Lately, I have noticed confusion in some Tarot/oracle circles about what “pathworking” is, so am sharing a quick post to help clarify this. We’ll look at how some folks have been talking about “pathworking”, what Tarot pathworking actually is, and how to know which one you’re doing!
As always, and if you’ve followed me on here for awhile you know that I say all of this without judgement at ALL. This isn’t about gatekeeping in any way, it’s just about clearing up confusion, so that you can make an empowered decision about what kind of work you’re doing!
How I’ve noticed some folks referring to “pathworking”
I have noticed some folks are talking about “pathworking” to mean meditating on a Tarot or oracle card. Others have talked about “stepping into” Tarot or oracle cards as pathworking. “Stepping into” Tarot cards is a visualization technique that can be seen as spiritually travelling into a Tarot card, or a purely meditative visualization technique.
It’s true that getting into a meditative state is certainly involved in pathworking, and absolutely, “stepping into” a Major arcana card is the mechanism involved in pathworking; however, a meditative visualization of Tarot cards is not automatically pathworking.
What pathworking actually is
This might seem really theoretical, but just take your time reading through it and check out the other post I refer to for some images to help.
Pathworking is a practice in Qabalah that involves the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is based on the idea that each of us is like a mini version of the Universe; that we are the microcosm of the macrocosm. The key elements and patterns of the Universe are also reflected in us.
How does this relate to Tarot?
- Well, the Tree of Life has ten “energy centres” called sephira. “Sephiroth” is pronouned “sefirot” and is singular, and “sephira” is plural).
- Each sephiroth has a PATH between them.
- Every sephiroth and every path has a Tarot card assigned to it.
- Minor arcana Tarot cards (including the courts) correspond to the sephira.
- Major arcana Tarot cards correspond to the paths in between the sephira.
So what is pathworking in Tarot?
Pathworking is considered a magickal act where you use the mechanism of visualization-based meditation to “step into” a Major arcana card to astrally travel the path that card embodies. Pathworking in this sense only refers to the Tarot.
This is not actually considered just meditation or visualization. In Qabalistic practice, the belief is that you are actually going to these places spiritually and travelling that path from one sephiroth to the next. It’s part of a progressive spiritual development as you work upward on the Tree of Life.
Visiting each sephiroth happens as part of the process of pathworking, but pathworking itself is focused on the Majors since those are ones that are on paths.
Where this leaves us
There are different options.
You can absolutely meditate on Tarot cards, and “step into” any Tarot card. This can be done in a purely meditative way, or it can be done in a spiritual way.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Tree of Life and how it relates to Tarot, you can follow a Qabalistic practice by studying Qabalistic Tarot and learning the specific magickal work to focus your Tarot meditation/practice on.
Now you know that “pathworking” refers to a specific system of beliefs, and if you’re curious about great resources to learn more, let me know in the comments!
And in case you’re wondering, I used Tree of Life correspondences in assigning chakras to the Tarot in the Chakra Healing Tarot deck I have created (currently available for preorder, link in bio). But don’t worry, you don’t need to know anything at all about the Tree of Life, Qabalah, or even Tarot to be able to use the deck! I’ve created it so that anyone will be able to read with it, no matter your story or (in)experience!
You can find more Tarot-related content (including lots of spreads) over here.
Blessings and empowerment to you.