Each of us has a shadow that darkens our inner and outer lives. In Tarot for Troubled Times, Shaheen Miro and Theresa Reed show us how working with the shadow—facing it directly, leaning into it rather than away—releases power that can free ourselves from negative mental habits and destructive emotions to find healing ourselves and others. Tarot, as the authors show, offers a rich and subtle path for this profound transformation.
Through this book, you will discover a different approach to tarot, life, and self-empowerment.
- Befriend our shadow by working with the archetypes of the Major Arcana
- Discover—through affirmations, tarot prescriptions, and other healing modalities—how to empower ourselves and find our true voices
- Take our newly found powers and speak out so that we can become a helpful ally for the light and begin to do your greater work in the world
Tarot for Troubled Times is not just another book on how to read the tarot—the authors provide specialty readings and suggested practices for issues such as grief, addiction, depression, fear, anger, divorce, illness, abuse, and oppression, and provide practical suggestions for stepping up as an ally or leader so that you can shape social policies. With a selection of mindful, introspective tarot spreads, you’ll learn how the Tarot can help you rewrite your healing story and change your life, and help transform the world.
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About the Author
Theresa Reed, also known as “The Tarot Lady” has been featured on over 50 blogs, websites, podcasts and magazines. She is the host of Tarot Bytes, on www.tarotlady.com, a popular podcast with short, bite-sized tarot lessons. Theresa is a certified yoga instructor and author of The Tarot Coloring Book.
Read an Excerpt
What's in Your Knapsack?
If you were about to spend a week deep in the wilderness, you probably wouldn't attempt it without the correct supplies, right? You'd want to bring a knapsack filled with all the essentials: a compass, knife, tent, dry clothes, canteen, and foodstuffs. These tools would help you survive if you were to encounter treacherous weather or wild animals.
Without these necessities, your adventure might take a dark turn.
You'd be a Fool.
But what about when you're dealing with the big, wild world closer to home? How do you cope when all you see in the media is doom and gloom? Do you suck it up and stuff your feelings behind a closed door that no one can reach? Or do you choose to numb yourself through drugs, alcohol, sex, or endless hours in front of the television? If these are the ways you are choosing to operate when turmoil strikes, you may be depleting your emotional gas tank and running on empty.
At some point, if you stay on this course, you're going to bottom out. You need the right tools to remain grounded, healthy, and happy no matter what is going on out there ... or in your own life. Remember that ultimately what is happening inside you is what will dictate how you cope, manage, or take a stand in the world.
When you draw from your knapsack, or inner reserve, you fortify yourself against the rough terrain of the great wilderness of life. And you don't just survive ... you thrive.
Maybe you've spent your whole life feeling like you're fighting an uphill battle, being met with continuous challenges, roads to nowhere, and endless surprises. Many others have, too. But there is a different way of living and being in the world — a spiritual way, led by the wisdom of your inner compass.
If you look at Tarot's Fool, you might notice he has a small backpack that he carries on a wand. The wand symbolizes magic, and that knapsack is filled with his past experiences as well as the tools he needs to move about freely. He can leap into the world with total confidence because on some level, he knows that he has the proper utensils to make magic happen.
What about you? What's in your knapsack?
Is it full of magical implements and practices that uplift and sustain you?
Or is your knapsack empty?
What if you could be certain the necessary rituals and utensils were there for you whenever you need them? Imagine how your life would look. Instead of operating out of fear, you'd be living with total freedom. Better yet, you might be inspired to step up and lead with boldness, and that is what the world needs in troubled times: fearless leaders with the resources to guide and uplift us all.
But you can only do and be that if you have the appropriate tools.
We're not talking about hammers and nails. Instead, we're looking at the spiritually oriented stuff such as meditation, Tarot, magical rites, and affirmations.
These devotional tools have helped people for centuries have calm, meaningful lives, even when the world felt unsafe. Here's the truth: we've been living in troubled times since humankind first figured out how to start a fire. Wars, violence, and tragedies have plagued us since the very beginning, so troubled times are nothing new — but neither are the practices in this book.
