January 10, 2013
This article was written as a proposal for one of my courses, so its tone is academic. Enjoy!
About three years ago, I was introduced to a young woman, here fictionally named Merida, for a Tarot reading. A friend of mine had met Merida at work, and by listening to her troubles had decided a reading would do her good. Since Merida was a friend of a friend, it felt right to give the reading informally and for free. This ended up being a good choice, since Merida was young and poor, and would never have considered consulting a professional of any kind for help, let alone be able to afford such help. We ended up becoming friends and having several readings over the year, where I found her troubles to be surprisingly difficult and complex. Over the time we met, she realized a lot about her circumstances and made many brave choices to improve her life. Read the rest of this entry »
September 14, 2012
This is a more formal essay written with a broader audience in mind than I typically write for. I want to reproduce the essay here since I feel the topic of ethics in divination can’t be discussed enough, and I’m eager to offer Tarot’s virtues as a counterpoint to the suspicion it endures in popular culture. Enjoy the essay and let me know what you think!
Tarot has come a long way from being a niche fortune telling tool. One can enter a mainstream bookstore and buy dozens of decks and books selling tarot as an oracle, meditation device, path for spiritual development, and a method of insight and healing. Contemporary psychologists have considered and documented Tarot’s therapeutic usefulness. In Tarot and Psychology by Arthur Rosengarten, a practicing psychologist, writes at length of Tarot’s usefulness in healing and therapy.
Unfortunately, tarot reading is represented in the mainstream as either hokey fortune telling or con-artistry, preying on superstition and magical thinking. Read the rest of this entry »
August 16, 2012
This is the article I had published in Tarosophist International issue 12 under the title ‘The Tarot Machine’, and I’ve been wanting to repost it here for quite some time. I originally wished to make it longer, so I hope to create a second part to it soon.
The issue has many great articles from great authors, so pick up a copy if you’re wanting something to add to your Tarot library!
If there was a machine named Tarot, what would be at the heart of it? Inside its engine belts and gears would spin ceaselessly in response to our curiosity, moving through fantastic patterns and dizzying algorithms, making undreamt connections to answer all our questions. But what would give wisdom to this mechanical oracle, how would it know the deck when it can neither see the cards or know the words?
Crawling inside you might get lost looking at all the unlikely relationships between element and number, shades of meaning being generated and forgotten as quickly as the questions that inspired them. But seeing the extravagant logic of the gears and switches you might get a question that you may as well ask whenever you buy a new deck off the shelf: What makes Tarot what it is, if it isn’t just a pack of cards?
To get to the essence of anything, it is helpful to strip away all our variables. In our machine, this would be to remove the decorations, any superfluous functions. For our deck of cards, this means taking away all the names and elaborate pictures we are so fond of and familiar with, leaving us with an essential deck. Several questions arise: What do we call the Suits, if we can’t name or draw them? Also, how do we tell apart our court cards if we can’t see or read which member of the court they are meant to be? Finally, what about the Fool in decks where he isn’t given a number? Read the rest of this entry »