Using the Tarot to Help Navigate Family Challenges
This is a continuation of the series in which we use the tarot to help our stuffed friend, Teddy, navigate his life challenges.
Teddy was really nervous about going to visit his family this year, because this is the first time he'd be bringing Anatra home to meet them. He has a big family and, even without the potential drama of introducing his girlfriend, has always felt overwhelmed by the personalities of his relatives.
"It's just stressful," he said. "I'm the baby of the family, but I'm not a baby anymore. I keep telling myself each year that if I could get any emotional distance, I wouldn't feel like everyone was telling me what to do or judging me or acting like they know better."
"Are they really all acting that way?" I asked.
"Well, it could just be me," he replied, "if that's what you're hinting at. But I get it, I know it's my own insecurity talking. But I don't know how to get past that. It's so depressing."
I thought for a minute. "How about if we try and take the focus off of you? What if we try and make a bit of a game out of it?"
"So let's look at the court cards," I said. "In tarot, each suit has a page, a knight, a queen, and a king. Generally, they represent people or the qualities of types of people. Oddly, they correspond to the Myers Brigg categorizations, but in a more, or less, confusing way depending on how you think about it. What I think might be fun for you is to go into your family gathering seeing if you can match your family members to the court cards. That'll keep your brain from eating you alive, and it can also help you remember that just how each card can have a reversed meaning, each personality type can have ways in which they're wonderful, and ways in which they're not."
I explained to him how people often have trouble with the court cards, but that they're easier to pin down if you realize they're categorized fairly simply:
- page - a young person, a teen.
- knight - a young adult, maybe in their 20's.
- queen - a mature feminine person
- king - a mature masculine person
by what they do:
- page - innocent, full of energy and trying to make big changes.
- knight - on a quest, full of motion, searching or advancing.
- queen - provides a nurturing space or environment.
- king - master of their domain.
by their element:
- cups - emotions and relationships.
- wands - passions, creativity, desires.
- swords - the mind and communication.
- pentacles - the physical body and material things.
So, a young cousin who's always looking for "Mr. Right" could be the knight of cups. Your sister who just applied to art school is the page of pentacles. Roles don't always have to be assigned by gender -- your father who cooked everything and wants the whole dinner to go well might be the queen of pentacles, where your mother, who tells everyone where to sit and mediates the conversations could be the king of swords.
Anyway you cut it, it makes for a lot of fun, and probably beats wishing you could just choke on your turkey.