Astrology and the Tarot
Astrology and the Tarot
„The doors to the world of the wild are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door.“
Clarissa Pinkola Estes
In 1985 I had my first astrological consultation. I was not yet 20 old, I had begun studying musicology at Copenhagen University, wanting very much to become a classical singer.
A very dear friend at the University had had a consultation with a renowned Danish astrologer, Paul Mahler Dam. I found it exciting, called him and booked my own consultation. Three weeks later I visited him and his clairvoyant wife Anne-Lise in their house in Glostrup, a suburb to Copenhagen.
The price was staggering 750 Danish Kroner, 100 Euro. At that time, it was a lot of money, especially for a student. But I got an introduction to the world of well-applied astrology and an amazing overview of my personal strengths and not least my life challenges.
As they said, astrology can show us what potentials and what dangers lie within us and ahead of us, but we must learn to steer our spaceship ourselves. After the consultation, I was invited for dinner, and we ended the evening singing together.
I found that the money was very well given out indeed. Astrology was clearly a very helpful tool, and it certainly spoke directly to me.
One of the things they said to me was to sing along. Later in life I would look much deeper into the matters, sing in a much different way and even be able to help people with death and dying with my singing.
That was of course very hairy and strange at 19, but I followed the first part of their advice and sang along. Not so difficult to follow anyway.
In the breaks between singing, I read books about astrology. I taught myself how to draw an astrological chart, it was all done by hand in those days, and it took quite a bit of calculation to get it right.
I enthusiastically gave friends free advice. Which, surprisingly, they found was very accurate.
1987 I auditioned for The Royal Danish Academy of Music and was accepted as a solo voice student. My voice teacher Kirsten Hermansen was also an astrology addict, but apart from that I got so hooked on singing that I left astrology in a drawer in my cupboard waiting for a rainy day where I would take it up again.
I sang along.
22 years later, in 2009, after a lot of singing and too many rainy days, I had gone through a divorce and a good deal of sexual sicknesses, I found myself both depressed and very eager to start a new life.
I moved to Berlin and felt it was time to get a new astrological consultation.
By this time, I did know some of my personal challenges very well. One of them is an otherwise very practical ability to tune into the mind of others, into the spheres of music and other worlds.
But it could also be a very gullible naivety. I could very easily believe almost anything people would tell me.
I checked the internet and found a man who was also a trained psychologist, the leader of the Berlin Astrologie Zentrum, Markus Jehle.
Markus was good as gold; he gave me my life’s second great impulse toward the world of astrology.
One of the remarkable things Markus said to me, was that I was going to go through a big transformation, that I would hardy recognize myself afterwards, and when everyone would think I was down and out, I would rise and never again stop on my way.
At the same time, I taught myself to work with the Tarot, another wonderful tool which spoke very directly to me.
A lot of things had happened in the world of astrology since the 80s.
Technically, the computerized calculation of astrological charts had made all the hard work much easier.
Better telescopes had discovered new astrological bodies, asteroids, which had become an interesting spice to the traditional planetary astrology.
Most important, no doubt, was the discovery (1977) and implementation of the Centaur Chiron, the so-called Wounded Healer.
Social media had made it possible to exchange thoughts and insights with like-minded students and masters. There were many different ways to go and many different approaches to astrology.
To my delight, I got to know a wonderful bunch of astrologers and tarot readers through Facebook groups. A lot of delightful high-level crazy (differently gifted) people, some of who’s crazy spoke very well with my own.
Some of them feel like close friends without us ever having met each other.
My enthusiasm was as great or maybe even greater than in the old days. It was obvious to me at the time that I needed to find ways to steer my spaceship out of some deep holes that it found itself very attracted to get into but rather difficult to get out of again. It was not just for fun.
Having skipped more than 20 years of study, I sometimes felt that I was on a much different level than the other astrologers of my generation.
But I was always a fast learner, and I discovered that the mixture of sensitivity and accuracy that you need to read and interpret a musical score, which I had been practising for so many years, was very much the same that you needed to read and interpret an astrological chart or for a tarot reading.
My personal challenges with sexual diseases and sex and drug addictions gave me some unique references that you only experience in the field.
It certainly had provided me with my own approach (and voice) which actually was inspiring for my fellow astrologers and for the people I read for.
After some very difficult years where I many times thought that the drug addiction would be impossible to work through, I managed a new start in 2016.
One can easily compare the battle with addiction with a kind of perpetual dying, and I discovered that there was a lot of meaning in dedicating an important part of my singing life to comfort in sorrow.
Another gift that I found on my way was my sense of humour, which has helped me get through a lot of the ridiculous challenges, that I have had an irresistible urge to expose myself to.
What seemed incomprehensible to the 19-year-old, that I should find a meaning singing about death, and what seemed insurmountable to the 44-year-old, that I would go through my own private hell and rise again, now are very real applicated experiences in life at 57.
