This short self development exercise comes from a workshop I led last week for members of my local community. I was asked to lead a workshop around the theme of Yom Kippur – the Jewish Day of Atonement – the most holy day of the year.
On this day many Jewish people fast (no food or water) for 24 hours, pray, direct their energies inwards and make a lot of self reflection. At first I was not sure what angle to cover and then I decided that three questions could be asked of the cards, each one going deeper into the essence of the person. Each one revealing the truth about who we are. I used Jungian Psychology as a framework on which to build the questions.
Most of the people who attended the workshop had never experienced Tarot before. The ages ranged from 18 to mid 60’s and it was a mix of men and women from all professions and backgrounds. Some found the question itself difficult but were willing to try and understand the process. On purpose I did not explain the questions and I will not here either (the idea being that the question can be interpreted in whatever way you read it). I made the questions difficult on purpose – I wanted people to get outside of their comfort zone, while showing them that Tarot could reveal much more than just party predictions.
Requirements: Major Arcana cards of a Tarot deck
Location: Anywhere that feels safe and comfortable. Indoors. Outdoors.
Ideal time for a single person: 1 hours
Ideal time for a group of less than 10: 2 hours
Ideal time for a group of 10 – 40: 3 hours
The Hand out for the Workshop is at the end of this article.
I explained a little about Tarot first and then put everybody into small groups of 3/4 people. Each group had a Tarot deck. Each member of the group was given the handout below.
Each person took a turn to pick up the Tarot deck, shuffle it while saying aloud the question. They would lay the cards out in a fan on the table/ground. The cards faced downwards. The person pulled one card only. First they contemplated the card themselves and then when they were ready to share, did so with the group. Then the card was passed around and the others got to say what they felt the card meant. To avoid unnecessary psychological insights, to do lists or criticism the people were guided to say, “I see in this card…..” or “I feel when I look at this card….”.
Once the card came back to the original person, they put the Tarot card back in the deck, shuffled it and put it on the table/floor. Then the next person in the group could ask the same question and so on. Once everyone had pulled and interpreted a card for question one, they moved onto question two. When all the small groups finished asking their questions we moved back into a big group for a discussion, feedback and a debrief before the workshop came to an end.
At the end of the workshop, many were amazed by how accurate the cards were. Of course, that led to nearly half of the people asking me for a Tarot reading at some stage. People loved the fact that THEY got a chance to read the Tarot cards and make sense of them and other peoples interpretations of the pictures was also an eye opener.
This workshop might be something you would like to do for yourself when you have a quiet time and space. This exercise would be ideal for a small group of women where you could spend a morning or evening together in deep trust and openness. It could also be a teaching tool in your Tarot classes.
Handout for the Yom Kippur Workshop
Tarot cards generally have a bad name.
Tarot is often seen as a parlor trick, a game, a cheap form of divination. However, I and many others see Tarot as a powerful tool for self-discovery, transformation and healing. Each card tells a story – and in that story lies deep healing. Before we had the ability to speak, we humans communicated with symbols. Tarot contains symbols that go back thousands of years. Those symbols can speak to us on many levels like the popular saying, ‘A picture contains 1000 words’. By a process called synchronicity, we pick the right card at the right time in order to heal.
A Tarot card deck contains 78 cards. 22 Major Arcana cards (Arcana comes from the Latin for ‘mysteries’ or ‘things hidden’) and 56 Minor Arcana. The Major cards depict the major energies in our lives – birth and rebirth, death and loss, love, soul journey, inner quest etc. and are archetypal in nature. The Minor Arcana cards depict everyday life.
Today we are ONLY going to use the Major Arcana cards – because we are asking big questions. Questions that can lead to answers with the potential to cure and heal.
Today on Yom Kippur, the day of soul searching, we are going to ask of the cards three questions.
Each question will go deeper into our being – helping in the process of self-reflection. The answers are within you, within your psyche.
PERSONA – Question One – What false beliefs about myself do I hold onto that cause me pain?
SHADOW – Question Two – What do I refuse to acknowledge about myself?
SOUL – Question Three – What does the Creator want from me?