Interview with Christine Jette - Part Two

Diane: Could you explain how you created the shadow and shadow gifts of the major arcana?
Christine: If you look closely, the shadow is the traditional reversed card meaning. The gifts of the shadow are the meanings of the cards in their highest, most positive vibration.  Unconscious shadow (reversed card meanings) and gifts of the shadow (what reward we get for all our hard work when the shadow is made conscious, the card at its highest vibration) show opposites at work, or the yin/yang principle, again. Each part begins at the fullness of the other. It fell into place and it's no more complicated than that.
Diane: I noticed in the book that you consistently and intentionally give power and choice back to the reader.  Do you think a dogmatic approach increases the shadow in us all?
Christine: Oh, yes, that power and choice was intentional. I really dislike being told what to do and I don't like that quality as a reader. The best teachers teach people how to learn. The old saying is: give a fish, we will eat for a day. Teach fishing, we will eat for a lifetime. Same principles apply here. 

Metaphorically, I can teach people how to fly but the flight plan is theirs and theirs alone to create. I simply am not that powerful and giving choice puts the responsibility for change sqaurely back where it belongs: with the one doing the changing. The "magic" of shadow work is in the personal power of choice, not in foolish me telling people what to do. 

When I think of dogma, I think of the Hierophant. Nothing is either/or.  Dogma has its place: it can be the source of a firm foundation and understanding where we come from, our cultural heritage. It's learning from books and schools and institutions of higher learning: we involuntarily learn dogma as children. Later, we must sort through all the rules and regulations and make sense of it ourselves for it to have any meaning. When we do, the dogma we are left with is by conscious choice, clear understanding and gives a thread of continuity to our lives. As adults, dogma needs to be studied, understood and incorporated into our lives by our choice, not with the blind faith of a child. When we accept dogma as adults with blind faith, we end up being rigid and controlled by forces outside of ourselves.

The problem is when people don't take the time to really think about the rules they have been taught. Why do I do this? What does this mean? In its worst form, dogma terrorizes us with rules and regulations. It leads to fanaticism, blind faith, prejudices of all kinds, rigidity and loss of the authentic self. The German soldiers who killed millions of Jews in the name of Hitler's beliefs is an example of dogma gone mad. We need to always question authority, take what makes sense and leave the rest behind.

Diane: What's next for you, in terms of writing and tarot?
Christine: My next book is also for Llewellyn, and is called Tarot for the Healing Heart: Using Inner Wisdom to Heal Body and Mind.  It is scheduled to come out July 2001.  Unlike Tarot Shadow Work, it discusses and utilizes all 78 cards.
Diane: Could you tell us a little bit more about it?
Christine: I was a registered nurse for 22 years. Through the years, I became despondent over the fragmentation of health care. More and more I saw myself as a skilled mechanic of body parts taking care of the "gallbladder in room 222." Medical specialties further emphasized the remedy-oriented fixing of body segments. Have a problem with the kidneys? Call renal. Heart irregular? Bring in cardiology. Suspect depression? Consult psychiatry. As a charge nurse, I became the division of labor gatekeeper in the kingdom of the sick.

I was encouraged by my supervisors to give sedatives for sleep, instead of backrubs, because it took less time. Nursing stripped itself of its healing heart in the name of technology. As treatments and communications became more complicated, less time was spent at the bedside. I had a hard time fitting love, spirituality and mystery into my skilled, hectic practice.

I was taught that curing, or absence of symptoms, was my goal and anything less was failure. My job was to save lives, or at least, postpone death. With this definition of healing, I was doomed to fail because eventually we all die of something. The hospitals where I worked were filled with profoundly ill people. They were poked, prodded and chemically treated. The war against death raged.

Writing Tarot for the Healing Heart was a labor of love born out of my frustration with modern health care, my own experience with chronic illness and the mystery of healing.

It explores the messages of dis-ease, (being out of ease), and looks at ways to use the messages for growth.

Diane: I can't wait for it to be out!
Christine: There's more!  I have another book Llewellyn will be publishing, Tarot for All Seasons.  It was inspired by Geraldine Amaral's book, Tarot Celebrations, 
because I love the ritual she uses with the cards. Vicki Noble also influenced me with Making Ritual with the Motherpeace Cards.   Playing with the 
tarot cards is a simple, but powerful, way to create a seasonal connection to 
the Mother. We can honor the days and nights of power with tarot images, as 
well as other ritual. 

