What Is Evolutionary Tarot?


(Vision Tarot by Dirk Gillabel)

Evolutionary tarot is a concept created by tarot counselor, James Wells. So, what is evolutionary tarot?

This approach to tarot is a lot like an evolutionary astrology consultation:  the astrologer uses a birth chart to help his or her client create growth and integration, instead of predicting the future. For example, both traditional and evolutionary astrologers might notice that Jupiter is currently in the sign of Cancer. A traditional astrologer might say that Jupiter is exalted (read “works really well”) in this sign and enhances connection to family, money , and even food. He or she might predict the likelihood of making more money during this period. Evolutionary astrology looks to the soul first. Instead of predicting potential wealth creation, the evolutionary astrologer might talk about the path from insecurity to inner security (thanks Star Lady!). The reading might focus on how to create more prosperity based on values, beliefs, or consciousness. The astrologer might ask how the client feels about his or her community (the family of humanity). And some evolutionary astrologers don’t believe in planets working better in some signs than others!

An evolutionary approach to tarot takes a similar, soul-oriented approach. During an evolutionary tarot reading, the symbolic language of tarot or oracle cards assists the querent in answering his or her own questions. Evolutionary tarot works in a positive way with all the cards, not to predict the future but to help you create it. I feel it is a flowering of the personal growth tarot tradition championed by teachers like Mary Greer.

James Wells posted the following ideas or principles about this type of tarot on his blog, Circle Ways. If you have used tarot or oracle cards for awareness, shadow work, or self-development, these concepts may be familiar ones. (Used with permission; thanks James Wells!)

Basic Tenets of Evolutionary Tarot (as of November, 2013)

The tarot is not a belief system; it is simply a tool.

All tarot cards are neutral symbols.  There are no “good” cards and there are no “bad” cards.  The card symbols are enlivened by the questions, processes, templates, life experiences, and understanding that we take to them.

Neither the cards nor “fate” make things happen; people make things happen.

Rather than considering a tarot card concept as a noun, it can be helpful to consider it as a verb or process.  E.g. Rather than say, “I’m a High Priestess”, one might say, “I’m High Priestessing.”

Rather than considering a tarot card concept as a blanket statement, it can be helpful to consider it as an open-ended question.  E.g. “The Ace of Pentacles says that you’re successful” can become “The Ace of Pentacles asks, ‘What personal definition of success have you cultivated in response to this endeavour?’”

The tarot practitioner is simply a guide; the person or group who is the subject of the tarot encounter is her/his/its own best expert on her/his/its life.  The tarot encounter is a catalyst for her/him/it to tap into this personal expertise.

The fundamental questions that underlie the tarot encounter include: Who am I?  What questions do I carry in this lifetime?  What is my full potential as a human being?  What script can I write in order to become this?  What are my unique qualities and gifts?  How can I share these with my community and the world in a life-affirming manner?  What do I most need to know or learn at this time?

The tarot encounter’s primary aim is the intensification of a person’s consciousness or self-awareness.  It is an invitation to empowerment.

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