As a teenager watching Jesus from Nazareth with Robert Powell, I was incredibly moved by the Gospel story. No part of me doubted that Christ rose from dead, not just spiritually but physically – according to the Gospel itself, this made me righteous through faith.
Righteous but not brainwashed – apparently that wasn’t good enough.
Because two years later I was staying with a Baptist, fundamentalist family in the Carolinas during a high-school exchange year. They saw me as their conversion project. Only when I had agreed to every point in the Romans Road Chic tract style attempt at evangelizing me were they happy. Then, of course, I also had to get baptised. After that, I was left to my own devices. It had been decided that I was going to Heaven, so no need to bother with the rest.
Oh, and I was expected to go out and ‘evangelize’ myself, like a good little Christian robot, which I did. I was quite the Bible basher. It wasn’t about offering healing or actually caring for people; it was about proving that their ideology was wrong and therefore they were going to burn in hell.
A Turn or Burn Lifestyle
The only pastoral guidance I had was that I needed to conform to what the Bible said. Never mind all the contradictions and random application of Old Testament law whenever it was convenient. I needn’t worry my pretty little head about that – what the pastor says is Bible truth goes and everything else is verboten. Being naive enough to believe that Jesus was all about love, surprised me to learn that God hated a whole lot of people, including gays and Pentecostals – the latter were often referred to as ‘children of the Devil’ (harsh).
The other day, I came across an Insta meme (image below) which made me want to check out the whole blog post that it was linked to. This meme summarises the kind of faith I was almost coerced into adopting at age 17. It was that or burn in hell for all eternity, so yes… What good news?
Cognitive dissonance was par for the course. Not just with me…except you weren’t allowed to talk about it. God loved everyone so much (even in their sin) that He sent His only begotten Son to die for us. (Great!) But… (Achtung!)… if you don’t believe in our exact interpretation of the Bible which totally precludes any form of free-thinking or questioning, you basically prove that you too are a child of Satan.
The Bible OR the Tarot
For many years, I was faithfully going to church and acting the part of a young Christian woman, wife and mother, even though I didn’t know myself and therefore wasn’t able to relate either as a wife, mother or a child of God. Unlike conformity, self-knowledge wasn’t encouraged.
Thus, when I left the church to wander off on my search for… something (turned out to be me), I was irresistibly drawn to the Tarot for the very simple reason that it acts as a mirror for the soul. Finally, I began to catch glimpses of who I was and what I was capable of in a space that felt safe and free from judgment.
My love for Jesus remained intact but my Bible started gathering dust and continued to do so for almost 20 years until three days before the first UK lockdown when I had a sign that scared the bejeezus out of me and made me reach for my Bible once again.
Just like I had forsaken my Bible when I picked up the Tarot, I now thought (programmed thinking) that I had to rid my life of all Tarot. It could never be both – it had to be one or the other. It was surprisingly easy to fall into my old Evangelical ways and see the Tarot and anything ‘New Age’ as ‘satanic.’ Surely it had to be if it had kept me away from the Bible all these years? Nope. It turned out the problem was me, not the Tarot.
Questioning the Either Or
My journey toward a more balanced way of being and thinking actually started with reading about the Vineyard Church philosophy, ‘A Radical Middle,’ which combines sound Biblical theology with a practice that involves the gifts of the Spirit. My ‘home church’ as a teenager had been cessationist and therefore felt ‘dead’ to me after 20 years of practising quite a few spiritual gifts outside the church (never mind that I thought that had all been demonic).
Here’s the rub: when you start asking, ‘Does it have to be one or the other?’ about one area of your life, you tend to begin questioning other areas too… and that is exactly what happened. I realised that I had cognitive dissonance around Christ consciousness vs the risen Christ. When I was being honest with myself, I quickly came to the conclusion that I believed in both and why not? It’s actually Biblical!
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” The Word is ‘the Logos’ in Greek – pure consciousness. It wasn’t until the Word ‘became flesh’ that became identifiable with Jesus Christ. The Logos is the mind of God that we can all ‘tap into,’ albeit not to the full extent that Jesus was able to.
This mind is the organising principle of all of creation. I’m not really clever enough to put into words what the Logos actually means. Perhaps it’s not even possible and perhaps that is why I see the Logos symbolically represented in The Magician Tarot card.
Realising that my experience demanded that I believe in both the risen Christ and Christ consciousness was wonderfully liberating. I didn’t have to adopt a creed or set of beliefs, no matter how well thought-through or what pedigree theologian had come up with it. It was okay to base my faith on my own thoughts and experiences.
From that moment, it didn’t take long to gradually unravel my alienation from the Tarot and all things woo that I had thought necessary once I surrendered my life to Christ back in April.
Do I believe this process was guided by the Holy Spirit? Yes, I do. You will see all sorts of early church fathers, bishops and pastors with opposing views claim that their views were revelations by the Spirit too.
Therefore I conclude that rather than adopting someone else’s belief system, on the basis that they claim it is revealed by God to be the truth, I listen to the Spirit within myself. On this Gnostic/Mystic path, I’m also free to embrace any of the Apocrypha that resonates, rather than feeling I have to reject it all as heresy (boring!).
Brainwashed No More
Not far into the first lockdown, I had a meltdown. I can see that now. I wanted things to be simple. The lockdown lies were too much to bear, so I regressed. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I can see now that it happened for me, rather than ‘to me.’ Thanks to this experience, I was able to resolve lots of old, lingering cognitive dissonance. I am now better aligned with and totally in love with Christ once more!
My way of regressing is to swiftly brainwash myself with lots and lots of information that supports one argument that makes me feel safe. Sadly, it worked so well that I managed to alienate a whole lot of people which was never my intention. I have already started repairing burnt bridges, though I fear some may be beyond repair.
As part of my brainwashing, I convinced myself that the Tarot was satanic and honestly thought, I would never touch another Tarot deck ever again. I over-corrected. In my most recent post, The Burning Black Cat Dream, I touch on this too, so I won’t go on about it here.
Christian Tarot Resources
As I began opening my mind to embrace two different methods of gaining wisdom and strengthening my faith, I’m gathering all the resources I find along the way. Check out the Christian Tarot Resources page. I’ll be adding more resources as I go!