Oh my gosh! Does that title sound like an infomercial gimmick, or what? I love it!
No. I am not going to sell you “if you call or sign up in the next five minutes” the secret formula to perfection and harmony in love. That would make me rich like the inventor of Post-its. Unfortunately I did not invent 3M and don’t know the secret to love. God bless me, I’m a divorced single mom raising three kiddos, I’m far from perfect.
And yet there you go. Isn’t life about embracing our imperfections and realizing that crafting a custom-sized love life is as unique as every individual? (FYI that’s a rhetorical question. Just nod and smile. Yes!)
So without further ado, I give you 5 very non-gimmicky ways you can bring the art of tarot to bear on improving the quality of your experiences in love and relationships. If you don’t find these useful, I have a 100% satisfaction money-back guarantee. That’s easy: it’s free! So here are my two cents. For free.
1) What’s love got to do with it?
Channeling Tina Turner (thank you, goddess!), let’s first take a moment and examine where WE are in our love relationships.
Isn’t it so true that we often look outside of ourselves and constantly find fault in what our partner is or isn’t giving us? “He doesn’t listen.” “She’s always nagging.”
In this exercise, shuffle your tarot card deck, or go to this site and click on “clear & shuffle” and have the generator select one card for you, while you concentrate on the question:
“Who am I in my love relationship?”
On this one I have to smile, because this year I’ve been identified in several of my own readings as well as two professional readings as the Page of Swords. Wanna guess what card came up for me when I posed this question? You got it: Mr. Page of Swords. Love it. Those of you who’ve worked with the tarot a while, don’t you always get that funny feeling when you realize the tarot is metaphorically beating you over the head with a concept? I feel like I need to start wearing a loose flowing tunic, yellow tights, red boots and carrying a sword around as the wind blows my hair into that perfect Pantene pout.
Joking aside, once you’ve drawn your card, absorb your first “gut” impressions and then familiarize yourself with its traditional meanings, if you aren’t already aware of them. This card is giving you a vital piece of information about who you are in your relationship and what you bring to the table. It’s a good basis for you to start with, in order to better understand how you match with your partner, and if you aren’t currently in a relationship (like me) then it can help you get in touch with who you are and what you’ll bring to your next relationship, as well as how you cultivate a love relationship with yourself.
2) Get to know your partner: current, future, or even past.
Obviously it takes two to tango. My clients often ask me to read about “what are my partner’s true intentions?” Sometimes we can’t seem to get to the heart of the matter by asking our partner directly, and sometimes the atmosphere in a relationship is at a critical point where asking isn’t appropriate. While I have ethical boundaries that prevent me from reading for an uninvolved third party, I do bring in “the other” when it serves to contribute to my client’s overall understanding and growth in working towards a resolution in their relationship.
In this exercise, first identify “the other” that you want to include in your search for insight. This could be a past partner who you can’t seem to let go of, your current partner, or, if you aren’t currently in a relationship but desiring of one, your potential future partner.
Draw one card concentrating on the question:
“Who is my [past, current or future] partner in our love relationship?”
Repeat the steps above, reflecting on this card. Here I got the 6 of Wands. My future partner is victorious, triumphant, vibrant and full of confidence. He has overcome his struggles and is now ready to celebrate his success. (Um, clearly, if he’s finally found me! -I jest, I jest!-)
What can this tell me? In my particular situation, it can remind me that I need to partner with someone who is confident on their own and isn’t looking to take advantage of me or my good will in order to feel triumphant. This has particular personal significance for me, based on my own personal relationship history. You can apply your card in a similar way, based on your own situation. Don’t stretch to make the card “fit” if it doesn’t make sense at first glance. Remember that tarot gives us subtle messages from our Higher Self. If you don’t understand the message, simply take in the card and allow it to sink into your subconscious. Ask for clarification in dreams and allow it to work its magic on you without your direct intervention.
3) Let’s talk!
Ok, now you get to have a little fun. You’ve absorbed the energies of card 1 and card 2, now let’s set them up on a date!
