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Tarot As Therapy

by James Wanless, Creator of Voyager Tarot

I'll never forget the time a participant in a Voyager workshop declared that as a result of seeing the Fool-Child as her "Life Card," she understood for the first time in her life who she is. And she stated quite dramatically that she could have saved 10 years of therapy and thousands of dollars! Wow.

How can tarot act as a therapeutic tool? Let me explain. These are changing times and "complexifying," so traditional solutions and words don't always work. As the complex Albert Einstein once said, "We cannot solve any problems by the same kind of thinking that got us into the them." That's why Einstein never did mathematics to derive his answers for his questions. He talked to a butterfly or imagined a surfer barreling down a ray of light. The point is that we all need to get "outside the box" and look for novel insights. That is why the mystical, symbolic and intuitive tarot works as an innovative tool.

By seeking different ways of looking at ourselves, we gain a whole new understanding. Indeed. I have one client who has been through all sorts of therapies and now finds that the cards work just fine. Though I have taken just one psychology class, so what? Experts often can't see the forest for the trees. Be on the watch out for "expertism" and complacency. If you stay true to the tarot's universal wholistic principles, you are on safe grounds as a counselor.

The beauty of contemporary tarot is that it's used as a wholistic mirror of ourselves and an empowering map for personal and professional results. The basic layout of cards I use for "tarot therapy" is called the "Whole Self Mandala," a picture of your mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, feminine, masculine aspects of your inner self and how they integrate with the world around you of work, money, home and relationships. (This Reading is in the instruction book that comes with the cards).

In addition to that Reading, I also use the Question & Answer technique. A recent therapy session using Q & A was about a reading disorder. The first card she drew was the Voyager Tarot Child of Crystals, "Learner." This immediately suggested to me that early in her childhood she might have had tremendous pressure put on her to read well and score high marks. Intuitively, I asked what her father was like. She replied, “a demanding Ph.D. and professor!” So, we could go back to her beginning years to experience and exorcise this, but that's for traditional psychotherapists or perhaps hypnotherapists.

But we are looking for new and novel solutions. I asked her to pick another card for how to solve her reading/learning disability. Devil's Play. In Voyager, this archetypal Dionysian and Pan-like character represents playfulness and unconventionality. This card suggested that she take off the pressure of trying to retain whatever she read. Just enjoy and savor the words, in particular, read some poetry. Perhaps even dance to what she was reading with some music. It's amazing how physical movement can open up and facilitate our mind. Kinesthetic intelligence is one of the so-called "seven intelligences." Maybe even speed read. The essence of the Devil's Play card was to not read for becoming learned, but to be happy, creative and have fun.

Tarot therapy is not just "talk therapy" however. Results come with awareness and action, taking do-able steps. Only when she tries these creative "devilish" ideas out will we know the efficacy for exploring this alternative means to problem solving. Even if these steps did not work out for her specific intentions, I bet that she would open up some of her unused faculties and bring some playfulness to her life, which apparently she lacked as a child. Remember, "the journey is the destination," because in going on the road of personal growth, good and unpredictable things happen.

JAMES WANLESS, PH.D. (Columbia University Political Science) was a distinguished university professor in the Middle East when he experienced a life-threatening disease which led to a spiritual transformation. He relinquished his academic career and began to share his new found wisdom and inspiration by teaching groups how to live happy, healthy, holy, and wealthy.

He is a pioneer of new thinking recognized for weaving timeless wisdom into modern life with intuitive tools and symbolic systems. With his magical blend of personal charisma, humor, and pragmatic enthusiasm, this prodigious explorer of consciousness engages his audience in a transformative experience that inspires and enlightens.

James is also a co-founder of
Primal Arts Playhouse located in Carmel Valley, California, and founder of Merrill West Publishing.

James is a corporate shaman, truly a “bridge between worlds”.

James Wanless Ph.D.
Within U.S 800.676.1256 Outside U.S. 001-831-659-3737
PO box 1227 Carmel, California 93921

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