My name is Emily Clare.
A few days into 2015, I unearthed a long-neglected plastic storage bin in my closet and pulled out my old tarot deck, which I had probably purchased about 15 years before, and which had been lying dormant at least a decade. When I plunked down $20 of my allowance for that deck as a teenager, I was drawn to the cards but really didn’t know why. I mean, cards are cool right? It feels good to shuffle them, turn them over, to hold a big, fat deck in your hand. But I knew nothing about tarot and had nobody to encourage my learning (in fact, most people in my life actively discouraged it) and so I eventually put the cards aside.
When I brought the cards out again, I just felt something click. I realized that tarot cards aren’t about predicting the future. Rather, they reflect our blind spots back to us and show us things that our conscious, willful mind might miss amidst the problems of our everyday lives. And so slowly, timidly, I picked them up again and began to shuffle…
To get the labels out of the way (especially since things are always more complicated than the labels make them out to be): Seon/whitebread American Buddhist, queer, vegan, INFJ, catmom. I am a cissexual/cisgender woman (or maybe a demiwoman–haven’t figured that one out yet), a white USian of mostly Scottish and German descent, and temporarily able-bodied. I have a Ph.D. in British literature, and I specialize in literature about the environment from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries. Right now, I have a cool job at a library.
The more comfortable with tarot I become, the more I am beginning to relate it to Buddhist teachings, since that is the framework through which I make sense of things. For me, this means that, like many others over the past few decades, I am moving away from more traditional systems of studying tarot, such as the occult, and toward a psychological/spiritual framework. (This is not to impugn the occult–it’s just not my style.) I am also beginning to figure out ways of detaching tarot from its traditionally rigid gender roles.
When I read cards, I focus on how the cards interact through elemental dignities and numbers, as well as visual symbols. I do not consider myself psychic, although I believe I am gifted with intuition (being an INFJ and all.) Buddhist perspectives always leak into my readings, as you will find out quickly if you read any of my blog posts.