Nine Ladies Dancing: Move your body to a new state of being.

Most people who read tarot and other cards do so to help a person improve her life. Usually this comes down to counseling, in the sense of providing advice and guidance based on interpreting the cards.

This counseling tends to be through dialog and triggering thoughts in the mind of the person who receives a reading. More adventurous readers might recommend that their clients have meditation homework (I’ve done this), incorporate crystals or utilize modalities like aromatherapy.

For the adventurous reader looking to expand his arsenal, there is an interesting technique called “dancing the tarot,” originally described by Denning and Phillips and later adapted by Don Kraig.

MagickOfTarotDandP TarotAndMagicKraig

The Magick Of The Tarot (Denning and Phillips),
Tarot & Magic (Donald Michael Kraig)

In The Magick Of The Tarot, Denning and Phillips write about using the tarot as a tool to communicate with the Deep Mind (what NLPers and other “moderns” call the unconscious mind). The authors delve into the mediums of theater and dance, where acting and movement can be used for this communication. Don Kraig adapts this in his later book Tarot & Magic as a way to change states of being; to break out of outmoded ways of acting or behaving and find new resources.

Body Affects Mind

The core idea is that our physiology can affect our minds. If we breath deeply and slowly we become calm; whereas rapid shallow breathing will tend to excite us (until we pass out!). If we hunch over and frown like a person who is angry at the world, we may start feeling some of what that person would. It’s certainly nothing like we’d feel if we intentionally adopted a smile for a few minutes, which would tend to make us feel happy. Daoists make use of the latter in their meditative practices with something known as the Secret Smile. This physiology concept is used in neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and other cognitive therapies.

The theory of dancing the tarot as Don Kraig adopted it is that if we are stuck in one mindset or pattern, we can “break state” by physically representing the current mindset, dance for a transition, and end in a posture that echoes the state of being we want. It sounds corny, and there is more to it than this summary, but it can work.

My Example of Dancing the Tarot

This is a technique I’ve only used a couple of times in the past. However, I thought it appropriate for the theme of “Nine Ladies Dancing.” In that spirit I used it to help write this post. After a day of drafting my annual self-review for work, I felt drained and lethargic, and short on ideas for this post. I hit on this technique, and thought I could use it for some motivation. It worked!

9_ladies_dancing_tarot4 of Cups, 8 of Pentacles (Lo Scarabeo Tarot)

I chose the 4 of Cups to represent my lethargic state. I sat similar to the inebriated gentleman, with my head resting on my hands and adopting a dissatisfied look. I even had a cup of tea steeping nearby, not unlike the wine being poured in that card. Coincidentally, the wordless music playing in the background was a bit melancholy. I had no problem being aware of the lethargy and feeling it to my core!

The card I picked for my new state was 8 of Pentacles, with a young man who is happily producing something of value. I examined this card, then stood up and — yes — danced a bit. (Sorry, no pictures or videos of that to share with you!) The dancing is to get the body and mind moving before settling again. After a minute I sat on a chair across the room and put on Mr. 8’s smile, and posed as if I were chiseling coins. Then I imagined myself typing my blog with words just pouring out, and me smiling at the result. I let the feeling form and sink in for a minute.

The process was effective. I now felt positive and productive, and this short exercise seemed to banish my lethargy since I found myself anxious to get started on my writing. Despite an interrupting phone call, I finished, as you can see.

If you are looking for something a little different, for yourself or your clients, consider whether this technique might be suitable. It’s not for everyone, but for those people willing to do a little roleplay it might be just the nudge they need to get unstuck. I do recommend perusing the above books, especially Tarot & Magic, if this is something you want to make use of with another person.