Into the Mystic
It used to be the case that tarot cards and astrology would conjour up ideas of “fortune-tellers” in dusty rooms and horoscopes in the back of papers. However, in recent years more and more people have been seeking out these practices as a complementary therapy, a method of reflection and a way of accessing their intuition.
Etain Finn met with Astrology expert and energy healer Katrina Brady to discuss how those curious about tarot and astrology could explore and learn from them.
Katrina began her journey with mystical arts in her teens, when strange experiences led her to explore tarot cards and readings. She examined vedic astrology on a trip to India as an anthropology student in college. During her time with the local astrologer she found that the concepts of predestined fate in vedic astrology didn’t resonate with her. In continuing her studies of astrology she chose to use it as a form of understanding , awareness and guidance rather than a method of predicting predetermined outcomes over which people have no power or influence. Katrina says she understands why this approach to astrology is of appeal in some cultures where there is a lack of choice, but she doesn’t subscribe to a cause and effect approach.
“A big part of my work is normalising spirituality in a sense and helping others tune into themselves/intuition for a deeper sense of connection/well being. For me, I like to take a modern approach to these ancient tools as a way to make them understandable, approachable, and useful so as to help others live a more spiritually enriched life.“
The tarot deck of cards is heavily influenced by astrology. Katrina advises that the tarot is a very accessible way of exploring the mystical. The visual element and the use of the cards to form a story approach can be easy for a beginner to understand.
I asked Katrina to complete a reading for me when we met. We used the Celtic Druid deck of tarot cards. I found these cards visually appealing even on a purely superficial level. I also connected with the Celtic element due to the origins of my own name.
She passed me the deck to shuffle and allowed me to select five cards that I was drawn to. I did this on three consecutive occasions. Although I didn’t (or perhaps more accurately didn’t think I had) any specific questions or intent to focus on any one area, the reading really resonated with me in a career context, and particular aspects about previous and present career situations seemed to appear really clearly as a visual storyboard.
Reassuringly the final cards in every reading had an image of a sun featuring strongly. Even before hearing the interpretations, I instinctively felt that this was a positive future card. The readings indicated to trust in my current instincts about possible directions I wanted to take, and I really felt afterwards that the reading had helped me access and process some thoughts I had been passively having in the background in a constructive way.
Katrina notes that there is often a fear-based language around the use of tarot cards, as if the cards have the power rather than the person having the reading. For example, she says people will talk about the fear of encountering the “death” card in the deck, whereas really it symbolises endings and changes rather than imminent death. She also says that people will often try to use readings in a predictive manner to make decisions, deflecting responsibility for their own actions, whereas when used in an empowering manner, they can be used to help people see their choices and consider their opportunities
There are many tarot books and deck designs but there is no universal “bible” used by all practitioners. For those looking to learn more about the tarot she recommends Rachel Pollack’s book “Seventy-eight shades of Wisdom”. Although there are many different decks of cards available, the difference is primarily in their appearance, so she recommends those looking to purchase cards, choose imagery that resonates with them personally.
She also recommends exploring the cards and becoming more confident in using and interpreting them by practicing reading for friends, rather than fall into the tempting trap of reading one’s own cards. This is particularly relevant when starting to use the cards, when there’s a bigger temptation to fit the stories formed into our own narratives rather than reflecting on possible interpretations.
Whereas Katrina’s journey into tarot began with self-practice and reading, her astrology practice is an akin to an academic discipline, she likens to learning a cosmic language. She notes astrology has been a part of every culture, and cites the influence in Ancient Ireland on structures such as Newgrange built around events like the Summer solstice.
She describes astrology as an ancient practice of “Looking up to look within”. Astrology is focused on a detailed individual birth chart that factors in the time of birth. While we often hear terms like “Mercury Retrograde” and see it as a universal external negative influence, everyone will experience these cosmic events differently. When exploring her own chart and events due to occur she views them as opportunities to direct her focus. For example, during a particular cycle she may decide to focus on her communication and reflect on this aspect of her life. She may also see upcoming cycles as opportunities to slow down. Despite being an expert in astrology, she will also have readings with other astrologers to experience a new perspective on her own chart.
Due to the highly individual nature of astrological impacts, she advises general Horoscopes are really a form of entertainment than astrology. However, she also believes that people can benefit from astrological awareness and explore the subject without having to understand the depth of technical knowledge and terminology which can be overwhelming. For example, moon cycles can be used as opportunities for intention-setting or letting go, depending on the cycle.
In Katrinas tarot guidance sessions she advises “ we use the cards as a tool to bring clarity around your most recent past/present/future options. Using the tarot as a form of guidance is brilliant as it tends to very clearly show you what needs to be addressed at the present moment and gives advice in terms possibly outcomes if you were to empower yourself to make new choices within your life. “
So while you may not be able to blame it all on “Mercury Retrograde” or use cards to predict the winning lotteries, there are lots of opportunities to use the practices of tarot and astrology in a positive and empowering way, and a tool of reflection or examining our own energies and intuition and appraising the opportunities that might lie ahead.