We're going to show you ways to work with ancient spiritual traditions and tools so that you can be the best version of yourself ... no matter what is happening out there.
Instead of hobbling through life, your journey can look like something else: Golden light floods over your shoulders and fills you with a glow of freedom and certainty. Your steps are light and buoyant and ready for new terrain. Over your shoulder you carry a staff fixed with a small, red knapsack at one end. Bundled inside are the tools and implements you need to navigate any situation that might fall into your path.
Moving closer to the edge of uncertainty, your belly flutters with butterflies of anticipation. Great adventures have a funny way of filling us with wonder and trepidation — essential fuel to keep you moving.
Each step you take will hold the promise of possibility. Whether you stroll through peaceful meadows or find yourself negotiating rough, rocky terrain, with a bit of planning and commitment you'll be ready to meet whatever lies ahead. You might even blaze a few trails.
Before you cross the threshold into the wild stretches of unknown land, consider what you might bring to make your journey easier. Gather your awareness and sink your feet into the present moment. A successful adventure starts with intentional planning and preparation.
Finding your present coordinates gives you enough awareness to take your first steps confidently. So start by noticing where you are. What is the present state of your life? What are you missing? What do you have in abundance? Are you prepared for change?
The first thing to pack in your knapsack is a compass. You want to have a keen sense of direction, especially when you wander into uncharted territory. That compass is the difference between orienting yourself or being lost in space.
Each one of us is gifted with an internal navigation system as a means for traversing all the ups and downs of life. Deep inside of you is an unshakable knowing, your deeper wisdom, your truest voice, your intuition. This guiding force has always been there, waiting for you to trust, look, and listen.
Every step of the way holds a new challenge, a new possibility, and a chance to grow. Sometimes you will be met with challenges that you cannot change. You might be on a path with no other way but forward. Even if you cannot alter your present circumstances, you can still change your reaction to it. By using your internal compass and arming yourself with the proper tools, you'll find your way and thrive!
You can start by changing how you look at the world. If you're viewing the land before you with fear, you'll be sure to find fearsome things. Rather than meet this adventure with resistance, open yourself up. Be brave, curious, and willing to observe everything around you just as it is.
Close your eyes and take a deep breath down into your belly. Let it out slowly. Continue filling your body with deep, luscious breaths, exhaling each one slowly. When you start to feel settled, scan your body from head to toe. Notice any physical sensations. What is your body telling you? Listen to the sounds around you. What do you notice? As you continue breathing in and out, observe any thoughts that arise in your mind. Where does your brain go? Are you thinking about a random task, fretting over a problem, or do you feel anchored in the present moment? Open your eyes and look around you. What catches your eye? How does it make you feel? Are you rooted in the now or somewhere else?
Take a few more deep, conscious breaths. Orient yourself so that you face north. Even if you're not sure where it is, let your body find north. Once you are in position, plant your feet firmly on the ground, drawing energy up from the earth into your legs. Feel yourself becoming grounded, present, and fully in the world.
You're here — right where you are supposed to be. Know that, no matter where you are standing or what is happening in your world or the world, you can make a difference. You can be a formidable force for good.
Before you can throw yourself fully into that role, you must know the terrain and your abilities, and fill your knapsack with all the essential spiritual tools. This starts by going through the darkness and facing the shadows you find there! And that is just what we will do together.
One of the most important tools you'll need on this journey is a journal. A journal is a place to record your thoughts, feelings, readings, rituals, and experiences. Like a trusted friend, your journal will help you unpack issues, clear your emotions, harness your creativity, contemplate your life lessons, and understand yourself. A journal will give you support as you navigate the often treacherous terrain of the world you live in.
Journaling brings clarity and mindfulness, which set the foundation for healing, growth, and change. As you take time to record your life, you can begin to unravel the knots and liberate yourself from the bondage of limiting beliefs, old stories, pain, grief, and anger. As you make peace with those parts of yourself, you begin to develop compassion, the first step necessary for changing the world.
