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Astrology and Tarot

Link to the Episode

Anshu Bahanda: This is Anshu Bahanda on Wellness Curated. Thanks for joining me on this podcast. My mission is to empower you with health and wellness so that you can then go and empower others. I have Shobana Cooke with me today. She’s based out of Sri Lanka in Colombo. She is an astrologist and does the basics of it. She’s a tarot card reader, a homeopathic consultant, a hatha yoga instructor, and she also is a yogic lifestyle counselor. So, welcome to the chat Shobana.

Shobana Cooke: Thank you.

AB: And I was telling everybody, I have always been fascinated with astrology and tarot, and we will go into reasons with you as to how it can help people and be used productively. So, Shobana, tell me, what is wellness to you?

SC: Wellness is being able to live a life of gratitude and to be able to serve and be relaxed in all your manners with ease. To be able to take that pain-free in mind, body and spirit. And sometimes it’s constant work because we carry a lot of things. So, I like to think of it more as a journey rather than a destination. So, for me, wellness is being able to live your most fulfilled, grateful life and to be of service and to be able to continue your duties, to be active. But I feel like there is also that heart full of gratitude.

AB: Yes, that’s lovely. And from what I hear from you, we have a very close friend, Shobana and I. And from what I hear, you do lead a life of service and gratitude.

SC: I try. We all try to do our bit because if I’m able to, I should share, and if I’m able to, I can do a little bit more. And unless for whatever reason I’m not functional, I believe that there’s a lot to be grateful for and there’s a lot to do. And I’ve been blessed that my body is working, my mind is working, I can share skills. I’ve been fortunate to learn lots of different things with incredible teachers along the way. And it would be a shame for me not to be able to share those things. 

AB: Very lovely. Very well put. So, tell me, how does astrology work? And how does the position of the stars and the planets when you’re born affect you for the rest of your life?

SC: This is a big question that everyone is fascinated by. Sometimes, a little contentious because it is also in some spiritual faiths, this over-reliance on astrology that we consider as a map, is sometimes an obstacle along some people’s faith paths. For me, how I see it, is that it’s a snapshot of all the different nine Navagraha energies available to us when we came into this body, in this journey. And through the different users, we can also see the Karmic balances, our strengths and weaknesses. For me, it’s not about the fortune-telling element of it, but for me, it’s a hugely important self-learning tool about knowing who we are, what is this soul journey, and what is this body? And I find it gives me a map. It gives me a guideline about where am I needed, what am I good at, what do I need to be careful of? Who can I run with? Who do I need to sit down with more and be careful with? So, there’s lots of information I like to think of on the map, the astrological chart. For me, it’s a map. I feel like we are blessed to have this knowledge and to be able to navigate, because I believe we still have free will. We have a choice. Even though there are certain planetary influences that will have a huge impact on our lives, we still have choices in this human life. We have an intellect, and we’re able to decide left turn or right turn. So, I think because you have an astrological reading doesn’t mean you take your hand off the wheel and say, whatever. I think it’s a tool. I wouldn’t be locked by it. I just want to be guided by that lens, through that lens. And what I love most about astrology is that it gives me that structure, but it also shows me where I have free will. And then when I bring in tarot, which I think anyone and everyone should get a pack, they definitely play with it because there’s so much wisdom and so much you can learn from these little quick readings.

AB: Okay. How does tarot work and how is that different from how astrology works?

SC: A tarot pack has 78 cards. It has 22 main cards, which I would say could be compared to the different tattvas like we talk about in astrology and in the Vedas. Those are universal to all living souls, to all the consciousness. The other cards are much more [about] the characters and situations, they’re changing. But 22 are eternal for you, for me, it’s universal. So, the tarot combines our soul’s universal journey along with these mundane choices we have to make. So, if you have a difficult small card, it’s a temporary thing. It might just be right now. Whereas the Major Arcanas has more powerful messages for us. We must really sit down and think about it. So, I would say maybe this is something we can do at some point, like a quick tarot.

AB: Yes, that would be lovely.

