We're all inundated with so much information that everyone uses some sort of selective filtering to get them through their days. If you read the license plate number of every care that passed you on the road, for example, you wouldn't be able to pay much attention to traffic. So you selectively filter out the extraneous information - like license numbers - in order to get on with the job of driving.
The problem is that we've become TOO good at selective filtering, and so when we first encounter the rich imagery of Tarot cards, we look at them the way we're used to looking at everything. We just read the headline. This means that when we look at the High Priestess this way, we see a lady in a blue cloak with a funny pointed hat.
One of the first things you'll want to do in your encounter with Tarot cards is to turn off your selective filtering system and let all that imagery in. To help you on your way, here's a great excercise.
The Star: A Tarot Exercise
For this exercise, select the Star card from your Tarot deck. (If you don't have a deck yet, you can use the image here.) Place the card comfortably before you and let it tell you it's story.
As you study the details of the card's design, write down what you see, using the following questions to guide you.
- Are there animals? What are they?
- Are there shapes? What are they? Large or small? Realistic or stylized?
- Are there elements - fire, earth,air,water - present? How are they depicted?
- Are there human figures? How are they depicted?
- What about vegetation? Are there trees or flowers? What are they?
- What colors are in the card? What do these colors mean to you?
- What other symbols do you see in the card? What do they mean to you?
Have someone else do this exercise too. After you've both finished, compare notes. Did they see things you didn't or vice versa? Did you see things they are certain aren't even there? Are there images you absolutely disagree about?
Use this exercise with all 78 Tarot Cards. In this way you will remember that it's not what you look at, but what you see.
Blessings on your path,