The universal pictures of tarot awaken an inner knowing and we begin to 
recognize the profound meaning of the seasons. When we embrace the never- ending cycle of life, death and rebirth, we are free to celebrate the joy of being alive in the moment of the present season.

Here's an example: I have a Samhain layout in the shape of an apple called "Fruit of Wisdom." It gets us in touch with releasing what is no longer useful in our lives and explores our attitudes about aging and death. If unresolved grief is at work, that will surface, too. So, I use the seasonal layouts for insight and growth, as in all my work.

I have sample readings so readers can bounce interpretations off mine and find their own voice in reading. There is a section on using the cards in a group during ritual for group wisdom. I also have some three card spreads for depth readings, to get more information out of any particular card that appears in a spread.

The book offers basic ritual design with heavy emphasis on deciding what 
the reader values. I keep saying no ritual we do is sacred unless it is sacred to us. The ritual design covers seasonal tarot cards, scents to represent the ethereal presence of the Goddess, magical brews (holding magic and mystery in a cup), and candles as the seasonal focal point of pure intention with the flame representing Spirit. Each season ends with affirmations I call, "Awakening to the Experience." 

It is different from the first two because it is more artistic in form and more playful, but it is the same because it empowers rather than dictates. And all the spreads have a healing element to them.

Why did I write it?   Well, I hesitate to admit this because someone will come with a cart in little white coats, but I was TOLD to write it. I had a dream about it and I wrote it in two months. I had created a lot of seasonal layouts for myself to get more out of each holiday because I am a solitary.  They were sitting around, collecting dust.  I dreamed one night about the book and it was born. 

See, I told you you'd be sending men in little white coats to haul me away.... 

Diane: Before they show up, what are you working on now?
Christine: I am currently working on another book, Touch of the Angel Tarot: Combining the Healing Energy of Your Hands with the Power of Tarot to Improve Your Life.  

Because of my nursing background, I'll use anything I can as a tool for healing. It just seemed like a natural to combine the energetics of hands-on healing with tarot. I have been a healer my entire life and am sensitive to its energy. I combine a chakra-based tarot reading (much like the one found in Greer's Tarot for Yourself) and then give a healing treatment in combination with the reading.

My clients tell me it has a cathartic effect: clogged energy centers are able to flow again, making incorporation of any other medical treatment much more effective. For instance, I work with a woman who has migraines. She tells me she takes much less pain medicine and has fewer headaches because of the treatments. Also, the tarot reading allows her to keep in touch with deep feelings and do something constructive before stress builds up and explodes. This decreases the headache frequency. 

Truthfully, I am in the "writing phase" of my life right now. I have written three full-length tarot books in two years (all to be published by Llewellyn) and I am working on a fourth. I also teach noncredit writing for enrichment at the University of Cincinnati, so I don't have much time for clients at this phase of my life. The ones I have are from the past.

I am not actively recruiting business while I write at this frenzied pace. I have the 
feeling that I am running out of time and I must write more before I do anything else. I write full time- three books, two writing classes, a calendar entry and big inroads into book four (all within three years).

Diane: One thing I noticed about Tarot Shadow Work was that it could relate to a novice to tarot, and someone who had been working with tarot for years and years.  Who did you think of as your "audience" for the book?
Christine: Probably the most influential book for me about the process of writing itself is called Deep Writing: 7 Principles that Bring Ideas to Life by Eric Maisel. (Penguin/Putnam, 1999) The Principles are: Hushing the Mind, Holding the Intention, Making Choices, Honoring the Process, Befriending the Work, 
Evaluating the Work and Doing What's Required. 

He has a meditative exercise called "The Mirror of the Ideal Reader."  The face that appears in the mirror is my ideal reader. She is respectful, intimate, understanding and has ideas about what will and won't work. If I hold the mirror up again, I will get a different face with different tastes, but she will still be absolutely on my side and interested in seeing my work.  It is an incredible meditation.

Now this is going to be quite narcissistic sounding of me, but when I did the meditation, the first face I got in the mirror was my own! I am someone's ideal reader. I know what I like and dislike in a book. What could I say to a 47 year old? I wrote the book the way I like books-- useful information, personal, with the occasional bit of humor.
Diane: Well, if your narcissism spurs you to write innovative, powerful, and affirming books like Tarot Shadow Work, that's a shadow you should encourage to stick around whenever you write!

 

Interview and Page 2000 Diane Wilkes