Tarot – it's where individual and collective wisdom meet.
Individually, we connect with our intuition and subconscious mind to interpret the cards. And collectively, we connect with a group consciousness that has evolved over many years and lifetimes, and we tap into our combined knowledge of the cards.
Together, this individual and collective wisdom creates a powerful connection to the Tarot, enabling us to commune with the Divine in beautiful ways.
In this podcast, you'll learn:
- What individual and collective wisdom really means for Tarot
- Why both are important in enriching your connection with the cards and the Divine
- How we can integrate individual and collective wisdom into our Tarot readings
- What's really going on when you see something totally different in the Tarot cards compared to your favourite book
Let's get into it!
Images provided courtesy of Gaian Tarot
Brigit: You’re listening to the Biddy Tarot Podcast, and this is Episode 29: Tapping into the Individual and Collective Wisdom of Tarot
Welcome to the Biddy Tarot podcast, where you will learn how to connect more deeply with your intuition and live an empowered and enlightened life with the Tarot cards as your guide.
Listen as Brigit and her guests share their very best tips and strategies to help you read Tarot with confidence.
And now, here is your host Brigit Esselmont.
Brigit: Hello and welcome back to the Biddy Tarot podcast.
The Tarot has been passed down from generation to generation since its inception in the 1400s. Over this time, the shared wisdom of the Tarot has continually grown and now we are blessed with a rich and comprehensive tool for soul guidance in this present moment.
At the same time, the more that we work with the Tarot on a personal basis, the more that we connect with our individual wisdom about the cards. We connect with our intuition and uncover deep insights from within our subconscious mind.
Together, this individual and collective wisdom creates a powerful connection to the Tarot, enabling us to commune with the Divine in beautiful ways.
In today's podcast, I’m going to get a little bit philosophical and I'm going to explore how we can tap into the individual and collective wisdom of the Tarot. I’m also going to show you why both are important in enriching your connection with the Tarot cards and the Divine.
Let’s get into it.
What is Collective/Individual Wisdom?
We’re talking about individual wisdom and collective wisdom, so what exactly do I mean by all of this. Let’s talk about the collective wisdom.
Collective wisdom is really about shared knowledge and understanding as a group. That shared knowledge and understanding is shared by a number of people, whether that’s one particular society, culture, community, the world, whatever it might be. It’s also a kind of knowledge that can be shared over lifetimes as well.
Particularly if you think about the Tarot and over the many lifetimes since it has been created and even before that. The Tarot takes into account this deep, collective wisdom, not just from that point at which it had been created, but the spiritual wisdom that had been created before the Tarot even came into being. That collective wisdom is certainly something that is passed through lifetime to lifetime.
I think something else that’s really important to note about collective wisdom is that it often has a synergistic effect. As a collective, the knowledge is greater than the sum of the parts.
What do I mean by this? Let’s say you had three people and each person has a certain amount of knowledge, but as a collective, those three people sharing their knowledge together, they can actually elevate and lift their knowledge to a higher level than if you were just to add up their individual knowledge as well.
This collective wisdom is incredibly important. It’s what’s often passed down through stories, through books, materials, spoken word and so on. Even I think, I believe, at an energetic level that collective wisdom is somewhat inherent in our soul makeup, if that makes sense for you, so very powerful this collective wisdom.
Now what about individual wisdom? Well, individual wisdom is really our own personal knowledge. It’s shaped from our personal experiences and memories and can also be shaped over lifetimes. You might be taking karmic influences along with you as you travel from one lifetime to the next or things that you had experienced in a previous lifetime that’s carrying with you into this lifetime. That’s certainly your individual wisdom.
I think with individual wisdom it’s what makes this collective wisdom, but it brings it back down to what’s relevant for the individual. It’s important because we each have an identification with the self, like our ego. I am me. I am different or separate to other people.
We know that we’re all connected as one as well, but we have this sense that I am an individual. Having that individual knowledge helps us to understand who we are in this sort of bigger picture and where do I fit in as well.
In the Context of Tarot
That’s great. We know what collective wisdom is and we know individual wisdom. What does it mean in terms of Tarot? How does this have anything to do with Tarot? Well, it actually has a lot to do with Tarot, obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t be talking about it on this podcast. Let’s have a look at the collective wisdom and how that relates to Tarot.
I see this on one level as kind of like a knowledge of Tarot, so things like the traditional meanings of the cards. The High Priestess is about intuition. The Four of Pentacles is about possession and control and so on. There are these meanings of the Tarot cards that as a collective we more or less agree, yes, that’s what those cards mean.
There’s also a collective understanding of things like the archetypes in the cards and particularly with the Major Arcana cards which are very reflective of archetypes. Again, if you look into the work of Carl Jung, you’ll know a lot about archetypes and also even start to see how that plays out through those Major Arcana cards. This is our collective consciousness, our collective understanding of what is a human being. What’s their personality attributes? That’s embodied as an archetype.
