Sunday, August 30, 2009

Oracular Spectacular!

A Primer on the Use of Astrology, Tarot, Dreamwork and Other Oracles

© 2009 by Joyce Mason

At Hot Flashbacks, Cool Insights, I often talk about “playing the symbols.” This imaginary one-person band involves putting together everyday waking signs and synchronicities and sleeping dream ciphers for some resounding insights. Alternatively, we can seek guidance from symbol systems or oracles. In this article, also posted on, I hope to introduce you to—or expand—your knowledge of oracles and their value.

Q: What do tarot cards, fortune cookies, astrology, dreams and meaningful coincidences all have in common?

A: All can be used as oracles

“Oracle” has many meanings from hokey to holy. I am most interested in #5 in the Dictionary-com definitions, namely a divine communication or revelation.Oracles are symbol systems that help us receive insights or spiritual communications. I believe the Source of their inspiration follows strictly the orientation of the seeker. When you open yourself up to divine inspiration, the Holy Spirit, your Higher Self—however you see good guidance according to your personal beliefs—those are the forces that will shine through when using these symbols. If you are fearful, or if you want your “fortune told” where you have no power or spiritual backbone to co-create your own dreams in divine partnership, don’t be surprised to find negative energy in a tarot reading or other symbol system consultation.

Like any tool, oracles can be used for higher good or dubious intent. Think of a knife. In the hands of a skilled surgeon or premier chef, this tool can perform miracles of healing or nurture. In the hands of a serial killer—not. Like all tools, oracles run the gamut of agony and ecstasy. Again, the difference lies in the hands of the user. With oracles, the seeker often uses a medium—a consultant—rather than consulting the cards or other symbols directly, although people do both, of course. That’s why choosing your consultant is especially important if you use one.

The Medium Is the Message
Let me start with a couple of bad examples. I once worked with a woman who consulted a well-known, local astrologer on all her investments and life decisions. This was in the 1970s, but I swear, if ATMs were in operation back then, she’d have consulted her “friend” before she made a $20 cash withdrawal.

You can probably predict what I’m going to say without an astrology chart. Ultimately, my workmate lost her shirt by turning her power over to this woman’spredictions. It was a stark lesson about making a god of either the symbol system or the medium. Ironically, the astrologer also worked herself out of a job. They both lost. After all, how could my workmate continue to pay her for advice after she lost everything?The most horrible story I ever heard—same astrologer—was a reading wherein she predicted the exact date and time of a male client’s death—and he died exactly when she predicted! I was utterly appalled; convinced she had literally scared him to death. Few people would want to know this information. To ask for it, is—well—asking for it!

Still, I believe to this day that the astrologer in question abused her power over this man. Astrology can be (pardon the pun) dead accurate, but she would have no way of knowing his fate. Even if she did, “pronouncing” it took away any personal power he had over the outcome, which was not necessarily sealed. Specific predications can be a real power trip. (That’s why I refuse, personally, to make them.) The same symbols can portend literal death or any other major, life-changing transformation while the person remains embodied. Did the astrologer contribute to his death? Depressing thought, but I think it explains why these tools have sometimes had a terrible reputation. It’s all in how they’re used. Fortunately, in general, they tend to be used for higher good by most people I encounter nowadays.

Positive Outcomes

Examples: As a consultant, I have helped people out of thorny dilemmas and have foreseen the potential for happy marriages later realized in tarot or astrology readings. I use oracles directly for myself on an ongoing basis, and now with years of practice my use of them is refined. I am able to see new angles to problems and personal tendencies I want to change. Symbols never cease to amaze me with their simple wisdom.

How Does It Work?
My theory is that oracles work like a symbolic mirror and magnet. Symbols have strong universal meanings. Much is contained in their simple patterns, and more importantly, the person who seeks guidance will fill in the blanks with the personal details needed to make the symbols meaningful.The magnet part: Everything on earth has an energy field; every person and thing resonates. When we seek guidance, we are drawn to the energy—or it is drawn for us through the reader—that matches the frequency of the issue on which we want guidance. When you shuffle a tarot deck, for example, and put the energy of your question into the cards, the “right ones” fall into the layout. Magical!

