Solitary: A Self-Directed Spiritual Life

Let's talk. Come sit with me under a tree or by a lake while we chat about being alone in our practice and our beliefs. Solitary practitioners choose this path for many reasons and have a unique perspective. As a solitary witch, I want to share how I keep true to my beliefs and practices whether I'm working on my own, in a small group or attending a large group gathering. Author of Moon Affirmations, meditations based on the phase of the moon.

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Group Therapy

The room was not dark, there was no mysterious woman dressed in shawls and exotic clothes wearing finger symbols wielding tarot cards (though how you would do both those I’m not quite sure).  There was no veil of mystery.  There were just seven other women and myself, sitting around a dining room table with a box full of tarot and divination decks.  My first group tarot reading - it was a bit scary, a bit intimidating and a bit exciting.  I am not a professional reader.  Since I don’t have all the cards memorized (heck I’m lucky if I can remember my name some days), I use the books and my intuition.  I don’t charge for my readings.  I do them because people ask and I enjoy the process.  My best friend was my first guinea pig and I’d been reading for her for several years when she asked if I’d be willing to read for others in her family.  

We gathered around her grandmother’s old wood table.  I brought candles, tarot decks (and books) and faith that this group of women would make the night interesting.  I have an opening spiel I say to all the people the first time I read for them.  It goes something like “this is for entertainment purposes only.  If you take away something more than entertainment great, it is not evil; you get from the cards guidance if that is what you choose to find.”  I also give a little talk about the two “shocking” cards of Death and the Devil.  These women are all Christians and I knew these two cards would upset or intimidate them.  I wanted them to have a positive experience so before we even started readings I explained about those two cards.  

All my decks were spread out on the table, candles were lit.  If a recipient wanted to choose a specific color of candle to light during their reading they could.  That first time I don’t remember who went first or whose reading was the most insightful.  We started with looking at divination decks.  I had them pick one which appealed and then draw out three cards.  The nature of the divination cards is such that little interpretation is needed so they were able to read the meanings right on the cards.  They loved this.  It showed them how accurate the decks could be.  It also took the fear out of the “reading” since they had an idea of what was going to happen.  

After the divination decks, I set out the traditional tarot decks.  I have a number of them so they had a variety to choose from.  One sister is artistic and she picked an artsy deck.  Another sister is more analytical and she chose a more graphic deck.  It was interesting to see how the decks they chose fit their personalities. 

My habit has always been to have the person getting the reading to shuffle the deck.  Then if they are comfortable laying it out, I let them.  If they aren’t I take over and lay out the spread.  I typically use the ten card Celtic cross spread.  It’s the one I learned when I started doing tarot and the one I’m most comfortable with.  If I’m laying out the spread, it’s interesting because I’ll get flashes of what the card stands for.  However, for others I defer to the book meaning.  We always have a discussion so typically we write down the meaning of each card and go back through and discuss.  I always like to relate the cards to each other, the position they are in, and the meaning.  Writing it down helps everyone remember and it also gives the person something to take home and think about if they choose to.

Remember I said there were seven women there, all related – three generations.  Of course as we’re going through the readings, it isn’t just my opinion or the books opinion getting expressed.  My friend, her two sisters, mother, two daughters, and sister-in-law all had something to say about each reading.  It did not take much encouragement from me to get these women to jump in feet first and help analyze the readings.  

The gloves were definitely off and these women spoke their minds.  There were tears and laughter.  There was a feeling of family and community.  There was love and support with a lot of tissues.  Each reading was powerful and insightful, whether the recipient wanted to face what was being said or not.  One of the women was unwilling to accept what one of her cards was indicating but all the women around the table asserted the correctness of the reading. I found myself not being a reader as much as a facilitator.  I would lay out the spread and read through the book, offering my own insights and these strong, intuitive, loving women would be there to help each other through the hard cards and the good ones too.  As tears flowed, hands reached out to rub and sooth.  As meanings were read and the cards were right on the money, knowing laughter would swell in the room.  

The night was filled with knowledge of self, intuition, love, and humor.  These seven women came together for a novelty experience but walked away with an enjoyment of the evening and a respect for the cards.  The group reading offered an opportunity for them to come together for some healing.  It really was like a family therapy session as intimate issues were discussed, advice was given, and privacy was respected when needed.

I know the books all lay out specific rules for readings.  Some tell you how to shuffle the deck.  Some tell you to NEVER let anyone touch your deck but yourself.  I figure the decks need to feel the person getting the reading.  The cards need to get to know that person.  The act of handling the cards puts the person and the cards in intimate contact and allows the energy to mesh.  This gives a more powerful reading in my opinion.  

Since the initial group reading, I’ve given several other group readings.  These women have been back, others have joined, and other groups have come to me.  Each time I learn more about the tarot, people, and the generosity in spirit.  I am amazed how a group can come together regardless of relationship to each other and when issues come up there is always someone at the table who can help in some way.

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As a solitary, I consider myself a pagan witch who is seeking. Residing in rural Wisconsin, by day I work as a clerical worker and at night I spend my spare time writing. Writing is my way of expressing my feelings about my world and life. Raised on a farm, I have a love for nature and am inspired by the beauty and power I find there. I've been married for 33 years and have three adult daughters. Some of my other interests include cooking, genealogy, reading and crocheting.  
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