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Sunday, 26 October 2014

Tarot and the 12 Steps

12-Step recovery programs are very popular and the amazing thing about them is they seem to apply to and work with any addiction; it doesn't matter what. Tarot is also a system that will fit any mental or spiritual journey, no matter what. So I thought I'd take a look at how the 12 Steps fit in with tarot.

Turns out I'm not the first to look at this. I found this guy's attempt: The 12 Steps of the Tarot, which appears to have been written in 2009, but I don't think he got past step 8. I don't know if he ran out of steam or what. I am not 100% with him on some of his points, but it's worth looking at. He says it is the work of someone called Antony Oliver Smith, but I can't find anymore about that. Tori Hartman has written an e-book called '12 Step Tarot' which correlates tarot cards to the 12 steps, focusing on the minors. I haven't read it and don't have the money to buy it just out of idle curiosity, so I will just have to wonder what her thoughts are. I don't think it's what I had in mind anyway, as she uses the 12 steps as a framework for learning to read tarot, rather than fitting the 12 steps to actual tarot cards (as far as I can tell).

So first let's just take a look at the 12 Steps. They began with Alcoholics Anonymous in 1939, and it's good to look at the original wording:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. 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.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Many people are put off by the God talk in AA/12-step language, and I can understand why that rankles. There are many variations available online,  I found this version at 12stepsource.com which seems acceptable: 
  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe and to accept that we needed strengths beyond our awareness and resources to restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to entrust our will and our lives to the care of the collective wisdom and resources of those who have searched before us.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to ourselves without reservation, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were ready to accept help in letting go of all our defects of character.
  7. With humility and openness sought to eliminate our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through meditation to improve our spiritual awareness and our understanding of the AA way of life and to discover the power to carry out that way of life.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

So those are the 12 steps. Personally, I prefer the original, because I have no trouble with the word 'God' meaning anything that a person wants it to mean.

Now how do the 12 steps fit the tarot? Do the first 12 majors really fit the 12 steps? Could it be that straightforward? Let's take a look over the next few days. My goal is to cover 3 steps and cards per day. :) 


8 comments:

  1. Interesting concept. I prefer the wording of the second set overall, but at least the original version always included "as we understood Him". Will look forward to reading your take on the cards...

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    1. I sometimes use the word God in my spiritual practice anyway...and for me, it opens up the matter to that which is beyond me, greater than me, whatever the words for it might be. Horse for courses! Long as we all get to the finish line in one piece. :)

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  2. Three steps a day:That sound a lot like you're taking a sprint towards recovery :D

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    1. Not at all, I'm merely trying to identify connections between tarot cards and the 12 steps.

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    2. Sorry I've misunderstood :)

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    3. No,no! Not a problem. :D

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  3. Being in recovery myself for 20 years, I find this interesting and I regularly relate the Tarot with the program because it is intrinsically my way of living, but not specifically the Steps in direct relationship with the cards. I'll be curious to see what you come up with.

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