In recent years, I’ve moved away from doing traditional spreads when reading for myself. More and more, I’ve been creating almost a ritual around each card in order to integrate the energy of that card in a powerful way. I’ve found that this new approach has enhanced my connection to the cards and their influence.
When I found out that author, healer, and artist Katalin Koda specializes in ceremonial Tarot, I knew that I had to invite her to the Biddy Tarot Podcast.
In this episode, you’ll learn about:
- How you can find ways to connect to Tarot cards on a deep and secret level
- Creating ceremony around the Minor and Major Arcanas while doing a reading for yourself or someone else
- How Katalin combines her skills as a healer with her work as a Tarot reader
- Personalize your Tarot card meanings with our free Tarot Card Meanings Workbook
- Our podcast episode on co-creating a Tarot reading
You’re listening to the Biddy Tarot Podcast and this is Episode 125: Ceremonial Tarot with Katalin Koda.
Welcome to be Biddy Tarot Podcast, where you’ll learn how to connect more deeply with your intuition and live an empowered and enlightened life with the Tarot cards and your guide. Listen as Brigit and her guests share their very best tips and strategies to help you read Tarot with confidence. And now, here's your host Brigit Esselmont.
BRIGIT: Hello, and welcome back to the Biddy Tarot Podcast. As always, I'm super excited to be talking with you all about Tarot today. Now, I don’t know about you, but the more that I have started to read with Tarot cards, the more I’ve learned and discovered how to integrate the Tarot cards into my everyday life.
These days, I don't really lay out the cards in a particular spread or don't really choose a reading and go, “OK, I’m going to do this reading and get an answer, and I'm done.”
The way I tend to use Tarot more often these days is I integrate it with other processes. So, maybe I've just meditated and something has come up for me, and I just want to go deeper with it in my Tarot card. Or sometimes, I might be working with the different cycles of the moon, and I'll use the cards as a way of manifesting the next thing that I want to create.
Now, one of the really lovely ways that I've worked with Tarot, too, is to take a Tarot card and create almost a ritual around that card and really to embody and integrate the energy of that card in a really powerful way.
Now, when I came across our guest today, I noticed that she does these too, and she does it in an incredibly powerful way. So, when I saw that our guest does a ceremonial Tarot and this is her specialty, I just knew that I needed to have her on the podcast.
So, our guest today is Katalin Koda, and she is an author, storyteller, artist, poet. She does lots of ceremony, a healer, a mother, visionary and intuitive. Now, from her writing to ceremony creations to her Fire of the Goddess work, she searches deeply for beauty, truth and authentic power. She is discovering the extraordinary and the mythic. And Katalin is always in search of sacred story and its connection to the land, to the people and to healing and consciousness.
Now, in addition to her book Fire of the Goddess, Katalin is also in the process of writing and publishing her new book called Ceremonial Tarot. And inside of these books, she talks a lot about how we can create ceremony around the Tarot cards. And of course, that's why I'm having her on the podcast today, to talk about how do we find ways of connecting with the Tarot on a very deep, sacred level. So, you’re going to be in for a real treat today with these conversation with Katalin. So, over to you Katalin.
CEREMONIAL TAROT WITH KATALIN KODA
BRIGIT: Well, hello, Katalin. It's so good to have you here on the Biddy Tarot Podcast. How are you doing today?
KATALIN: I'm doing wonderful. Thanks so much for having me. I feel really honoured.
BRIGIT: Oh, it's a joy. And we're just having a chat before about how sort of how I came to find you, and that was because you were doing the Wild Unknown in Tarot readings in Portland. Then I started diving into your website, and I was just really intrigued by the work you do around ceremonial Tarot, which is what we're going to talk about today.
But before we get into all of that, I'd love to hear a little bit about your story and how it is that you came to Tarot and how it's really helped you on your journey through life.
KATALIN: Yes. That’s a great question. So, I had cancer, actually, when I was 19. So, that was about 22 years ago, amazingly… 23 years. And I like to call it facing the mortality reality where I really got an incredible glimpse at such a young age of death approaching. And that journey—with the cancer and getting chemo but really having a deep soul transformation—led me to start really exploring what it was that wanted so strongly to stay committed to life. And those things that showed up for me were teachings on earth-based spirituality and that included also the Reiki healing practices as well as the Tarot. And I loved the Tarot immediately. It was a way for me to access, to look at my life, and just figure things out and at first just kind of playing around, but then there's a deeper symbolism and a deeper work with that.
