The Tarot is a deck of playing cards that can serve as a dynamic tool for psychological growth and self-discovery. Through the vivid imagery of the cards, we are prompted to confront our deeply rooted beliefs, hardened perspectives, and one-sided views, fostering a fuller understanding of ourselves. When those rigid positions we’ve taken are seen more fully, we unlock additional choices in shaping our lives.
The best way to get at the individual meaning of these cards for oneself is to approach them directly, as one would the paintings in an art gallery. Like paintings, Trumps are so-called projection holders, meaning simply that they are hooks to catch the imagination. Projection is a process whereby we first see in the persons, objects, and happenings in our environment those tendencies, characteristics, potentials, and shortcomings that really belong to us. We “people” the exterior world with the witches and princesses, devils and heroes of the drama buried in our own depths. By viewing the images that we cast onto outer reality as mirror reflections of inner reality, we come to know ourselves.
(From Sallie Nichols in her book Jung and Tarot)
By way of illustration, say our friend Emily has a question about what action she should take around a big challenge in her life. She draws a card - The Hanged Man, which shows a man suspended upside down by one foot! She is not happy with this card. It appears to her to be someone really stuck, “tied up” by some cruel outer fate. This is not helpful - she wants to know what to DO about her problem! However, further examination of the card shows that the Hanged Man isn’t actually tied up – he could easily slip out of the noose. This shifts something in Emily and a new thought occurs to her, as if a veil has lifted to show a truth she had been reluctant to acknowledge. The Hanged Man is perhaps urging her to willingly surrender to the ebb and flow of life's currents. Emily then realized she had been clinging desperately to the idea of taking action. Now in her calmer state, she could see the possibility of suspending her need only for action, and embrace an uncertainty that might allow something new to come from a different, upside-down, perspective.
Other ways in which the Tarot can help us psychologically to follow in future writings!