I’m Bridget Owens and you're listening to the Waxing Soul podcast. Join me on an exploration of mindful modern magic, a journey towards deeper understanding of self and transformative individual spirituality. It's September 2, 2021, and today's episode is the fifth in a seven episode series on using tarot for self growth. Today we're discussing how to find the cards which represent you in the deck, the various aspects of self which you can look for, and why it's important to sometimes focus a reading around a manifestation of you. Are you ready to grow your soul?
It’s September! Just a couple of months from now a lot of really exciting things will happen. Samhain, of course. Halloween. I consider that basically my spiritual new year, as I’ve talked about before. Plus my birthday is two days before that. And my book release is scheduled for the day before that, the 28th of October!
And that will also be the one year anniversary of the beginning of this podcast. So big things are planned, for sure. Or, well, they will be planned. They’re mostly a list of cool ideas right now, but there will be a book launch event for sure, plus lots of other stuff.
And this is where the year starts getting really exciting for me anyway. By the sun cycle, it’s autumn, the pumpkin spice latte is out at Starbucks, halloween decorations are everywhere, the leaves on my maple tree will start to turn yellow any day now, and hopefully I’ll be able to wear a hoodie outside the house in the near future. But before all that excitement really takes hold, there’s this plus two more episodes in the series on tarot for self growth, and today I want to talk about how to find yourself in the deck.
And I want to emphasize before I start that this is definitely not an instructional thing where what I’m describing is the only way to do things, the correct way, whatever. I’m going to talk about three different approaches to finding yourself in the cards, but there are lots. In fact, one of the best things you can do in your journey to mastering tarot is to be creative, to explore, to develop your own ways and tricks and techniques.
Seriously. Don’t be afraid to do that. It’s valuable and important.
But with that said, I want to dig into this because there’s always the… One of the things I struggled with personally when I first started to read tarot for others, especially, was determining when a card in a spread was the querent, whether that was me or someone else, and when a card in a spread was someone else. And I also know a lot of references and guides will tell you that cards that literally depict people, pages, knights, queens, kings, a lot of the major arcana, can sometimes mean people. But those cards also can mean just traits or situations, and cards that don’t have people on them can show up as an indicator of a person, you or someone in your life.
So how do you know?
If you’re looking at a spread and there’s a couple of person cards, which is you? Both? Just one? Neither? And this is, of course, super relevant when we’re talking about self growth, since it is obviously centered on the self. So I think the biggest, most important thing to talk about here is the role of context and intuition.
I talked in the last episode about storytelling and context, and in any given reading it’s really important to tune into that inner sense which tells you a) what makes sense given the narrative depicted by the cards and then b) who is who in the reading based on what the lesson or message seems to be. But what I mostly want to dig into in this episode isn’t so much how to pick yourself out after you’ve dealt the cards, but to sort of establish, especially for purposes of using tarot for self-growth, cards that serve as identifiers so every time they come up you know that means you. That’s pointing to you, it’s identifying you, it gets your attention.
Once you have that established, you can do the sort of readings where, for instance, you shuffle the deck and look for the card that means you, that identifies you, and look at the cards around it to get a contextual reading. So the first way of finding yourself in the deck really relies just on your connection to self, your understanding of your authentic self, and your intuition.
I think there are three versions of self you’ll want to find in the deck, that are useful to any complex readings you do for yourself. The first one is the card which embodies the version of yourself, the grouping of traits you possess which you most want to change or which you resent or are ashamed of the most. And it’s important to have this card, I think, because when you pop up in a spread as this card, it’s the you which feels inadequate or inferior or whatever. That version of you acts and makes decisions very differently from other versions, and you can kind of put things into perspective around that.
The next one is the most authentic you. The version of yourself which you are right now, overall. At every phase of life we’re different people, our attitudes and affinities and worldviews are a little different. So this is the person you are right now, so when you see it pop up you know it’s placing you right in that position. It’s saying, you are here now.
