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The Llewellyn Journal
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Tarot and Clustering

This article was written by Sheila Hall
posted under Tarot

Clustering exercises offer another creative way to work with the tarot. Some people have heard of a clustering exercise where you write down a main idea in the center of a piece of paper and then brainstorm by jotting down thoughts and ideas all around it. I incorporate clustering and tarot together. Working a clustering exercise is useful in several ways:

Beginners can use clustering while learning keywords.
When I first began studying the cards, I would write the title of the card down and then brainstorm for keywords, phrases and my personal understanding of the card. Later on, clustering helped in committing key meanings to memory.

We can gain insight by clustering on a card we may have trouble relating to.
Clustering helped if I had trouble relating to a card, whether it was when I first began to study the cards or when I began to do readings. I would work the exercise when I ran into the obstacle of relating the card to the question I had asked.

Clustering our first thoughts and reactions of a reading.
Clustering helped if I got stumped or drew a blank during a reading. By clustering my first thoughts/reactions, I received the initiatory guidance I needed to proceed with the reading, especially when the card didn't seem to have any relevance to the question or card position.

Clustering can aide the study of the relationships between cards.
It has helped in comprehending the relationships of cards in readings, whether the cards lay next to each other or two rows over. Correspondences such as numerology and astrology can be factored in.

Items Needed: tarot deck, pen, and paper

A time limit of five or ten minutes can be set, or simply continue on until you run out of ideas. You begin by drawing a card or picking a card out of a reading and writing the main idea or keyword in the center of the paper. Drawing a circle around the word can help you focus, especially when the paper gets too busy with writings. As thoughts come to you, jot them down. If you are working the clustering exercise to find the relevance of a card to a question asked or a specific spread position, you may want to jot down some ideas on the question or spread position, too.

If the thoughts stop flowing for a moment, go back to the main idea circled on the paper. Pretty soon you will begin to see connections or find a key theme. You may also see the opportunity to branch out in another direction by taking one of the keywords from the list you just jotted down and working a clustering exercise on that idea when you have finished with the current one you are working on.

Another idea that adds depth to the exercise is when your time is up from working the initial exercise, you can use pens with different colors of ink to go back over what you have done and add some additional thoughts on an idea you jotted down. Varying the colors of ink can help in adding layers of thought, and can also help in grouping or organizing your thoughts on the cards or readings.

Clustering exercises can help to work through obstacles, find inspiration, open creative self-expression, sharpen and strengthen intuition, and get creative energies flowing. It is a good idea to keep copies of the exercises and read back over them at a later date to see how your meaning or understanding has grown. You can even use varying ink colors to add to the exercise at this time, too.


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