BRIGIT: And it's interesting that you just mentioned, at first, it's a bit of playing around because I think that's how a lot of people come into Tarot. They think, “Oh, yeah, let’s just find out what's going on in the future.” And then when they started to really open it up and really dive into to it, there is like this an immense level of depth in the cards. So, do you think that the Tarot helped you with your own personal healing journey?
KATALIN: Yes, definitely. I’ve been working with it for 20 years. So, as my life has developed – like you said, at first, it’s just kind of checking and seeing what might be coming in for me, but then starting to realise, especially I started to become aware that… because I love stories so much and myth that the Tarot worked like a way to look at my life as a story. So, when certain cards would show up… The Tower, it would be an obvious choice because it’s this wild, destructive energy that comes forth, and then I could kind of pair that with what was going on maybe in my life and what was coming in, and then see that as the revelation. Because probably, fuelled by the awareness going through something like cancer, I understand that there is some deeper evolution happening.
BRIGIT: Yeah. And in a way… I mean, sometimes Tarot can be like a reference point as well and you can identify with one part of it. Like I was thinking, “Yeah, the Tower card, you can identify that you're going through a major upheaval, and it feels kind of shocking.” But what the Tower can do then is teach you that the Star is coming through, right? And that level of faith is what's going to take you through into that next phase, and from this destruction comes growth.
So, if you were just living through the daily life, you’d experience the Tower moment, but you may not necessarily have insight into, well, the Star comes after the Tower. So, I wonder, was that relevant for you? Did you find that the Tower was like a… Well, I mean, as you’re saying, it’s a story, and it links into your own story?
KATALIN: Yes. I love that, thinking of the progressions, and I really use that when I'm giving readings. What came before the Tower, for example. What's coming after? And then if a few Major Arcana, looking at the first cards, early cards are more like self-development, one through seven… The middle part of the Majors are more kind of an outward development and then more spiritual. So, you're able to see this kind of storyline of the evolution. And then, it’s not just one shard but a more like global or overall perspective.
BRIGIT: Yeah, absolutely. It’s neat. So, tell me about how you’re using Tarot now because, I mean, obviously you've got a number of different practices. I'm really curious how you integrate that with your practice or maybe you keep it completely separate?
KATALIN: Yes. I use all my different practices. It’s true. I got an incredible opportunity of learning about spiritual work. After the earth-based spirituality I was fortunate to live in India for 7 years and then Hawaii for 6 years. I am someone who takes on different things and kind of creates my own mix.
And I love the Tarot because I feel like that's accessible for anyone. We don't have to be a particular culture, because at this point, we’re moving around in a lot of different directions, trying to find our way.
And the way that I blend it all about is to, like I said, I used the Major Arcana really as a storyline or a kind of an epic myth, thinking of myth as a public dream, and dreams are more of like our private myths. So, we’re able to have a reference of our place in the world, and that's very healing for ourselves and also the collective.
And then also, what I’m really deeply working with now as part of the ceremonial Tarot is using the elements of the Minor Arcana. With the Major Arcana, I think of them is more of archetypes, and Minor Arcana as more of situational archetypes.
And when we do ceremony, we’re able to embody and communicate directly from our thoughts and our minds and with the spirit, through your body. We need a way to communicate to our soul, and if we have several thoughts—for example, “I want this,” maybe want the opposite thought, “Oh, I don't want that.” But when we kind of commit to it and put it into a ceremonial form, then that's kind of a direct line to our soul.
BRIGIT: So, tell me a little bit more about like what is a ceremony with Tarot. What does that look like? What does it feel like?
