Let me preface this post and the Religious Trauma Tarot Spread by stating clearly that if you suffer from trauma of any kind, it is important to seek help from a trained professional. This Tarot Spread is something I recommend trying once recovery is well underway.
Having spent the better part of the first half of 2023 recovering from religious trauma, I can vouch for how insidious religious programming can be. The destructive impact on our lives and how it wires us for self-sabotage is really off the charts.
Defining Religious Trauma Syndrome
Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) is a term used to describe the psychological, emotional, and social damage that can be caused by harmful religious experiences. It is a specific type of trauma that stems from the negative impact of religious beliefs, practices, or institutions on an individual’s well-being.
If you suspect you suffer from RTS, I recommend checking out the resources on journeyfree.org.
5 Ways Trauma Leads to Self-Sabotage
Trauma, including religious trauma, can often lead to self-sabotage due to the complex ways it affects a person’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. Here are a few ways in which trauma can contribute to self-sabotage:
- Negative Core Beliefs: Trauma can distort an individual’s perception of themselves and the world. It can generate negative core beliefs such as feeling unworthy, unlovable, or inherently flawed. These beliefs can lead to self-sabotaging behaviours.
- Emotional Regulation Challenges: Trauma can disrupt a person’s ability to regulate their emotions effectively. Intense feelings of fear, shame, or guilt may arise, triggering impulsive or self-destructive behaviours as a way to cope or numb these emotions temporarily.
- Hyperarousal and Hypervigilance: Trauma survivors may experience persistent feelings of being on edge, hypervigilance, or an exaggerated startle response. These heightened states of arousal can lead to self-sabotage as individuals may make hasty decisions without considering the consequences.
- Self-Blame and Shame: Trauma can often be accompanied by feelings of self-blame and shame, which can undermine self-esteem and self-worth. This internalised blame may manifest in self-sabotaging behaviours as individuals may unconsciously seek punishment or validation of their negative beliefs.
- Avoidance and Isolation: Some trauma survivors may develop avoidance patterns and isolate themselves from others. Withdrawal from healthy relationships and opportunities can hinder personal growth and reinforce self-sabotaging behaviours rooted in fear and mistrust.
The Religious Trauma Tarot Spread
This 7-card Tarot spread is designed to help you explore and navigate the effects of religious trauma on your life. It aims to provide insights, clarity, and guidance towards healing and self-empowerment. As you conduct this Tarot reading, take your time to reflect on each card’s meaning and how it relates to your experiences.
1. The Root Cause
This card represents the underlying factors or experiences that have contributed to your religious trauma. It offers insight into the origin and foundation of your struggles.
2. Effects on Self-Worth
This card explores how religious trauma has impacted your self-esteem, self-image, and sense of worthiness. It sheds light on the beliefs and emotions that have influenced your self-perception.
3. Emotional Healing
This card provides guidance on how to address and heal the emotional wounds caused by religious trauma. It offers ways to nurture and restore emotional well-being.
4. Breaking Free/Deconstructing Faith
This card signifies the steps and actions needed to break free from the negative effects of RTS. It offers guidance on reclaiming your sovereignty and ability to trust yourself and your inner guidance.
5. Rebuilding Beliefs/Reconstructing Faith
This card explores the process of rebuilding your belief systems after religious trauma. It offers guidance on finding beliefs that are helpful and that align with your authentic self.
6. Cultivating Self-Love
This card emphasises the importance of self-love and self-care in your healing journey. It provides guidance on nurturing a loving and compassionate relationship with yourself.
7. Moving Forward
This card represents the potential for empowerment and resilience after religious trauma. It offers insights and guidance on embracing a new chapter in your life with optimism. Please note that if a seemingly negative card shows up here, it is because this is in the area for developing the most amount of resilience and personal strength is the strongest.
Remember, this Tarot spread should be used as a tool for self-reflection and guidance. It is recommended to engage in this spread when you feel ready and supported in your recovery process. If at any point you feel overwhelmed, it is important to seek the assistance of a professional therapist or counsellor.
May this Tarot spread support your journey towards healing and liberation.
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