Symbolism can be a reflection of collective wisdom. It can also be a reflection of individual wisdom, which we’ll talk about in a second. Symbolism, if you think about it, castles, okay, well the traditional interpretation for castles is that it means safety and security. You think of say the white feather. You find a white feather outside, it’s a sign that an angel is near you. That’s kind of our collective wisdom, our collective understanding that certain symbols have certain meaning with them.
Even the structure of the Tarot cards, we agree more or less, that there are 78 cards in the deck. There’s a Major Arcana group. There’s the Minor Arcana and so on. This is again our collective wisdom or understanding of the cards.
Then there are other systems like numerology and what the numbers mean. There’s certainly a collective and shared understanding about that.
The collective wisdom can also play out in terms of what happens within groups that are organized around Tarot. For example, a community forum around Tarot, a class, like a group of students learning about Tarot, even just a group of people discussing Tarot. Whenever there is more than one person, there is a collective wisdom being created.
It doesn’t matter if it’s just a bunch of your friends and you’re having a chat about what the Eight of Pentacles means to you. You are creating this collective wisdom out of the dynamic of your group. Again, that’s elevating the knowledge beyond just your individual understanding, but to sometimes a higher level of understanding as well.
When you’re thinking about the collective, think about sort of traditional understanding of Tarot, the traditional meanings and the structures that sit behind Tarot, but also think about it in terms of the group dynamic that gets created when you’re connecting with other people around Tarot. There’s a really nice synergy that can happen when you’re generating collective wisdom.
Now, on an individual level, I think the individual wisdom that comes through Tarot is amazing as well. I really love playing this space. Particularly when I’m teaching Tarot, I really teach from a place that encourages a personal and intuitive connection with the Tarot. That is tapping into the individual wisdom alongside the collective wisdom.
Individually it might be looking at a particular card. Let’s say the Eight of Pentacles. We know, as a collective, there’s a shared understanding that the Eight of Pentacles is about apprenticeship, mastery, and skill building.
Now, you might look at that particular card and go, “Okay, there’s this man. He’s etching some coins. The city is behind him. My goodness, maybe he’s thinking about he just wants to get home to his family, but he’s got all these coins that he’s got to do. Maybe he’s working too hard. Oh my goodness, that reminds me of how I’m working too hard and how I’m stuck in the office until [9:00] and I never get to see my family,” and so on.
Whilst that interpretation of the card is completely different to sort of the collective understanding, it still has significance on an individual level. When the reader is interpreting it at that level, it’s creating individual wisdom around that card.
It’s not to be sort of thrown out because it’s not consistent with the collective wisdom. This is individual wisdom and it’s important. It’s the intuitive connection that’s being created. It’s also the person who’s connecting with their own subconscious. It’s almost drawing out something that is important to them. It’s this visual cue that is enabling them to connect with their intuitive or subconscious mind. That’s an individual wisdom.
Even I was touching on symbolism, so the collective might be that a castle is about safety and security, but maybe when you look at a castle, I know this is somewhat, my husband looks at a castle and maybe he’s taken back to his younger days when he’d go to dance parties at a castle. Maybe he’d see the castle and think of it in terms of maybe celebrating with friends and dancing the night away and all of those good things. It might have an individual significance as well as a collective meaning. Again, both are very important.
I think what’s beautiful is when you bring these two together, so let’s say you’re looking at a Tarot reading and a particular card comes up. You might think, “Well, okay. What’s sort of the shared understanding of this card?”
We use that Eight of Pentacles again. “Okay, the shared understanding about mastering skill building. My individual wisdom about the card is that I’m working pretty late and I’m not paying attention to my family when I want to and should be.”
Bring those together and you get some new insights. “As I’m engaged in mastering skill building maybe I’m sacrificing my connection with my family.” That’s a really interesting message that you’re getting out of that card.
Now you could take it to another level and bring in that group dynamic to see where that collective wisdom could take you. For example, you might jump into a forum and say, “Hey, I drew this card the Eight of Pentacles. I was asking about my career. I came up with these insights. What do you think?” Then you get a whole bunch of people saying, “Well, I noticed this in the card or have you thought about this,” or maybe they ask you a probing question. Through that group collective dynamic, again you are adding new layers to your understanding of this Tarot card.
You can see this beautiful interplay between the collective and individual wisdom. When we honor both, we create a really deep connection with the Tarot.
Now, I think also with collective and individual it can play out in terms of Tarot readings in particular.
On an individual level, and I think this is probably where most of us tend to play when we use the Tarot cards, our individually based Tarot readings are things like what’s happening to me. How will this thing affect me? What do I need to know about my career? What do I need to know about my relationship? Should I move house and so on. It’s very much about what’s going on in my life and what’s surrounding me in my life.
