How to use the major arcana as a life reference

The first 22 cards in a tarot deck are called the major arcana. Sequentially, they bring to light all the experiences that every individual will encounter within their life time. Although this path has been called many things over the years, its traditional name is ‘The Fool’s Journey’.

What you may not know, because it’s seldom explained, is that The Fool’s Journey is not a map of your life journey but a reference. You see, no two journeys are identical. Everyone walks a unique path. We all start in the same place and ultimately end in the same place, and that is where the similarities stop. Everything in between the beginning and end is uncharted territory that each person must discover and interact with during the course of their life.

What this means, in terms of The Fool’s Journey, is that your life path will not necessarily follow its sequential order. You’ll start by encountering the Fool but your next encounter may not be with the Magician but with the Tower instead. Not only will your life path not positively follow the sequence of the major arcana but based upon what you learn and how you use that knowledge, you might encounter the same type of experience multiple times.

By shuffling the major arcana and drawing a card you can determine which life experience you’re currently in. With this understanding, you can draw minor arcana cards to determine how you can get the best possible outcomes from that experience.

I suggest doing this at least once a year. In this manner you can keep abreast of the changing environment (sometimes the changes are so subtle that you might miss them) and tweak your life style to flow with the transformations. Although this exercise will not guarantee a carefree life. it will allow you to navigate it with as little distress as possible.

In the tarot course Lyn and I teach, we expand upon this technique so each of our students can use it with confidence and ease.

To find out more about our tarot course follow this link



Tarot, an all purpose tool

Hello Traveller,

My tarot walk spans some 30 odd years now, and what a journey it has been. In my prior post I shared how tarot found me. When it did, I knew that it was a magical guide but I had no concept of all the places it would lead me or that it would be  continuing to do so for the rest of my life.

What I once considered a prediction and self help tool has proven to be so much more. Over the years, I’ve found  that tarot can easily be a part of everything I do.

I use it in counseling and consultations to quickly get to the root of my client’s challenges. Once there, I use it to help my client and I come up with the best healing processes as well as the approximate amount of healing time they can expect.

When I’m having difficulty relating to someone, I use the tarot to better understand where they are coming from. I use the cards to probe into their personality type as well as any challenges they may be facing at the time. I only go deep enough to find some common ground and empathy. After all, I don’t want to invade their privacy any more than is necessary.

When it’s time for magick, tarot is by my side serving a number of purposes. Before I cast a spell I use it to find out if there’s any further information I wasn’t aware of about my target. At the same time, I check to find out what the collateral damage will be, in case I’m not willing to pay the cost. Then I use the cards to lay out my intent, work as my focus, and direct the power to where I want it to go.

Sometimes my motivation for writing wanes because I simply don’t feel inspired. In those times, I reach for one of my tarot decks and begin to lay our the cards, sometimes in patterns and sometimes in rows or columns. Once this process begins, it only takes a few moments for a story to form in my mind.

As an urban shaman, I see and communicate with spirits frequently. Most of the time, I understand what they’re revealing to me. However, every now and then, their message is incoherent. Tarot to the rescue once again. It easily bridges the communication gap by acting as a translator.

Astral travel is a necessary part of my purpose. In order to get to and from the places I need to go, I must use portals. Although I can create one from scratch, and often do, I found that each card of the tarot can act as a pre-made door.

This short list is only a sampling of the things I use tarot for. If I listed them all, this post would turn into a series of books. Save it to say, that the only limitations on the tarot and what can be done with it are the ones imposed upon it by the user.

I decided long ago not to set any parameters on its usage. In return, it continues to expand into all areas of my life, always surprising me with a new to me usage. The day tarot found me has proven to be one of the most significant ones in my life.

May I read for you?

I was in my 30s at the time. Life as I knew it was falling down around me, all the dreams I’d bought into had become nightmares. Everyday, from the time I staggered out of bed, all I wanted to do was get back in it.

To avoid spending too much time stuck in my head, I did Tarot readings for the American Tarot Association. My box was always filled with requests. When I wasn’t working or spending time with my children, I poured endless hours helping others tap into their intuitions and work through all manner of problems, from lost objects to drug addictions.

One day I got an email that captured my attention. It was from a woman in England that I’d read for. She told me a little about herself and then requested to do a reading for me.


I was touched, so much so that I did something I rarely do; I said yes. Within a couple of days the reading was in my box, along with a note about how nervous she was. She needn’t of been; she was spot on.

That’s how I first met Lyn. From there, we chatted every chance we got. It wasn’t long until we knew we belonged together. This was only the first intervention of the Universe. From our realisation to the actual manifestation of our union, there would be many more. Without those interventions we’d never have made it.

The beauty of protection

For many years, the thought of being protected by anyone other than myself was an alien concept.

From day one, my parents taught me my survival was solely my responsibility. This lesson was backed by the less than friendly neighbourhood I grew up in. If you couldn’t defend yourself, you quickly became a victim. I saw what happened to some of those gentle spirits, and I quickly decided I’d never be one.

Being your own designated protector makes you tired, jaded and more than a little paranoid. You can only have acquaintances, because you don’t trust anyone’s motives. Anything that takes away the pain, without entangling you with another soul, seems like a good idea. So, you find yourself in some truly humiliating predicaments.

One day I just got tired, not just a little tired, bone weary. I sat down on a kerb with a bottle of whisky so I could sink into oblivion for just a while. Out of nowhere a preacher appeared and sat down beside me.

He said I didn’t have to go it alone. There was someone that would be happy to walk beside me and help me set boundaries and protect myself. I would’ve sent him packing if he’d started talking surrender like other preachers I heard before. Surrendering is for the weak, but I wouldn’t mind having a partner.

That was how I first met the spirit called Jesus. He was the first ascended master I ever worked with. He taught me there are trustworthy people out there and how to find them.  He also taught me that I had to accept the protection of others so I wouldn’t be too tired to use my gifts.

In return, it is my duty and honour to protect others so they too have a chance at a balanced, peaceful life.

From that time, I’ve accepted the protection of the trustworthy and offered protection in return. And everyday, I’m still amazed at what a wonderful way it is to live.

The Empress in my life

Once she’s through running her fingers through my hair and beard, I laugh merrily and smile warmly at her. I’ve run into the Empress many times under a variety of names.

She always appears when I’ve lost my focus and I’m sliding into a state of self pity, in those times when I’m having trouble remembering just how blessed I am.

When I was a child, she appeared in the forms of my mother, a neighbour, and a counselor, to name a few. In later life she took the forms of my girlfriends, spiritual sisters, mentors and wife.


With each visit she holds me reassuringly and allows me to blow off steam. When I’m spent, she cocks an eyebrow, and the humbling begins. She’s never abrasive, though I’ve often thought it would be easier if she was.

Eyes dancing and voice brimming with compassion, she simply names my blessings for me, one by one. When she’s done, I wonder how I ever let myself get so out of whack.

Save those times of self pity, that are thankfully becoming further between as I get older, I see the mark of the Empress everywhere.

She takes my pie in the sky dreams, they’re the only ones my mind will entertain, and shows me how to bring them into reality in practical ways.

Copyright Paul Thurman - The Urban Shaman

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