It’s no different with any of the other symbol systems. We are drawn to want an astrology reading when the vibration of the issue is creating internal pressure for resolution, so we seek out an astrologer when we have significant transits or activity in our astrology charts. Our subconscious gives us dream material, asdoes our internal synchronicity machine, our magnet for meaningful coincidence.Once when I taught a dreamwork class, I spoke about encountering people I was thinking about or repeated encounters on a topic I felt were “signs.” A surprised participant said, “You talk about real life the same way as dreams.” Exactly! When we have the eyes to see, the symbols and signs are all around us. Our subconscious is in constant dialogue with us, and when we pay attention, we can get limitless Higher Direction.

I Want to Try It. Where Do I Start?
If you haven’t done this before or haven’t done much of it, here are my suggestions—probably good for seasoned oracle users, too:

1. What system appeals to you most? Start there. If astrology fascinates you, go there first. If you can’t remember dreams, maybe you need a little more work on bringing the subconscious to waking awareness before you can use this one.Do tarot cards call you? Runes? The I Ching? If you don’t know, visit a metaphysical bookstore where you can look through many of the symbol sets or books on them like a kid at Christmas. Let yourself be drawn to the images or system that calls you.

2. Approach oracles with the wonder of a child. These systems are completely about connecting guidance to your own inner tracking device, your intuition. Play with them and respect them with wide-eyed wonder. Their optimal guidance will flow through your openness.

3. Get trusted referrals for consultants. A personal referral from someone you know and trust who has seen this particular astrologer, tarot reader, or dreamworker is always best. The metaphysical bookstore or resource center isanother source. Try someone at a local psychic fair—the one with the longest line! Reputation rules when it comes to trusting someone to work these channels with you. If someone “doesn’t feel right,” don’t open yourself to that person.

4. Take what fits, toss the rest. This was the advice of my first mentor in all things intuitive, the late, great Betty Bethards, a San Francisco Bay Area psychic and meditation teacher. I have lived by it with optimal results. No “reader" can be 100 percent accurate because his or her own experiences can’t help but influence interpretation, at least a little. That can be handy, if they have like experiences and lessons to learn, or it can put you off track, if they don’t.

While most good readers do their best to avoid putting their own “stuff” into interpretations, the translation of symbols is a tricky business. The analogy I like to use is a ballpark. It’s easy to get into the right ballpark or neighborhood on an interpretation because of the breadth of content each universal symbol holds. That’s what makes them so powerful, like the oak tree contained in an acorn.

However, to find the right seat in the ballpark really takes reaction, dialogue, and sorting from the seeker. If you don’t actively participate, you will suffer pronouncements instead of helpful insights. Which brings me to the final point:

5. Be an active participant in all readings with a consultant. Ask questions. Give your opinion. Say when something feels right or when it feels off. Be sure you walk away getting your key concerns covered. It might not be quite as complicated as being a patient in an HMO system, but the idea is the same as navigating this bureaucratic form of medical care. You have to be your own patient/seeker advocate. The best readers will welcome you as a co-pilot on the adventure of going a layer deeper into your inner growth during your time together. You enter the sacred ground of your psyche together. Your reader needs to respect the inner sanctum, your needs, and your help to make it a meaningful journey.

Sealed with a Ms.
I thought it would be fun to draw a tarot card to seek Higher Guidance in wrapping up this article. At first when this idea came to mind, I thought, “Huh?” Using these tools has made me respect these inspirations, no matter how sillythe light bulb over my head might seem at first.Turns out, I’m also going to be able to illustrate how anything can become an oracle. I “got” that the words I should Google were “tarot oracle.” They led me to a new deck I hadn’t heard of, literally called the Tarot Oracle. Click on the link and look at the Magician Card, that Mystical Ms. She’s for us; I’m convinced of it! She’s juggling the stars and her key words are Intuition, Taking Chances.Take a chance on your intuition. Oracles will expand your sense of inner knowingness and connection to All That Is.

Photo Credit: ESOTERIC ATMOSPHERE © Starblue

For more on oracles, including How I Read Tarot Cards and some of my favorite ones to use, visit the
Oracles page on

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