SC: I learned by reading lots of different books and playing with my cards and becoming friends with them, really, you know. I carried them in my bag. I put them under my pillow when I slept. So, it really started vibrating at the same frequency as me so I could tap into it, and it would give me a bird’s eye view of something I was struggling with.

AB: Maybe our hands are tied with the technology at the moment because we were having some. So, it could be that.

SC: Technology’s always trying to hang me up.

AB: And tell me, what is the sort of energy behind the way you do the tarot? Do you set an intent and then expect an answer to that?

SC: It’s more open. So, I sort of say a silent prayer within myself for my higher guidance. For whatever message that I need to hear. If I’m reading for someone else, then I ask to be guided to help them in whatever they want to shed light on. But I don’t set an intention, only because then it limits something. So, I sort of opened myself up to make myself a channel. Show me what I need to know. Guide me. I see the tarot as a little light, like a torch shining a light on places that we can’t see with our human eyes or we are not able to understand. So, it gives me another perspective.

AB: So, it’s your way of communicating with the universe?

SC: Yes. With my Higher Self.

AB: With your Higher Self, with your divine self? 

SC: Yes. It’s all still here. The universe is us. I just ask for clarity, and then I get into a conversation with the cards. So, I end up saying, ‘guide me, show me.’ Then the cards trigger a question or a thought or something like that. Then you can ask a question like, should I go tomorrow to the [thing] should I not? Something that’s even mundane, the cards can help us with those things. But I wouldn’t say… I think of it more like a daily wisdom drop just because it’s constantly trying to harmonize us from the human mundane world to our higher self.

AB: Okay. Very nice. And I know that you’ve spent a lot of time healing people. Tell me, how can one use tarot and astrology for healing purposes? I mean, given what’s happening with COVID at the moment, that question is in everyone’s mind.

SC: Yes. So, how I like to work in my homeopathic practice is that sometimes, just the homeopathic repertoire is enough. Somebody comes to you and they’re very open, and they’re aware of themselves that they’re sharing, so it’s easy for us to repertorize. But sometimes someone comes with a chronic migraine that they’ve had for years, and they’ve tried lots of things that they’re not so open to… they’re not aware of the mind-body link. Maybe when we do something like a tarot reading visually, they see cards that trigger something within them and speak to their subconscious mind, to those archetypes, and then might say, I see that this friend is kind of stressful for you. Has there been something going on? And then they would say, ‘oh, my gosh, yes. Every time I go and see my friend, I might get this headache.’ So, we start to connect dots together. So, I found tarot helps people talk. It is more of a counseling guidance therapy tool. And astrology helps me to show them where their strengths and weaknesses are, what they have to be careful of, where they’re going, what was this whole journey in the human body about and the different influences. It also depends so much on the dust. I often meet people when they’re just going through a Saturn, or they’re going through their ‘lagna erashtaka’ or they’ve just entered into a Saturn ‘dasa’. And it’s very funny because when I meet people for the first time, for the first reading, more often than not, Saturn brings us to each other.

AB: Oh, wow, that’s amazing! Okay.

SC: And when I see that, I’m reminded to then just go through with them what their personal sadhana is. And I think, to me, that’s one of the most important things; it doesn’t have to be an elaborate practice, but what is your practice? How do you reflect? How do you take time out for yourself? So, when we look at the different planetary influences and what it’s asking us to do; when it’s Saturn’s time, it’s really about learning the universal philosophies, the universal truths. It doesn’t matter from which faith or from where in the world it is, but it’s time to learn truths, eternal truths.

AB: So, this is Saturn, or Shani as it’s called in Hindi.

SC: Yes. And then it’s also about being humble. Saturn is our biggest teacher, and Saturn doesn’t like egoistic students. It might have to give you a bit of a whack with the stick to the ground. And really beautiful things happen when knees hit the ground.

AB: Lovely. But tell me, Shobana, I know you’ve been doing this for a few years. How much of a role does intuition play in it? And have you developed, like, a sense of intuition now that you’ve been looking at people’s charts and tarot cards?

SC: Yes, I actually started reading cards when I was 15, so it’s been a long time.

