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Artist Interview

Carolyn Cushing

March 21, 2013

We always love meeting women whose work inspires and helps others. Carolyn Cushing is definitely one of these women. A spiritual adviser through the art of Tarot, Carolyn uses her teachings to foster growth and self improvement in others. Her approach is gentle and informed, not focusing on a determined fate, but, rather, a malleable future. She'll be offering one card readings and demonstrations of the Tarot for Arts Night Out at Ode, March 8th, 6-8pm. You can learn more about Carolyn on her website, The Art of Change.

Now, meet (and be inspired by) Carolyn Cushing:

Carolyn Cushing [photo credit: Valley Advocate]

How did you get started?
In June 1994 I stumbled upon the Tarot when I thought I was helping someone else, but as it turns out, I was the one who got the gift.

An acquaintance, Elly Glover, was out of work due to advanced kidney disease and was raising money to work with her spiritual teacher in Seattle by doing Tarot readings so I went for a session. I hadn’t really given a thought as to how I might benefit from this outing.

Before my evening with Elly, I don’t remember having an impression of the Tarot. I knew it involved cards and perhaps even glimpsing the future, but my previous years of life had protected me from both the outlandish stories and the positive myths about what the Tarot is and what it can do.

Perhaps it was the lack of expectation that opened me up to magic in the moment because as we sat on the floor in Elly’s basement apartment and she spread round, brightly-colored cards with symbols from global traditions out on the floor, I was captured, immediately and truly.

You see, the Tarot was responding to a secret hunger of mine, a longing I had been trying to tamp down for a more creative and integrated life. Fortunately, this longing recognized the Tarot as an opening and leapt to call my attention on that early summer evening.

The Tarot and its 78 cards organized into 5 suits connected to elemental energies invite us to express all aspects of ourselves. The structure is comprehensive; fire, water, earth, and air invite us to bring our emotional, inspirational, intellectual, and physical selves into the equation as we live our everyday lives and at the center of it all is the mystery of the Major Arcana, the life lessons that have appeared to us humans over and over again.

We can use it for anything.

I use the Tarot as inspiration for daily spiritual focusing, decision-making for practical matters, meditation prompts, creative inspiration, decorating my walls, and, yes, getting a glimpse into what is unfolding into the future if I keep doing what I am doing. As I don’t believe the future is fixed, sometimes the Tarot helps me change what I am doing to work toward a better result!

What do you love about your job?
I work in a collaborative intuitive way with the Tarot. Of course, I bring my intuition to the work, but I want people working with me in a session or in a class to tap into their own intuitive abilities. We are all intuitive! It’s not a special gift for the chosen few! When a flash of insight comes to a client or student from looking at an image or responding to one of my questions prompted by the Tarot that is the magic moment.

I think we all would benefit from using an oracle like the Tarot to help us navigate the complex world we live in. Not everyone has to use the Tarot because there are other wonderful guides like the I Ching or Runes, but I have to admit being excited when people choose to work more deeply with the Tarot. It is a very comprehensive guide that keeps developing as more and more decks are created.

Roots of Asia deck. "It is beautiful and multi-layered so it calls forth a deep intuitive response" -- Carolyn

Where do you find inspiration?
The symbols of the Tarot are deep wells of inspiration. The Tarot as a deck of cards comes from 15th century Europe, but something about its structure has allowed it be adapted as a conveyor of symbols and thought systems from traditions across time and the globe. There are decks that spring from the wisdom of ancient Egypt and from Steampunk culture. People just keep innovating with the Tarot!

Those who come to my classes at Groundings in Florence are great inspirations. They dive into the cards and find beauty and mystery and guidance there. We go deep – and we also laugh, too!

We are also lucky to have quite a Tarot community here in the Valley. The third Saturday of every month the Massachusetts Tarot Society gathers and we take turns presenting on a wide range of Tarot topics.

Who is your role model?
There are so many wonderful and generous teachers in the Tarot community. I did my first serious Tarot study with Rachel Pollack and Mary Greer. They took us deep into the Tarot tradition, interactive processes, deep meditation, and play. They also have this wonderful spirit of equality. They are some of the rock stars of Tarot, but they don’t act like it. Mary Greer might be your partner at a Tarot conference. Rachel Pollack will ask you what you think about the symbols on the deck she created – and like your interpretation better than her own!

What are your plans for the future?
I have some exciting teaching activities coming up in the next couple of months.

I am doing a Tarot 101 – deluxe version! – at Groundings in Florence on Tuesday nights in April. This is a version of a popular class that I have been doing since January 2012. It is open to absolute beginners but, interestingly, those with past experience have come and learned new things, too. We’ll do our usual getting grounded in our own spine of meaning for Tarot: exploring ways to use it for practical, spiritual, and creative purposes; reading for self and others; and add in an exploration of the Major Arcana card of Justice. All the details are on at: http://artofchangetarot.com/blog/

I am also going to be teaching at Readers Studio, an international Tarot conference held in NYC. My session is called Death’s Octavo: The Tarot’s Deep Support for Transition. The Death card is one of the most infamous in the deck and, well, it scares people. Transition – even if it is not physical death - can be hard. But the Tarot encodes messages of support for how to make it through the challenge. There is a way to lay out cards so that Death is surrounded by love, movement, re-balancing, purpose, awakening, earned joy, and surrender. These are 8 powerful helpers!

If you were a piece of clothing, what would be and what color/pattern?
I would be a light, silky camisole in turquoise or lavender to be worn close to the skin. Beauty below the surface known to the one who wears it – and those she chooses to reveal herself to.

What is your favorite word, and why?
Zanahoria. It’s the Spanish word for carrot. I love the sound of this word – and it shows a mixing of cultures resulting in beauty. It has Arabic origins translated to Spain in the Middle Ages. I like to see cultures mixing creatively. This, of course, also happens in the Tarot in fabulous and vibrant ways.

Join us on Friday, March 8th as we welcome Carolyn to do one card readings and gain insight on the ancient mysticism of the Tarot.