Exploring Life Goals Through the Tarot

By Melanie Harris
We all have visions of where we'd like to go in life, but most of us don't have a clue how to get there.  Be it a larger income, better health, closer relationships, or spiritual growth, without a solid plan that will lead us to success, our hopes are often crushed under the weight of repeated failure.  We dream, but fail to scheme.  We know what we want, but we don't take logical steps towards getting it.  What we need is intuitive, directed action, a firm idea of purpose and a flexible plan of how to achieve it.

We can't plan everything, of course, and even if we could, we wouldn't want to.  The dynamic, transformative, uncontrollable nature of life is beautiful.  Those unexpected twists and turns that fate designs into our paths are there to lead us in living our own personal story.  While we can't predict the details of the plot, we can choose the themes and the basic flow of our life's adventure.  

A few times a year, I like to explore my life goals through the Tarot.  The Swiss army knife of magic, the Tarot cards can guide us and help us in many ways.  They're not only useful in spellwork, for divination, for psychic training, and as talismans, but also as a tool for discovering and evaluating our deepest desires, revealing also those specific actions we can take that will keep us moving smoothly along our road to success.  Using the Tarot to take a look at the overall picture of your life allows you to see design flaws before they become difficult to mend.  The Tarot can help us decide where to go and how to get there, and can also alert us when we've taken a wrong turn.

There is a wide variety of techniques for using the Tarot to explore life goals.  Here are some of my favorite methods that experience has shown to be highly effective.  These simple exercises can improve your life, ensuring that your dreams are backed up by a practical plan for making them reality.

The card of ideal occupation:
Mix the cards freely into a loose pile as you fill your mind with the question, "What is my ideal occupation?"  Let your heart's energy flow into the cards.  Now choose the card that your fingertips seem most drawn to.  This card reveals a suitable and beneficial focus for your life's work.

You'll need to trust in your intuition and creativity in interpreting the cards, but the traditional meanings of a standard deck can be consulted as a general guide.  For instance, suppose you draw The Chariot.  As The Chariot represents movement or journeys, among other things, choosing this card as your card of ideal occupation could symbolize that a life involving lots of travel would be fulfilling and beneficial.  Now it's time for your creativity and intuition to come into play, brainstorming or meditating on the different shapes a life of wandering could take.  You could be a diplomat, or perhaps a travel guide writer.  You could be a musician and go on a world tour.  You could be a chauffer, or a sailor.  You could be an archeologist, or maybe an astronaut.  The card advises that travel would be a good focus, but it's up to you to decide which career along this path you would most like to pursue. 

As another example, drawing The Empress as the card of ideal occupation could signify that you would be an excellent mother, either literally or figuratively.  A person selecting this card would do well to consider an occupation involving nurturing, guiding, and caring for other people.

While the picture on the card you chose may offer specific suggestions, such as the seven of pentacles representing a profession in agriculture or winemaking, the card can also be interpretted more generally.  For instance, picking any card of the Major Arcana indicates that you will likely be a key player in your chosen field, a major contributor of ideas and an expert of your profession.  Minor Arcana cards can also be read in a broad sense.  When a Minor Arcana card is chosen, it can be read according to suit, pentacles symbolizing a career as a business professional or as a master of a trade such as blacksmithing or gardening, wands symbolizing a career of service, action, or creating change, cups representing jobs in the healing and creative arts, and swords signifying leadership and management.  

The Stairs to the Door:
This layout reveals the steps you can take to achieve your goals, and also offers a glimpse of the doorway to major opportunity.  Shuffle the cards while thinking, "What steps should I take?  Where does my best opportunity lie?"  Lay out the top seven cards in an ascending, staggered, staircase pattern, placing each consecutive card above and to the right of the one preceeding it.  The first six cards of the layout represent specific actions you should take in pursuing your goals, while the seventh, uppermost card shows a primary key to unlocking a bright future.

As an example, the first six cards might include the Three of Pentacles, a card that can represent a guild or an apprenticeship.  This could be taken to mean that furthering your training or joining a professional organization would greatly benefit your career.  Likewise, if the Ace of Wands is among your "stairs," it signifies that you must embrace a willingness to change in order to achieve your goals.
The topmost card is the "door," the unexpected route to great fortune.  Often, this card will represent a particular person that will help you on your way.  If the seventh card is the Queen of Cups, for instance, it hints that networking with a fair-haired, intuitive woman could lead to a fantastic opportunity.  In contrast, the seventh card might be one that instead represents a specific event or medium for achieving your ends.  For example, the Page of Wands could indicate that you should write a letter or otherwise send a message, whereas the Three of Cups might suggest that odds will come into your favor by attending a party or celebration of some sort.  
Look at the cards with a creative mind and an open heart, and your interpretations will be accurate.  The Tarot is a personal tool, and it speaks to each of us in a unique way customized to our own beliefs and our own understanding.

Delving into Desire:
Another useful technique reveals the true motivations behind our deepest, most heartfelt desires.  This knowledge can help us evaluate whether our goals are worthwhile or vain.  Simply envision what you think you want most of all, be it the gorgeous lover, wads of cash, or a feeling of satisfaction, and draw a card.  The card you pick shows the belief behind the dream, illuminating your true reason for pursuing that particular desire.  
You will find your motivations to be either valid or questionable, and you can keep or adapt your goals accordingly.  Drawing The Magician or The High Priestess, for instance, would tell you that you're striving to reach your full potential and that you're on the right track.  Alternately, picking the Six of Wands reveals that you're after acclaim, and that you might be putting too much stock into impressing others.  As another example, drawing The Sun card would show that you are rightfully motivated by a desire to provide a good life for your children, or by a wish to fulfill a childhood dream.
Interpretations are quite subjective, but just trust your instincts and follow your own advice.  You are divine, after all, and with the right knowledge and guidance, you can tell what's best for you and what motivations are just and meaningful.

Fishing for Details:
Suppose you already have a firm idea of what you'd like to achieve, and a fairly well-formed plan for getting there, but you still have questions.  Should you take the teaching job at the high school or the teaching job at the University?  Should you stick with running your own business, or accept employment with an established company?  These little details and decisions can really trip us up and delay us, but luckily, the Tarot can provide valuable guidance.  

One method is to mix the cards into a free-form heap and choose a few cards to represent each choice.  By interpreting the selected cards, the best path will become quite clear.  An alternative method of fishing for details is to pose specific questions to the cards and draw for the answer.  For instance, you might ask, "Should I move to another city?" and draw The Tower.  You would know then that relocating might be fraught with disaster.  Likewise, if you're asking, "Will this job be good for me?" and you draw the Ace of Pentacles, you can be confident that the work will at least be profitable.

Plan, or Be Planned:
By exploring goals through the Tarot, we get a fuller view of the big picture, and can better paint the masterpiece that is our life.  If we leave the design up to destiny, we may never do anything that we truly want to do.  Although we can never be certain of all the details, we can develop a rough sketch, a basic blueprint to follow that will build for ourselves an ideal existence.  So grab your Tarot deck and start scheming, and always remember to keep on dreaming.  With intuition, planning, and action, you can succeed in making your dearest wishes a reality.

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Tarot Reflections is published by the American Tarot Association - Copyright (C) 2008

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