Teaching Tarot and the New Student…some initial thoughts
I work at a college in the library and I’m part of many college-wide discussions about how to reach our students so that they learn. And much greater than that, they are excited and engaged in the learning process; further that students become passionate about the subject and it becomes a life-long pursuit or interest. It’s what makes us interesting human beings. And then when we reach out to one another, mind to mind, to share our passions, we are become community. Teachers and students alike become community. Passionate, knowledgeable, reflective, thoughtful, and engaged. We argue, we teach, we laugh, we learn, and we play as we learn.
Students who are there because the class is required, are not in this community yet. It takes some doing to get them to that place of passion and delight. For some, there will be topics that never excite them. For others, it will ignite them and the fire will burn for a lifetime.
Most students of Tarot come because they are interested: some are passionately drawn to the cards, perhaps for a long time; some because they are curious; and some because it’s something daring and even dangerous. For teachers of Tarot, we often get a “leg up,” or an extra boost because we don’t have to lure, seduce, and convince a reluctant learner to become engaged in our passionate discoveries.
At the same time, we can’t assume that everyone is going to become instantly attuned to the cards. It is an intimdating subject to study and learn. Seventy-eight cards with upright meanings, reversals, dignities, correspondences, images, and more. Centuries of writings, opinions, rumors, theories, and arguments can cause a student to run screaming to some other, more apparently simple divinitory system.
Then there’s the whoo whoo factor, both good and bad. The Devil’s Picture Book, a Wicked Pack of Cards are really something to fear by some folks and some of our students may have grown up with that idea. It is something to overcome. Then there’s the other side of the whoo whoo factor. People who come to the Tarot because they are following a spirituality that not only accepts but assumes that their practitioners will use some sort of divination. I’ll admit I was on both sides of this coin, having been in a fundamentalist cult and then following an earth-based religion. As teachers, we may have to temper one or other of those expectations.
On the other hand, we have a much greater change to lure our students into love of the Tarot because they are in the class voluntarily. All we have to do is seduce them gracefully and with the knowledge that a wicked deck of cards brings a lifetime of wisdom, passion, devotion, strength, and learning.