Turning Darkness into Light

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Welcome to the Tarot Blog Hop!
An international group of tarotists (check out the master list) are all writing on the same topic and then linking to each other so that the reader can hop from one blog to the next, seeing all the permutations and facets that the topic inspired in different writers.


Turning Darkness into Light

“When a candle is lit in a dark room, it illuminates the room to some extent, but its power is limited. But if you use the same candle to light another candle, the total brightness increases. If you continue to do this, you can fill the room with brilliant illumination. The idea of transferring merit to others is like this. If we keep our own light selfishly hidden, it will only provide a limited amount of illumination. But when we share our light with others, we do not diminish our own light. Rather, we increase the amount of light available to all. Therefore, when others light our candle, we issue forth light. When out of gratitude we use our candle to light other people’s candles, the whole room gets brighter. This is why we transfer merit to others. This kind of light is continuous and inexhaustible.”

–Sheng Yen

I belong to a Reiki forum and the moderator sends us a quote every day. The quote above, from a contemporary Buddhist monk, arrived in my inbox just as I was contemplating what to write for the topic of “Turning Darkness into Light.” The metaphor of lighting a candle is commonly used to describe dharma transmission, an energetic initiation into a spiritual lineage such as Zen Buddhism. In this metaphor, the teacher is seen as a candle and when a student studies with the teacher, their own energy increases either instantaneously or over time, in part simply by being near the powerful energy of the teacher, just like a candle wick held near a flame will light.
I could write about traditional lineage initiation within tarot—it does exist, considering that the Golden Dawn, whose members included Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman Smith, the authors of arguably the most influential deck in tarot history, is an initiatory tradition.
But instead I would like to discuss another more common type of energetic transmission—that of the support and connection of friends rather than the hierarchical tradition of teacher to student. Seven years ago, there was a person in Denver whose flame burned brightly for the art and practice of tarot. His name is Scott Womack, and he wanted to share his love of the magic and beauty of the cards with others. So he started the Denver Tarot Meetup group. I heard about Meetup shortly thereafter, and I found Scott’s group and immediately joined.

Scott and Arwen at the Denver Tarot Meetup, Sept 7, 2006

Back in the fall of 2006, we met every week in the small conference room of a locally owned sandwich shop and coffee house. Every week, Scott put together a lesson, a trick to share, a spread to practice or a game to play. He also was a cheerleader, encouraging the members of the group to develop topics to share with their colleagues. Scott’s vision was to get tarot out of the closet and into the mainstream so that more and more people could know about and work with its insight and guidance.
Three years ago Scott passed the torch to me. I now lead the group with the support of a leadership team of eleven people total, and we present six events a month. I also started a Tarot Meetup in Fort Collins for the same purpose of bringing people together to learn, practice and share their craft.
Time and time again I hear the story from new members that no one knew they did tarot, that they were alone and isolated, trying to learn from books and only doing readings for themselves. Once they have the support network of a group, their skills flourish and they often move up into leadership positions or become professional readers.
Outside of the ceremonial traditions, tarot is not considered to be learned by energetic transmission, and yet I have witnessed the lighting of flame from flame over and over. Symbolism, history and techniques can all be learned in books, but there is nothing to compare to the sharing of enthusiasm, epiphany and excitement that can only be experienced through connection with another person.
Kalin and David looking at cards at the Denver Tarot Meetup Holiday Party, Dec 15, 2013.

I would like to inspire each one of you to light the flame of another person. If you are a leader in the tarot community, find ways to connect with more and more people in person through classes, events, and public talks—or, if you haven’t already, start a Meetup group! It doesn’t have to be fancy, you can just get together with other tarot readers over coffee and do readings for each other or pick a new technique or spread from a book and practice it together.
If you don’t think of yourself as a leader in the community, you can still light the flames of others. Don’t just read your cards at home—go to a coffee shop or restaurant and sit and work with the cards. Chances are someone will come up to you and strike up a conversation. Chat with them, let them know what you are doing, offer to do a reading with them or show them how to pull a card for themselves and ask them what they see in the imagery. Or start a Meetup group–no special knowledge or high level of experience is necessary, just a desire to increase your skills and meet other people. Make some new tarot friends!
When we sit alone at home with our cards, too often we are a single candle in a dark room, flickering feebly. Get yourself into a room full of tarot readers and watch the bright flames spark new interest. See the room grow bright with the love and connection that arises from a shared passion.


Joy Vernon has been studying and teaching energetic and esoteric modalities for more than twenty years. She is the organizer of the Denver Tarot Geeks, Denver Tarot Meetup and Fort Collins Tarot Meetup, and she served on the faculty of Avalon Center for Druidic Studies. She is one of the Psychics of Isis and has been featured at SpiritWays, the Mercury Café and psychic fairs throughout the Denver Metro and Northern Colorado. She is a Certified Professional Tarot Reader and a member of the American Tarot Association. Joy also teaches Traditional Japanese Reiki. For information on upcoming classes or to schedule an appointment, please visit JoyVernon.com.
© 2013 by Joy Vernon. All rights reserved.

Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.

Articles: 472

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below and subscribe to our newsletter

No comments yet

  1. Joy, your post resonates with me a lot. I have been wanting to get tarot out of the closet into the mainstream as well. Coming from a conservative background, it took me years to do that with myself. Now that I have come out of the closet, I want to demystify tarot and share with others about the beauty of these cards. I have been doing this through mentoring tarot proteges. I think your post is a wake up call for me to do more:)

    • Hi Joanna! Mentoring proteges is a great way to get started! Do you mentor them one-on-one or in a group? You might consider getting them together as a group with some meetings open to the public. That way you can both expand your reach to potential proteges as well as provide an additional service to your existing mentees. Meetup is world wide, so you could start a tarot meetup in Singapore and use Meetup to advertise your group. In the US a lot of people use Meetup–I don’t how it is where you live. If not a lot of people use it there, you can try placing postcards or flyers at metaphysical stores, coffee shops that you enjoy going to, or health food stores (seems to get the right crowd). Good luck! And if you have any questions or need any help, I’m happy to give you some pointers!

  2. Beautiful image of sharing the light, Joy! And the benefits accruing thereto. Nothing quite like communing face to face in the real world to fill one up and create new perspectives on Tarot, or any other inspirational discipline. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *