seminar, through looking at charts and by living through my own transits - beginning with the square from Pluto to my natal Sun in 1992/3, which floored me and heralded the beginning of the end of my life as a Buddhist.
So last week I attended this Tarot seminar run my Liz Greene and Juliet Sharman-Burke. I brought some Calcite with me, a stone which is supposed to help you study. And I took notes for every card, and since I've got back I've done 3 readings and they've gone really well, even though I have to keep referring to my notes.
There was I, in my blog of 4th Oct, protesting about people feeling qualified to do stuff after a few short courses, and here's me doing Tarot readings after just one weekend! But at least I know I'm a hypocrite.
More seriously, Astrology and the Tarot have a lot in common, in that both involve attempting to connect symbols with the actual life of a person. So if you have experience as an astrologer, the Tarot is quite straightforward. And I frequently use astrology in a divinatory way, in that I usually draw up a chart for the moment a 'client' walks through the door, or rings me for a phone reading. And that works very well, it often gets me to the central issues they've come with very quickly - too quickly even, before the person has had a chance to work out whether they trust me enough to talk about their innermost dilemmas!
I've known the astrology charts of the people I've done Tarot for so far, and it has been a fascinating overlap, with each discipline enriching the other. For example, one person kept having a difficult time with women, and looking at his chart, which has Moon square to Pluto, and the womens' charts, which all have either Moon square Pluto or Sun Opposite Pluto, it becme clear that the issue was him giving his power to women, and attracting the sort who wanted his power - vampires. I then did him a Tarot, and the 'crossing' card, the card that shows where the difficulties lie, was the Lovers! In Liz Greene's Mythic Tarot (the pack I'm using and which, like astrology, is rooted in Greek Myth) the Lovers depicts Paris having to choose who of Athena, Hera or Aphrodite is the fairest. Being a young man, he chooses Aphrodite, because she promises him the most beautiful woman in the world as a wife. So Paris here stands for the naive judgment that a young man will almost inevitably make. In the context of the reading, it was saying that the person needed to wise up about women (some of them, at any rate!) and see the real nature of the mutual attraction. So it made a really good complement to the astrology reading.