Design a Self-Study Curriculum With Me

Today, let’s design a self-study curriculum together. This idea came up after looking at Master’s programs this morning and realizing that these programs would not suit my exact needs from an education. I’m not looking for more accolades, but more knowledge. That’s not to say that I would not absolutely love to get my Master’s. The “self-study” part of the title is two-fold – I want to direct my own at-home “Master’s program” as well as learn more about myself through the process. So to start designing this curriculum, I’ve chosen an area that I’ve already been studying. But I want to add structure to my study. I’m also using this self-study curriculum to justify more book purchases.

The way I’m going about creating this curriculum is by looking through my Amazon carts and “Saved for Later” list, which both have a decent number of books. It’s the place where I keep my “to read” books. I’m looking at the theme between books, grouping them, and then titling the “course”. My goal with this curriculum is not only to learn, but to feel free to indulge in my interests and release any shame I feel around having these interests.

I’m also getting a curated bundle of books from The Last Bookstore in the mail in a few weeks, so I’ll be adding those books to this curriculum as soon as I get them. As a side note, I am strangely enjoying how long things take to come in the mail because it makes me more careful about what I purchase and it helps to slow me down (and combat the urges of my very immediate and sometimes irritable Aries Moon).

This curriculum is meant to be multi-medium, meaning that I will be reading books as well as working with tools like the Tarot to enhance my learning.

Imagery of the Tarot as the Archetypal Journey

This “course” will cover Jungian psychology’s ties with the Tarot (he himself was said to have only seen the Tarot imagery perhaps once).

  • Tarot at a Crossroads: The Unexpected Meeting of Tarot & Psychology
  • Jung and Tarot: An Archetypal Journey
  • Tarot on Earth
  • Tarot Correspondences
  • Holistic Tarot
  • Tarot and Astrology
  • Rider Waite Smith Tarot deck

Women’s Oppression Through Spiritual Stigmatizing

This section of my study will be a deep-dive of stigmatization of women’s spirituality practices, focusing on contemporary American goddess-based religions.

  • Drawing Down the Moon
  • Caliban and the Witch
  • The Spiral Dance
  • Sacred Woman: A Guide to Healing the Feminine Body, Mind, and Spirit
  • Imagine a Woman in Love with Herself
  • The Way of the Rose
  • Rituals and Practices with the Motherpeace Tarot
  • Motherpeace book and Tarot deck

Shadow Work and Divine Femininity

Femininity is associated with the dark in the Western world, so in this section, I’ll explore the connection through shadow work.

  • Hekate Liminal Rites: A Study of the rituals, magic and symbols of the torch-bearing Triple Goddess of the Crossroads
  • Hekate: Keys to the Crossroads
  • Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature
  • Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales
  • Herman Hesse’s Fairy Tales
  • Nicoletta Ceccoli Tarot Deck (and any other shadow decks)

Grounding Practices and Living in the Material World

This section is meant to bring some lightness to the rest of the curriculum and engage me within the world more.

  • HausMagick: Transform Your Home with Witchcraft
  • Kitchen Table Tarot
  • The Green Witch: Your Complete Guide to the Natural Magic of Herbs, Flowers, Essential Oils, and More
  • Paganism: An Introduction to Earth- Centered Religions
  • Urban Magick
  • Living Color: Painting, Writing, and the Bones of Seeing
  • The Modern Witch Tarot Deck

I don’t know how long this list of materials will take to get through, but this list has helped me solidify what I want to focus my attention on in the next year or so.

Using the Tarot for Self Exploration

In previous articles, I spoke about some of the ways to incorporate spirituality into the day-to-day. One of my methods is using the Tarot to hone in on insights. Social isolation has given me the opportunity to develop a deeper relationship with this tool. Every morning, I journal and consult the Tarot for information about a specific question, from clarification about my dreams to elucidation about happenings in my life. There are different types of exercises with the Tarot that I do that help to ground me and learn to trust my inner guidance.

Reading Narrativizations of the Major Arcana

One of the most potent ways that I have worked with the Tarot is through learning about the story of the major arcana. The major arcana is comprised of 22 cards (including the Fool) that correspond with archetypes of human life. This sequence starts with the Fool (0) and ends with the World (21). Each card shows a part of the human growth journey, through the initial naïveté of youth and ignorance all the way through the integration of the self. Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom and Motherpeace are great resources for this type of study. They go through the imagery that appears on the cards, as well as histories and philosophies of the card meanings. Since Tarot decks have different imagery, it’s important to grasp the fundamental insight of the major arcana from a variety of sources. I regularly work with more than four decks. They each have different imagery for each cards. So I am able to apply my knowledge of the archetype mixed with the visuals distinct to the deck that I’m working with.

Learning to Trust My Own Interpretation

I was initially drawn to the Tarot because I saw it as a tool that provided external guidance. That, of course, I could not wholly rely on. I had the same belief of the Tarot that a lot of people have – that it’s a fortune telling game. However, the more I work with it and get to know my deck collection, the more I have come to terms with the Tarot being a tool of reflection.  That is, I see in it what my subconscious mind cannot quite openly express. As I learn to trust my own intuition again, I have been working steadily to rely less on the description booklets that come with decks. Instead, I sit quietly with the imagery for several minutes until I see a story arise. Once I see a story, I speak it out loud and I also write in my journal about the reading.

Moving Out of the Fear Mindset

When I first began working with the Tarot, I was misinformed about cards like the Tower and the Devil. I assigned them the meanings that they seemed to be associated with, or I relied on the booklet meanings. These were often morose and unhelpful. I sought out books and online resources that could explain the cards in a way that weren’t so straightforward. The Tarot is not always so literal. So it was not helpful to see a card depicting great bodily tragedy and tie that into my life. Of course there is always the chance that the card can have a literal meaning. But that is highly unlikely. I learned to work with the Tower as a card representing emotional or spiritual upheaval, which makes more sense in the context of my life experience. And I learned to read the Devil as a card about sexuality and repression.

Spreads for Self Exploration

With learning to trust my intuition more, I have challenged myself to create my own spreads. The traditional Celtic cross and past-present-future spreads were not resonating with me.

Multi-Deck Three Card Spread with Clarifiers

The most common spread I use is choosing two to three different decks and over-hand shuffling until I have three fallout cards from each deck. In the following, I used the After Tarot and the Fountain Tarot.

I glean three different messages that create a story from one deck, then use additional decks as clarifiers. So in the example above, my base deck (the deck I choose the base the reading around) is the After Tarot (on top), and the Fountain Tarot (on bottom) clarifies each of the cards that it sits below. This method has given me some very clear and precise readings.

Single Deck Three Card Spread

Normally, a three card spread would involve positioning past, present, and future cards (in that order). I find that I don’t work well when time is described too rigidly by the cards. I rarely ask questions that have to do with timelines, due dates, and cutoffs. I often ask for clarification about things that are happening, or dreams.

In the above spread, I used the Ember and Aura Tarot (indie deck) and asked for some guidance about reframing a belief that I’ve been carrying that is not serving me. I read all three cards to build a story about how to form a new belief that benefits me and helps me move peacefully in the world and in my relationships. I can use this as a journal prompt or simply sit with the cards.

Every time I do a spread, I write down the cards and my interpretation in my journal. I also take a photo of each spread in case I want to revisit it later.