Tarot's spiritual counselling
As she shuffles her cards, smoke from the burning incense wafts around tarot reader Lyn Rvby Morris. Sitting in her reading room at Inner Sanctvm, she is surrounded by colourful tapestries, crystals and bronze statues, all hinting at the esoteric wisdom about to be imparted through her tarot cards.
“People from all walks of life come to see me,” Lyn said. “Lots of people have problems and are victims of prejudice, bias and judgement and come to me rather than going to a counsellor. Tarot reading is like spiritual psychology.”
Lyn is not a psychic or a fortune teller, but uses the tarot cards to help guide people on their life journeys.
“Tarot can help us to make decisions,” Lyn said. “We are all intuitive and instinctive. People know on one level anything I tell them. I can just speak it in a way so people can relate to it and get some guidance on how to move forward.
“People come to see me when they are feeling fearful because they don’t know what’s going to happen – but we are like that about the unknown. There’s usually tears and smiles throughout the reading. We romp through the emotions in an hour and they usually leave feeling relief.
“I have a lot of sceptical men who come for one reading and then come back for more because they enjoyed the whole experience. Men get a lot of comfort from being able to talk to somebody without judgement, where they feel there won’t be consequences or be told what’s wrong or right.”
A tarot card deck has 78 cards, comprising a major arcana (22 trump cards representing major milestones) and a minor arcana (40 cards representing everyday responses and 16 cards representing personality types). Each card depicts symbols, numbers and images relating to aspects of human life and psychology. Lyn sees the tarot as the key to helping connect the mind’s subconscious pathways to the conscious ones. By using symbols, tarot cards can act like mirrors, reflecting things the unconscious mind already knows, then feeding this information through the conscious mind.
“People are interested in being able to go into deeper levels of themselves,” Lyn said. “In tarot, we can have small revelations where something subtle shifts in you and, energetically, things change. As the conscious and subconscious engage, we find words to explain our thoughts and we become more conscious of ourselves and what’s happening for us.
“I like to help people to be spiritually in touch. You don’t have to be an amazing guru – it’s open to the most ordinary of us. Listen to yourself and don’t diminish yourself because small revelations are important and precious.”
The most common questions Lyn is asked in tarot readings are about relationships, work and relocating.
“I have some people who come in and want to know about a business deal and I get nervous and think, ‘that’s a big thing to lay on me’,” she said. “I don’t give people a definite yes or no. The cards can help give a sense of how an issue is, or how it might turn out, but it’s still up to the individual to make the decisions.
“I’ve had people who have come to me some years later and said they couldn’t relate to the reading straight away but three years down the track they say, ‘you were so right’.
“I think what people receive from me is a genuine warmth and caring. I really do have a soft spot for people. I think, as human beings, we are delightfully flawed and we should stop trying to be perfect and start trying to be ourselves.”
Lyn has been reading cards for other people for 20 years and prior to that spent 15 years studying the tarot while developing her own perceptions, intellect and intuition. About 18 years ago, she founded the Inner Sanctvm Healing Centre above Noah’s Ark Bookshop in Lismore and believes that it was her relationship with her tarot cards which helped her to manifest it.
“I didn’t have a lot of money behind me, but I had faith,” Lyn said.
Lyn discovered the tarot in Sydney when she was 16 years old and illustrated her first tarot deck. Following her love of arts and poetry, Lyn gravitated into the Sydney bohemian set during the 1970s, where her associations with poets and artists found her attending parties held by renowned artists such as Brett Whitely.
“Poetry was important to me. Poets like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell awakened me to a deep sort of beauty and made me realise that you can think beyond what you are taught,” Lyn said.
Lyn believes that meeting her husband Alan 30 years ago was instrumental in developing her deep understanding of tarot.
“Alan’s intellect and knowledge of Latin and history, together with our shared passion of the esoteric, helped me open my mind and develop my perceptions and intellect,” she said.
Together, they travelled and eventually settled on the North Coast, where they raised a family and now have two daughters and five grandchildren.
Lyn received a great honour four years ago when artist Fran Tomlin painted Lyn’s portrait for the Archibald Prize.
“A lot of people have asked to do my portrait, but she was the first I allowed to do so,” Lyn said.
As well as reading tarot cards, Lyn now also runs tarot courses to help people understand and use the tarot.
“People can benefit from learning tarot because it opens up their understanding of self and helps them realise that they have this awareness,” she said. “It can bring to the surface a lot of creativity and offers humour and fun around serious subjects.”
Lyn believes the foundations of the knowledge of the tarot is as old as the world.
“We have the four elements, seasons and aspects of ourselves. This symbolism appeals to a deep memory of ourselves as human beings and when these symbols come in a dream, they can help us to interpret and understand them.”
While the origins of the tarot are unknown, the first documented appearance of tarot cards in Europe can be traced to 1392 when a sum of money was entered into the court ledger of King Charles VI of France for three packs of illustrated cards ‘ornamented with many devices’. Tarot cards were also used in 14th century Italy as playing cards and it is thought that modern playing cards originated from the tarot.
“With the rise of the Christian church and the Spanish inquisition, much of the symbology of the tarot was changed to Christian symbols to allow people to use them without fear of persecution,” Lyn said. “In modern playing cards, only the jokers have been left behind after the major arcana was removed.”
There are now hundreds of different tarot decks available, each using mythologies from different cultures such as the Roman pantheon or Celtic mythology as a basis for the stories and symbology illustrated on the cards.
Lyn, a poet and writer herself, is currently writing a fictional novel based on her experiences of growing up in Merrimbula on the south coast of NSW. She had a difficult childhood and believes that her need to escape her difficulties helped her to gain an understanding of how the mind can create other worlds as survival tools.
“I write all the time. I enjoy delving into human psychology with compassion and understanding.”
As a consultant and teacher, Lyn’s passion for mystical knowledge and following the esoteric path has brought many people to see her who are looking for a spiritual path or guidance.
“Tarot lets people pursue a spiritual journey without having to commit to a religion or spiritual group,” Lyn said. “I have no one religious belief. I am open to all religions and integrating them within symbology.
“There’s a whole generation of people who have missed out on having faith. Historically, Christianity has given people a good sense of faith using moralistic stories about helping and caring for each other. A lot of people who missed out on this are floundering and grab onto evangelicalism and fanatical religions because they feel desperate and want to grab hold of something. It’s sad that people don’t pray because that’s dialogue with higher self. You don’t have to be a Christian to put your hands together and pray. Prayer pre-dates Christianity. It’s a beautiful symbol of bringing energies together – ask and you’ll receive.
“The words of Jesus are just as beautiful as the words of ancient philosophers. There’s nothing wrong there, it’s just what’s been done with them. Christianity has helped me just as much as the Qabala and all the other studies I have done. When you are open minded and draw this knowledge into places of love, it can be beneficial. There’s nothing beneficial about prejudice and bias and judgement.
“What I love about tarot is that it doesn’t tell you you have to believe in anything. It helps you how to think and when we start to think, we start to understand and fit things.”