Tarot changed my life

Discovering tarot changed my life. I first came across it when I moved away to Leeds university as a post-punk art student doing a graphic design degree. Desperate to get away from my restrictive, conservative town where I’d grown up and didn’t fit in, my rebellious mind was wide open to trying everything that I wasn’t supposed to!

Tarot cards were not trendy back then. Tarot was edgy, wrapped up in occult mystery; a curiosity more often connected to Gypsy fortune telling.

Today you can read about tarot in Cosmopolitan, pop into a lovely crystal shop to buy a deck from a vast variety on offer, buy them online or download an app to do your own readings without needing to own a physical deck. But back then in the late 80s in Leeds, while it was popular with people in the alternative scene – Leeds is the home of the Goth movement and many followers flirted with the occult, it wasn’t widely accessible or accepted.

You could only get hold of a few kinds of decks from a couple of gothic-feeling alternative shops. One of those was the (in)famous Sorceror’s Apprentice near where I lived. You couldn’t see past the window displays into the shop. If you wanted to go inside you had to knock on the locked metal-grilled front door for someone to open a small window so they could check you out before they’d open up. 

Even though an unusual guy that I lived with worked there, I never went into that shop. It was quite scary! In fact, it was fire-bombed by Christian fundamentalists while I was there in 1989! So the business went more underground and became mail-order only, then online with the rise of the internet. I believe it’s still going today.

But I was captivated by the imagery, symbolism and magic of tarot, so I bought a deck and lots of books from the less scary shop on the other side of town and dived in.

Tarot changed my life back then, and I’m still fascinated by it today.

4 tarot cards divider

Tarot teaches you about life and how to live it

Before university, I’d studied psychology at college because I wanted to understand myself and other humans better. But unlike the dry theory and boring projects I did there, learning about the tarot was like having a light switched on in my mind that shed light on the difficult times I’d had growing up and put them in the context of the myriad human experiences that we all cycle through at different times in our lives.

Having been bullied at school, I’d formed a belief that there was something inherently flawed in me and that was why bad things happened. I kind of accepted that was just how things were, even though I was miserable, so I just got on with it.

From my child’s mind point of view, no one else appeared to struggle like I did – well no one ever said anything about what they were going through. It seemed that it was just me that was defective – so I put up a wall and self-isolated so that I didn’t have to inflict my awful-ness on other people, and to protect myself from being hurt. 

For a long time I was trapped in my own head with all my unhelpful thoughts and limiting ideas about who I was. To discover tarot and realise that we ALL go through crappy times as well as good, and that most people are also pretty good at hiding the parts of themselves they don’t feel good about – even from themselves – was so liberating. 

I was ‘normal’… hooray! 

And it gave me hope that change was possible for me, so as a shy nineteen year old I finally started to open up more to life.


Thoth Tarot Deck

My first tarot deck: The Thoth Tarot. 

How tarot works

Tarot, being such a practical tool, taught me so much about life and how to live it because it covers every aspect of being human – our physical and material life, our mental patterns, beliefs and the unconscious, how we respond or react emotionally to people and events, and our spiritual, inner nature that speaks to us through subtle whispers, intuition and energy. 

What I didn’t understand back then was HOW tarot worked.

Logic told me that out of the 78 different cards in a tarot deck, to have cards come up in configurations that so closely represented my situations was beyond mere coincidence. But even though I knew it worked, it was hard to fully accept and trust. 

I’m quite sceptical of a lot of things in the world of spirituality. I find many things fluffy, airy fairy and ungrounded. I do love exploring and trying things out, but as someone who has lived in their head a lot, it’s hard to let that mental side of me go, and to be honest, I quite like it. It keeps my feet on the ground. 

