Creative Imagination and Tarot
One Card Meditations Using Creative Visualization
The use of creative imagery in healing or in helping to release
grief and physical or mental pain can have a strong and
immediate transformative impact. Here is an example of a
one-card visualization exercise that I have found very powerful
and extremely effective. I strongly recommend the use of this
kind of visualization. And, by all means, change it and adapt it
to your own way of visualizing as long as you keep it real and
relevant to your needs. Try to use all of your senses when
visualizing. Visualize and imagine the touch, the feeling, the
smell, the sounds; the idea is to immerse yourself in full sensory
experience while trying to dig deep inside your soul as you
concentrate on the images in the cards.
Swords usually present many challenges in a reading. Most
people feel intimidated by Swords because of their sharp,
incisive message. And yet, Swords represent the World of
Formation in Cabala, which is the Path that gives us mortals an
opportunity to co-create. They also represent the Air element,
the mind and thoughts. This is where we are given full choice
and dominion, but also where we usually fail in spite of our
highest hopes and best intentions. Well, the mind can usually be
our worst enemy.
The Three of Swords usually provokes strong emotions every
time it comes up in a reading. Perhaps because the number 3
should be less threatening or revealing or because it should not
be loaded with anxiety or expectations, as this particular card
usually does in most decks. Three is the number of Binah the
Mother (the third Sphere on the Tree of Life), so if the card
shows up in a reading, what is it that we are creating,
generating, provoking or allowing to manifest?
The cards in the Suit of Swords can serve as powerful meditation
tools exactly because they are usually unwelcome. Strong relief
or even healing can be experienced, for example, when
visualizing the swords being taken out of the heart, one by one,
and placing them carefully somewhere else or using them to cut
emotional ties that bind us to misery or grief, or dissolving them
into air or water or transforming them into a flower or totem
animal. The possibilities are limitless. Use your imagination.
In this rendition of the Three of
Swords from the beautiful Tarot of
Prague, we find three cherubs forming
a triangle resembling the heart figure
that two of them are holding. What
would happen if instead of a pierced
heart we visualize this red heart like a
cushion, comforting the cherubs? What
would happen if the three swords at
the center of the heart were “freed”
and thrown up in the air?
Many people fail to look at the richness
of the image and at the healing
potential that is made available to us if
we claim the message as our own and
then try to change it with the power of
intention. Let's try to use our mind,
let's move fully into the World of
Formation and free both the swords
and the heart.
Relax, take a deep breath. What would
YOU do with the heart and the swords
or any other element in this particular
card? Could you weave a tale from it
that would help you understand a
current situation in you life? Could you
re-imagine the various elements on the
card and weave a redeeming story
with them? Try incubating a dream
with it and see what happens.
|Swords belong to the world of formation and
represent what we form and eventually co-create
with our thoughts, our hopes and our fears.
Let’s look at another Three of Swords, this time
at Robert M. Place’s rendition from the
What meaning do these images evoke in you?
Can you figure out the symbol and its
metaphor? Can you see yourself picking up that
beautiful red rose, fruit of (sweat and) tears
and moving on with your life? What would
happen if you were to take those three swords
out of the red heart-shaped alchemical vessel
and see them transformed into feathers, or
beautiful birds of different colors, or cute pen
knives, or whatever? What about the eye at the
center of the heart-vessel? What does it mean
to you? Notice that I am intentionally staying
away from the standard interpretations you
will find in Tarot books. Remember that every
card has many levels of meaning. When you do
this exercise as a healing meditation or
clarifyingvisualization, you need to mediate
with your guides and come up with your own
interpretations in order to understand your
own soul's yearning.
How do we get to the heart of the matter? This
was said to me a long time ago by one of my
teachers as he instructed me to meditate on the
RWS version of this card (here to the right).
In the Osho Zen Tarot deck the Three of
Swords is now the Three of Clouds, which
connects directly to how we deal with the
mind. I love this card and, it is important
to note that to understand this deck we
need to move away from the Rider Waite
Smith imagery and definitions. When given
a choice to meditate and visualize with any
of these versions, this rendition elicits a
sense of separateness or (even more
strongly) of freezing up of emotions, often
the result of fear of being hurt once again.
No need to see the swords doing the
damage because the damage has already
been done. The image concentrates on how
we deal with sorrow and how we can start
to heal. I use it in my classes to
demonstrate how distillation and
dissolution can work with spiritual alchemy.
While the image from the Alchemical Tarot
above uses tears to nourish the red rose of
transformation, these tears of Ice-Olation
might be the only way to redeem us, to
break down and melt the ice of our frigid
How would you use this image in
How would you visualize the image
changing as the ice melts?
What colors, if any, would you add to the
picture and why?
|How we interpret the cards we are dealt in life is entirely up to us and by actually taking
charge of our spread, understanding the energies involved in a message and consciously
tackling the symbols, literally and symbolically, we change the energies and the overall
message of the picture. All we need do is become conscious participants in the
drama/novel/poetry of our lives.
|Now, one more exercise:
What would happen if you took one item out of each card here presented and
in your mind composed or drew a new and redeeming composite that you
could apply to your present life’s journey or situation? Well, this is what
alchemy is all about. Use the cards as alchemical tools of transformation.
Experiment, dare to challenge the cards you are dealt in life. Ask Spirit for
guidance. Don't forget to have fun while you are at it.
Thanks to Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov for allowing use of images from the Tarot of Prague.
Osho Zen 3 of Clouds by permission of publisher