Creative Visualization Exercise
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.
Swords belong to the world of formation and
represent what we form and eventually co-create
with our thoughts, our hopes and our fears.
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 emotions.
How would you use this image in meditation?
How would you visualize the image changing as the ice melts?
What colors, if any, would you add to the picture and why?
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.
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
Thanks to Robert M. Place for allowing use of his images from the Alchemical Tarot.