Intimate relationships are full of complex dynamics. In our more
superficial interactions and in our solitary pursuits, we can often impose
simplification. We can abstain from tangling ourselves in office politics,
we can sit alone in front of the TV with the comfort of our favorite show.
We can retreat from the chaos of self-doubt and the crisis of self-image,
and settle into a patterned existence where we arrange our expectations to
coincide with our inclinations.
In true intimacy, though, the complexity cannot be avoided. Intimacy means
taking the other seriously . . . every word, every mood, every behavior can
become a potent vector in the relationship. Most unsettling of all, it is
here that we must face ourselves as another sees us. We must respect an
image of ourselves that is not our own.
Intimacy means being comfortable to share feelings, memories, and dreams
with another. It means having a confidant, a lover, a friend, a mate. But
openness and sharing are just the bare beginnings, the prerequisites and
precursors of deep connection. A partner is not a therapist, not a
professional listener and guide. Intimacy goes beyond the personal monolog
into a dialog of needs, expectations, fears, and compassion. In intimacy,
there is a commitment to making all the pieces of two individuals harmonize
and interpenetrate. The Intimacy Tarot is designed to foster this process
by giving symbolic form to the deep forces that shape our interpersonal
needs, to the multitude of ways our lives touch each other and stimulate
growth, and to the different ways we express identity through relationship.
Although the cards are focused on the theme of intimate relationships, they
can give insight in other domains of life as well. This is because the
ancient structure of the tarot is really a blueprint for creation in all
its manifestations. The Intimacy Tarot taps into this archetypal structure.
In all decks that respect the underlying structure of the tarot, the images
serve as windows onto the fundamental themes and processes of the human
condition. Those fundamentals are not confined to the bedroom, the
workplace, the studio, or church, or the daydream. They are everywhere. In
the Intimacy Tarot, they find expression in scenes of vulnerability and
communion between people. For many of us, this is the most intense and
personally meaningful area of life. Our intimate relationships are
demanding, riveting, and profoundly rewarding. We are strongly motivated to
honestly identify the energies at work behind them. The Intimacy Tarot is
thus another way of bringing the tarot archetypes to life and into our
conscious awareness. In the Intimacy Tarot, these ancient archetypes have
been portrayed in an uncompromisingly personal way.
The 22 cards of the Major Arcana represent deeply rooted modes of being
that we may find ourselves caught up in, as we navigate the challenges of
intimacy. They should not be seen as passing situations or simple actions,
but rather as power centers of the psyche, strong enough to attract whole
complexes of moods, behaviors, and thoughts around themselves, and to
resist change or deconstruction. Often, in fact, they are so successful at
determining our perceptions that we fail to recognize them or appreciate
that there are other ways of being we might engage. In this deck, many of
the Major Arcana represent challenges to building intimacy. They are
vortices in the ocean, seeking to pull us in and reduce our problems to fit
the answers they offer. We must, sooner or later, partake of the energies
of each of the Major Arcana, but not become bound to them. Intimacy demands
profound flexibility, a committed openness to radical change.
The Minor Arcana illustrate four basic dimensions of intimacy: sex
(Desires), love (Hearts), communication (Thoughts), and companionship
(Lives). In each suit, the numbers 1-10 depict steps or landmarks in the
progression of a relationship, building from initial contact or impulse
through final satisfaction. In these progressions, earlier stages do not
become obsolete as a relationship grows and deepens, rather it is an
accumulation of possibilities for connection, all of which must be
regularly attended to. Besides the number cards, each suit includes four
face cards, representing the different ways in which we may take on and
express the energy of the suit: Dreamer (sensing one's potential), Reacher
(yearning for satisfaction), Union (bonding with another), and Ruler
(connecting with the eternal). The Minor Arcana thus document the shifting
landscape of our roles and interactions, whereas the Major Arcana probe
into underlying causes and challenges.
Keep in mind, that the Intimacy Tarot, no less than other decks, should be
read with an openness to both literal and metaphorical meaning. Just as
Death, for example, need not mean literal death, but more often refers to
irreversible transitions and how we approach them, so a card like the Union
of Desires may not refer to literal sexual coupling, but rather to passions
shared, and intimacy in its most intense, volatile expressions. The images
are intended to evoke feelings and impressions, and it is these feelings
and impressions that will guide you to an interpretation.