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Tarot for Life: Reading the Cards for Everyday Guidance and Growth

Tarot for Life: Reading the Cards for Everyday Guidance and Growth

by Paul Quinn

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Paul Quinn transforms the Tarot from fortune-telling into the ultimate self-help tool for intuitive guidance, empowerment, and well-being. Discover how to apply the Tarot, as a lifelong resource, to access inner wisdom and gain deeper insights and practical, inspired guidance in relationships, career, family, and personal growth. With illustrations from the Universal


Paul Quinn transforms the Tarot from fortune-telling into the ultimate self-help tool for intuitive guidance, empowerment, and well-being. Discover how to apply the Tarot, as a lifelong resource, to access inner wisdom and gain deeper insights and practical, inspired guidance in relationships, career, family, and personal growth. With illustrations from the Universal Waite deck, the book offers 78 engaging casebook examples (one for each card) from Quinn’s readings for clients. Drawing on Jungian psychology, the Hindu chakras, and other esoteric traditions, he explains how the Tarot can reveal unconscious patterns and offer soul-directed advice leading to positive changes and greater well-being. Quinn also provides guidelines on reading the cards for oneself and others, interpreting reversed cards, handling difficult disclosures, and psychic self-care.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A masterful guide to better understanding your inner self and the challenges life brings on. No one better shows you how to use Tarot as it was designed to be used, for dialogue and conversation with your Higher Self. This book is a delightful way to grow to your fullest potential. I love it" --Sonia Choquette, Ph.D., author of Trust Your Vibes, The Psychic Pathway, Soul Lessons, and Soul Purpose

"Takes Tarot to a deeper level--not just for 'fortunetelling,' but as a tool for initiation on the higher planes. Paul Quinn has written a clear and concise handbook for understanding these important archetypes and their meaning in your life.
" --Anodea Judith, M.A., author of Wheels of Life, Eastern Body-Western Mind, The Illuminated Chakras, Waking the Global Heart

"Paul Quinn has seamlessly integrated the best of Tarot tradition with a new vision for the twenty-first century. While maintaining respect for the Tarot as a divinatory tool, he also demonstrates its estimable value for personal development and increasing consciousness of one's life path.
" --Dr. Kenneth James, Jung Institute of Chicago

"Paul Quinn's valuable book explores the universal spiritual power that lies not only in the ancient symbols of the Tarot, but in our own willingness to find the meaning and message of those symbols deep within ourselves. It is a useful and entertaining guide for every spiritual journey.
" --Reverend Ed Townley, Unity Minister

"Thought-provoking and beautifully descriptive. I love your witty and urbane writer's voice. You are an extremely efficient and visual writer, warm, nurturing and a fantastic guide for the reader. Your sense of humor is a wonderful teaching tool. I thoroughly enjoyed your book." --Gayle Seminara-Mandel, owner of Transitions Bookplace

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Tarot for Life

Reading the Cards for Everyday Guidance and Growth

By Paul Quinn

Theosophical Publishing House

Copyright © 2009 Paul Quinn
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8356-3009-2


Tarot beyond Fortune-Telling

Why stay we on the earth unless to grow? —Robert Browning

If a national poll were conducted about attitudes toward the Tarot, I could predict the outcome. The majority of people would view it as frivolous—an amusing diversion at carnivals and costume parties. Coming at a close second would be those who see it as a scam luring the flaky and gullible. A slightly smaller number would shiver at the mention, having seen the cards demonized in horror movies or heard them denounced from church pulpits. A handful would express admiration for the Tarot as a fortune-telling tool, and at least one smart aleck would quip, "Turow? He's my favorite author!"

But the Tarot that I know—and can't wait to tell you about—is virtually unknown to the public, unknown even to those who have had their "fortunes told." The Tarot I want to share with you is a treasure box, within which you have the pleasure to discover:

• a lifelong key to unlock your Inner Wisdom

• a catalyst for your creativity and inspiration

• a flashcards for your intuitive development

• a set of visual affirmations

• a meditation focuser

• a decision-making aid

• a dream interpreter

• a perspective enhancer

• an emotional compass

• a metaphysics teacher

• a spiritual advisor

• a tool for self-understanding

Go even deeper into the Tarot and you'll find a philosophy—one founded on ancient-turned-modern ideas of spiritual evolution. For those on a conscious path of self-realization, this is the Tarot that gives rise to a deeper conversation with the voices of Self and Universe, that enhances the potential for psychological as well as cosmic insights, and that offers a timeless template for transformation.