A tool I learned about years ago from a Jungian psychotherapist was the practice of “active imagination.” Basically it’s a practice that as adults, I feel we aren’t encouraged to use enough. I mean, we say this ALL the time to kids, don’t we? “Just use your imagination!” And yet, what happens to us as adults? How come in a board meeting you never hear a CEO say to an employee, “I want you to take the afternoon off to go use your imagination.” Oh, bliss, wouldn’t that be?
So I’m telling you now, use your imagination to picture the two cards from the above activities in a dialogue. I am not giving you ANY rules. All I want you to do is absolutely and strictly USE YOUR IMAGINATION and, wait, yes—one rule—no censorship. Don’t let your mind tell you “This is stupid” or anything else. Just imagine what they’re talking about. You can either write the dialogue down, imagine it in your head, visualize, whatever.
Key to the process of active imagination is the goal of exerting as little influence as possible on mental images as they unfold. (source)
The point of all this (because of course we always have to have a result, don’t we?) is that, after you do this exercise, you can reflect on the imaginary conversation and what information it may have brought to the surface that you can work with and apply in your love life. If it was a fight, why were they fighting? If it was a first meeting, what were their shared interests? Where did they meet, what were they doing? If it was a rehashing of the past, what can now be released?
4) Identify your own baggage (did you keep those luggage claim checks?)
It’s cliche by now that “relationships take work.” But that shouldn’t take all the joy out of the experience. A relationship is a primary tool for self-knowledge and soulful evolution. One of the best ways you can “improve your love life” is by turning within to identify what personal hang-ups you bring to the partnership that you can take responsibility for, rather than what is commonly done, blaming the other for “not giving me what I need.”
While it’s true that a partner should meet you halfway to try to work together to meet your relationship needs, it’s also true that the purpose of a partnership is just that: a working together for mutual benefit.
Shuffle your deck and now draw three cards to identify three areas that you need to “own” and not project onto your partner in a relationship. These are areas that you alone can fulfill and satisfy. If you search for them and expect to get them from your partner instead, you drain your own vital energy and will end up unsatisfied in your relationship.
Ask the cards:
“What do I look for in my partner that I actually need to give to myself?”
I got the 9 of Cups, The Fool, and the 5 of Swords. I need to grant my own wishes (instead of expecting my partner to make all my dreams come true); go my own way without needing external approval in order to take the risk; and pick my battles carefully but once chosen, see them through to the end. (I’m working on all of these, in fact.)
5) What does “happy in love” look like for me?
Many of us get into love relationships with very vague notions of what it would actually look like to feel fulfilled in our relationship. This exercise helps you to identify a key component that’s essential for you personally in order to feel fulfillment, or more generically put, “happy,” in your love relationship.
Choose a card while concentrating on the question:
“What represents an ideal that I require in order to feel fulfilled in my love relationship?”
In this exercise I got The Hierophant. This makes sense to me. In order for me to feel fulfilled in a love partnership, I definitely require a spirit and environment of continual learning as well as spiritual nurturing and growth. I mean, people, can you imagine the Page of Swords in relationship? Needs a ton of mental stimulation or else he’s (in my case, she’s) outta there! Needs someone who can spark that curiosity continuously as well as provide a source of new knowledge and growth. While I suppose I’ve always known this on a sort of subconscious level, looking at The Hierophant as an ideal for me in love partnerships is a strong reminder for me to not compromise when allowing myself to open up to a love relationship if it isn’t able to provide me a source of spiritual growth as well as intellectual teaching and learning.
Ah, yes, I said “ideal” in that question, didn’t I?
Now, while the tarot can’t deliver your perfect relationship or perfect partner to your doorstep all wrapped up in a bow (believe me, if it could I would have figured it out by now, I think), hopefully exercises such as this, or ones that you come up with on your own in the same spirit, can help you to gain more information about the factors that can contribute to bringing you to a place of harmony in your love life.
How have you used tarot to relate better in love? Do you have any particular spreads, questions, or practices with tarot that you’ve found to be successful in working with relationship issues? Share in the comments!