I’ve always used Tarot cards as a counselling tool, because they uncover what we consciously repress because it is too hard to deal with. When trauma or stress is at the heart of the issue, our brains can round and round thinking the same thoughts. Thoughts such as “I am alone”, “Nobody loves me”, “I am abandoned” or “I will be lied to or betrayed” or “I will not get what I want” can create a tremendous anxiety. If it is about a relationship, anxiety can increase the intensity but reduce the intimacy! If you or your partner has anxious or avoidant attachment style, then you or they can completely sabotage a relationship before any real intimacy can develop. Fear of intimacy, betrayal, abandonment, rejection and loss can mean people avoid real emotional connection, but choose partners or act out in ways that lead to the most feared outcomes.
Why do we attract that which we fear the most? It all lies in the deep recesses of our mind, our amygdala, limbic brain, somatic memories of the body, where our deep trauma is stored. Repressed memories of sexual, emotional or physical abuse, bullying, force, sudden shock, grief, emotional abandonment or shame and humiliation and even our ancestral trauma, can unconsciously affect our present day experiences and relationships. Even if we don’t want to consciously experience trauma in our connections, our stored trauma and unconscious beliefs can attract a repetition of the trauma because of projection, transference and counter transference. So, how can Tarot help us?
Tarot can reveal the unconscious story in our minds and help us understand what is going on at a somatic level in our bodies.
Trauma response is a biological adaptation response to threat of survival. Since sexual intimacy centres in the body are next to safety and security centres, sexual intimacy can trigger our physiological trauma response, because of memories of childhood abuse that are still stored in the body.
1. Fight cards: 5 cards: 5 is the number that represents institutions and the authorities that govern our lives, such as governments, education and religion. The Heirophant represents authority figures and belief systems that are largely accepted by society. The ultimate card of forced conformity, the Heirophant is resonated by 5 of swords, 5 of pentacles, 5 of cups, 5 of wands. All the fives are about your world view versus somebody else’s and how they or you assert your world view. “My way or the high way”, “I am right” lead to win-lose and lose-lose outcomes. The energy is competitive, aggressive….and even traumatic. Because you or the other person may feel a host of trauma related emotions such as disappointment, grief, regret, separation. You may want them to change, they may want you to change. It may go round and round until, you or they get exhausted and run. 5 of cups indicates grieving over something you had no control over. It is okay to grieve for a while, but sooner or later you may need to pick up the two cups that still remain and accept the situation for what it is.
2. Flight cards: 7 cards cards represent the urge to be alone, to take off as it were from the source of the trouble and go towards something better. It can mean putting a stiff upper lip, not risking any vulnerability and going for something even when people aren’t feeling that great about it. 7 of wands is about taking a stand based on higher ground, even if it is a little embarassing to be that person. There may be an ethical principle involved. It is perhaps a more positive way to deal with the issue as compared to 7 of swords or 7 of cups. 7 of pentacles is a very practical way of figuring out if something or someone is worth it. 7 of swords and 7 of cups are both wishy washy cards that indicate cover ups, illusions and escaping of responsibility.
3. Freeze cards: Freeze cards are about giving up, surrendering and feeling defeated. People who have significant trauma in their lives and deep rooted abandonment experiences may get these cards very often in their spreads. Signified by the wheel of fortune, people in freeze response think that they have no control, that their luck will determine the outcome. They may prefer prayer over action. Cards such as 10 of swords show total and complete defeat and exhaustion. 10 of wands shows how overwhelmed they feel, and how they have barely any strength to face the ordeal of carrying all the load that life has put on them. Their mind may be going round and round and they may procrastinate a lot, because they just don’t know how to organize their tasks. 10 of cups on the other hand shows the perfectly fulfilling family. A person who gets this card often may have high emotional needs for connection and happy vibes. 10 of pentacles is all about feeling secure. It could be that our querant has a deep need for security and having enough security. As a reader you’d want to know the facts. If a person wants long term success and security with 10 of pentacles somewhere in the spread, but we also see 2 of pentacles then the relationship is not being built on a strong foundation or it is very early in the relationship and the querant may not fully trust the situation.
4. Trauma related Trust Issues: Longer term trauma or chronic trauma can result in trust issues. Cards that reveal how the querent is feeling unsure if they can trust someone, could be 2 of pentacles and 2 of swords. 2 of swords is about lack of emotional trust whereas 2 of pentacles shows lack of material or physical trust. 2 of cups signify mutual trust, whereas 2 of wands show equal power.
5. Trauma related Fawn response cards The fawn response is about a chronic pattern of people pleasing and there may be a clinging quality about that person and reliance on addictions to cope with deep seated chronic trauma. Cards that indicate that trauma is compensated by the fawn response are 9 of cups and The Devil. Also considered the addiction card, alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs may be helping the querent stay stuck in codependent patterns. The Devil card, indicates extreme need for stimulation and intensity, attempts to control and manipulate others through sex, drugs or emotional manipulation may also be indicated. The Devil can also indicate obsessions. Some tarot readers and writers indicate this card as a way to integrate the shadow aspects, which is a fancy way of saying, please look at the stuff you hide from people whose opinion you care about. Catch that lie? Okay, now you are ready to face the pain of that trauma that underlies that negative behavior.
Tarot Trauma Spread.
Position 1: The root of my trauma
Position 2: Crossing. This is what stops me from facing how vulnerable I feel.
Position 3 and Position 4. What or who is surrounding me and influencing how I heal this?
Position 5: How can I heal this? I suggest using your favourite oracle deck. I like the Quan Yin deck by Alana Fairchild, Moonology by Yasmin Borland. Other decks worth considering are “The Universe Has Your Back” and “Angel Therapy” by Doreen Virtue.
Position 6: Tarot advice card.
Position 7: Outcome card if you take the advice.
I suggest the following process :
1. Put some soft soothing music and meditate for 5 minutes. Light some incense, candles or use a room clearing spray and have soft light. It is important that you are in your body, and grounded before pulling cards.
2. Pull one card at a time. Reflect and journal for 2-4 minutes, before pulling the next card.
3. Lay the whole spread out. Notice the feeling in your heart and the sensations in your body as you gaze at the visual story of your trauma.
4. Practice a whole body relaxation.
5. When you do deep work, you may have dreams. You can talk about your experience among the holistic happiness community, where deeply reflective and empathic people can share their experience in a safe environment.
Much love dear soul, may you bloom with happiness and joy.