What’s the best way to learn the meanings of the cards?
To be honest, that’s a trick question. In our study group, we read, compare decks, and discuss endless variations in the ways people interpret each triumph. Contemplation, intuition, and time spent all play a role in learning the Tarot. Ultimately, though, there’s no substitute for personal experience. Take the story of the devil dog, for example.
Devil Dog came to me when he was a year old. “He’s half-Pug!” my friend Vicki said excitedly, describing the foster she’d just brought home from the dog park. He’d already been adopted from the Humane Society, she explained, but apparently it didn’t work out. “He’s really cute. I wonder why that man was going to take him back?” she mused. “His name is Diablo.”
When I met the devil dog I was immediately smitten, sucker for one of the cutest faces I’ve ever seen, and optimistically changed his name to Shadow when I adopted him. That was Vicki’s idea, actually. “It sounds sort of the same at the end, so it should be an easy transition for him,” she advised. “And it’s not so dark.”
As it turns out, Shadow’s other half appears to be Beelzebub. He’s my own small version of “the World’s Worst Dog” from the book “Marley And Me” by John Grogan. He will eat your dinner right off your plate, pulls food off the counter, and knows how to open the refrigerator door. He bursts out the front door every chance he gets, and is sociopathically reactive to large dogs, particularly German Sheperds. Once on a walk, he tried to attack a Seeing Eye dog.
I know what you’re thinking. “It’s never the dog, it’s always the owner” is something I believed, too, until I met Shadow. But let’s not quibble. The point is what happened recently after The Sun turned up for me as the outcome in a quick four-card reading for the day.
Shadow has given me the slip in a variety of ways over the past five years. One of the most dramatic was his escape from a Pug Halloween party over or through a six-foot fence, while the other seventeen (real) Pugs in attendance clustered around their people in hopes of food. A search of the grounds had just started up in earnest when I got a call from a neighbor three blocks down the street. “He trotted into my apartment like he owns the place,” the woman told me. Through the kindness of strangers and the foresight of a pet ID tag, the devil dog has been rescued on various occasions after dashing into traffic, running away on Thanksgiving, and popping in uninvited at the group home down the street. Shadow loves people and will gladly allow any friendly stranger to detain him, so he’s happily hopped into people’s cars or in one case, been carried home upside down like a baby. (When I saw them approach, he wasn’t even squirming.) The one thing the devil dog will not do if he is on the loose, however, is to allow me to come within three feet of him.
I pulled The Sun one morning last week before going to work. It was the fourth card in a series of four, representing the way my day would ultimately manifest. By 5:30, however, my feet hurt, my back was sore, a customer had shaken a box of candied fruit in my face because she felt the price was too high, and my nerves were on their last jangle. What had happened to the happy, blessed day I’d felt so entitled to after turning up The Sun?
It only took a moment after arriving home for the devil dog to set that idea straight. Although I joke about it, I know that if Shadow keeps getting away from me like that, one of these escapades will most likely be his last. So when he unexpectedly pushed between my legs as I came in the door (a move he’d never made before), my heart rose up into my throat. Instantly the pitch-black Shadow vanished into the dark and I ran after him in despair, knowing I’d never catch him. Intervention was my only hope. I caught a glimpse of the devil dog rounding the corner ahead, and tried to hurry up. Suddenly I heard a voice.
“I’ve got him!” Vicki was calling. Sure enough, as I made the turn, there was Shadow, sitting politely at my neighbor's feet. Help was there exactly when and where I needed it that evening. Before that, I would have associated that kind of fortuitous coincidence only with the Wheel of Fortune. Now, my understanding of The Sun will forever embrace the idea of Serendipity.
That’s how you learn the meaning of the cards. You live them.