Guest Blog by Cheri Gaudet
I am a Catholic tarot reader. At first glance, this might seem like an oxymoron. Everyone knows Church doctrine condemns divination. How do I reconcile that with my personal tarot practice?
This is a serious question that has implications for both Christians and tarot readers, who in my experience typically do not think of themselves as having anything in common. At their worst, such thoughts can result in
painful animosity and alienation among families and friends. The question of how to reconcile "church" and "tarot" is not just about me, but I will attempt to answer from my limited perspective.
First, how do I reconcile tarot with Catholicism in particular? I love my Church, but Church doctrine is supposed to be rooted in Scripture, so right away, I know that if I have questions about doctrine, I can search for clarification in the Bible. Unfortunately, the Bible is also riddled with condemnations of divination, so it might seem impossible to reconcile tarot with Christianity in general.
For all its emphasis on personal relationship with God, religious orthodoxy seems to have confused people into following a 5 of Pentacles path: a cold, crippled walk just outside the perimeter of Divine Light and Love, which is guarded by door-less church walls. But if we would just raise our eyes, we could see how easy it would be to break the window with our crutches and let the Light shine down on us…perhaps even gain enough strength to hop in. This is what I dare to do as a Catholic tarot reader.
Although I consider myself Catholic, I totally reject all fear-based doctrine (e.g., Satan, the traditional concepts of sin and hell, etc.) that stands between God and me. I accept instead the freedom to decide for myself whether tarot is “from God” – that is, the God I know, which is nothing but pure Love. With this freedom, I explored alternative views, finding that others have intelligently pointed out the ways in which many Christian denominations have selective attention when it comes to what the Bible says about divination. But rather than repeat their points, I'd like to focus on how I personally believe I am following the example of Christ by using tarot for personal divine revelation.
First, let's consider the proper role of "church" when it comes to divination, or divine revelation. ("Divination," to my mind, is just a mash-up of the words "divine revelation.") Church as an institution is useful because it shows a paved path to the Divine. We do not have to struggle to unfold the mysteries of the universe as our predecessors did, because church, like the Hierophant/Pope, unfolds them for us, having codified the mysteries into doctrine over the centuries. Church holds a body of spiritual knowledge that it passes down to its members. As I've written on my blog, people rely on church for guidance on broad universal principles, such as the greatest commandments and the Golden Rule. But even one of the most orthodox churches of all, my beloved Catholic Church, permits its members to rely on their individual consciences when it comes to certain matters. Codes and doctrine can't help us discern our individual life purpose, for example, or help us understand what it is about a work situation that is making us so unhappy. What a person needs in these instances is to take a cue from the Ace of Cups and seek guidance from God Source directly.
In keeping with its characteristic abundance, the universe is rich with tools for personal divine revelation: prayer, meditation, runes and yes, tarot. Divination tools work the same way as any other tool – they facilitate – they help us get the job done. Since in divination, we seek "divine revelation," we know that tarot facilitates divine revelation in the very instances where church seems to fail us, but is actually providing us with an opportunity to experience on a micro level what "church" has collectively experienced at the macro level: the utter joy of receiving God Source's messages straight from the Divine Heart to ours. Church shows us the way: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”
For Christians, Christ is the ultimate way-shower. Obviously, Christ didn't have access to tarot, but he did use another divination tool: prayer. By his use of prayer, Christ showed us how to exercise independence in relationship. Christ was a Jew who was notoriously knowledgeable and in love with Jewish Scripture – but the ways in which he interpreted Scripture were guided by his direct connection with the Father. Christ spent hours each day in deep prayer seeking guidance directly from the Father, even though he was the Father, who supposedly inspired all of Jewish Scripture! Ostensibly, Christ would have all of Jewish Scripture and the depths of its meanings at his fingertips, but he still sought personal divine revelation. How much more do we need to do so?
Christ’s role as a way-shower is also evident if we draw a parallel between him and the Ace of Cups. As I said earlier, even orthodox churches encourage their followers to follow an Ace of Cups path (perhaps not in so many words!) by seeking guidance from God Source directly in certain matters. Christ, to me, is the embodiment of the Ace of Cups energy: the dove of peace (the Holy Spirit), the bread of life, the overflowing wellspring of spiritual renewal, offered to us by the very hand of God.
Practicing tarot as a Christian allows me to follow the example of Christ and exercise independence in relationship. We can be in relationship with church by seeking its counsel on broad spiritual principles. We can exercise appropriate independence from church by using tarot to facilitate personal revelation directly from God Source.
This is exactly how I use tarot as a Catholic Christian. From this perspective, "Christian tarot" is less an oxymoron than a beautiful paradox.
© December 2010 Cheri Gaudet