And then the last one is your aspirational self. The one you like to think you are or hope to be. The kind of card that, when it shows up, you know it’s speaking to a self which doesn’t exist yet. Maybe it’s your inauthentic mask right now, the person you try to pretend you are even though you aren’t there yet. And the cards around it will give context to this desire to change.
These three cards are going to change over time. I think it’s a really valuable exercise to go through the deck and pick out, like, this is me, this is who I don’t want to be, this is who I try to be, because just the act of thinking it through is a tool for self growth.
If you're enjoying this episode of Waxing Soul, subscribe to the show! Each week we will dive into a different part of the world of spirituality, magic, and self-evolution. Check out last week's episode where we discussed how divination is more of a mirror than a crystal ball, the ways we can see ourselves in the tarot deck, and how to look at ourselves with a less biased eye. And come back next week for part six of this series where we will discuss the mechanism of personal evolution, the difference between aspiration and evolution, and how tarot can be used to guide your own evolutionary path.
The second way to find yourself in the deck is to look at it in terms of astrology and correspondences.
So, if you’ve done much studying of tarot, you might know that people along the line have associated the zodiac signs with various major arcana cards in the deck. For instance, being a Scorpio, my card is Death. That’s my sun sign. So my overall astrological identity is embodied in that card. But my moon sign and my ascendant are both Virgo, which corresponds to the Hermit. My wife is a Leo, which corresponds to Strength. My sister is a Libra, which is Justice. A quick Google search will pull up a list of these correspondences, so you can find your own signs.
And I think it’s really a good idea to, if you know your sun, moon, and ascendant, to establish which major arcana cards they correspond to and know that when those show up, at least in spreads where your intention is to do some self-examination, to do your shadow work and self growth work, that they are pointing to the various aspects of yourself.
And for those of you who aren’t deeply into astrology, each of your signs, you have a bunch if you get a full chart worked up, each one is a different aspect of self or area of your life. Your sun sign, the one we most often talk about when we talk about what signs we are, that is your sort of overall personal profile. It’s sort of the blueprint of the machine, the programming that drives you. That’s how I like to think of it.
So, for instance, the Death card for me, my life is really about rebirth and resurrection. It’s going through the experience of breaking myself down and rising again transformed. But that’s not really what people around me would necessarily use to describe me. I know a lot of people in my life who are actually surprised at first that I’m a Scorpio, and that’s because they don’t really know what drives me, what my motivations are, they only see how I carry them out. It’s kind of the “behind the scenes” part of who I am.
So when my sun sign card comes up in a reading, it’s talking about me in terms of that inner driving mechanism. Like, why am I doing what I’m doing sort of stuff. So, like, if I did a past-present-future reading specifically to look into my self and to further my shadow work, and the Death card pops up in the past, I can go, okay, whatever is going on now stems from the way I act on my values and beliefs and worldview. Thats different from if, for instance, my moon card popped up in that spot. That would mean more like whatever the present is about stems from how I see myself, that it was my inner, private self being behind the wheel that led to whatever is in the now. And then, of course, your ascendant is the way you are perceived. It’s your outer mask, your image and external persona. The way others know you. So when it pops up it’s probably in the context of relationships and your role in external groups and contexts.
Of course, there are fun things like with my signs where my moon and ascendant are the same, which means that for the most part the way I present myself to the world and the way I see myself are pretty much the same. It can make it a little harder to pinpoint what The Hermit means when it pops up, but I know that it means me when I’m reading for my own growth. My own shadow work.
These can be really great for establishing context, whether it’s talking about you with others, you with yourself, you within the universe. Spirit, spirituality, it’s all about relationships, and not only being able to find yourself in the deck but being able to kind of tell what sort of relationships, what sort of flow the version of you in the reading is dealing with, that can really clarify the picture, fill in the narrative in readings.
Now, I do want to say that I’ve never found it to work very well to do this with other people except maybe as one-off things, like if you’re specifically asking about your relationship to another person. But I know it doesn’t work very well for me to assume that when Strength pops up it’s talking about my wife. It’s really a whole different thing when you’re reading yourself and reading about and for yourself.