But, we can also do Tarot readings for the collective. That might be what’s happening to us as a society. What’s some of the influences that we’re experiencing within our community? How are these global things affecting us? How can we deal with these global things?
Now, you’re in for a special treat if this is starting to rings some bells for you. You go, “Oh, that sounds good,” because in the next podcast, so podcast 30, I interview James Wells. He talks a lot about readings for the collective.
After I did that interview, I was like, “Oh, this is fascinating.” It inspired me to then create the next podcast, so podcast episode 31, which will be around a collective Tarot reading. How can we do Tarot readings for the collective versus just for the individual?
Just remember that this individual and collective can play out in how we read the Tarot cards and who we read for and where we’re focusing our energy when working with the Tarot cards.
How to Connect With Each
How do you begin to connect with collective wisdom and individual wisdom? Well, on a collective level, you can do simple things like read books. Just discover what do different authors have to say about different Tarot card interpretations, ways for reading the cards, and working with the cards and so on.
When you are reading a book just keep in mind there will be an element of that particular author’s point of views. That a bit more of their individual wisdom. But they’re also sharing the collective wisdom. Oftentimes they’re sharing more the traditional meanings of a Tarot card with a bit of their own spin on it. Just keep that in mind as you read the books.
But remember the more books you read, the more you’re creating your collective understanding because you’re not simply just relying on one source of information; you’re relying on a collective.
You can take classes and learn more about the structure of Tarot and sort of the traditions of Tarot. You could be part of a community, particularly a Tarot community where there is that group dynamic and you can discuss Tarot topics and again, elevate that level of understanding of Tarot.
In those group dynamics, you can be absorbing the information, but you can also be contributing the information. The active you contributing your individual wisdom and then mixing it with other people’s individual wisdom will create this collective wisdom together. Remember it will have that synergistic affect where as a group you’ve elevated that knowledge to the next level, more than you could ever do on your own.
Another one is just create some conversations around Tarot. Collective is more than one person, so just have a chat with someone about what you see in the card.
Every now and then I bring out the cards with my daughters who are four and six years old and I just start a conversation, “What do you see in this card? What’s going on?” It’s always interesting to see how they respond. More often than not they’re rushing off and going, “Oh, there’s Barbie,” but when I can get some of their attention and focus, they’re finding new things in those cards that I’ve never found before.
Even start conversations with people who may not know anything about Tarot and see what they see in the cards because this will add to the shared understanding of the Tarot.
Now, on an individual level there are some beautiful things that you can do to enhance your individual wisdom. One is to journal with the Tarot cards. You could take one card and free write. What’s the sort of story around this card? What significance does this card have for you? Think back to a time in your life when you experience the energy of this card.
Take the Strength card and think, “When did I fully experience strength and what was happening,” and just write about it. You start to connect in with your inner wisdom around that card.
You can connect with intuitions. Do meditation so that you can clear your mind before doing a Tarot reading. You can use a prayer or affirmation to connect with the Divine before you start a reading. You can also record your personal experiences with the cards.
Back in the interview with Tony Louis this is exactly what he did when he was writing his book. He took, I think it was around six years’ worth of Tarot readings that he had done for himself and clients and he thought, “Well what are some of the things that I’m seeing around these cards. Not necessarily what is the shared understanding, but what personal experiences am I having with these cards and how do they inform my understanding of the cards.”
Record your personal experiences. Do things like the card-a-day exercise. Draw a card each day, take note of what happened that was related to that card and boom; you’ve got this big personal library of experiences.
Another one is to really journey into the cards. You can do this through guided meditation. You take any card and with your eyes closed you start to visualize that card and bring it up really big in your imagination. Then step into that card and fully experience what’s going on in that card. Make it real. Make it personal. See what your subconscious delivers to you in that kind of experience.
Certainly if that sounds like something of interest then check out Soul Meditations because this is a program I created with the Major Arcana where I guide you through a meditation with each and every Major Arcana card. You can find that over on BiddyTarot.com, so just look out for Soul Meditations.
There are certainly ways to connect with both the collective and the individual wisdom contained within the Tarot.
Is One Better Than the Other?
Now you might be wondering is one better than the other? Should I be doing more or less of one or the other or so on? The answer is no. Both have meaning and significance and importance.
I think it’s important to be consciously aware of when you’re connecting with the collective wisdom and when you’re connecting with the individual wisdom of the cards. Make sure that you’ve got a balance between both that in addition to intuitively connecting with the cards, you’re also finding other people that you can connect with and to enhance your shared understanding of the cards.
