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Monday, 27 October 2014

Tarot and the 12 Steps: 1-3


This is the first in a series of 4 posts in which I examine how (if at all) the first 12 tarot majors fit in with the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (and thus all 12-step recovery programs.)

1. We admitted we were powerless over _______, that our lives had become unmanageable.  

Tarot readers usually think of the Fool as representing  positive energy and possibility, and often overlook his very harmful shadow side. The Fool can equally be impulsive, reckless, heedless, ignoring advice, indiscreet, stupid, lacking in judgement, childish, making bad decisions, and in dire peril of harming both himself and those around him at all times. The Fool can easily embody the bravado and overconfidence of the addict who thinks they've got it all under control, or that no harm can come to them, or that they don't really care whether something harms them or not, and who take no notice at all of the impact of their actions on others, helplessly watching them put themselves in danger.

At some point, the Fool may look down and realise...'Oh my god, I'm taking a step off a cliff! I'm falling off a f**ing cliff! How did I get into this position? Where can I turn? What can I do? How can ever, ever get out of this stupid perilous position I have got myself into?'

The Fool will have admitted that he is powerless over the impulses that got him where he is, and that yes, absolutely, where he stands now, his life has become unmanageable. (Is his little dog codependent, that's another question!)

2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Readers will often use the Magician as a means of talking about having the 'tools for success within us'. The Magician is usually illustrated with symbols of the four suits - wands, cups, swords, coins - ranged on a table before him, and we interpret the card as a message of encouragement. 'You can make things happen. You can bring your dreams into reality. You have the power of manifestation. You can make what you imagine real,' we say. But there is a crucial aspect of the Magician that cannot be left out. He raises his right hand toward the sky (above) and points his left hand to the ground (below). He has no power in himself -- he's a superconductor! Just what is the source of this power that makes dreams manifest? It's not coming from within the Magician. He is a conduit for it, he is drawing down power from a higher source. He is accessing the infinite. Without this power source, the Magician can't do diddly. In step 2, we admit we are in the same position. But we realise and come to believe that, like the Magician, we are able to access that power and do the seeming impossible -- restore our lives to sanity.

3. We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him

The High Priestess, we tell our clients, is about 'inner knowing' and please note that the original wording of Step 3 has the phrase 'as we understood him' in italics. We are not turning our will and our lives over to a God imposed upon us from outside ourselves, a God that we have read about, or that someone has preached to us about, or that we saw depicted in a stained glass window. This is the God as we understand him, the God that emerges from behind our own inner veil of understanding, a God that we never have to express to others, a God we don't even have to 'understand', but perhaps to intuit, sense, or just feel in some way. Whatever that power is, we know it is bigger than us and we can decide to surrender to it. When we surrender to it, we know we are surrendering to something that resonates deeply within, not something that we have had to beat into our heads or force ourselves to believe in.

Those made good sense to me. We'll have a look at the next three tomorrow and see if the trend continues.

Daniloff Tarot (2012).

Steps 4-6

Steps 7-9

Steps 10-12


  1. Especially the High Priestess resonated a lot with me. I have the tendency to over think God, reading and researching instead of turning inwards and meet God
    Thank you for reminding me

  2. Wow, I never thought about using Tarot for the 12 steps. I look forward to seeing if the next cards follow along as nicely as the first three. Brilliant Carla! Blessed Be my friend.

    1. I'd be very interested in your added insights. :)

  3. Funny, I can imagine other cards working as well for some of these, like the Tower for the first step and the Hierophant for the second. Still, your approach and explanations also flow nicely, and certainly make for a neater structure. Will look forward to seeing how this progresses :)

    1. Yes, it would be simple to match a card to each, but I wanted to see if there was a possibility that the cards IN ORDER still manage to resonate in some way with each step, in order. :)