Using Cards in Meditation
Most of my meditation these days is based on visualization and imagination. I've had a really intense inner life for as long as I can remember, and I recently started deliberately mapping it all out and developing a cohesive world I can travel in my mind. I start in front of my house there, which is in a tree like some kind of fairy tale because it can be, imagination is fun.
From there I travel to whatever part of the world makes sense for the type of meditation I want to do. I might go to the sacred grove for druid work, sit by a lake to think deeply about something, or revisit places I've been in the real world to draw on those memories. Sometimes that's just unguided wandering, sometimes I'll follow a recording, sometimes I use oracle decks. The treehouse I mentioned connects to the world tree and from there I can access all the possible worlds I could imagine.
Since I got the Vibe Check Deck, I've been doing a lot of that last one. It's a deck of AI-generated art showing places of all kinds. Small rooms, shrines, restaurants, markets, landscapes, etc. All of it gives me post-apocalyptic sci-fi vibes, which is kind of peak optimism for me. And I'm not finding it easy to be optimistic lately, so I like to visit these worlds after the end and believe in a world where there is an after and people still find meaning and connection.
In this post I shared a picture of one of these readings. I typically draw three cards, one for the general setting, one for my home/place in it, and one for the way those come together to create a story. In that example, the sunny green market makes me feel like this is a solarpunk world featuring cooperation and shared resources. The little cottage surrounded by pink foliage and clouds in the second one is exactly the kind of place I would love to live and sings to my little witchy heart.
The third card shares the color palette with the house and the buildings easily match up with the cityscape in the back of the market. None of the aesthetics in these cards really seem to match and I wouldn't expect to see them all in one movie. In particular, the third card stands out as being particularly not green and not meshing well with the garden vibes of the first card. This tells me that the people in this world have deliberately spread out to places and come together to share to make the most of their resources and provide for everyone.
I can picture myself here in that little cottage on the border of these two very different landscapes. Making food and clothing to share with people in those other areas when I visit them. The perfect mix of solitude and community that I crave in my daily life. It's comforting to stay there for awhile, to imagine the work I might be doing on that day, to see myself as a part of that community and feel my work has meaning.
Challenges and Guards
There are a lot of Wonderland/Oz/Labyrinth style places in my inner world. A lot of gates and hidden information. I will envision myself traveling through the course and when I reach a block I pull a card to understand what I need to move forward. Something that needs to be sacrificed, a puzzle I have to solve, a gift given, etc. If the door opens, I move on to the next section. If not, I'll keep working on it or might decide that it's not meant for me today and go back.
Basically any deck could work for this, but I tend to use my own homemade oracles. They're tailored for my specific purposes so I can pick out exactly the right one for whatever kind of work I'm doing, and I already have strong connections to the symbols so it's easy to draw on them to imagine what comes next. It might be interesting to try this with a fandom deck. I'll have to keep that in mind.
Rituals and Shrines
Quite a few of my decks were offerings for various deities or ancestors and I use them specifically to communicate with those entities. I'm an atheist, but I really believe in the power of storytelling and personal narratives and this kind of ritual speaks to me in a deep way. Feelings are weird and again, imagination is cool.
A short distance from my treehouse in the inner world there is an ancient temple with shrines to various gods in one direction, the sacred grove mentioned before in another, and various other places of worship. Inside the house there are several small shrines to my ancestors, other guides, and the gods I work with most.
In rituals after I've done the physical setup and offerings, I'll spend time in meditation visiting the most appropriate worship space. I'll then draw cards from a deck devoted to that individual to see how the ritual was and offering were received, ask if there are any further offerings to be given or questions to be answered or challenges to be done. I think the physical components of a ritual are important and effective, but being able to imagine my ideal worship space and have it all look and feel like I want it to is also helpful for me in internalizing it and making it feel real.
Future Experiment: Meeting the Cards
YouTube keeps recommending me videos of people talking about how they use oracle cards. That didn't make a lot of sense to me, because I pretty much use oracle decks exactly like I use tarot decks. But I recently watched a really cool video about using oracle cards to create spreads and I got really excited to try it. And between that and my recent explorations with the Vibe Check deck, I've also been curious to try new things and stretch my concept of how these things work.
I have three decks that are basically just a lot of characters (well, and a few signposts for one of them): Wisdom of Avalon, Heart of Faerie, and the Faries' Oracles. I use them with tarot spreads and it works fine that way, but making a trip to visit the characters or places in the cards and try to talk to them or interact with their world might be better suited and help me get more out of these decks. I look forward to trying that soon.