KATALIN: Yeah. So, with the Minor Arcana, because they have such clear associations of the elements… For example, one card I personally actually love, which many people feel, maybe not so excited when they see this card is the Five of Cups. Typically, we see Five of Cups maybe disappointment or sorrow. And maybe it’s my penchant for really loving the water and this process of letting go. So, a ceremony with the Five of Cups would be to do a water offering. Maybe we have something we feel some sorrow about. So, we can fill into that sorrow, we can do a process, but then to put into ceremony, we take flowers to the river and we put them in the river, and we're watching this. And it nourishes us. We feel a connection to that process of letting go. We also create a moment of beauty and recognition with that process.
BRIGIT: So, in light of that, do you feel that with every card, there is a ceremonial ritual that you could do? And actually, a question on top of that would also be, if there is, is there one ceremony, or are there many ways of doing that?
KATALIN: Great question. So, in my book, well, I’m going to have lots of ceremonies. What I’m discovering… I think, yes absolutely. You could create one and many ceremonies with each card because each person is unique and has the potential to communicate soul to body in their own way. But I also use things like visualisations or meditations.
Another example would be, for me, the Four of Swords is very much a card of forgiveness. This kind of indicates us moment of rest where we need to maybe look at contracts. A lot of times, I noticed when that card comes up, someone has an actual contract that you could deal with, maybe legally, or they have a kind of a soul contract—something that's kind of needing to be looked out and just sort of opened up and put some rest on it. So, I included forgiveness not so much as ceremony but as a practice.
BRIGIT: That's neat. How do these ceremonies come about? Or I guess, let's roll it back a little bit. And are you in a reading, and maybe there’s one particular card that really stands out for you? Or maybe there’s the stalker card, and then that's the one that you design a ceremony around. How does this process kind of work?
KATALIN: Yes. So, when I'm giving a reading, once I look and see which Major Arcana, so I know kind of what are the main archetypal forces that are moving through… And then when we look at the Minor Arcana, that again, like I said, is more situational. So, the ceremony that I design will mostly be from a situational, from a minor, kind of as a way for them to better access that major force.
Let’s think of an example. If you got the Lovers card, and then you get the Three of Cups and the Ace of Cups, and I don’t know the Nine of Disks. I’m throwing these out there. But these are all kind of like the possibility of love, but maybe in a more communal sense. The ceremony I might come up with is to gather flowers and to kind of make a mandala, add something beautiful, unless they’re doing that, really setting the intention of calling in a community that feels supportive and nourishing and enhances love in your life.
BRIGIT: Yeah. I see. OK. So, it's more of a combination almost. It's taking always the theme from that reading and then bringing that into a ceremony that your client could then implement after the reading.
KATALIN: Yes. But I'm working on a person. It’s like that. If it’s just like in the book, it’s just going to have one ceremony for each card. So, you could also do that. If I were to do a reading, and I just went by [inaudible 00:13:59], and I’ll pull an “action to take” card, and then we could do one ceremony of that card.
BRIGIT: Yeah. If you can compare like your experiences of where you've just done a Tarot reading and that's that, versus doing a Tarot reading and then creating a ceremony for someone to implement, what’s been the difference in experience? Are we looking at like complete poles apart? What’s the richness of the experience? What happens?
KATALIN: Yeah. That was a great question also. Actually, funnily, I’ve been reading Tarot for 20 years but only professionally for the last 7 or so, and I am a healer, so I’ve been doing healing work for 20 years. I would always wonder, “How do people give readings?” because my healing mind will go immediately into “How can we create into ceremony? How can we embody? How can we work with the situation arising here?” It was adjustment and I was given very clear guidance from my personal guides to begin to read and to work with people, that they needed to have that vocalisation.
So, it feels like what happens is that there is a therapeutic process as we're doing the reading, and then the ceremony is the way to embody, for that healing take effect. And it's powerful when people do that for themselves. It's one thing to just receive a bunch of information from someone we may resonate totally or partially. And then often with my clients, I’ll co-create the ceremony with them, so it’s not just me giving it to them but having a sense. And also, that builds a feeling of community naturally when we do that, and then it directs them into the natural world, which I feel is so crucial to our wellness and wholeheartedness.
BRIGIT: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that co-creation piece also reaffirms, I guess, accountability and responsibility for one's life. Not just, “I'm going to go to the reader. She's going to tell me what to do with the rest of my life and solve all my problems,” right? It's more that like, “I'm responsible for my life and where it goes.” Yeah.
