Hey, guys. Today we have a guest blogger – the lovely Megan Potter of Limitless Living. Thanks, Megan!
Look To the Deck with the DC Justice League Tarot
I have a few hard and fast rules when I read the tarot. The first is context, context, context. Each card needs to be brought back to it’s position (if you read in a spread) and everything needs to be continually brought back to and read through the lens of the question. Context is King.
But my other rule is “Look to the Deck”. Every deck brings with it it’s own personality, the voice of it’s artist and author, it’s very own layered implications. And yes, I can read any deck following the straight RWS interpretations, but there’s something magical that happens when you take the deck itself into account too. Lately, the deck I’ve been most impressed by, with it’s ability to layer and twist and enhance until it creates a voice of it’s own, is DC’s Justice League Tarot. I originally bought the deck because: Comic Book Tarot! *squee* Also: Wonder Woman!! *double squee*
But despite the fact that I’d read an article where Sara Richard revealed that she’d chosen to study the Tarot and then worked with DC to get the right characters on the right cards, the deck itself didn’t come with a book explaining who those characters were or why they’d made it onto the particular card. Fail DC, definitely a fail. All I have is a handy dandy list found right here on this blog (and originally sourced on WordPress) naming the characters on each card. Well this works just fine for the characters I know well, but what about the dozens I’ve only heard of or that are brand new to me? No help at all.
So I started looking them up. And not just the characters I didn’t know, I started looking up all of the characters who came up in a reading because it turned out – intentional or not – that the history of the comic book characters was adding a very real and powerful voice to the cards that was both relevant and adding insight to my readings. Here, see what I mean for yourself.
A few weeks ago the Page of Wands showed up in a diagnostic reading I was doing for a magic client. The way it showed up seemed to make it clear that the Page was actually referring to another person, not my client so I approached her to see who “he” might be. “I know this might be odd,” she asked me, “but could he be a Spirit Guide or Ancestor? There’s one who I’ve been talking to about this issue and that’s all that comes to mind.” Umm… I literally have no idea. The Page of Wands is illustrated with Doctor Fate’s helmet. I’d seen Doctor Fate in a storyline before but I didn’t really know him, so off I went to look the character up.
It turns out that Doctor Fate is a hero created by putting on the Helmet of Fate within which resides the spirit of Nabu. In his original incarnations Nabu would actually possess and take over the person wearing the helmet, but later he took on a role of guide. He empowered the wearer and communicated directly to them sharing his vast wisdom and insight into the situation. The Page of Wands is literally depicted by the vehicle of a spirit who offers guidance.
Naturally, I emailed her back to let her know that yes, I did think the Page was referring to her Spirit Guide and his role in the situation.
Last night while pulling cards I asked my husband if he’d like a card for the day. He told me sure, but he was sure I’d get a villain because it had definitely been a villain kind of day. The poor guy is suffering with bronchitis and had an overwhelmingly busy and exhausting day at his corporate job on top of it. All made even more horrible because he actively dislikes his job.
What I actually got was the Ace of Wands. *Insert head scratch* That just didn’t sound right.
I looked it up and discovered the card featured Phantom Stranger who (like many characters) has a series of possible origin stories which basically boil down to: He’s an immortal being (maybe an angel, maybe a being from another universe…) who’s been condemned to walk the Earth alone for eternity. The top of the DC Wikia page for him starts with this quote: “I steer but I cannot lead. That is my fate.” Condemned. Trapped. Effective, but unable to free himself. A being never meant to be in that world long term. This is so much my husband and how he feels in his day job.
With all that in mind I came back to the Ace of Wands, the beginning of passion a new thing you’re dying to leap into, but now the Justice League deck adds a story about how you’re being held back from moving into that new thing by some other “punishment” or how you feel powerless to lead this new thing into creation. It’s definitely the “I’d really rather be…” card. Yes, definitely his day.
Blue Beetle and Firestorm
This extra layer of story and meaning turns out to work whether you’re looking at just one card in a reading or watching for patterns and stories that run through the whole reading. Let me tell you what I mean, this week a Wonder reached out for support. Something had happened in her marriage that made her feel like she was drowning so I reached out to catch her and while talking I pulled three cards. I knew no more about the situation than you do now.
I read the cards based on their Tarot alone and she agreed that they were exactly right, but while we were talking I was just looking at the cards and I noticed something. Two of the three cards featured super heroes who were actually “partnered” and we were talking about a marriage, could looking at these two particular heroes give me a little more insight about the marriage?
I know the Blue Beetle from the Young Justice cartoon, though he’s had several incarnations there’s always one core feature: the Blue Beetle Scarab. The scarab is a piece of alien technology that is designed to bond with a human and erase their personality overwriting them with the programming left in it turning the human into an agent for alien take over. It bonds as a symbiotic partner for the human part of the Blue Beetle it can offer information (much like the Helmet of Fate), it can create wings and body armour, and generally turn it’s average human partner into a super hero. But… it could also take him over and there is literally nothing he could do about that.
Firestorm (who you can see depicted on the DC show Legends of Tomorrow) on the other hand is actually two different people who can combine into one hero. When this happens the younger partner becomes the “body” and the older partner becomes simply a voice in his mind who constantly directs and lectures while they are combined. This arrangement constantly causes infighting between the two partners about who should be in charge and who gets to choose what they’re going to do in any given situation.
In both these relationships I see a potential problem within the power dynamic. When things are going well things seem fine, they’ve learnt to work together but if push comes to shove each partnership has a member who’d have no choice but to be carried along with what the other partner decides. The seeming state of balance exists because the subtly more powerful partner chooses not to exert his ability to take over, for now.
“Whatever is causing the current urgency in your marriage,” I cautioned her, “the root of the issue that you’re going to have to address is the very thing that allowed this to happen, the fact that you have an imbalance of power in your marriage and if he chooses to exert his will you’ll really have no recourse. Address the power imbalance and you’ll be addressing this issue too.”
It’s always been my opinion that if Tarot works on coincidence and synchronicity we, the readers, can’t afford to overlook any element that just happened to turn out that way. And that include which deck you’re using. Why are you reading for this person, at this time, with that particular deck? Every deck has it’s own voice, reasons for why each decision was made, and an intended purpose or overarching story to tell. A story that it’s creator thought lent something to the cannon of the Tarot, something that needed to be heard or seen. Did DC decide to make a Tarot deck because it occurred to them they could make some good money off of it? Or did someone in the company realize that Super Heroes, themselves already inclined toward archetypal storytelling, also had something to add to the Tarot cannon?
Look to your deck, and then you tell me.