Review by Bonnie Cehovet
Tarot is all about healing – on all levels (mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual). There are many different ways that the Tarot can be used in this capacity. For author Kara Owl, it grew out of the search for a way to deal with the devastating effects of fibromyalgia. She got some relief from various healing touch therapies, but started wondering if using these therapies in conjunction with the Tarot might bring greater relief.
The gender references in this 169 page book alternate between “his/him”, and “hers/her”. This method was meant to equal out the genders, but for me, it was a slight irritation. I would have preferred to see “their” used throughout the book, rather than have the jumping back and forth. Just a personal preference – Owl’s scripting may work perfectly well for most people.
According to Owl, the Tarot can target specific problem areas, which allows the reader to work with their client in finding their individual path towards healing. Part of Owl’s journey was that in working with the Tarot for over twenty years, she felt that we really were not tapping into its full potential. She began creating her own deck, and in the process was drawn to certain cards, feeling that they had a message for her. She used meditation and guided journeying to find answers. From this, she began to seek the healing messages within each card.
Owl talks about how an individual will know if they are a healer. Myself, I feel that we all have a certain amount of healing ability, which will remain latent until we work to develop it. She notes that healers need to come from a point of compassion, and that they need to be discerning in dealing with their clients.
The first step on the journey to working with the Tarot as a healing tool is to purchase a deck. She recommends one that the individual is drawn to, and she recommends not allowing others to touch the deck, as their negative energies may “infest” it. Grounding before doing a reading is also discussed.
In “Healing and Ethics”, owl states that the first step in the process of walking others through healing is a :self-check”, to make sure that, as a reader/healer, each individual has healed in whatever energy needed to be healed in their body and spirit has been healed. She emphasizes that we should not attempt to heal another person before we have healed ourselves.
In this type of reading (healing), each suit is seen as a road map for where hidden issue lay. The Major Arcana are seen as carrying more weight than the Minor Arcana, and, if they appear in a reading, they indicate a deep set problem. An abundance of Swords in a reading indicates that the problem originates in the mind. An abundance of Cups in a reading indicates that the problem is in the emotional realm. An abundance of Wands indicates that the issue is a passion, or a sexual imbalance. An abundance of Pentacles indicates that the issue is of a financial or physical origin.
Owl is consistent throughout the book in encouraging readers to connect their clients with whatever professional help they may need, whether it is a mental health professional, a physician … or whatever area they are looking to heal. She also advises that readers not attempt to help a client whose issues may be similar to something they are facing themselves. To this end, Owl recommend keeping a list of referral numbers handy for clients. This is an excellent idea … one that is encouraged in every type of reading venue that I know of.
There are several different methods suggested for getting to the heart of a client’s issues … through a Major Arcana reading, having a client pick one or two cards from the Major Arcana, a specific six card “problem” reading, or a body reading, where the cards are actually laid on the client’s body. With the latter method, it is noted that if the client appears to have body issues, that this method should not be used.
Owl notes that as a reader goes through the healing Tarot that they will need to deal with their own illness’s and emotional baggage. For the healing Tarot, the standard Tarot meaning are used as a foundation for healing work. Suggested are activities such as drawing the card that most appeals to you, and the card that least appeals to you.
The template that is used for presenting the cards is to present the traditional meaning, then move into specific categories: physical, mental, emotional, and reversed. From the book:
In general reading, the Hermit is the card of retreating in order to contemplate and find the answers within. It is a card of solitary thought, and represents going it alone so that you can find your inner answers. Unless, of course, it represents a person in the querent’s life. If that is the case, it is a wise older friend, therapist, or teacher. This person can help the querent illuminate the things that are bothering or blocking her. It has been my experience that it is more often the querent needing to retreat, but every so often it is a person helping the querent.
For physical healing, this card represents illumination. It often comes up when the querent needs to, or is going to, find answers to long-standing questions. This can be regarding an ailment she has been struggling with, a misdiagnosis, or simply finding a new procedure that can cure an old illness. Something is going to come to light in a good way.
For mental or emotional healing, this card represents a need for solitude. This can be something the querent is aware of and has been unable to indulge, or it can be something she was oblivious to and yet needs. For introverts, this will not be a shock. If the querent is an extrovert, the idea of being alone may be scary, or at the least uncomfortable. However, some solitude is necessary for thinking, for rumination, for contemplation, and for growth. Indeed, if there has been some kind of emotional or injury, the querent is well advised to retreat, regroup, lick her metaphorical wounds, and re-enter the world only after she’s come to terms with what happened.
For spiritual healing, the Hermit also requires contemplation. Inner contemplation and a spiritual journey are generally the needs here. The querent needs to do something on her own, something she’s wanted or needed to do represent their spiritual path. Whether this is something as simple as a retreat, or as complicated as a vision quest, she needs to take action. She will benefit greatly from it, but it will not be easy.
Reversed, this card indicates that the querent is isolating herself. She needs to allow others to help, or even ask for help. She is walking a solitary path, and it is not healthy for her right now. The Hermit is always about introspection, but in this case, the querent requires feedback on her thought process. A group therapy or support group would be helpful if she is dealing with some kind of pain. She may feel ashamed, and seeing that other people are dealing with the same pain as well can be good for her.
The Hermit is a powerful card, and using it in healing can be transformative. If the querent wishes to learn about herself, this card will teach her. Here, the Hermit is expressed completely, guiding the querent to healing in the way that the querent most needs.
The Minor Arcana are presented with upright and reversed meanings. From the book:
Three of Wands:
This card can be a warning against counting on things she doesn’t have, or it can mean that things are finally moving for the querent. In healing, this is the card of stasis. It means that whatever has been bothering the querent is gone, but is also a warning to the querent not to rest on her laurels. She may get sick again sooner than she thinks, and she should take good care of herself while she can.
Reversed, this card is indicative that no matter what she thinks, something is wrong. She needs to take care of herself and do what preventative care she can.
The Court cards are presented as situations/issues or people, with upright and reversed meanings. From the book:
Queen of Pentacles:
As a situation or message, the Queen shows the querent making something solid, such as developing a business, work situation, or exercise plan. If the Queen represents a person, represents a person, she is an earthy, practical person who enjoys working with her hands. She is pragmatic, popular, and expects and gives the best she can. In healing, the querent means that the querent needs to develop a solid plan and then give her best effort in following it. She must be stringent.
Reversed, this card indicates that something the querent isn’t doing is hurting her. Whether it’s following the diet her doctor set out for her, taking medications, or anything in between, she can’t keep taking this situation so lightly. She risks her life in doing so.
For each Major Arcana card, there is a short, specific meditation to aid in healing. For the Minor Arcana, Owl uses one general meditation with each card as a specific focus. Wands help with passion, Cups with emotions, Swords with ideas, and Pentacles with grounding, protection, and family issues.
At the end of the book, Owl addresses spreads for healing, the business of Tarot, and case studies.
For anyone who wants to work with the Tarot as a healing modality, this book presents some interesting possibilities. Each person who reads this book will take away what works for them.
© Bonnie Cehovet
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.