According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the earliest use of the term empowerment was used in 1648 as a legal term to bestow power and authority to a person, government or institution. In other words, the power was given to another.
An issue that sometimes arises with the word “empowerment” is that it contains the word “power”. Power often implies domination and control in a relationship of any kind, or in the social or political arena. In such relationships it’s difficult to take control and create change. When one is empowered, she holds the ability to take control over her own life and make decisions that can change her life.
In recent times the term empowerment has been so overused that it’s become almost a cliché and has lost meaning for a lot of people. Businesses, political and social organizations often make false promises about how employees or community members can become empowered to make their own decisions, only to snatch the power away with rules and hierarchical decision-making.
The Journal of Extension from Connecticut University People Empowering People defines empowerment as a multi-dimensional social process that helps people gain control over their own lives. It is a process that fosters power in people for use in their own lives, their communities and in their society, by acting on issues they define as important.
An article about empowerment by Judi Chamberlin of the National Empowerment Center identified the key elements of empowerment including access to information, ability to make choices, the ability to assert changes and the self-esteem, or self-worth to make it all happen.
How does Tarot relate to empowerment? The cards are a tool to help access information and new perspectives. Information from the cards reveal choices that are open to you and can identify the consequences of making those choices. A reading can reveal the energy you call to yourself according to the choices you make. The information and lessons from the cards can also help the querent work towards self-worth as she becomes accustomed to embracing her own power.
The cards themselves do not empower an individual, rather, it’s the willingness to explore the options, assess the information and take action.
Make sure that when you ask a question for the cards that you frame the question in a way that leads to empowerment. I like to ask questions that include a card for a best course of action, how to do the best course of action and what is most likely to get in the way of completing the best course of action.
If you asked a question and the Justice card came up in the spread in the place of the best course of action, it would indicate that you would be best served by looking at all aspects of the question and consider the consequences. Justice suggests using both your rational and intuitive abilities when considering the action.
If the Hanged One came up in the reading as the best course of action you would do well to get a different perspective about the issue.