And I also imagine that when your clients are working with you to create the ceremony, it's also allowing them for their intuition to come through and for their body wisdom to come through in ways that maybe they've never experienced before. I don't know if you’ve had an experience like that, where you have created a ceremony and even in the creation of that ceremony, you saw a transformation happening. Could you share any of your stories that you might have had with clients in that way?
KATALIN: Yeah. Just to clarify the question is that during actual ceremony as it's happening or when we're sitting together and creating it?
BRIGIT: I’m going to guess that even in the creation of that ceremony, the deciding of what it will look like, that the seed of transformation is always planted there, and then obviously when they do the ceremony, a lot more comes through. So, if you have any experiences that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them.
KATALIN: Yeah. I think, with one woman, we were working with the Four of Disks (or Pentacles) and kind of talking about what came out of that card was setting boundaries and needing to be clear about what are boundaries and permitting that foundation, and we co-designed a ceremony where she would sit with the Four of Stones. Yeah, seeing her get excited about thinking of Stones as something she could relate to and as protectors and then it kind of was a deeper realisation also that Stones are here long before us and long after us. I felt that there is a sense of security that also embodies that card—or can, depending how you read it when it comes to mind.
BRIGIT: Yeah. I love it. And I’m so inspired by it because it takes a Tarot reading to a whole new level. It brings it into reality, and as you said earlier, it connects you back into nature and the ecosystem that we're sitting in, and it's not so much just about these cards on the table and what do they all mean, but how does this integrate into your life and connect you in to the wisdom of the earth and the universe and all of that good stuff? I just love it. So, what would be some of your advice or some tips for folks you might be curious about creating their own ceremonies for Tarot?
KATALIN: Well, I think an easy way to start working with it is sort of look at each of the suits as elements. We know that Cups are water. Disks or Pentacles are earth or stones or bones. Swords are air, so we can think about feathers or smoke. Wands are fire, so that can be any candle or something that’s burning.
I think, naturally, we’re so drawn to each of those things, of course, and our bodies are made up of all of those elements. So, if we were to pull maybe one Minor Arcana, and then just let our intuition kind of guide us to something simple. If we pulled Four of Cups, we could just put four cups out and fill them with water to just kind of have a feeling. That’s a really basic thing to do.
But also, it’s kind of a cool and an artistic way of embodying the action of the card, and I think that in itself is really interesting. Suddenly you’re in a three-dimensional relationship with the essence of the card.
BRIGIT: Yeah. Neat. So, what are some ways that you could embody the card? I mean, what comes to my mind is I think some folks have done dance with Tarot, so it's like you fully embodied the card through movement and dance, which sounds fascinating to me. But tell me a little bit more about your concepts around embodying a card.
KATALIN: Yeah. I’m definitely working that with the Major Arcana as well. I think of the Fool and going up to a cliff at the dawn. That's one way that I actually did that practice, where at dawn, I went up, meditating on the cliff and welcoming in the sun and really was having a contemplation of sitting at the edge and feeling that spaciousness from the ocean before me.
KATALIN: Yeah. Just really… that willingness to step into the unknown.
BRIGIT: Yeah, absolutely. So, not only does it teach you more about the card, but I think it's this whole next level or phase, which is bringing the essence of that card into your life, and then you're taking it further because it's in here. It's like you’re embodying it, so you can't help it really draw in all of that energy. I think, that's absolutely lovely.
Also, tell me a little bit more about your book Ceremonial Tarot. Obviously, you've got some really rich experiences that you've shared today. Tell me more about what's going inside of this book.
KATALIN: Yeah. So, the main focus is, as I said, the Major Arcana, looking at it as journey—the hero’s journey that Joseph Campbell made it so popular—following the Fool. So, the Fool, as you're going through the book is definitely… I’m looking up, I have the whole Tarot deck on my wall with the Fool.
KATALIN: Through all the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana like around my association. That would be another way to work with it. Just buy a Rider-Waite deck and start with the Fool, and put the whole thing up on the wall as you feel, and you will discover all kinds of things, interrelation. So, it's looking really at a story. And like we talked about briefly with the progressions and then looking at the first seven cards as kind of the early life and development, mother/father, Empress/Emperor, and then kind of going outward into the world, and then further into our spiritual development.
And I would say, alongside of this evolution, our spiritual evolution… My belief or understanding is really that our higher self is really wanting to experience the whole gamut of the human expression, and it’s the story, and when we track where we are in the story, that gives us a sense of where we are terms of our evolution.
KATALIN: It’s elemental there with the Major Arcana.
BRIGIT: Yeah. Beautiful. So, when are you launching your book Ceremonial Tarot? When will it come?
KATALIN: Well, it's just being finished now, and then it's going to take a year because I’m publishing with Llewellyn, so I'm fortunate to be having a publisher. It’s my third book with Llewellyn, so it will take a year for the cover and the edit.
BRIGIT: Yeah. I am in the process at the moment of publishing a book, and it's so different to when you can self-publish. It’s like, “OK, I’ve had the idea. Right next week, it's being launched.” But with publishing a book, you've got to be very patient, don’t you? Although, a year turnaround is actually pretty good. We had some publishers talking more about two years, so I think a year is pretty good.
KATALIN: It’s good.
BRIGIT: Fabulous. You also run some retreats. So, you've got a big retreat in February in Hawaii. Do you integrate Tarot into that retreat as well?
KATALIN: We integrate the elements that I talk about with the Minor Arcana. So, there are aspects of that, and we definitely integrate archetypes. So, the Tarot will come up. It’s like the High Priestess or different archetypes that are embedded in the Tarot. The focus was really on sacred feminine. It's a women's retreat on the Big Island of Hawaii. Yeah, coming up, our next one (it’s a yearly retreat) is February 2019.
BRIGIT: Yeah, lovely. And where can people find out more about that retreat?
KATALIN: All of this is on my website katalinkoda.com.
BRIGIT: Fabulous. And we’ll also have a link to your site over on the show notes, and that will be at BiddyTarot.com/125.
Beautiful. So, Katalin, are there any sort of final words that you want to leave us with, particularly as it relates to using ceremony in our Tarot readings?
KATALIN: Yes. Just be open to exploring, using the imagery, and welcome in this opportunity to embody that and know that as you embody and work with the elements of the Minor Arcana or the archetypes of the Major that you will experience rapid shift in your life and your own evolution, moving into more wholehearted and broadening your perspective.
BRIGIT: Yeah. Beautiful. And I really encourage folks who are listening to choose a card. Just as Katalin suggested, choose a card and create your own ceremony around it, and perhaps it might just be something quite simple. It could be something even a little bit more complex. It’s completely up to you, but just have that experience, because I think this is something that is incredibly powerful, and I'm very grateful that you've been able to share your wisdom today with us. So, please do try it, and we'd love to hear how it goes.
So, thank you again, Katalin. I really appreciate you and everything that you've shared today.
KATALIN: Thank you so much. It was a pleasure to talk with you.
BRIGIT: So, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Katalin and me, and I hope that you are inspired to try to bring more ceremony into your Tarot practice. So, maybe you've got a stalker card in Tarot reading. Maybe there's a particular card that is really standing out for you. Or as Katalin talked about in the interview today, maybe you’re looking more at the overall theme of your most recent reading.
So, take that and create a ceremony around it. It may be as simple as Katalin said, just fill Four of Cups and see what happens. It might be a more in-depth ceremony. It might be a visualisation that you do. Be creative and follow your gut, and just know that there's no right or wrong way of doing this.
The most important thing is that you are feeling your way into it and intuiting your way, because that is where the transformation and the healing, and the power, and all the good stuff, all come into it.
So, enjoy and really dive deep into it. This is such a good way of working with the Tarot. And of course, you'll find more details about Katalin on the interwebs, over at katalinkoda.com. Now, if that's a bit confusing, just go to BiddyTarot.com/125, and we've got the links there as well.
I hope you have an awesome week ahead. I'm really looking forward to our next episode, where it's a special “Ask Brigit” episode, and this time, I'm focusing all on using your intuition in Tarot, so I hope you'll join me. All right. Bye for now.