Also, where the ones I talked about before, the intuitive ones, those change over time, these obviously don’t. And there’s nothing to say that these cards don’t do double duty. Like, I may aspire to be a different manifestation of my sun sign or the things I most want to change have a lot to do with the characteristics and aspects of my moon sign. And, you know, like the other ones, the astrological correspondences also become a tool for understanding yourself and doing some of that deep shadow work.
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So, the last technique or idea I want to talk about is more labor intensive, data intensive. If you’re really into tarot, especially if you’re going to use it for self-growth purposes, you might keep a tarot journal. It’s a good idea while you’re learning, especially.
The way I love to use a tarot journal, the way I recommend if you’re going to do it, is to draw a card a day and observe how it plays out in your life. Not to read it as an indicator of things that are coming, not just to use it as a flash card or study aid, but to read for purpose. In this case, I think drawing a card a day with the intention that it will show you who you are is a great practice. And if you do something like that and you keep a tally of the cards that come up, after a while there will be patterns emerging. After all, tarot tends to repeat itself, tell us the same message in lots of different ways, so after a while there will be a card or cards which appear more often than any others. Especially if you use them in a “show me who I am” sort of reading, you’re explicitly looking for cards which reflect you, represent you.
And where the other ways of picking out cards that represent you in the deck are most likely to be major arcana or face cards, this can result in any card being you. You could end up being, like, the four of pentacles, in which case the “you” which comes up most often in the deck is a portrayal or reflection of who you are in the moment, the stuff you’re doing which is defining your existence at the moment, and it describes you in the sense of your behavior patterns and thought patterns and relationships.
So, for instance, if your most common “who am I” card actually was the four of pentacles, you’re probably being kind of stingy with your money or time or resources, kind of afraid of being without or losing or wasting what you have, afraid to spend, always concerned with whether you can provide for you and your family down the line, and that’s what is driving your behavior and outlook for this time period. It may not be who you wish you were or who you like to be, but it’s kind of an assessment of your authentic state of being. It can be a really good picture of the version of you which you either are stuck being or are becoming, depending on where you are in your evolutionary processes, which is something we’ll talk about next week.
But what I mean is that maybe the card which comes up most often, which describes you authentically in the moment, maybe that’s who you are in the deck right now because it’s the traits and behaviors and decisions which are holding you back and need to be tranformed. Or maybe it’s who you are because those are the things you’ve started to embody and practice and grow into.
And this will change over time. It’s something you can return to and keep track of in a journal, look at how you’re changing, use it as a barometer. If you’re the four of pentacles and you know that’s an old trauma surfacing in anxiety, and you work on managing that and not being led by those fears, you should see some other card start to pop up most often instead. Because we’re constantly evolving and so once we’ve made one adaptation we’re primed to take on the next thing. Or primed to kind of thrive for a bit, to step into our best self in the moment.
But again, evolution is the topic for next week. This whole idea of learning to see yourself, to find yourself in the deck is both a tool for growth and a way to kind of track it, and I think if you’ve not really mastered the art of reading for yourself or have avoided it, this is a great place to start. To find and create and try out ways of doing readings specifically to guide your self-evolution and self growth by looking at your way of being and your patterns of behaviors and choices, and I want to emphasize most of all that this isn’t about correcting what’s bad about you. It’s about confronting reality and really acknowledging the things that… Not the things you don’t like about yourself, but the things which stand between you and a life where you’re functioning at a high level. Not achieving the most or have all the success or whatever, but the life where you can rise to the challenges which come your way, where you’re suited for surviving and thriving in the environment you’re in.
That’s the point of all this. So being able to turn to the deck and not saying, “What’s coming? What’s going to happen? How can I avoid bad things?” or “How can I make good things come my way?” you can ask the deck, “Who am I being? What is standing between me and my full potential? Why are things the way they are right now? Where am I headed?” Which is an entirely different conversation.
Thank you so much for listening. New episodes of the Waxing Soul drop every Thursday. All materials and resources except the music are copyright Bridget Owens. Many thanks to my readers, listeners, friends, mentors, inspirations, and my framily for riding with me into season two. Until next week, blessed be and be good to yourself.