“The true Tarot is symbolism; it speaks no other language and offers no other signs.”
Arthur E. Waite (1857 – 1943), Christian mystic and designer of the Rider-Waite tarot deck.
There are any number of facts and theories about the Tarot that are readily accessible through various publications, Wikipedia (of course), websites trying to sell you a deck or two, or online psychics convincing you they’re legitimate, when in fact they pull your cards, cut and paste the meanings and still leave you wondering: “What was my question again? Did you not hear me?” Newsflash: odds are they didn’t. Often cookie-cutter computer generated tarot readings with standard written meanings attached to them, with no interpretation, leaves you, the querent, in no better state than before – left to bend and mold the cards and their traditional meanings to say whatever you want to hear.
For example, I once had an online reading from someone in another state that I bought a deck from and I received the reading in the same format as the online computer generated ones, with a very general interpretation attached to digital images in my email. (C’mon, at least show me a photo to prove you sat down and did it hands-on.) Since I had established a personal, long distance bond with this person (because she accepted my money from PayPal) I questioned her about a certain aspect of her interpretation: the caring, loving woman she saw as a very positive and reliable person in my life.
This caring, loving woman and I were drifting apart so I asked for a closer look after feeding her this information. The reader replied, and I paraphrase: “She’s leaving, you better let her go.”
I don’t do online or phone readings and I’ll tell you why: If I don’t know you, or have at least touched you physically, how am I going to interpret what’s going on in your life and the outcome? There must be contact, a transfer of energy, of some sort for me to work with. Otherwise I’m just another unlicensed psychologist who can feed you some therapy based on information you provide, sometimes judging just from the inflection in your voice.
Personally, I ask the querent to keep his or her question to themselves until the reading is finished. So when I guess their question with no input, it builds trust. And when I give them what I see, without water-dancing around in their heads based on the flood of information that I could use and manipulate, it builds belief. Without belief, why are you asking me?
Some people want to debunk the Tarot. Have at it. You’ll believe what you want.
“The astral plane,” is usually the answer to the mystery of reading for strangers over the internet or the phone. I guess my astral plane got hijacked and I couldn’t afford the ransom because I can’t read accurately for anyone that I haven’t had face to face contact with. But that’s just me. Other readers have a high degree of success reading over the phone or web. I am not one of them.
These facts and experiences lead into the most common question: “How can a deck of cards predict my future?”
That’s easy: it can’t.
The Tarot is simply a deck of cards with pictures on it. Noted psychologist Carl Jung valued the Tarot for its contribution to modern psychology by the use of the pictures as “archetypes” in the Collective Unconscious. In actuality, it doesn’t even have to have pictures; a simple playing deck will do. It’s the interpretation that makes the reading, and without a skilled interpreter, you may as well be illiterate and try to read Tolstoy in native Russian. That’s where the “psychic” comes in. We take the pictures and build a story based our instincts combined with the layout of the cards, and every situation is unique.
For me, it took years of intense study of metaphysics, from Einstein’s Logic to kitchen witchcraft, just to be well-versed in the history and traditional meanings of the cards, but even then, the terms mean nothing without actually sitting down with a deck, dealing the cards, and putting the pieces together. At those times, traditional meanings can go right out the window. That’s why there are so many decks and equally different meanings assigned to each card.
The Tarot was a way to organize my thoughts. Before I found the cards I had random and often chaotic dreams that were troublesome because they stuck in my head like peanut butter because of my natural instinct to try and figure out everything (I have a Master’s degree…I’m still trying to figure everything out.) I had premonitions of things that came to pass and I wondered how I could see it and sort it out from the other thousand thoughts that vied for attention. Most importantly, I had insights about goings-on that didn’t fit with normal, brain-processed logic. I had to organize these bees-in-a-hive disturbing thoughts before I went insane.
So one evening I was at a full moon ritual in a magic shop in Louisville, Kentucky (spelled magick by practioners of the Craft) and I was attracted to the various Tarot cards. The clerk told me to find one display card that drew me to it (as a sign), and I bought my first deck, The Celestial Tarot by Kay Steventon (book by Brian Clark). Things became much clearer once I had that mirror, the mirror of the Tarot, before me. (It was far from a beginner’s deck. It is an amazing deck for those who are into astrology, mythology and the archetypal associations with the constellations, but I didn’t know any of the stuff. I just learned the single-most popular Tarot spread, the decades-old Celtic cross, and practiced and practiced and practiced until I trusted what I saw. That deck saved my life. But that’s another story for another day…)
In summary, I have very radical views on the Tarot based on simple, localized, experience. I’m likely to step on a lot of toes and debunk some phonies. Good. Hopefully it will save you some time and money that could be better spent on therapy. Ultimately, I cannot emphasize enough: a Tarot deck is useless without a skilled interpreter. You can make it say anything you want to hear just like any other holy instrument, and I do consider it holy. (And as such, it should be approached with a healthy respect and even fear.) One card does not a reading make – it’s a relationship with the surrounding cards, individual applications that often change with each unique reading, and a skilled interpreter of the cards, that offers true insight.
I look forward to continuing our relationship. We have much to talk about.
And no, I can’t tell you if your little brother is going to die from a motorcycle accident on October 25th, 2030. Anyone who claims they can is very, very dangerous. Steer clear.
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