Your journal doesn't need to be fancy — even a plain notebook will do. Find one that you like and then begin.
* * *
Before we go any further, take some time to journal around these prompts. Write whatever comes to mind. Let your feelings flow! Remain curious and open. Do not censor yourself. See what comes up for you. When you feel done, put it aside and review it a few weeks later — especially after you've worked through the other exercises in this book.
Where do you feel stuck, blocked, or in pain?
Where do you feel good, whole, blessed, and in the flow?
If you could change any of this, what would that be?
What might that look like?
When have you felt afraid to speak up?
How do you hold yourself back?
In what ways do you lift other people up?
When have you contributed to oppression, either knowingly or unknowingly?
When have you felt oppressed? What was that like?
What does the word power mean to you?
When you think of inclusivity, what does that look like in your life? How might you create a more inclusive, welcoming world for people of color or other marginalized folks?
Take your time with this. Do not judge yourself. Hold space for it. Take deep breaths.
Now ... get ready to face your shadow and find the light.CHAPTER 2
Shadow Dancing: Get Out of Limbo and Into Your Magic
Moment to moment, we find ways to be completely present, but as a whole, it becomes easy to slip into anxiety and depression ... pondering the pain of the past or losing ourselves in the possibilities of the future. What's interesting is figuring out how to show up in all of our dripping, magical glory at the disco happening right here, right now!
That means dancing to every song and feeling every light burning as the mirror ball turns, finding the rhythm in the song ... doing the dance, until the dance does you.
What are we talking about?
We are talking about being in the present moment with whatever is before us, around us, and, most importantly, within us. This includes all our dreams, desires, fears, and screwups. You cannot heal the pain or create the dream if you cannot be in the moment with every part of yourself as it is. And you cannot connect with the full message of Tarot unless you can look at all of you with clear eyes.
Changing your perspective is essential to becoming coherent and congruent with all your parts. If you're hitting the wall, losing your rhythm, or finding yourself in despair, then you've forgotten how big, magical, and vibrant you really are.
It's easy to give in to the small, paper-doll version of yourself — that icky part of you that believes you are only what you see in the mirror.
The truth is that's only one aspect of yourself ... your shadow!
What Is the Shadow?
Everyone has a subtle darkness that wraps around them like a soft, velvet cloak. This is your shadow, the part of you that is dark, rich, and fertile. It is the place where we lock our fears and insecurities, our monsters and demons. The shadow is that space within and around you where you feel abandoned, lost, and confused. It is that space where you feel completely out of control, poked and prodded by chaos and fear.
The dark is really the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega. The dark is the womb of creation, the tomb of destruction, and the cave of regeneration. You fall into the dark when you are stepping out of your box. You are pushed in the dark when you are growing beyond your personal limitations.
Deep inside every one of our psyches is this dark, murky spot. This is a place where we'd rather not tread. Instead, we prefer to shut the door, ignore it, and put our attention to love and light or whatever other pleasantries we'd rather present as ourselves.
Psychologist Carl Jung called this "the shadow," the part of ourselves that we don't like to face so we tend to avoid or hide it in some way. On the outside, we look fine, but on the inside, we're consumed by thoughts such as fear, jealousy, anger, perfectionism, or worse. We bury the ugly parts of ourselves, when in reality the shadow longs to be acknowledged.
If we focus only on the surface or the stuff that feels comfortable, our healing journey can go only so far. We must first confront those fears, emotions, weaknesses, and inner conflicts within ourselves if we wish to experience deep healing. We must come face-to-face with the shadow, that part of ourselves that is deeply wounded.
Disconnected from your empowering energy, the shadow grows stronger and thrives on your pain. Rather than interacting with life, you react. Reactionary living is acidic, corrosive, and destructive. That is not to say we can live without reaction. It is a human response and serves to keep us alert and alive. But we can learn to interact with the world by befriending experience — and still remaining safe.
