Wednesday, October 04, 2006

New Age

I was a child of the "New Age".

At 12, I got ahold of my first tarot deck. I would do readings for my friends by laying the cards out and thumbing through a tattered copy of Eden Gray's book for the meanings. My step mother gave me a book called 'Astrology and other Occult Games' when I was about 14. It was signed by the author, a friend of hers. It covered astrology, I Ching, tarot and palm reading.

In my teens, I branched into Wicca for awhile. I got a bunch of books on witchcraft from the local bookstore and had a journal I claimed was a grimoire. My parents reacted by not reacting. I think they thought it was a phase and that to get upset would be to reinforce my desire to do it. Which was probably true. After a couple of years I got bored and moved on.

As I was born in the 60's, my parents were basically hippies, very liberal socially and politically. Open minded. Non-religious.

We used to joke that when I became a banker, I was a grave disappointment to my father. He would have been far happier if I became a poet or artist or political activist.

As an adult, my spirituality was steeped in the 'Age of Aquarius' stuff. It was a mish mash of Buddhism, New Thought, Theosophy and classical occultism. I read a lot. When people would say things like "this world is an illusion", I would nod knowingly and pretend I had half a clue what they were talking about.

Something of a spiritual dilettante, I never delved into anything very deeply. I knew a little about a lot, but not a lot about much. The only thing with any staying power was tarot, and that was only because I joined a couple of online communities devoted to it. I learned about the history of it. I learned how to read the cards. I learned how to do it professionally. And I did.

My tarot practice took me to a metaphysical bookstore to read for strangers. There I met all manner of people who would come in in various states of desperation wanting to know the secrets of their future. It was a tough gig. My style of reading was always God-centered. In other words, I would use the cards to try and create a line of communication between the client and God. But they just wanted to know if they were going to get back together with their ex-lover. Or whether to fly to California for a job. Or if they should cheat on their husband. With the married guy at work.

What I kept seeing in the bookstore was that people were desperately longing for meaning in their lives. They kept hoping that the next crystal, the next book or candle or deck of cards or palm reading or resin dragon or cd or incense was going to open the mysterious door to joy that eluded them. I recognized it because I, too, had walked that path. I knew the yearning for meaning. I watched as customers would spend more and more money on classes and techniques and seminars. Essential oils and pictures for their walls. Fake buddhas and Tibetan prayer flags.

For me, none of it worked. There was only one way to heal the hole in my soul, and that was to entrust it to God. God who created me. God who made the universe and all that is in it. God who is not, thankfully, me.

I am not God.

To me, that is one of the worst traps of the New Age. So many metaphysical books try to tell us that we are God... that we just have to recognize our own divinity to find peace, happiness, enlightenment, whatever. For me, at least, this is not true. Trying to be my own god was the road to perdition. I was not capable of creating my own happiness. Believe me, I tried. If my salvation was in my own hands, I was destined to a lifetime of frustration and misery. I could not be the architect of my own redemption. It was only when I gratefully offered myself to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, that I could be healed. God is healing my soul. He has accepted me. He has forgiven me. He alone offers the salvation for which I yearn.

If I could not be my own god, I sure as hell could not be yours. So I quit reading tarot cards. I decided that instead of thinking I had all the answers, I had to learn to be a student for awhile. Or, more accurately, a disciple.

I am a disciple.

Thank God.

Beloved, I pray for all the people who do not yet know you. I pray they find peace in your love.


e-Mom said...

Amen, Rachel Amen. I'm glad you found the Truth. My growing up years were similar, except it was my Mom who was into all the New Age things... plus TM. She never gave it up. Needless to say, when I became a Christian in my late teens, I raised a few eyebrows in the family. (They called me a "Bible Thumper!") I was so happy to be free from all of those ungodly influences.

Hey, I'm thrilled to see you've discovered Ariel at BitterSweetLife, LOL! What a hoot!

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

I am the 'bible thumper' in my family these days, too! A couple of Sundays ago, my brother happened to be walking his dog by the church I attend. There I was, standing on the church steps, carrying a great big King James bible. He almost choked on his iced coffee. We had quite a laugh about it. (And then went back to his place for coffee and bagels!)

Sacred Center said...

Great post Rachel, you express that so well my frustration with much of the new age movement, it often seems so surface, no real depth and no real grasp of pain and suffering and brokenness. I want a spirituality that is grounded and helps me to lament deeply over sorrow, not tell me to just embrace my inner Self and all will be well. My father feel into the trap of believing "you create your own reality" later in his life, it was quite painful for the rest of us as he blamed my mother for the illness she developed. It seemed to me the height of arrogance and a desperate quest for control. Thanks for sharing your story. Blessings, Christine

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Thanks, Christine.

It is sad to think that people who are ill must suffer twice by being somehow blamed for it. It is kind of Old Testament-ish, when you think of it. You have somehow brought this on yourself. Of course the New Age would use terms like 'you invited this illness on a soul level...'

Nancy said...

I don't know much about new age stuff, having been involved in a brand of Christianity that promoted the idea that if it wasn't "Christian" then it was demonic. (Now I might call that 'demonic christianity'!) At any rate, I am surprised at the similarity in the idea that ill people bring sickness upon themselves. Perhaps it's unrepented of sin, or unforgiveness, or bitterness, or that the person has somehow opened themselves to a "spirit" of cancer or depression or whatever. This thinking was especially prevelant with any type of mental illness. I've even seen lists of illnesses and the corresponding 'sin link'.

SingingOwl said...

This was a wonderful post. May I print it out for later sharing?

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Sure, Singing Owl.

Anonymous said...

What the new age and metaphysical publishing industries have been telling most of the world regarding the use of Tarot cards in connection with fortune telling and the occult is in fact a misrepresentation of the genuine Tarot tradition of continental Europe.
There is indeed a more intelligent use for Tarot cards than for superstitious excercises. The true Tarot tradition is in no way connected to psychics, astrology, "pop psychology" or other such mumbo jumbo.

The genuine Tarot is actually a classic European trick taking card game quite often mis-marketed to our hemisphere as some occultic or new age device.
It is in France, where this Tarot card game is most popular. It has also gained a foothold recently in French speaking parts of Canada. There is also a similar game played in Austria and surrounding regions most often under the name of "Tarock"
The players of Tarot card games, nowadays, use a more modern deck with double-ended court cards and conventional playing card suits of hearts, spades, clubs and diamonds and the trump cards sport arbitrary scenes of 19th century Europe.
Not only do these games excercise one's thinking and memory skills, they are quite wholesome and suitable for all family members.

I invite the reader to further investigate the more authentic Tarot tradition by doing a Google search on "jeu de tarot" or "tarock"

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Hi anonymous!

I invite you to tell us who you are next time you visit.

You are completely correct in that all historical evidence suggests that tarot was invented as a game in the 15th century in Milan, and that all the card's occult associations appear to have been added much later. I have played tarocci many times and it is great fun. I use a set of simplified rules I got from

My tarot practice, however, was focused on reading the cards for spiritual insight, and I found it conflicted, more and more, with my belief that the only true answer to people's deep longings is a relationship with God. That is why I no longer read the cards.

But I still love the game, LOL.