By Judy Jennings © Copyright 2012
People have been consulting with oracles throughout history. Sticks, stones, bones, leaves…all have served as vehicles of the intuition for centuries. More recently, roughly over the last 500 years or so, the Tarot has developed from a hidden book of arcane knowledge into a popular phenomenon. These days there are dozens of decks to choose from and books on the subject galore. The modern day intuitive has a range of options that includes many different styles and the opportunity to select for personal rapport.
Tarot offers considerably more layers of meaning than most other oracles, and thus reading the cards is an exercise that encourages contemplation. Not only are there 78 cards with as many different meanings, but every card can express in three different ways. Numerology has a prominent influence in the Tarot, as well, as do Astrology and the principles of Ying and Yang. Understanding the patterns and threads that appear in a reading is comparable to working a puzzle, in a way, a sort of psychological Rubik’s Cube. Today we’ll discuss the three different types of expression.
The three types of expression are integration, equilibrium, and disintegration. Simply put, this means that the forces described by each card can play out in our lives in three different ways. There may be integration, where the qualities expressed in a card are in the process of becoming included into the personality. There is equilibrium, where a person maintains a successful, on-going balance of the forces described, and finally, there is disintegration. This last state can represent undesirable personality traits associated with a card. An ill-dignified Empress, for example, could suggest disorganization, lack of responsibility, excessive sensual desires, or emotional vulnerability.
The Devil is another good example. Integrating the best qualities of this triumph most likely equates to a developing sense of humor and a growing awareness that our limitations are self-imposed. Equilibrium reflects in a person who is able to enjoy their own desires without being consumed by them. Disintegration of the forces shown in The Devil is the realm of the dark side, where power and sensory experience are all that matters.
This is an occasion where time spent in simple contemplation of the cards will add greatly to your understanding. If you’re interested in doing an exercise with your cards, lay out all 22 mjor arcana and consider how each one has three different possibilities. You may find it will make a noticeable difference in your ability to interpret the cards later.
Now that you’re thinking about three possible types of expression, how do you know which direction a card is taking in a reading? There are several clues to look for. Surrounding cards tell most of the story, and the nature of the question can have influence as well. The position of the card in the reading may be significant. Strength in the position of an obstacle would call for a very different interpretation than the same card in the position that represents the Self, for example. If you read reversals, a reversed card is an indicator of disintegration.
Metaphorically, these three types of expression are linked to the three phases of the Sun; dawn, noon and dusk. Psychologically, they address the waxing and waning of the human experience. In a reading, however, they offer practical advice about navigating the flux of our daily lives. In this way, Tarot is a unique tool and an incredibly dynamic oracle in motion!