I should mention that not every Tarot deck illustrates this intent, nor tries to. The Hello Kitty Tarot, to no one's surprise, is among many novelty decks absent metaphysical heft. And there are many Tarot decks in my own collection that are beautiful to look at yet short on ideas. But as originally published by Rider in Great Britain, the deck featured in this book has remained the best-selling Tarot in the world for good reason: It's a cryptogram. Arthur Edward Waite and artist/coconspirator Pamela Coleman Smith embedded their iteration of the Tarot with symbols designed to draw us out of the drama and into the recognition that we are spiritual players on a worldly stage. Our task is to choose how we will play our parts.

Six Principles Underlying the Tarot

Natural Law includes paradox, which Logical Law cannot. —Ram Dass

Below, I've outlined six key metaphysical concepts at the heart of the esoteric Tarot. Could you skip this next section and start reading about the cards? Yes, but many of the card descriptions refer back to these core concepts, and you'd feel horribly left out. Could you interpret the cards without understanding their metaphysical dimensions? You could take a shot at it, but your interpretations would only scrape the surface, and you'd bore yourself to death. The Tarot is an intuitive tool with an intellectual foundation. Like the Magician and High Priestess, one complements the other, completing the package.

The first three concepts—As Above, So Below; the Law of Attraction; and Synchronicity—are part of the Law of Correspondence, which holds that all of life is interconnected. The last three tenets—the Self and Individuation, Integration of Opposites, and Masculine and Feminine—relate to the structure of the psyche and to challenges for personal growth. Together, the six principles sum up the transformative ideas at the heart of the Tarot. Throughout the book you'll discover the many subtle and brilliant ways these concepts are encoded in the card images—and are at work in you.

1. As Above, So Below. The terms above and below signify metaphysical, not physical directions. They point to the presence of the Divine (above) in each of us (below) and to the spirit of the Divine everywhere in matter. This concept is most vividly symbolized in the upward- and downward-pointing hands of the Tarot's Magician. In Western and Eastern mysticism, there is no separation between the Creator and creation; no notion of inherent unworthiness or spiritual limitation. The divine Intelligence is as much a part of us as we are of it. The call to claim our spiritual wholeness, thus linking above and below, is symbolized in the journey of the Tarot's Major Arcana (cards 0–21). Above and below also correlate with the relationship between mind and body—namely, the effect our thoughts have on the state of our physical health.

2. The Law of Attraction. Also known as As Within, So Without, the Law of Attraction says that everything we experience, all our life conditions and experiences, are created by our thoughts and the emotions stirred by them. Like attracts like. Every thought has its own particular vibrational frequency that pulls in people or situations which match that frequency. Unfortunately, most of us are not conscious of the thoughts we're projecting, let alone the power of those thoughts to manifest tangibly in our experience. But the Tarot offers a tool for noticing where we're placing our attention in any area of our lives and therefore what we're pulling toward us. Where attention goes, energy ?ows.

3. Synchronicity. The term was coined by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, who de?ned it as the "meaningful coincidences" that so often leave us marveling at life's uncanny timing and choreography. For events to be synchronistic they must be randomly occurring, such as the haphazard "throwing" of Tarot cards that somehow wind up coinciding with the particulars of our question in that moment. Like wondering what ever happened to your third-grade math teacher and then bumping into him moments later at your hotel in Calcutta, synchronicities defy the odds and challenge causal explanations.

4. The Self and Individuation. Here are two more concepts Jung introduced. He described the Self as an archetype of one's core essence or wholeness (as opposed to the more ego-led, lower-case self). He called the unending process of getting to this core individuation. Only by individuating, Jung believed, do we have a truly honest, authentic relationship with ourselves and, by extension, with the world. Individuation involves the conscious integration of all strands of the psyche, including unconscious aspects that we have fearfully repressed and those that we have not yet had the pleasure to meet. Becoming the Self is a lifelong process we can never actually complete. Mindful Tarot exploration, however, can help bring more of who we are to the light of our conscious awareness.

5. Integration of Opposites. There's a hero and a hellion in each of us, and each has a role in our development. To recognize and integrate these and other contradictory parts of ourselves is the major task of individuation. Left on their own, our inner opposites "stand off" against each other. They create psychic tension that usually ends with one of the aspects vilified or banished to the unconscious, resulting in the creation of what Jung called the shadow. But evolving toward the Self involves a synthesis of light and dark, conscious and unconscious, inner and outer. In bringing our dualities together, we in essence resolve them, awakening the greater power and potentialities of the Self. The interplay of the opposites is depicted in every card of the Major Arcana.

6. Masculine and Feminine. Although the concepts of masculine and feminine belong to the integration of opposites, they deserve their own delineation. It is tempting to correlate "masculine" and "feminine" to the attributes stereotypically associated with gender—men ruling the outer world of Doing, women the passive inner realm of Being. But in the mystical and Jungian traditions, gender is not in the genitals. The process of individuation, of becoming fully human, fully ourselves, leads us to integrate these so-called masculine and feminine aspects.