Sensitivity, humour and a good deal of old-fashioned classical discipline have helped me a lot on my way, and it is a source of great joy to me when I can accompany some of my fellow travellers a bit on their way.
I can still tune in on other people very well, I am, thankfully, still a big enthusiast, but a lot of the childish naivety has had to be let go on the way. To see and to like my fellows as they are, is not the worst exchange.
Why astrology and tarot
What is it that makes astrology and the tarot so exciting, why do some of us find so much meaning in those fields? And why do others reject it so vehemently?
It is very easy to find no sense in drawing a random card and let it have any meaning at all in a given situation. It is also easy to argue that stars very far away hardly can have any influence of a person’s character or the quality of times we are living in.
But it is not my mission with this piece to attempt to convince anyone.
Some people come for a reading out of curiosity, but many people come when a situation is impossible to bear, when the organised therapeutic system gives no hope or solution or make no sense.
In these cases astrology and tarot can help you connect to a different frequency which might give you a different perspective.
Some people have one reading in their lives and others have more continued sessions. Both methods have their value.
„Your confusion is not pathology, it is path. It has something to show you that clarity could never reveal. The nature of chaos is wisdom, but you must provide safe passage for the mystery to unfold. „
If you can read a musical score, you can hear the whole musical development of a piece with your inner ears.
My first astrological chartdrawing
If you can read an astrological chart, you can see the quality of that exact moment of time, most often the moment when a person was born.
If you can read an ephemeris, a table showing the movements of the planets, you understand the development of time.
You can see a person’s basic ways of being and of acting, what goes so easy that he might not even notice that it goes well, and which life challenges he will always be subjected to. You can see when which parts of a person’s life will be challenged and blocked, and when it will be easier to move forward. It is not for you to judge whether he is good or bad, however.
You cannot remove the obstacles, your parents will still have done something wrong, your lover will still leave you or you him, you will still get sick and one day you will also die.
But through an understanding of the timeliness of a certain challenge you can both find an acceptance that this difficulty is happening in this moment of life and a way of working with it instead of resisting it.
You can learn to design a life where you provide more of the basic things that nurture you and give you joy, and if not to totally avoid situations and people who take away your energy and courage, you can learn not to let their actions affect you so much.
If you know that a challenging situation will last for many months you can find your ability to endure and slowly evolve instead of fighting a lost battle trying to solve it immediately.
You may or may not meet a tall dark stranger, but you can indeed learn to find his desirable character traits within yourself.
„Great heroes need great sorrows and burdens, or half their greatness goes unnoticed. It is all part of the fairy tale.“
Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn
A psychotherapist once said to me that he saw astrology and the tarot as a kind of poetic therapeutic tool. Being a poet myself I could easily connect to that picture.
What does poetry do? Among other things, poetry lifts the words into a different wavelength where you get an opportunity to experience a situation from a different perspective and through that get a different kind of insight.
A singer with a sense of poetry can taste the words in his mouth.
In ancient tarot reading, you would encounter a lot of things happening from the outside.
You would indeed meet the tall dark stranger, you would lose or gain money, you would be told if he really loves you, and a dear person would get sick, recover or maybe die.
This still happens. Especially at marketplaces and country fairs.
But today most tarot readers use the cards to search for inner meanings.
A tarot reader can see a single card or a whole spread as an indication of which themes are acting out in a given situation.
Is it time to act, time to reflect, time for joy, time for grieving? Often it is a mixture of all these components at the same time.
The tarot operates with the same understanding of elements as astrology in the Minor Arcana (The Small Secret): There are 13 cards of Fire (passion), earth (body), water (emotion) and air (thought).
If a spread is dominated by Wands (fire), it is time to get going, if by Pentacles (earth) how do you nurture your body and your material circumstances, if by Cups (water) it is time to connect to your heart, if by (Swords) air to look at how your mind acts, constructively and destructively.
The tarot also offers the so called “Journey of the Hero”. The 22 cards of the Major Arcana (The Big Secret) open for an understanding of our perpetual personal journey to become the Hero of our own life.
Not all heroic battles are fought in war, not all heroes need to slay a dragon. But on the Hero’s Journey the tarot can help you to meet and befriend your own inner dragons. And maybe teach them to dance.
To me, working with theses wonderful tools give a lot of meaning. They have certainly helped me both to understand myself better and why certain things happen at a certain time.
It does not necessarily make a difficult situation easier to have an understanding of why it happens.
But for an impatient action-oriented person like myself, learning to give myself time, to dose all the activity with moments of leisure and to trust that things will develop and flourish in the right time is indeed a great gift.
„Heroes know that things must happen when it is time for them to happen. A quest may not simply be abandoned; unicorns may go unrescued for a long time, but not forever; a happy ending cannot come in the middle of the story.“
Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn