Using the Tarot as a Tool of Healing

By Cathy H. Burroughs, Contributor to Tarot on

The Tarot, long a powerful tool of divination, can also be used as a dramatic tool of healing, and for shifting deep patterns. The deck that I suggest for this, the Rider-Waite, is perhaps the most well-known deck in the Western world. Created by Dr. Arthur Edward Waite (1857-1942), a scholar of occultism, and illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith, a theatrical designer and American member of The Order of the Golden Dawn, it is the “standard” teaching deck, and the first to use detailed illustrations of the Minor Arcana, not just the Major.

The Deck Itself

The 78 cards of the tarot deck are divided into two groups: 22 Major Arcana Cards, and 56 Minor Arcana cards, made up of pip or suit cards (1-10), as well as court cards, which more or less correspond with traditional playing cards. The meanings of the Major Arcana are generally considered more far-reaching, relating to our journey for meaning and enlightenment, while the minors are considered more transient, representative of day-to-day activities.

The Seven Chakras

Using both the structure of the seven Chakras and the images of the Rider-Waite deck, the Chakra Lube Job illustrates how the cards of a layout may be replaced as the healing progresses; as the images shift, they actually depict the process of growth and resolution, similar to time-elapsed photography.

The term Chakra is the Sanskrit word for “wheel,” and refers to our own energy system: the interface between our energetic and physical selves, our body and consciousness. Just as the car’s engine requires regular maintenance, the Chakras, too, require regular “tune-ups.” This not only keeps its system running smoothly, but addresses any blocks or problems on the core level.

While the chakras can be “tuned-up” through meditation, energy work with light, sound, color, crystals, singing bowls, musical instruments and others, the method which I’ve created and coined is known as The Chakra Lube Job.

The Chakras, one through seven, are: #1, the Root, at the base of the spine, which relates to our ability to prosper and thrive on the earth; #2, the Sacrum relates to our ability to gratify ourselves; #3, the Solar Plexus addresses our own personal power and capacity to be comfortable in our skin; #4, the Heart preserves unconditional love, and the integration of all polarities; #5, the Throat, the center of the seven, is self-expression; #6, the Third Eye, our ability to see the big picture and our psychic center; and, #7, the Crown, at the top of the head, is our connection to the universal, wisdom and bliss.

The Chakra Lube Job Reading

Here is a sample healing Chakra Lube Job, to show you how this works. This was a session with a woman in her early fifties, who is accomplished in her field, and highly regarded in her community. She pulled seven cards, one for each of the seven primary Chakras, in a vertical formation. She then continued pulling cards, until I, or, she, or both of us felt the process was complete. This process uses the images of the Rider-Wait deck to heal and shift the chakric patterns, in a very conscious fashion, and may take anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours. (You may want to use your own deck to follow along.)

Initial Layout
The Chakra Lube Job Layout

Card #1 (Root) Ace of Pentacles (an immense pentacle shown emerging from a cloud, held by a huge celestial hand, above a flowering hedge and archway leading out to mountains)

Interpretation: This is a wonderful, life-affirming card that points to new beginnings, particularly of a financial nature. This ties in beautifully with the meaning of this chakra; the primary concern with this image, however, is that it refers to divine intervention, and points to a fundamental belief on this person’s part that she did not hold the power for her capacity to thrive in her own hands.

Card # 2 (Sacrum) Three of Wands (man on land, facing away from three wands).

Interpretation: This card indicates that this woman has given up on fulfilling her own sexual and emotional needs. She has turned her back on any expectation, but does not know where she will go from here.

Card #3 (Solar Plexus) The Magician (#1) Major Arcana (an androgynous figure in a red coat holding a wand that points upwards and downwards, behind a table bearing a cup, a pentacle, a sword and a wand)

Interpretation: This is a powerful Major Arcana or destiny Card, #1 in this sequence, which like the Ace of Pentacles, which she pulled for the first Chakra, (also a #1), shows she is in a powerful new cycle of putting herself first or fresh beginnings. This card shows that she has all the resources and power she needs to transform her life, and create all that she envisions. She loved this card, and we did not feel guided to choose any other cards. (This is quite unusual to stay with the first card chosen, and indicates that this area of personal power is very solid for her, and that she has everything she needs to make her life as she desires.)

Card #4 (Heart) Four of Wands (two women celebrating in the background near a castle tower; in foreground, four wands forming a lush canopy)

Interpretation: This is a beautiful celebratory card. My primary concern was that the two women were so far in the background, indicating they did not feel they were at the center of this area of their lives. They clearly loved life and had a great capacity to give and receive love, but tended to put themselves in the background.

Card #5 (Throat) King of Swords (Virile dark-haired young king, in blue robes, seated on a throne, holding a sword erect)

Interpretation: This card indicates that this woman feels very powerful in her position as a communicator; it is important, however, to note that this is a strongly masculine or patriarchal card, indicating that she does not necessarily feel this power as a woman, but more in a socially determined position of authority.