These terms may be limiting at best, misleading at worst, yet they provide a useful way to understand the dynamic polarities of being. In this way the Magician can represent a woman's "masculine" willpower, the High Priestess a man's "feminine" intuition.

In the dimension of spirit, there are no such distinctions. We simply are. The purpose of the Tarot path and of individuation is to become like the figure in the World card, the composite of masculine and feminine, fully integrated and empowered, at peace with all pairs of opposites.

Here are just a few examples of the dualities classically associated with the masculine and feminine principles explored in this book:

Masculine Feminine
Conscious Unconscious
Left brain Right brain
Right side Left side
Extravert Introvert
Knowledge Wisdom
Intellect Intuition

What Makes the Tarot Work?

May not such events raise the suggestion that they are not undesigned? —Daniel Webster

The principle most active when you do a Tarot reading is synchronicity. It's a big part of what makes working with the Tarot awe-inspiring and fun. When seemingly disconnected events converge in related ways, we rightly sense the workings of cosmic forces. Synchronicities, in whatever form they appear, have the power to evoke our humor, wonder, and humility, qualities nourishing to the soul.

My friend Pat will never forget a synchronistic moment that occurred shortly after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. "I was at home watching television," she recalls, "and at one point I just asked the universe, 'Will I be all right?' I really didn't know. I surrendered. And with that, on TV was a doctor telling this woman with breast cancer, 'You have clean margins; none of it went into your lymph nodes. You'll have the radiation, and you'll be fine.'

"I knew I had just gotten my answer," Pat concludes.

A week later, her oncologist gave her a prognosis identical to the one announced by the TV physician. She lives today free of cancer.

"Synchronicity" does not answer the question, "Who or what is determining where the cards fall?" But if we accept that ultimate reality is as above, so below and as within, so without, then trying to precisely pinpoint the source of the oracle's animating intelligence is as fruitless as the dog chasing its tail. Consciousness is beyond space and time, beyond "you and me." Tapping into the transpersonal dimension through the Tarot teaches us to relax in the absence of hard boundaries. When we set aside the need to control and let the cards fall as they may, we allow divine mystery to come into play, which may become, with attention, a divine message.

The Structure of the Tarot

Everything is only a metaphor; there is only poetry. —Norman O. Brown

The Tarot is a deck of seventy-eight cards composed of twenty-two cards known as the Major Arcana and ?fty-six called the Minor Arcana. The word arcana is derived from the Latin arcanum, meaning "secret" or "key". The name was given to the cards by the nineteenth-century occultist Paul Christian, for whom the Tarot represented the keys to the secrets of life.

The Major Arcana: Universal Costume Party

Whenever we recognize ourselves in a myth, it is empowering. —Jean Shinoda Bolen

The cards of the Major Arcana, also known as Trumps, are numbered 0 through 21 and bear titles such as the Fool, the Wheel of Fortune, and the Sun. The Major Arcana are universal archetypes—the familiar characters and themes of our shared existence that transcend race, culture, gender, and time.

Take the example of the Hermit. This archetype is expressed equally in a man living alone in a Mongolian forest, a scholar sequestered by studies in Milan, and a Manhattan teenager trying to discover herself in the jottings of her journal. Anyone on the planet—now or at any time in history—who has pondered life's meaning or simply felt alone has at such moments embodied the Hermit archetype. Each in its own way, the twenty-two archetypes of the Major Arcana call attention to the unifying threads and timeless challenges of our shared experience.

The Trumps depict distinct stages of self-realization, from the innocent adventuring of the Fool to the transcendent completion of the World. One way to visualize this process is by placing the Trumps into three rows of seven cards, called septenaries (see chart, Tarot Trumps Septenary, page 19). The Fool, personifying the essential wholeness of which all the other Trumps are but a part, traditionally ?oats above or throughout the other cards. Laid out this way, each row begins to suggest its own general theme. To these rows/themes I have respectively given the names The Essentials for the Journey, The Inward Path, and The Heat Is On.

Each card in the septenary can also be viewed in its relationship to the cards appearing directly above or below it. Exploring these vertical correspondences can yield further insights into how the Trumps come together as a philosophy. Keep in mind that your life, no matter how "spiritual," will not follow the neatly ordered progression of the Tarot Trumps. Awakening is a dynamic, lifelong process. In one moment you may know the euphoria associated with the World, and in the next find yourself emotionally unhinged in the Moon. You will acquire the archetypal experiences that the Trumps depict in your own way and in your own time.

In Rachel Pollack's model of the septenary, the Trumps "story" progresses in the traditional horizontal way as well as in a downwardly vertical fashion.

