How Ayahuasca Improved My Card Reading Practice

I remember attending ayahuasca ceremony in the jungles of Brazil, with my Oracle card deck next to me, many times. My plan was that during the ceremony, I would touch cards, or maybe look at cards in the dim moon light and see things, feel things, I hadn’t felt before. I wanted greater insight into my beloved cartomancy art.

Playing Card Oracles cards, Shipibo cloth, and jungle flora

Playing Card Oracles cards, Shipibo cloth, and jungle flora

Well, no matter how many times I brought that deck, and no matter how many ceremonies they sat on the cold floor next to me, seems the ayahuasca had plans for me of her own that I had very little direct control over. I was too sick, or too lost in my own worlds to think about much outside of me. Cards were on the floor out there, inches from my hand but light years from the universe spinning inside me on the mat.

So each morning, sun rising and ayahuasca abating in my system, I would tote my blanket and my cards back to my bungalow in the sweaty jungle – happy with my ceremony but not connecting with my cards in any particular way I could put my finger on.

ceremony room star

So over many ceremonies I learned about my relationship with this plant brew and eventually quit bringing my cards, although they were always waiting for me back in my quiet room. And other participants would ask me for readings. After all, I was “the expert,” being the author of the “Playing Card Oracles.” And the lead ayahuasquero was announcing me as such to all the participants. And I was the expert, wasn’t I?

My previous confidences were draining from me. I was just another person looking for answers to questions inside myself. I wasn’t “special.”

Sitting with eager new friends over my old familiar cards I awaited sage wisdom to come out of my mouth. The reliable memorized meanings just seemed stale and incongruent in this place so vital and palpably buzzing with life. What worked before just felt like an old, dry, too small skin I needed to somehow shake loose. Everything I thought was “me” was coming into question, including the long years in my profession as a reader. I had to throw out everything, not knowing what, if anything, would take its’ place. I was scared.

aya vine

aya vine

And although I did not address my card reading practice directly in any of my ayahuasca journeying, something important was nevertheless taking place in my brain that would effect my practice. Something organic and fundamental. I noticed that I was learning to trust myself in each moment, needing less and less to “prepare” for life in ways previous – ways that involved rehearsing or memorizing. I was enjoying just being in my own skin. A new, more grounded me was emerging, along with an ability to be more fully present in any situation, including looking at a card layout. 

And my cards began to become much more alive as I became more alive. Each reading became noticeably better and better as new, never rehearsed meanings emerged on the table, and I was able to see and appreciate the unique life story of the person sitting in front of me. I was having more fun than ever.

So my mantra now in any situation is, “I trust myself, I love myself, and I enjoy life.” And no, this is not rehearsed, not memorized. It is something I came up with just now, that captures the essence of the feeling that seems closest to who I really am.

Ultimately my ability as a card reader is a reflection of where I am at as a person, where I am as a spiritual being more than anything else. To be more “myself” means to be able to be more present, more appropriate, and as a result, more insightful. And it is this that allows me to be a guide for those who come to me. I am energy, and that is all. The rest is frosting. But frosting can be delicious 🙂

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