Counseling and the Tarot
The Internal Conflicts of the TAROT
The Tarot cards have gone through a renaissance in the past 30 years due to a plethora of new graphic decks that have mostly gained their inspiration from the Rider Waite deck which popular culture has iconised.
When the Golden Dawn began to expunge the traditional meanings of the ancient matrix they opened a Pandora’s Box of symbolism to the world, and authors such as Waite and Crowley became the champions of the Tarot, drawing, for the first time, images that gave visual explanations of the minor keys, or the traditional playing cards.
Racheal Pollack then wrote The Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom which was added to the already substantial lexicon of Tarot theory and was the beginning of a rush to present the Tarot in modern ways that could shine a light on the process of “individuation” famously expounded by Carl Jung. In this process Jung and various other social scientists posited the notion of internal conflicts that play themselves out through the interaction of archetypes previously imagined by Sigmund Freud as the ID the EGO and the SUPEREGO. There have been many attempts to describe these internal paradoxes of behaviour and the human psyche since, including varieties of Cognitive Therapy and other humanist counselling methods.
The Tarot is unique in its capacity to symbolise these processes and we are starting to see a new renaissance of therapy that distinguishes itself by the use of metrical systems such as the Tarot that not only consider the mechanical view of human psychology rather passé but reductive and limited in its healing capacity. Much more importantly, the Tarot is a healing tool that can be used creatively and emotionally to create real physical and mental healing.
This article will set out the type of internal struggles that is common to all life, and consciously developed in the human being, that the Tarot depicts so powerfully and completely in its ancient symbols. By unwrapping the genome humans have stepped into the very essence of who we are and how nature created us through patterns such as the DNA and the RNA, and the tarot has for centuries been the symbolic form that the human imagination used to depict its journey and essence in this world. Counselors and health professionals are now warming to the idea that spiritual health and emotional health go hand in hand with physical and mental health and are turning to descriptions of the human model that go deeply into those aspects so common to ancient cultures but that have been neglected in our heady, scientific age. Terms such as intuition and sensuality that have been crossed out of the healing paradigms for an age are now on the return, and in looking for ways to describe the therapies necessary in determining good health outcomes for suffering people, the health community is returning to matrices like the Tarot to provide a reference point for objective understanding of how things like intuition and sensuality, emotions and spirituality work as internal conflicts within us all.
We begin at the beginning, or more appropriately, before the beginning, at the moment before consciousness arises because the Tarot depicts the internal conflicts created by the act of self-consciousness.