Positive tarot cards

‘Positive’ tarot cards

Dark tarot cards

‘Negative’ tarot cards

At the beginning of my journey with tarot, at times I found it quite thrilling to experience the ‘magic’ and mystery of how the perfect cards turned up in a spread, but it was also a bit unnerving. While it was all very affirming to get ‘good’ cards, I would secretly hope not to get too many ‘bad’ ones. Like many people, I wrongly assumed that the cards could predict, or would reflect inherent flaws or traits within me that I didn’t want to see.

But as I dived deeper into human psychology, healing and higher consciousness, the tarot made even more sense to me. The way I now see that tarot works is that, because everything is connected to the one field of consciousness, when we ask the cards for guidance or clarity about an issue in our lives, we are connecting with this universal wisdom, which gets to work putting the ‘right’ cards in front of us through the act of shuffling, cutting the deck, pulling cards and laying them out a spread. And it opens up our own inner wisdom and intuition to be able to feel into the messages.

Stories and images are the language of the subconscious mind. When someone tells you the story of the cards in front of you in a reading, you tune into the pictures of the characters and subtly pick up on their facial expressions and gestures. You take in the colours, environments, animals, symbols, meanings and energy of the cards, and it touches something deep inside you, making connections with your life situation, and so it acts as a fantastic mirror for what’s going on.

Tarot deck side elevation

Amazing benefits of working with tarot

Tarot is a marvelous tool for bringing clarity and guidance. It can help us to see a wider picture of a situation or it can focus in on the detail. 

It helps to illuminate the fears and negative influences within us so that we can make new, informed choices, and it can show us how we are in relationships with other people, and how their energy is impacting us.

It brings things that are hidden within our psyches into conscious awareness, and allows for missing pieces of life’s puzzles to be found. 

All the direction we need to live our most fulfilling, joyful and abundant lives is always within us. The problem is, we often can’t hear the quiet voice of our higher guidance above all the mental noise and the shouting of the ego. And if you’re a creative soul, it’s so common to have too many ideas and not know what to take action on first.

But when you see the cards communicating exactly what your inner guidance has been saying to you from all the possibilities you’ve been holding onto, it can be hugely validating and confirmational. 

It allows you to let go of everything else, which feels so much lighter. It gives you inspiration to move ahead, and because there’s less resistance and more clarity to make decisions with ease you can gain momentum quickly.

It can also let you know when it’s not time to take action, giving you permission to rest and allow things to line up in the universe without pushing ahead or stressing that things don’t seem to be happening fast enough.

So it’s pretty useful! 

It was the thing that woke me up and put me on the path of self-exploration at a much deeper level than just psychology. And once I was on that path I was hooked.

I even devoted the second year of my design degree, where I’d specialised in printmaking, to working with the imagery and symbolism of tarot because it touched something so deep within me!

Here’s some of my old art work!

Tarot lino prints
Tarot book

I find it quite uncomfortable to look at this artwork now, partly because it’s not very good, but mainly because I see how dark it is, which reflected something in me at the time. 

Since those days, I’ve been on a continuous path of self-discovery, healing and transformation, and wherever I’ve gone in the world I’ve always had a deck of tarot cards with me.

So that’s my journey with tarot and why I find it so valuable. And it’s why I love using it in my coaching sessions. 

What’s your experience with tarot? 

Have you been around it and studied it for years? Are you more of a dabbler, perhaps you’ve had a few readings over the years and maybe bought your own decks to practice with? Or maybe tarot is new to you, but you are tarot-curious???

What good and/or bad experiences have you had with tarot, or with tarot readers?

Let me know in the comments!

The tarot journey to create alignment and flow

Find out how this four-week Align & Flow intensive 1-2-1 coaching journey can help you:

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  • trust and believe in your own intuition at a deeper level.
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If you’re curious about how tarot could benefit you, don’t just take my word for it… check out the videos below from a couple of my amazing clients – and there are more on the info page.

To find out more about how to find greater alignment and flow in your life through transformational coaching with tarot here’s the page with all the details.

Until next time,
Take care!

Lots of love,

Cathy signature - gold
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