By Christiana Gaudet
One of my favorite tasks as a tarot instructor is to play matchmaker between tarot students and tarot decks. It takes a particular skill to match the right deck with the right student. There are so many decks available, it’s always possible to get a good fit.
I like to have a variety of decks in use during class. Comparing decks encourages students to interact with each other, and with the cards. When we can see an assortment of decks in class we are able to learn from the different images and traditions. We find the common ground that becomes the essence of our understanding of each card.
Seeing a new tarot student respond to a great new deck is like watching a new love affair in progress. Even advanced students sometimes need a nudge to try a new deck once in a while; it helps them fall in love with tarot all over again.
One of the best new-student-tarot-deck matches I ever made was Reya and Kat Black’s Golden Tarot.
I didn’t know Reya before her diagnosis. By the time she started coming to monthly Tarot Circle meetings she had been a cancer survivor for ten years. Surgeries and treatments had not been successful; there was nothing more medical science could do. Even then, she was beautiful, and so full of life it was hard to remember she was dying.
I didn’t know she was sick when I first met her. I pointed her toward Golden Tarot because of its grace and clarity. Reya seemed like a person who honored history but wouldn’t be patient with non-illustrated pips or nebulous card interpretations. Reya clearly cared about aesthetics; she had been a professional dancer. Golden Tarot offered her clear illustrations, an easy-to-understand book and classically beautiful historic art.
Each month Reya would come to Tarot Circle with her Golden Tarot. Like the rest of us, she talked about her dreams for the future.
Within three years of the day I met her, and after more than a month in hospice, Reya crossed over.
I went to visit Reya’s mother a few weeks later. There, in the living room, proudly on the coffee table, was Reya’s Golden Tarot. I had known that Reya had loved her deck, and that she had found comfort with it. I hadn’t known the rest of the story.
Reya’s mother asked me to sit on the couch. She sat next to me, and held the Golden Tarot box in her lap. “Reya loved these cards,” she said. “When Reya was away she would call me every day and pull a card while we were on the phone. She would describe the image and read from the book. Then we would discuss it. It gave us a way to talk about the hard things, and to feel connected with each other.”
Reya’s mom continued. “When Reya was in hospice we continued to pull a card each time I visited. The cards helped Reya accept her situation; to understand that she was exactly where she needed to be, and that everything was unfolding as it should. The cards helped me understand that, too.”
She wiped away a tear. “Now that Reya is in heaven I still pull a card a day. That keeps me connected to her. I believe she speaks to me through the cards. Every day, we connect with each other, using these cards.”
In the time Reya and her mother worked with tarot, I don’t think they ever did anything more complex than a one-card pull. Golden Tarot’s box lends itself to simply removing the cover and pulling a card.
The Golden Tarot images were perfect for Reya and her mom; a reminder that even in the harshest times, beauty is everywhere.
People sometimes fear dire predictions from tarot. The benign Death card rushes us to reassure our clients it’s not the harbinger of doom it seems to be. By contrast, Reya and her mom used tarot as a way to endure a grim situation. They used Golden Tarot as a guide for Reya’s journey to the other side, and as a way to keep a connection between the worlds.
Visit Christiana Gaudet’s website for more of her writing.