Tarot and Mental Health
One of the things that can contribute to difficulties in dealing with mental health issues is the ability to express and explore thoughts and feelings. Often people with mental health issues such as depression or dealing with traumatic experiences such as childhood sexual abuse find it difficult to ‘drill down’ into these dark recesses of their mind or to ask themselves the sort of questions that are needed.
Sometimes talking therapies can help, other times a trained psychologist is needed. But on occasion it is simply the need of a framework where these deeply buried thoughts and feelings can be opened up and examined that prevents some progress being made.
While Tarot can never replace the professional help that other therapies can deliver, I feel that there is a place for it in the bigger picture for some people in helping them to begin to address some of the mental health issues they face.
Why do I say that? Well from personal experience of beginning the journey into looking at my depression and self-harm, beginning to understand the underlying causes, the Childhood Sexual Abuse, and behavioural issues and self-destructive beliefs, that that abuse formed the foundation of I have found using Tarot for self-exploration a big help.
There are some general benefits involved, firstly as a distraction. Interpreting the Tarot takes an amount of concentration, as well as looking up meanings if you are not completely confident in the interpretation of every card, I’m most certainly not!
Distraction is very important in helping to control the urge or need to self harm. Often distracting yourself for a period will allow the need to self harm to pass, for the emotional sure to subside. There are many ways of distracting but the Tarot is certainly a good one for anybody with an interest in it.
The second general benefit is that in interpreting a reading fort our elf you are of using on the reading and what it means to you rather than whatever external stimulus triggered the urge to self harm or generally negative thoughts.
Some Specific Benefits
There are some more specific things that I believe tarot can help with. Often at least some of the cause of mental health difficulties lies within, buried deep, thoughts no feeling that we may not feel able to access and process. One of the thing that need to be done is to acknowledge these thoughts and feelings, to process them in a healthy way. Sometimes this can be helped by talking to others, to friends or professionals. But often these thoughts are so private and painful that it is very difficult to express them to others and often professional help is not immediately available.
This is where Tarot, specificity doing a self reading, can come in.
In a self reading you ask our self the question, which may well be skirting round the edge of the real issue, and then interprets the cards for yourself. The advantages of this are many.
Perhaps the first, and most obvious, benefit in doing a private self-reading is that it is exactly that, private. You are not having to tell anybody what questions you are asking, you don’t have to explain yourself and you don’t have to feel embarrassed.
You are free to ask the sort of very personal questions that you wouldn’t, couldn’t talk to anybody about. There is no end to self-censor, no need to think about how to express complex and often disjointed thoughts and feelings, you know what you mean even if you can express it in words.
Alongside this is the fact that because it is private to you, to your own mind and thoughts you are free to ask and express the deepest questions, surface the most intimate thoughts and explore the most embarrassing ideas with no worry about what others might think.
Interpreting the cards, as the lie on the table requires that you ask “What does this layout mean for me given the question I have asked? “ This is not a simple, well this card means this and that card something else, it asks you to take the general meanings of the cards and see how they fit into your present circumstances, thoughts and feelings.
To do this you will need to look deep inside and beginning the process of examining what’s there. For example the ‘Hanged Man’ card asks us to look at ourselves and to consider if there are any habits are attitudes that are holding us back from the change we need. This can only be done by looking inside and asking yourself these difficult questions.
In many cases we know, of have a good idea, of the path we need to start taking to address the issues that are at the bottom of our problems. Interpreting the Tarot allows you to surface what you already know. You may, for example, be suffering for memories of Childhood abuse that you have suppressed, memories that are too difficult and painful to deal with in the normal course of events. Interpreting a Tarot spread for yourself allow you to begin to access the thoughts, feeling and emotions around these memories in a way that is safe. Safe because not only are you in control but because it allow you to say to yourself, “I am not acknowledging this, I am not opening this up its just the Tarot that has done it” This allow you to continue to protect yourself, to keep the issue ‘walled off’ safely but to begin the process of acknowledging its existence.
None of this can replace professional help where that is needed, but in these days of resource shortages in the NHS, particularly in the Mental Health area waits can be long even if the treatment is available, anything that enable somebody to look at some of the things that are causing them distress in a safe and controlled way can be a positive help and it is here , I feel, that using Tarot privately and personally can be a help.