The first time I saw a tarot deck, I was 7 years old. My mother pulled out her Motherpeace deck and spread all the round cards in a circle around me. “Choose,” she told me. The feminist, goddess themed deck scared me with the various scenes of what seemed like violence and pain. The pain of childbirth. The pain of love. All the various kinds of pain that are so unique to women and so common. I don’t remember the card I chose, but I do remember these words from my mother:
“It’s not what is on the card or what the book says. It’s what’s in your heart.”
That was true then. It is true now. Even all these years later. Which is why my daughter has been reading tarot since she was 9. As a woman, one of the most important things I can do is trust my own intuition. It is that trust that saves me from getting into the car with the stranger who feels wrong. It is that intuition that saves me from heartache when that person who seems friendly just rubs me the wrong way. It is the intuition, the self-knowledge, the trust in myself that helps me make every major decision in my life.
Can I? Should I? Will I? I can draw on my tarot deck. I can lay the spread in front of me. I can read the card. But the cards can’t answer anything without being guided by my intuition. And like a muscle, it must be flexed. We all have a naturally intuitive nature, but how strong a person’s is depends on how much they practice.
As a mother, there is no greater gift I can give my daughter.
When we first started reading tarot, she would look to me. “What does this mean?” She asked when she pulled the Hanged Man from her Rider Waite deck.
“What does it mean to you?”
“I see a T. He looks like he’s making a figure four with his legs. His arms are behind his back. Maybe a surrender? Maybe you need to surrender?”
The more she practiced, the less she questioned. Each card held the answer based on how she saw it. She started to grow in her confidence, getting to know the cards as she got to know herself and her limits. “Will Jill and I be friends forever?” she asked the cards. The spread she read said no. She read them to tell her the friendship with Jill, her best friend, was short lived. She cried that night, but it started a conversation. How many times had Jill told her she could only be friends with her? How many lunches had Jill forced her to sit alone because “you just aren’t my best friend today.” The tears weren’t about the card. They were about the friendship. It was something she knew inside had already run its course.
A year later, they are no longer friends. Was it the card or her inner self that told her? Maybe a little of both.
She asked the cards about our move to a new house, about the death of her guinea pig, about her grandmother who died when she was five. Every time she asked the cards a question, she learned to interpret the answers a little differently. It’s no different than a journal or a meditation practice. It’s just a way she can explore her inner truth by using tools to access what might otherwise be difficult to grasp.
She’s 11 now and things are starting to shift and change. Friends act weird and one day they get mad for no reason and the next they act normal. Her teachers have higher expectation on her work and her stress levels are much higher. She’s in that time of life when girls stop paying attention to themselves and start to like themselves less.
But Samara believes in her inner wisdom more than many girls. A lot of that is thanks to tarot. It’s not a magical solution. In our family we don’t believe that destiny is fixed and that the cards hold the power. We believe that the deck is a tool, a means to access the inner wisdom we all possess and, like a muscle, it must be flexed and strengthened every day.
It’s hard to imagine a better tool for her as she heads into the turbulent teens.
I taught my daughter to read tarot. But the cards helped her grow in ways I never imagined. They taught her to trust herself, to know herself, and to allow her inner wisdom to shine through.—by Sasha Brown-Worsham
Sasha Brown-Worsham is a writer and editor and yoga teacher whose work has been featured in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Boston Globe, and countless other publications. She was the lifestyle editor at both Cafe Mom and She Knows Media for many years and was also a staff writer at both publications. Find her on Instagram.
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