Tarot Conversations: All the Pleasure, None of the Guilt

For the month of June, the Tarot Rebels Blog Hop subject is "Guilty Pleasures," but it occurred to me that regardless of how I try to twist the perspective, guilt is one thing that --for me at least -- doesn't enter into the equation anywhere.

So let's go with indulgences, maybe? Frivolities which serve no real logical or rational purpose. One could argue that there aren't many of these either, that the trappings in which we indulge are part of the atmosphere, the ambiance, the process that deepens our connection with the tools, tapping into our subconscious.

Mary-el tarot, blue silk scarf wrap.

In the course of the past six months or so, I starting focusing on how I house my decks. The reading cloths in which I fold my cards contribute to the sensory experience and immersion, creating a tactile trigger for the subconscious engagement. I doubt I'll ever grope velvet or silk with quite the same emotive response in the future; all of my decks have homes that incorporate one or the other, if not both.

That enriching of the sensory spectrum of engagement for the reading experience is certainly an indulgence. Far from a necessity, it is simply my active means of heightening the immersion, of creating an intuitive trigger beyond the imagery of the cards and the information I've studied and stored in my brain. In an effort to expand that sensory engagement in a pattern of reinforcing behaviors, I created a witch hazel base blend of essential oils and herbs which I use exclusively for shadow work, as those sessions tend to last an hour or more and take place on days when I'm not required to engage in other activities before it wears off.

Green silk, black velvet: Trionfi della Luna.

What drives this? Well, it's an offshoot of a lesson I learned about writing techniques for audience engagement and reader immersion. The more senses incorporated into a descriptive sequence, the more engaged the reader becomes, the richer the experience is for them. Hit all five and you're likely to overwhelm them, but if the scene is one of significant emotional intensity, that might not be a bad thing, right? The same is true, after all, for our memories -- those associated with specific aromas or smells are more intense, more readily recalled when the odor is encountered in the future. The perfume of honeysuckle, the robust aroma of a field of fresh-cut alfalfa, clean linens dried on the clothes line in the summer sun.

I blame it partly on too many psychology courses, but understanding how my mind works certainly goes a long way to optimizing my own progress and performance, to controlling and programming how my intuitive subconscious engages, responds, or switches on and off. I'll admit I try to employ some of those same techniques while writing. It certainly doesn't hurt to be a consciously manipulative artist, after all.

Wildwood tarot, old blue silk scarf in a wooden box.

And anyway, what's the point in feeling guilty for a choice you've made, regardless of how self indulgent it may seem from someone else's perspective? Their opinions have nothing at all to do with you and everything to do with them. Guilt has no place in any of it, nor does regret. We each do the best we can with what we have, where we are. Nothing more is required. Nothing more can be done. Discover yourself. Know  yourself. Use that knowledge to further your path to your goals and dreams, to the journey along your chosen spiritual path. And fuck what the naysayers think.

Click through the link below to visit the other blogs participating in June's hop.


  1. I treat my decks with so much love and respect, I'm sure to outside eyes who do not practice it may sometimes look indulgent. So be it, I don't know of any culture who doesn't treat thier ritual tools with reverence! Like you, being mindful of set and setting enhances my work with tarot deeply other than just making it more enjoyable.

    I certainly don't feel any guilt about in my tarot practice (nor really, anything in life) but took this topic more in the nature of it being a turn of phrase, with a "guilty pleasure" being something that originated as an indulgence... In my case, it was finding out that my surface enjoyment in a deck that I didn't take particularly seriously when I first got it runs much deeper that it being superficially pretty. Being someone who eschews buying things simply for the sake of having them, that was a pretty big indulgence on my part!

  2. Ah man, the engaging of the senses really hit home for me. I have to admit that when I'm reading for myself I often neglect this - note to self - my own reads are sacred too! Loved this Rhi, and the pics are stunning

  3. I have silk or velvet bags for most of my working decks, and a couple of reading cloths that I use on a regular basis. I often have Palo Santo or incense burning when I am reading at home.
    The odd thing is that until I read this post, I never thought about the importance of engaging the senses as you describe. But somehow I seem to have managed to figure it out for myself (a bit).
    Thank you for bringing this to the forefront!


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