We have often been asked, what possible relevance could there be with the cards of the Tarot and the 21 Taras of Tibetan Buddhist practice. The cards are seen by many in our culture as a device used by the less scrupulous to mislead the gullible.
That is a very limited vision of one of the western world’s repositories of inspired thinking.
Here is our story, the reason why we include this information in our current teachings.
Our journey through life reflects a thousand mysteries. Wisdom teachers advise us to look to the ancient symbols found in the world’s mythologies and cultures to understand the depths of our human experience.
The Tarot is an assembly of these mysterious symbols, organized systematically to illustrate a path to life’s fulfillment. There are 78 cards known as the Arcana (Mysteries). The Tarot deck is divided into Major Arcana (22 cards) and Minor Arcana (56 cards).
The 22 Major Arcana are an expression of the macrocosmic forces that pervade the Universe. They are 22 spiritual initiations.
Many of the world’s great thinkers have used this system to illumine their own revelations. There are thousands of decks following the same profound pattern, reflecting wisdom teachings of Vedic India, Ancient Egypt, the Hebrew Kabbalah, Chinese Taoism, Buddhism and Greek Mythology.
Early in her work of teaching the Tara Dance, Prema came upon this quote in The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. by Barbara G. Walker, “Among the many derivations offered for the mysterious word Tarot…. the 21 numbered cards of the Major Arcana suggest an older connection with the Goddess Tara …”
Prema opened a dialogue with Musawa, a long time student of the Tarot, and discovered that many of the symbols present in the cards were also to be found in the corresponding praises to the 21 Taras.
Bonney Meyer, a natural intuitive who worked with the cards for many years, opened the door to the initiatory wisdom and as Prema reflected on the relationships, she found the cards to illumine the praises.
In 1998 Prema and Anahata encountered Maria Ache’s work at a Dances of Universal Peace retreat. Maria Achè, born and raised in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, had developed with her students a complete set of 22 choreographies based on the essence of each one of the Major Arcana. Using native rhythms inspired by the great diversity of religious and cultural traditions of Brazil, they created songs and dances that are a journey of self-knowledge and spiritual enlightenment.
Just like the Dance of Tara, these dances provoke a sense of comprehension that goes far beyond rational perception. They are an experience of empowerment, beauty and wisdom.
Anahata worked with the songs so they can be sung in English using the same rhythm as the native Portuguese.
Maria, Prema and Anahata explored the philosophical connections of the two spiritual systems through several retreats. This resulted in a volume of songs, words in Portuguese and English, that includes a CD of the music called Magia Sagrada, The Sacred Magic of the Tarot.
Anahata created a powerful DVD called 21 Taras, Our Journey Through Life, with Prema speaking of the correspondences and Anahata demonstrating them through using clips of dancing Taras from around the world.
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And so the mystery continues to turn, inspiring gestures of art and awareness.
May you be uplifted, inspired and filled with joy.