By listening to your shadow, you discover that there is a whole other side of you: the bigger, brighter, and more luminous self hidden right there in the dark.
We are in troubled times that mark a pivotal shift in all our lives. It's a time of getting closer to our inner truth. Spirit has been calling you into action, asking you to lean in and go for a ride. Bravery and curiosity allow the road to rise up and meet you — filled with avenues of blessing and hurdles of learning. But, all in all, this road leads to fluid living.
In your intimate moments of inner voyage, you can hear your spirit whisper: Are you ready to be empowered?
Self-empowerment is beautiful concept. Finding an inner well of truth that can forever nourish you on the ride of life, through the good and bad, empowerment is your wild sister reminding you of your innate strengths and talents. She shows you how to hold space rather than dominate. You can be a force for good in the world when you stand in the circle of your personal empowerment. Stop trying to explain yourself or bring people over to your side. You have nothing to prove to anyone else. Just be you.
In a material world bent on power, we have confused personal strength with domination over our perceived opponents. This attempt to segregate, control, and draw lines in the sand has bred so much fear. But there is another way of being. Relinquish the need to dominate what is outside of you and learn to ride the tide of your personal power from within.
The real battle is the internal struggle. The state of your life is a holographic creation of the deeply held perspective within your consciousness. Before you start grappling with feelings of guilt and shame, stop! You are not responsible for all the painful things you've been through or are going through, but you can choose to receive these experiences. You have choice!
Do you accept the beauty and the pain with open arms of perfect love and perfect trust?
If you can take in the messy parts, just as much as you can embrace the awesome, then you can begin to create magic in your life. You can lay the shadow to rest, feeding the hungry ghosts of your pain and accepting the gifts of your fear. Become present with the feelings and desires that well up within you. Let the experience move you, inspire you, and transform you, rather than control you.
When we feel contempt for an experience, we cut ourselves off from the opportunity to grow, thrive, and become aligned. So often we forgo the messages coded within our pain. Pain is a reminder to pay attention. It is a deep call from your spirit to return to wellness. We all know what this looks like — it appears as a loss of vitality, strength, confidence, and commitment.
It doesn't sound fun, does it? But we all do it ... all the time. Numbing out might seem easy at first, but the shadow grows longer and wider until it becomes a pervasive darkness.
When something has you plugged in to pain, instead of ignoring or disregarding it, approach it with openness. Be willing to find out the why. Opposition will only create deeper fragmentation. You're leeching away your power every time you step out of the present moment where the hurt and the beauty live.
Your shadow holds your pain and your fear. Fear is a sign you are in the cycle of change. You know you are undergoing some interstellar transformation when you acknowledge your pain and face your fear.
Each moment, and in each experience, you encounter a central question. It delves into what you will accept, how you will feel, what you choose to think. It explores your needs, desires, and who you are or are becoming. It looks directly at where you are wounded. And this most profound question is what empowers you?
Each moment offers you a choice about how you will act, interact, or react. Each experience asks the question. This is so profound and so healing. Most people are looking for permission to be, think, feel, and live. Whom do you think you need permission from? Remind yourself that this permission comes from within.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Tarot for Troubled Times"
Copyright © 2019 Shaheen Miro and Theresa Reed.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
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.
Table of Contents
Part 1 The Fool: A Focus on the Personal
Chapter 1 What's in Your Knapsack? 5
Chapter 2 Shadow Dancing 10
Chapter 3 Going Within 28
Part 2 The Tarot: A Mirror on the Self
Chapter 4 Introducing the Archetypes 79
Chapter 5 It's Elemental 140
Chapter 6 Healing with Tarot 150
Chapter 7 Believe in Magic 182
Part 3 The World: A Focus on the Collective
Chapter 8 What's Going On? 205
Chapter 9 The Body Political 232
Chapter 10 Socially Conscious 247