AB: I thought you were 20 now.

SC: I think intuition plays a big role because it’s from there that I hear the messages. And it’s from there that I’m able to connect from three different places— from homeopathy to the tarot to astrology and even the yoga practice or the pranayama practice. I do tap into my intuition a lot, and I think that when people come to see wellness consultants, astrologers, or whatever, sometimes they feel that the power is with the healer. But actually, the healer is only unlocking the doors for you. And one of the things I have felt really strongly over COVID, was that it’s given everyone an opportunity to really take things into their own hands because we were all outside making appointments to see me or other people over the place. It was very external. And suddenly we all got locked in, all over the world. Everyone had to stay home and everyone had to go in. And I really felt strongly for many years in my homeopathic, my clinical practice, that I had met souls and I had the time during that period to work with them to teach them different things. And when we came into COVID, it was beautiful because I know that the people I had come into contact with, like, I’m sure so many other people who’ve worked with healers and astrologers and all these people, they had tools. It’s almost like every family would then have a little lighthouse, people who had access to another perspective. You didn’t have to spin your wheels really.

AB: Yes. That’s really lovely. That was very nicely put. And tell me, how accurate are modalities to you, like astrology and tarot? Are they very accurate?

SC: Yes, I find them to be very accurate. I would only say it depends on how finely tuned your tools are. How you look at the cards matter.

AB: And of course, astrology is a lot more complicated to learn, right? Because it’s about calculations.

SC: It is. I would say the great starting point with astrology is your own chart. And when you learn, start reading. And today, between COVID and then just technology, we have access. Like you and I are talking. There are people all over the world who are specialists in so many different things, from the Nakshatras to Vedic astrology, incredible lectures and lessons. So, the resources are at our fingertips now. And at a time, I think humanity really needs that timeless knowledge. So, if people are so inclined, there’s lots of information out there.

AB: And tell me, what advice do you want to leave people with that you want them to think about? When it comes to astrology and tarot.

SC: One of the things that we need to all think about is this time in the world we’re collectively going through, it’s not a country, it’s not just one tribe or one place— it’s all of us. So, there is a huge influence of the collective consciousness that we are all connecting at this time. And we’re also disconnected. And I think each of us have to do our own fine-tuning within ourselves and sort of realign our heart centers to think of everyone because COVID has separated us, but we’re united in another realm. To really think about that. And just as an interesting astrological ticket is that we just came out of a Kalasarpa Yoga on 14 April this year, last week with the New Year dawning. And last year, we were all stuck in this Kalasarpa Yoga, which means on the Rahu-Ketu axis, all the planets were on one side. And it was almost like a stuck lockdown, a planetary lockdown. So, when we stepped out on the 14th of April last week, we stepped out after a long time, energetically. And the first foot forward that we put was Mars, which is… Mars represents action, vigor and strength. And sometimes it might also have to make some hard decisions. We may have called out something. If something is wrong, it’s wrong. And Mars is a little bit hasty and runs around, but Mars will call it out. So, I think it’s important for us to remember that after all this time of being stuck, we’re coming out with Mars and with action. So, in our own actions, how are we going to step forward into this post-COVID world? I think it’s an important one. So, maybe when everyone looks at their cards and goes into their personal meditations, it will be clear. I might live very differently to how I lived…

AB: …before. Yes. My life, I think, totally changed. So, I see what you’re saying. Yes.

SC: And I see, even for myself, so many changes took place by just waiting quietly with it. And I urge us all, before we start thinking about vaccines and zipping everywhere and coming back to our old lives, maybe there are some pieces that we don’t need.

AB: Yes. We need to do some rethinking. I love what you said about collective consciousness and opening our heart centers and sort of tuning ourselves to the vibration of more than just us. That was beautifully put. Very beautifully put. Thank you so much. That was such a lovely talk. It was such a pleasure talking to you.

SC: Thank you.

AB: Bye-bye. Thanks for joining us. Hope you enjoyed the Wellness Curated podcast. Please subscribe and tell your friends and family about it. And here’s to you leading your best life.