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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Tarot and the 12 Steps: 10-12

This is the 4th of 4 posts examining the connection between the first 12 tarot majors and the 12 steps of addiction recovery.  

Steps 1-3
Steps 4-6
Steps 7-9

10. We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. 

Of Step 10, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous says, 'We have entered the world of the Spirit. Our next function is to grow in understanding and effectiveness. This is not an overnight matter. It should continue for our lifetime' (page 84).

And so we have the Hermit, the tarot major that typifies a life's devotion to pursuing personal (and cosmic) truths through introspection, meditation, and continuous self-reflection, resulting in constant spiritual growth.

There are two prayers in AA that, according to the Big Book, go with Step 11, but I think they fit very well with Step 10, and certainly with the Hermit:

Morning prayer-
God, inspire my thinking, decisions and intuitions today. Help me to relax and take it easy. Free me from doubt and indecision. Guide me through this day and show me my next step. God, show me what I need to do to take care of any problems. I ask all these things that I may be of maximum service to you and my fellow man. In the spirit of the Steps I pray. AMEN

Evening prayer-
God, forgive me where I have been resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid today. Help me to not keep anything to myself but to discuss it all openly with another person - show me where I owe an apology and help me make it. Help me to be kind and loving to all people. Use me in the mainstream of life, God. Free me of worry, remorse or morbid (sick) reflections that I may be of usefulness to others. AMEN

These come from page 86 of the Big Book and are not framed in the now-familiar 'positive affirmation' style, but they do show a devotion to a frank and open self-inventory, and true dedication to growth. (And the Hermit would surely be more familiar with these prayers than 'Every day in every way, I'm getting better and better'!)

 11. We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

We have more of that rather disturbing God talk here. This time we are told to pray 'only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out,' which I know for some of my readers will cause apoplectic rage, or at least a shudder. That's just Bill W's language, though, and the language of his time. You can mean it like that if want to, or you can look at it a little differently. We do, after all, have the Wheel of Fortune here.

What could it mean, this Wheel of Fortune? And does it fit in with 'knowledge of God's will'?

The truth is, we don't know what's going to happen from one moment to the next, and that is very scary. Eleanor Roosevelt memorably said, 'There never has been security. No man has ever known what he would meet around the next corner.' How can we cope in the face of such uncertainty? How can we go on?

We just have to be ready to roll with it, and trust that we will survive it, and ultimately, I believe that is what Step 11 is all about.

'We constantly remind ourselves that we are no longer running the show,' says the Big Book, 'humbly saying to ourselves many times each day, "Thy will be done".'  -- In other words, whatever happens, happens. -- 'We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly, as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves.'

That sounds like letting that Wheel turn round and round to me. We can't spin it, and we sure can't make it stop. Let 'er spin! Thy will be done.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. 

Now, this particular picture of the maiden and the lion isn't quite as fraught as some, but Strength is just perfect for Step 12, which is about how key it is for addicts to work with other addicts.
    'Practical experience shows that NOTHING will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry THIS message to other alcoholics! You can help when NO ONE else can. You can secure their confidence when others fail' ~ Big Book of Alcoholics (page 89). 

    There are always two shades to the Strength card, and readers will bring them both out in readings. 1) The gentle charm of the maiden will soothe the 'beast', and 2) We can tame our own baser nature through higher means. So we can see instantly how this applies to Step 12. When we help other addicts, we are helping them soothe their beast, and we are also taming our own inner troubles. It fits!

    Having looked at them in detail, I believe that the first 12 tarot majors do fit the progression of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous very well. 

    Once again tarot proves itself to fit every life situation. Once again, I am amazed by it. 


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, it has been very interesting. :)

  2. The Strength card reminds me of the phrase "principles before personalities" often spoken of in meetings. I have truly enjoyed following your stroll through the cards and Steps, Carla. For those who are uncomfortable with the "God" language Bill used, I would point them to the Appendix II that was added later that speaks of an "inner resource":

    1. It has helped me think about the Steps in a way that I can relate to instantly. Hopefully it will help me memorise them, too, though I haven't managed that quite yet. :)

  3. great series even if the god stuff drives me crazy.
    Hope all is well with you~

    1. One day at a time, Sharyn. :) Thanks so much for commenting.

  4. Ha. Well what do you know. Tarot is pretty amazing, but so is the lady who writes this blog. :)

    1. Now who's going to tackle putting court cards to these? I challenge you!

  5. Let 'er spin! Interesting, as that's definitely one that troubles more than just addicts. So, that's another interpretation to add to my arsenal for the Wheel, though I may phrase it 'Let go and let Goddess' :D

    1. 'Let go and let Goddess' is good, but I don't believe in a Goddess either. 'Let go and let Universal Mind' doesn't scan. :) I don't mind the words God and Jesus, though, as you know. And I quite often use Mary as a Goddess figure. My practice is, sometimes, quite steeped in Christian iconography/pantheon.

    2. As I say, it's just my personal preference in phrasing, and I can see your point about "Let go and let Universal Mind" :D

  6. I love this whole article.... it has great personal relevance to me.... and I will be keeping it for further perusal. Thank youfor your wise words ��

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, Jayd22. :)