tarot

The Mirror, The Tool, The Gift of Tarot: The reason we study and practice

People often ask me how I got into tarot. Not a surprising ask as only 3 years ago I was metaphorically crushing it, one would say, as far as career and finances go. I was on a path of sorts, something palatable and easy and acceptable. I had a great stable job as a recruiter and a range of hobbies. From yoga, bootcamp and spinning to piano, voice and eventually improv plus the occasional Tinder or OK Cupid date, Happy Hour or warehouse party. I was always doing something. Always laughing or working or grinding or getting shit done.

I was also struggling with anxiety and depression that no volume of “fun" to fill the spaces could seem to get rid of. I exercised, I ate well, I was in therapy. I did all the things you’re supposed to do, but none of the help I was getting provided the relief I so desperately craved. This lead to many Saturday mornings laying in bed, staring out the window wondering what the point of it all was. Why even bother?

Then, one day as I laid on the floor, groaning behind the reception desk, a weekly occurrence for me then, the beautiful Whitney Diamond suggested I get a tarot reading with her friend, Bakara Wintner. “You will love her,” she said. Decidedly cynical, but desperate for anything to make me feel better (or at lease feel different), I said “sure… whatever” and booked an appointment.

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As she pulled cards and explained their meaning and how they translate to my own life experiences, I feel a pull and a connection to the imagery, to the symbolism, to the parallels of the collective. I felt I had a new sort of permission. Permission to trust myself. To believe myself. To reject the stories and rules that were provided to me without rhyme or reason. Permission to write the laws of my own life. My own code for navigating love and family and fulfillment and sex and friendship and ethics and ambition and work.

Soon thereafter, I reached out to Lindsay Mack and began a deep dive into the history, symbolism and meaning of tarot, my own intuition, and my Self. And now, I humbly offer you an opportunity to explore this beautiful tool in a collaborative environment of fiery, creative and curious individuals through the power of myths, folklore, popular culture and our own stories. The Fool, The Lover, Death, The Tower, these are all stepping stones in our universal journey, whether you're Harry Potter, Cinderella, Wonder Woman or Hercules, our cycles of healing and evolution all stop in the same places. I offer you a safe space to explore the cards and explore your Self over the next 12 weeks

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Sometimes I get a little heavy on the scholarly side of things and doubt the magic of the cards. I recognize the usefulness of the images, but forget that something deeper seems to always call forth the necessary symbols. The cards swiftly slap me in the face every time I fall into this trap. Last week, I sat down to check in with the full moon energy and sit in ritual. I shuffled. I cleansed. I meditated. I breathed. I sat tall and felt my deck in my hand, I asked my questions and expected my brain to start piecing archetypal imagery together to make up some sort of correlation which is what happens when I approach my deck from my left brain (Ravenclaw rising, what can I say). But from the first pull, confirmations and feelings and information flooded me without giving me a chance to “think” through it and I was in tears.

The mirror of tarot is no joke. A reader does not carry secret wisdom. The wisdom is inside us all. I don’t have the answers. I just listen to the possibilities and open myself to lessons and truths embedded in these 78 images with foundations in an ancient oral tradition and parallels in Jungian archetypes, the Chakras of Hinduism, the Tree of Life of Kaballah, and so many belief systems and philosophies that have all strived to answer questions of universal truth. Who are we? What are we here for? Why do we feel the things we do? What is this eternal longing? How do we cycle through these ego journeys more gracefully? How do we come to terms with our mortality?

A reading does not always feel as serious or deep as all that. Maybe you just want to pull a card for inspiration. Maybe you’re curious about how to approach a new person or opportunity. But deep below the surface, lives the seed of these bigger picture questions. And maybe sometimes words aren’t enough. Maybe articulating these feelings feels too limiting. That is why we have images and symbols to guide us. To inspire us. To hold a mirror to the shadows and the lights of inner selves. 

And so I invite you to dive in with me, to explore the tarot, and in turn, yourself.

