Welcome to Dharma Eyes Tarot, the blog of Emily Francis Clare.
A few days into 2015, I unearthed a long-neglected plastic storage bin in my closet and pulled out my old tarot deck, which I had probably purchased about 15 years before, and which had been lying dormant at least a decade. When I plunked down $20 of my allowance for that deck as a teenager, I was drawn to the cards but really didn’t know why. I mean, cards are cool right? It feels good to shuffle them, turn them over, to hold a big, fat deck in your hand. But I knew nothing about tarot and had nobody to encourage my learning (in fact, most people in my life actively discouraged it) and so I eventually put the cards aside.
When I brought the cards out again, I just felt something click. I realized that tarot cards aren’t about predicting the future. Rather, they reflect our blind spots back to us and show us things that our conscious, willful mind might miss amidst the problems of our everyday lives. And so slowly, timidly, I picked them up again and began to shuffle…
The focus of Dharma Eyes Tarot is both learning and exploring the tarot and using the tarot as a tool to learn and explore. My introduction to the tarot community, as well as some of my recent experiences in my life, have loosened up some of my old dogmas and reconnected me with some old flames. Poetry, literature, and language are my passion. Buddhism is the path I gratefully tread. The wonderful earth, this hub of the interconnection of all things, is my home. Tarot is a practice that I hope will help me do the work I want to do with all these things in this life.
I have big plans and projects of course—long-term! I have an idea for an oracle deck which I have been working on for a couple of months. I also have an idea for a much-needed book about a certain topic in tarot. One day—although not any time soon—I would like to start a tarot business based on dharma-centered and ecological principles which weaves both Buddhist wisdom and the wisdom of the earth into the meanings of the cards. I have a long way to go, however, before I reach that point.
Why the name Dharma Eyes?
What I don’t mean by this phrase is mechanically interpreting every card or every reading through Buddhist teachings. What I do mean is a little more complex.
In the religious traditions that come out of ancient Indian Vedic cultures, including Buddhism, the word dharma has many profound meanings. My understanding of two of its meanings goes like this:
Dharma is, to me, the teachings of the Buddha. This means not only the written scriptures that come down to us from Buddhist cultures over the centuries, but also the lessons that we learn from our very ordinary everyday lives. We are literally surrounded by dharma teachers all the time if we pay heed to what they have to teach us.
Additionally, dharmas are the phenomena that arise and pass away in this world—plants and animals, nations, people, cultures, and objects.
In Buddhist tradition, an enlightened person is said to have the Dharma Eye, which means that he or she can see the arising and passing away of phenomena in the long term and understand the causes behind their arising and passing away. To possess the Dharma Eye is to see how all beings continually co-create the world through their thoughts, words, and actions. To possess the Dharma Eye is to understand how the world works at a deep level.
I don’t claim to have the Dharma Eye, nor do I think tarot cards reach as far as the Dharma Eye can. However, I do think that we are wiser than we often give ourselves credit for and that tarot cards can help us understand how things work at a level that is sometimes too deep for our conscious mind to immediately grasp. Reading the tarot, then, is like putting on a fresh set of eyes–like you would a pair of glasses–and seeing the world more deeply.