May 25th is World Tarot Day, and to celebrate, I’m going to show you an activity I loved for learning the importance of boundaries. Being able to discern between rigid and weak, versus healthy and strong boundaries is a great ability to have for all relationships. Whether personal and romantic, familial, or even in a workplace, good boundary setting will enable you to have your needs better met and understood by others.
I recently received The Tarot Activity Book by Andy Matzner as a gift, which contains nearly 100 activities and exercises relating to tarot. One of these is titled ‘Boundaries’, and I thought it was a great way of exploring the concept, and digging deep into how you set and maintain boundaries healthily.
Matzner claims that boundaries are established early in life, and if we are brought up with them frequently ignored or violated, we can develop weak boundaries. We can feel like our needs are not important, and we find it difficult to express ourselves.
Rigid boundaries come about, Matzner explains, if we had to develop a defense system in childhood to fend off abuse. We can become isolated because we are afraid of being hurt.
The healthiest type of boundary is flexible, so that we are able to say ‘no’, understand our limits, but are also able to let people we trust in. We are able to have our needs met, and feel connected to our loved ones.
The tarot exercise that Matzner introduces asks you to do three things:
- Find a card that is an example of a person who has rigid boundaries.
- Find a card that is an example of a person with weak boundaries.
- Find a card that is an example of a person with healthy, flexible boundaries.
The three cards that I chose were the Four of Cups, the Nine of Wands, and Strength.
I see the Four of Cups as someone who is trying to do everything alone. They are totally closed off from the world around them, and won’t accept help. Maybe they don’t even realise that they need help. Or that they can even ask for it. This kind of person is so used to doing things independently, that they don’t trust others enough to let them in, thinking they may be harmed. They find it difficult to connect to others, and may even try to solve everyone else’s problems.
I see the Nine of Wands as someone who wants to meet everyone else’s needs, at the expense of their own. They may be overworked, as they don’t know how to say no, and take on too many extra tasks. They are afraid of disappointing or upsetting others, which just like the person with rigid boundaries, leads to them finding it difficult to connect to others. If they don’t express their feelings, especially when they feel hurt, nothing will change.
I see Strength as someone who has healthy, flexible boundaries. When they are wronged or their needs are unmet, they are able to channel that fierce, lion aspect of their personality, and express what needs to change. They have great self-control, and feel secure. But I also see a lot of vulnerability in this card. The love that the person feels for the lion is clear, and they’re not afraid to show their softer feelings. They are able to love and to be loved, connecting with people who they have let into their life.
What I found interesting about this activity is realising how similar the outcome is for people with rigid boundaries, and those with weak ones. A lack of connection and an inability to express oneself is inevitable with both. Being someone with flexible boundaries is so much healthier because you will take the good of rigid boundaries- independence- and the good of weak boundaries- being agreeable with others- and discern when each approach is useful, and when it is not. And you will be able to combine those so that you are someone who is able to manage your own life and emotions, while not keeping a distance from others when those relationships are safe and loving.
I think this activity could also work really well for other concepts, and I would love to see other peoples’ opinions on what constitutes each type of boundary. Please feel free to comment which cards you would choose for each type of boundary and why!