Note: Email me with any questions about registering or for a payment plan.

On Receptivity: Or, YOU NEED TO RELAX OKAY

We need to learn how to receive. How to relax. How to let go. 

If you’re thinking, Alessandra, I know how to relax, I am so chill, I would like you to try this. The next time you are laying in bed, ready to go to sleep, can you pay attention to your body and notice how much you are actually gripping? Your shoulders, your hands, the corners of your eyes, your jaw, your feet. How many neurons are still firing? How much tension is left inside your muscle fibers as you attempt to ease into your pillow? How safe do you feel in your own bed? How much do you trust your mattress, the ground, the grass, the earth to support you?

Receiving is uncomfortable. Whether it's a compliment, a gift, a hug, a blessing, how often do we respond with, "oh no, I couldn't possibly" or "you should't have" or “no thanks, I got it”? How often do we feel unworthy of receiving?

It's totally bonkers, right? We've become so conditioned to fiercely value the independent and self-made. Those who don't need anyone but themselves. Those who grind themselves to the bone unassisted to get things done. That's the image we get, but how do we get through the quiet moments without a partner, a tribe, a community? Not to turn this into a critique of late capitalism (jk I'm always looking to critique late capitalism), but look at the ads and messages we constantly receive! Don’t sleep, eat or see your children. Just do, make, create. Hyper masculine,* Hyper sun. Hyper ha. Hyper yang. If we don’t supplement that with equal parts nurturing, feminine,* moon, tha, yin, we fall apart. We need both sides. We need the cycle, the compliments the whole.

What I mean is, unclench. What I mean is, let go. What I mean is do nothing, which is not as simple as it sounds. What I mean is find the worth in your Self. Separate from your looks. Separate from your achievements. Separate from the gold stars and trophies and promotions. Separate from your bank account, assets, titles, accolades. Separate from the parts we cling to for validation. 

There is a lot of trendy talk about “self-care.” This is definitely what I am advocating for, but there are specific distinctions I want to make. Self care is something you do for your Self. For your own body. Paying attention to the details of your being and what you need. Paying someone else to massage or manicure you is not self care. Massaging your own legs and discovering the grooves of your muscles is self care. However, allowing yourself to fully receive a massage from someone else is an act of receptivity. There are so many differentiations and overlap. Can we play with and enjoy both?

Masturbating is self care. And I don’t mean mindlessly fumbling about, staring at a screen, or turning on a vibrator. I mean feeling each and every touch. When was the last time you allowed yourself to receive an orgasm? The last time you relaxed into waves of ecstasy instead of pushing and forcing your way to a climax that remains just out of reach? 

Eating is self care. When was the last time you allowed food to nourish you instead of shoveling it into your mouth between meetings? The last time you felt how your lunch made you feel?

When was the last time you felt the effects of your cocktail? Let it swim through you between tastes instead of slipping it like an oral fixation between awkward sentences and boring small talk?

And even when we start to pay attention, are we staying in the moments as we inhabit them? When you’re in the bathtub, are you allowing yourself to float freely, feel the warmth of the water soothe you? Or are we running through our wants and needs and desires and to do lists like never ending scrolls on Tumblr. Our brain is like a website, if we keep scrolling down and loading more content, we will crash. There is a limit to how much we can hold. Can we hit the pause button in earnest?

These are my observations and confessions. No one can house a double cheeseburger from Shake Shack faster than me, but I’m trying to slow down. To savor. To receive. It's as if effort to unclench has become more difficult than maintaining the strain of tension, and that's where the work comes in. It's like using pliers to open up and detach the pieces that cling together in an act of protection. I invite you to submit.

Yoga, therapy, acupuncture, massage, tarot, writing, improv. These are not all the tools, but these are the ones I have found the most helpful. To help me connect, receive, open. It’s not flicking a light switch. It’s years of practice. Of loving it and hating it. It’s hard. But I'm slowly learning to relax. And receive. And listen.