Card #6 (Third Eye) Two of Cups (man and woman making an oath or promise. I call this the “going steady” card, not as serious as The Lovers, Major Arcana)

Interpretation: This is the second card that depicts two people in it. This indicates that she does not feel completely self-reliant in her capacity to express her intuitive gifts or see the big picture. It may indicate that she prefers to be validated or supported by a partner (in this case a male or romantic partner).

Card #7 (Crown) The Emperor #4 Major Arcana* (an imposing bearded white haired ruler or father figure, in red robes and warrior armor, seated on a stone throne, holding an ankh.)

Interpretation: This is the second card of powerful male authority that she drew. This indicates that she feels strongly connected to her higher wisdom and the Universe, but in a form of male authority, or following in the footsteps of the father. It is no surprise that this woman has Saturn prominently in her chart, which points to a tendency to look for authority, and hence validation, within the framework of the established order of things. It also indicates that she looks to work and outer sources of acknowledgement (such as success, status and approval) for her personal validation. This is a powerful card, as it is a Major Arcana, and points to an overriding theme in her life.

The Crown

The remaining session lasted two hours, and while we don’t have time to show the entire process, we will give the example of the Crown position to demonstrate the process. I asked the woman to draw a card for a chakra position in which she felt the need for healing. After interpreting that card, I asked her to draw another card until she felt complete with the healing on that chakra. We did this with each chakra until all were complete and healed.

Crown sequence

Card #1 The Emperor (see above)*

Card #2 Ten of Wands (shows a blond androgynous individual carrying ten wands, as if burdened, on his/her shoulders. With home in the not too distant background, she/he is closer to home than he/she realizes.)

Interpretation: This card indicates that she feels overwhelmed by all that she has to do. This is emblematic of someone who always has a chore to accomplish or a deadline to meet. While they feel overwhelmed by this pattern, they don’t know any other way. The fact that they are closer to home then they realize, indicates she is maxed out on this tendency, and very close to reaching a place where she no longer will continue with this pattern.

Card #3: The Empress #3 Major Arcana

Interpretation: I was thrilled to see her pull this card, the female counterpart to the Emperor, and a Major Arcana card, showing a major shift in core perception. This is Venusian card, a celebration of one’s femaleness, a card where someone is allowing themselves to live in concert with the natural cycles, enjoying life and comfortable in their female essence in a powerful and celebratory way. This card indicates no pressure to succeed, and a joy in just being, enjoying and being receptive to the sensual and natural pleasures of life itself.

This short sequence demonstrates how this process maps a major shift in self-perception. It displays this process, using the simultaneity of cause and effect, and mirrors back to us, using the archetypal illustrations of the Rider-Waite, our own healing.

This healing affects our own Chakric well-being, as well as our own relationship to our self, and to the Universe. This process demonstrates how The Chakra Lube Job functions to both heal and maintain a healthy and life-affirmative relationship to mind, body and spirit, allowing us to prosper and thrive, continuing on our path to true happiness and true self, fulfilling our destiny, as we go.

The Chakra Lube Job is a term and technique created by Cathy H. Burroughs and is protected by copyright. Any reference to the technique or usage of the title of the technique must be attributed to Cathy H. Burroughs.

All Rights Reserved 2008.


irene fernandez
irene Fernandez6 years ago

interesting, thanks

Morgan M.
Morgan McDowell6 years ago

I love Tarot Cards, they give me advice all the time!

Dale Overall

Interesting, the other night I had a call from a friend who is fairly religious and had tarot cards/ book which he has dabbled in for years.

He was in a panic it seemed after viewing a religious YouTube video, tossing out his cards/book saying that the video warned against them. He even tossed out his cigars which he smokes every few days as the video says things that "defile the body" are wicked.

I just shook my head telling him to get a grip. Never heard any sermons on tarot cards in my entire life. Why people get so influenced by some video seen on YouTube is beyond me but then he read a book a year ago talking about demons and was unnerved by that. One can't live one's life in abject fear because "someone said" something is "bad".

Will ask a friend who is a minister in another part of the country but just can't believe this. Have tarot cards and a book at home, hardly bother with them as they are a curiosity, nothing more. Doubt if God is going to drag me down to the depths of hell, as I imagine God or a Higher Power has better priorities.

The video said that only 2-3 percent of the population will go to heaven. Just shook my head and said to live a good life and not get upset about YouTube.

Dale Overall

Interesting. To each their own as no one is forced to have their tarot read. Care2 has a variety of topics, many serious about issues of endangered species, but also feature cute videos of cats, kittens, puppies. We can't be agenda driven, Cause advocating every breathing second of our lives or we burn out. Allow for differing views, interests and past times.

Real world issues are fine, but some of us actually like a diversion every now and then.

Kim W.
Kim W6 years ago

Tarot is based on God as much as anything, and those who state that you will go to hell for using them to seek answers is so wrong. Why would anything that helps you understand the various stages of life, and that brings you closer to the higher powers of our world be wrong. God is my savior, his is my guide, and he speaks to me in many ways and forms.

Hanna Sjoberg

Check out OSHO's beautiful Tarot deck!

Vicky Pitchford
Vicky P6 years ago

whatever helps

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W6 years ago


Sandi C.
Sandi C6 years ago


catherine s.
catherine s6 years ago