Loose Leaf Tarot


Our bodies, our tarot


Having my dominant arm in a splint for the past week or so has taught me two things about tarot, one quite obvious and the other relatively unexpected. The obvious: doing satisfying spreads is really hampered by not being able to shuffle well. The more surprising: in all the years I’ve been reading tarot, I’ve never really learned to connect the cards with my physical self, with what’s going on with my body.

I’ve tried a few times since I broke my wrist to do a little low-key session, to figure out how to make use of the unavoidable down time and delays that come from an injury. But even leaving aside the shuffling, I’m just not getting much out of the cards I pull. They don’t feel relevant to something so physical as, “Dear Tarot, I can’t do all the things and also painkillers make me feel funny, halp please.”

The truth is, I’ve always connected tarot pretty exclusively with the more conceptual, psychological aspects of my life, not much with day-to-day living and certainly not with my physical needs. This blind spot is partly a result of my personality. I’m a swords person all the way; my strengths and my weaknesses almost all come from that air-place of intellect, abstract ideas, and observation.

But I’m thinking there’s more to my physical disconnect with the cards, something actually inherent to the traditional organization of the major arcana, and to the imagery of the Waite Smith deck. It’s a gender thing, and something that intersects with the general lack of diverse bodies in most tarot decks.

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