How to Use Tarot to Take the 12 Steps
My version of a gentler, more holistic approach to recovery work
There are a TON of sayings floating around the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. But I heard “One, two, three, and out” more than the rest.
That was the old-timers' smug little way of saying that most people who come into AA won’t make it past the first three steps of the program.
Which to me, was another version of being told I was never going to be as good as anyone who had “real time” under their belts.
To me, it was just another way AA set me up to fail at sobriety.
I was scared, broken, and desperate for help. And I was told that I would most likely end up a statistic. Yet another unfortunate soul who’d been trampled under the heel of alcohol addiction.
Even after that introduction to the 12-step program way of life, I still wasn’t ready to toss in the towel and keep drinking. There had to be a better way…
In case you need a refresher (or you’re brand-spanking-new), I’ve included the old-school steps according to Bill W and friends.
I was confronted by this list at every meeting I attended. There was a time in my life when I could recite them by heart. But they didn’t keep me sober.
Being in a meeting and seeing those steps looming down over my head made me feel small. Like I’d been squeezed and pummeled into a ball. Like I was a bad child on the way to the principal’s office, yet again.
And of course, they didn’t help. Even when I wrote out my version of the first three steps (“I can’t. God can. I’ll let him.”) and pasted them on my door. Even when I begged and cried out to anyone or anything who would listen.
My Sobriety Story (or How AA and PBS Almost Broke Me)
Don’t judge my post by its title just yet!
Finally, I took matters into my own hands and went looking for a solution that made me feel empowered and in control of my own life.
And it worked for me. I couldn’t string more than 90 consecutive days of sobriety together in AA. It’s been almost 4 years since I left the rooms, and I haven’t had a drink. More importantly, I LOVE my alcohol-free life!
I figured out another way. A kinder way. A less judgmental way…
I’ve been fascinated by magic since I was a child. It seemed like spending nine years in Catholic school did nothing but increase my interest (sorry, Mom!) in the occult.
Tarot entered my world before I hit my teen years, and it’s become a BIG part of my life ever since. I use my tarot decks every day. To make decisions, work through issues, and even make money as an intuitive relationship guide.
But it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that I could use Tarot in my recovery work. Blame it on the cultural brainwashing, I guess, or my stubborn German genes.
Here’s how I use my Tarot deck to work MY version of the 12 Steps of AA, anywhere and anytime that I want, as much or as little as I want…
12 Steps Tarot Spread
The first rule in my club of Sober and Spiritual Baddasses is there are no rules.
Use whatever kind of deck makes your soul sing. Lay your cards out however you want to do it. Shuffle the cards the way it seems like you should.
Just follow the feels right, my friend, and you can’t go wrong!
To help get you started, here’s the way I lay out my 12-Step Tarot Spread…
I prefer to take a more active role in my life and recovery. That’s why I use questions, instead of a set of rules written by men (just sayin’) in the 1930s.
These are the questions I ask of the cards for recovery work…
- What’s become unmanageable in my life?
- What do I unconsciously believe about where I am right now?
- What do I need to surrender, in order to recover completely?
- What shadows do I need to uncover?
- How can I heal the shadows that I’ve brought into the light?
- What harmful behaviors am I still holding on to?
- What’s holding me back from giving myself over to the Divine?
- What harms have I caused that need to be addressed?
- What apologies do I need to make for the highest good of all?
- What lesson do I need to learn in order to do no further harm?
- What can I do to improve my connection to the Universe and myself?
- What’s the best way for me to share my experience, strength, and hope with the world?
Remember, this is YOUR life, and you can live it YOUR way…
Why AA Couldn’t Keep Me Sober
But it wasn’t a TOTAL waste of time (and energy and tears)…
Just because a 12-step program worked for your cousin or neighbor or a celebrity, it doesn’t mean that’s the only option out there for you.
Keep on trying different things until something clicks…
You’ll be glad you didn’t give in to the “shoulds” that everyone loves to toss around. I know I am — trying something different saved my life AND made it more than worth living.