I have been reading Tarot for 25 years (as of a couple weeks from now), and like many readers I started out with the classic Rider-Waite (or Waite-Smith) Tarot. I started with it because it was what I could get in a small Midwestern town in 1992 — and I was lucky to even find it — but I quickly came to love and appreciate it. In fact, when asked what is the “best” deck for new readers to start with, I always say that I recommend a Rider-Waite or one of the decks that is an immediate heir to it, such as the Universal Waite, because so much of what is out there for writing and other decks is based on Waite and Smith’s system. I read exclusively off my Rider-Waite deck for the first three years or so, when I cautiously began exploring other decks. And even today, when I really need to get real with myself, I’ll pull that first deck out. We’ve known each other a long time; we don’t have the need to talk around an issue.
But my favorite deck to read off of for the last decade or so — following an intense love affair with the Thoth Deck — is Kris Waldherr’s Goddess Tarot. There are many, many things I love about this deck, but foremost among them is the way in which Waldherr has reinterpreted some (though not all) of the Major Arcana. This summer, I’ll be taking us on a Journey Through the Majors along with Rose at The Bliss Institute, including looking a the Goddess Arcana.
The first card in the Major Arcana is The Fool, and the Goddess Tarot features my all-time favorite interpretation of The Fool: Tara/Beginnings. The Fool marks the beginning of new journeys, new ventures, and new phases, and so Tara is the perfect Goddess to take this role. A central figure in Buddhism, Tara is described as either a Goddess or a Bodhisattva. Originally a human woman, Tara chose to forgo enlightenment in order to attend to the sufferings of the human world (something she has in common with Kuan Yin, who appears later in the deck). She is sometimes considered the “Mother of Liberation” and invites to let go of all that does not serve us. She appears in many guises — Green Tara, White Tara, Black Tara, and Blue Tara are the best known — and in all of them embodies some aspects of the guardian or patroness of new beginnings, clean slates, letting go, and reaching out.
I love Tara/Beginnings as a face of The Fool because she not only invites us to step out on a new path, but to step out in faith. Much in the way that the classic Fool steps onto the path without being able to see the whole thing, and steps out in trust that he will not fall off the cliff (or be injured if he does fall), Tara/Beginnings invites us to step out knowing that the path will unfold before us. Rather than trusting that the path exists and we will find it, Tara encourages us to take the first tentative steps in the knowledge that next right step will reveal itself just in time. Because we intuitively know this, we can step into the future with no fear, with trust, and with optimism.
In this way, she echoes The Fool’s message of embarking on a new chapter without regard for what is holding us back, or fearing because we don’t know where the path will ultimately lead. Like The Fool, Tara/Beginnings assures us that this new chapter, this new path, this new journey will be for our ultimate benefit, evolution, and enlightenment. She does not promise that the path will be easy and without obstacles (and The Fool doesn’t, either). What she does promise is that things will unfold as they should, that we will be liberated from what doesn’t serve us, and that we are not alone on our journey.