 The Empress and The Queen of Coins from The Fountain Tarot

The Empress and The Queen of Coins from The Fountain Tarot

The Empress welcomes us to receive. To use our power to effortlessly attract what we want. Can we trust her? Can we trust each other? Can we loosen the focus of our structures and let our desires manifest effortlessly? Not by shoving the puzzle pieces into place, but by allowing yourself to find the right pieces as they come to you?

I’ve asked a lot of questions. Feel free to sit with them before you answer them for yourself, and, as always, I’m here to listen, share, discuss. 

 

 

*Reminder that when I say masculine and feminine I don’t mean male and female. You may prefer sun and moon, ha and tha, or yin and yang to describe the same thing,  but I find masc and femme to be helpful qualifiers, especially in the context of tarot.

On Intuition: An Awakening (or how I learned that anxiety is not a weakness)

Living inside your body is hard. If you’re prone to anxiety or any other kinds of hyper awareness and discomfort, you could develop pretty harmful habits just to survive. It may feel like this supreme weakness. Why do I feel this unbearable jolt of electricity when I hear the phone ring? Why do I jump to 1,000 horrible outcomes before anything even happens? Why is my brain broken?

Well, this kind of hyper awareness kept our ancestors alive when the dangers were far more threatening than a shitty text or an overbearing boss or client. When that freak out feeling happens, and a bear is attacking, that shot of adrenaline keeps you alive. It's how our ancient counterparts managed to survive, reproduce, and pass on those gene. I repeat: Feeling anxious is how we once survived. In the modern world, however, it’s really freaking inconvenient, definitely, but it’s not weakness. It’s the reason you’re alive at all.

On the days I feel good, I almost feel silly about all my little worries. All the little boxes of doubts and hang ups and years of conditioning that kept me quiet and scared and sad. But on the days I feel bad, it feels like I’m falling down a serrated crack into the center of the earth, into a part of myself that is empty, that is a black hole, that will never end. That feeling, that gripping and tension in every muscle fiber of my body, that’s resistance. That’s the supreme discomfort of not listening to your body. 

When your feelings are routinely dismissed as trivial by parents, teachers, lovers, friends, it’s easy to feel the initial pinprick of a bodily response and say “NO THANK YOU.” But that never works. That leads to built up tension. Shoulders that hike up to your earlobes. Lower back pain. Knots in your calves. Tendonitis. Tension headaches. Yup, all that repression has to go somewhere, and that somewhere is definitely inside your body. Yikes. 

 The High Priestess and The Queen of Cups ask us to listen deeply in The Fountain Tarot.

The High Priestess and The Queen of Cups ask us to listen deeply in The Fountain Tarot.

What does all this have to do with intuition? Well, in being so uncomfortable and therefore disconnected from our bodies, we lose that guiding compass that lives inside us. If you hate the feelings within your body, it becomes easier and easier to dismiss it completely. Have you felt yourself shut down, block out everything around you, feelings, sensations, words? Like viewing the world through a fishbowl lens, looking down on yourself as if you were a hovering spectre, or as Get Out so succinctly put it, from the “sunken place”? 

I have found that the times I feel the most uncomfortable, the times I could really use a drink or a pint of ice cream or whatever substance is your go to (this includes sugar and TV), those are the times my body has been begging me to pay more attention. To stop masking these feelings with rolls of duct tape like the pacifier I clung to as a child until my mother told me the pacifier factory burnt down all mine melted int he dishwasher to wean me off. Sometimes our internal mother needs to step in and say, “no, now you listen.”

Often when a client asks me a question, they are either asking the wrong question or they already know the answer. It’s just hidden behind other messages. Messages from society, our upbringing, the many faced internal selves who have their own ideas of what good and healthy look like. Today we are so over stimulated. So burnt out. Constantly connected. Constantly on overdrive. Maybe the remedy isn’t more of something, something new, something better, upgrade 3.7. Maybe we need less. Less noise, less notifications, less busy-ness, less metrics. Maybe we can ditch the Fitbit and listen to what our bodies are saying.