I also often get people asking me, “Well, in a reading I thought the Eight of Pentacles what I got in my mind was that I was overworked, but then I looked it up in a book and it said that’s about building your skills. Am I wrong?” The answer is no.
You will know this now more because now you can see this difference between individual wisdom and collective wisdom. You’ll know that when you’re seeing something different in the cards, you’re tapping into your individual wisdom. That is no better or worse than the collective wisdom. It’s just about honoring both and knowing that sometimes you’re drawing from one and sometimes from the other. Other times you’re drawing from both together and creating something really beautiful.
Don’t ever feel like, if your meaning is different to what you’re reading in a book, that it’s wrong, because it’s not. You’re simply tapping into your individual wisdom.
What Does Tarot Have to Say About the Collective/Individual?
Now to wrap it up for today I thought I’d ask the Tarot what it has to say about collective wisdom and individual wisdom.
I decided to use the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell. I chose the Gaian Tarot because it’s a very soulful deck and it often gives very soulful messages. I thought, “Yeah, this is the one for today.” Plus my husband had the Rider-Waite deck, taking photographs for an upcoming blog post.
I asked the Tarot, “What do you have to say about collective wisdom?” I drew the Elder of Water. I’ll post this over on the blog. You just go to BiddyTarot.com/29 and you can see the two card images there. The Elder of Water, it’s an old gentleman. He’s in a rowing boat. He’s rowing across a body of water. It looks quite beautiful. He’s sort of staring up into this pinky sky. He looks so calm and at ease.
For me this is about connecting in with the mysteries of life and being aware that when we’re connecting with the collective wisdom, we are acknowledging that we are not just individuals and we are instead part of a greater whole. That’s what I really see as the message here that collective wisdom is about honoring and acknowledging that greater whole that is around us. In doing so we bring a sense of calm and tranquility particularly to our Tarot practice.
Now I also asked, “Well, what about individual wisdom? What do we need to know about that in terms of Tarot?” In this case I drew the Five of Air. Hmm. In this card we see five eagles, I think they’re eagles. They seem to be squabbling over each other. There’s just quite a bit of aggression in this card.
I kind of see this maybe perhaps as the shadow side of individual wisdom. That is this place where if we identify too much with individual wisdom, we’re at risk of saying, “Well you’re wrong, I’m right. You’re wrong. This is what I think and if you don’t think what I think, then you’re totally off track.” It can actually set yourself up for a very competitive tense, aggressive environment.
It’s not saying that individual wisdom is wrong and we shouldn’t do it because we’re going to end up in fights with everybody, but I just see this as a reminder that when we are operating from a place of connecting with individual wisdom, let’s also be open to embracing other people’s differences in opinion and that’s okay. It’s okay for everyone to think differently. It doesn’t mean that anybody’s right or wrong or you’re disrespecting anybody, just be open-minded to different people’s perspectives.
There you have it. I hope that you have now this beautiful appreciation for the collective and the individual wisdom of the Tarot. As you practice more with the Tarot, just become consciously aware of which kind of wisdom you’re tapping into. You may start to find more of an interplay between the two elements of individual and collective wisdom.
Of course, if you want to tap into the collective wisdom even more, then I invite you to join in the Biddy Tarot community.
I’ve designed the community so that it is a warm, welcoming, nurturing place where you can share your ideas as part of the collective and also learn from other people.
This is a community that is filled with wonderful, gorgeous people who may just be at the start of their Tarot journey or who may even have 30 years of experience. Everyone comes from a different experience level, a different walk of life, a different background, a different philosophy, a different way of reading with the cards. I think that’s what makes it so special because with diversity you can really get some alternative perspectives on the Tarot and in turn really elevate your understanding of the Tarot.
Being part of the Biddy Tarot community will certainly lend itself to enhancing your collective wisdom and your connection with the collective wisdom with Tarot.
Of course, it’s not just about sharing ideas with your fellow Tarot friends, it’s also about learning about the Tarot with the Tarot 101 course and the monthly live webinars where I’ll be teaching you about Tarot and different aspects of Tarot. You can ask me any question that you have about Tarot. Of course I’m sharing my perspective and mentoring you in that way, but you’ve also got the benefit of connecting with this broader community who can again elevate your way of thinking.
Plus, you can practice your Tarot readings with the general public. You can offer free readings in exchanges for feedback. That is such a valuable source of learning and education and applying your skills to really lift you up into the next level when reading Tarot.
If you’re ready to tap into the collective wisdom of Tarot and that shared wisdom, then I highly recommend the Biddy Tarot community. You can find out more at BiddyTarot.com/community. It’s open now. I do hope that I can see you in the community if you’re not there already and I really look forward to connecting with you.
That’s it for today’s podcast. Thank you so much for letting me be in your ears. I hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s content. I’ll be back. Okay, see you. Thanks. Good bye.