The Minor Arcana: Life in Snapshots

Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be. —Grandma Moses

The Minor Arcana are fifty-six cards divided into four suits, each of which represents the characteristic energies of one of the four classical elements—Fire, Water, Air, and Earth.

Wands/Fire—desire, vision, ambition, challenge
Cups/Water—feeling, merging, imagination, depth
Swords/Air—intellect, clarity, conflict, judgment
Pentacles/Earth—physicality, stability, security, money

Each suit is organized from Ace (1) through 10. The Aces are the most abstract cards in the deck, representing the pure elemental energies of their respective suits. Cards 2–10 depict people in various situations and relationships. In contrast with the soul-guidepost role of the Trumps, the Minor Arcana are traditionally viewed as dealing with the "lesser" themes of everyday life. And yet, where else do we find opportunities to grow in spirit if not in the day-to-day challenges and opportunities of family, work, and relationships?

Don't be fooled by the designation Minor. As you'll see in the many examples in this book, the Minor Arcana can reveal major insights. Just as a Major Arcana card can have a mundane meaning in a reading, the message of a Minor Arcana card can turn out to be the most provocative, illuminating, and healing.

The Court Cards: Sixteen Types and Temperaments

The Minor Arcana include sixteen Court cards. Although every card in the Tarot is capable of showing us aspects of ourselves, the Court cards articulate specific personality traits. They can depict attitudes expressed in the moment or more permanent ways of responding to life. They can even represent societal roles, from schoolchildren to CEOs. A Court card can represent the querent (the person for whom the reading is done), a person involved in the querent's situation, or the general atmosphere of the issue in question.

The Pages are the parts of us that, like the Fool, are curious, naive, open to experience, and willing to take risks in the spirit of self-discovery. Depicted as youths in the cards, the Pages can represent children, or the childlike passion for leaping into learning that keeps us young no matter our chronological age.

The Pages are the beginners, the apprentices, the unapologetic amateurs who accept the current limits of their skills and understanding, yet try their hand anyway. Whereas the Aces signal the potentialities of the respective suits, the Pages take the ?rst steps toward activating those potentialities.

As the courtly correspondents of the Chariot, the Knights embody the glory-bound warrior archetype. Knightly behavior is intense, given to swearing oaths and throwing down gauntlets. Where there's a cause, there's a Knight riding forth to champion it. Their common mission: to pursue, uphold, and defend the ideals of their suits.

We assume the role of the Knight when energized by tests and challenges, when fueled by opportunities to prove ourselves, and when ennobled by the call to serve, persuade, or rescue others. Whether taking out the trash or taking on the world, an unshakable sense of purpose beats within the brave breast of the Knight.

Unlike the fledgling Pages and questing Knights, the Queens are enlivened by a deep reverence for the qualities of their suits, having matured the most creative aspects of those qualities within themselves. They represent the soul of their particular elements, containing, preserving, and cherishing the related essences and gifts. This umbilical connection to essence enables the Queens to recognize the same in others and, like the Empress, nurture it in them.


Excerpted from Tarot for Life by Paul Quinn. Copyright © 2009 Paul Quinn. Excerpted by permission of Theosophical Publishing House.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Paul Quinn is an author, teacher, and intuitive coach who uses the Tarot as a tool to help others reconnect to their inner wisdom, potential, and well being.

Quinn picked up his first Tarot deck in 1998. The attraction was not only the cards, he says, but how the philosophy underlying the Tarot converged with spirituality, mysticism, metaphysics, psychology, and human potential. A 1999 workshop with Tarot thought-leaders and authors Mary Greer and Rachel Pollack gave him the confidence to pursue Tarot professionally. By 2004 he was listed by Chicago Magazine as a “top talent” for his Tarot skills. He provides Tarot readings for an international client base from his hometown of Chicago.

Quinn has been teaching the Tarot in the Chicago area since 2000. His courses attract a wide spectrum of students, from soccer moms to psychologists, and incorporate storytelling, meditation, movement, journaling, games, and other activities designed to bring the Tarot to life. “Paul doesn’t just teach the Tarot,” says internationally renowned psychic and author Sonia Choquette, “he teaches you to channel the Tarot.”

An engaging and inspiring speaker, Quinn presents interactive presentations on the Tarot, intuition, and spiritual living, including programs for the Swedenborg Library, Chicago Spiritual Advisory Council, Institute for Noetic Sciences, Transitions Bookplace, and Unity churches.

He has been interviewed about the Tarot on Chicago-area radio and television programs, on Australian and Canadian radio, and has written Tarot-related articles for print and online publications. An article he wrote in 2006 about Tarot in the movies was picked up by numerous media outlets.

Prior to his Tarot work, Quinn was an actor featured in television commercials including Ramada Inn, Time-Life Books, Montgomery Ward, Lowe’s, and ShopKo.

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