Reading the Tarot is about giving answers, isn’t it? People come with questions, spoken or unsaid, and once the deck is shuffled, cut and spread, all the answers come tumbling out.
Very few readers would argue with that view of the Tarot, but it is no longer a stance that I hold. My perception and confidence in answering questions has been progressively shaky over the years, and now I no longer consider a good idea. The problem with giving an answer is that it kills growth and new ideas – there is solution, so no need to look elsewhere.
Staying in the question is a technique that adds power and potential to the reader – options are always kept open, and it kills off the notion that as tarot readers were are only telling the punters what they want to hear in the first place. Any kind of agenda as to the outcome is counter-productive, and in other contexts would be considered prejudicial. Open minds are always better than closed ones.
Extending the idea of staying in the question raises… more questions. For a start, all those positional spreads where each place has a name has only one purpose – to give tarot readers answers. To keep things open, names stay vague – nominalization in NLP jargon, but still the reader is trying to shoe-horn a situation or situations in the client’s life into nice easy packages. Trite.
As soon as we choose a significator we kill choice, which is a ludicrous thing to do. I would love to kill the entire notion of Significators, and bury them under a vast mountain of second-rate decks foisted upon us by publishers, and get on with improving techniques of divination and interpretation. Significators cause anguish to the reader – how are they supposed to choose a significator? Apart from never understanding how this is done correctly (the answer being of course whatever daft idea or justification the Tarot reader came up with in the first place), and to mix metaphors slightly, you have to sleep in the bed you made.
Maybe we should have a “Read Tarot Naked Day”, where nudity is in all probability an option not just for the reader, but for the client as well, as it is difficult to concentrate. Naked Tarot would be for the abandonment of all dodgy techniques and methods of interpretation, significators, and positional spreads, and let it all hang out without a safety net, or, I suppose, any kind of parental guidance. Rigidity is out, fluidity is in. Lets give our clients loads of options for where they can take their life. It is not for us to narrow choice, particularly as we mostly live in a Western Consumer Society where choice is paramount.
You may well be wondering by now if I have any prediction for the consequences, but you are not going to catch me out that easy, are you? Be comfortable in ourselves, with messy, jumbled up cards that have no particular place or function in a spread. Glory in having no idea of which direction that entirely spurious Arrow of Time is heading. Allow ourselves to see what is there, and be comfortable in the experience of not having a clue what the cards mean, which is an entirely feasible and potentially correct interpretation of your client’s situation. Life is a mess. The only group of society that imposes such rigidity is the military. Think about it.
Irrelevance of Divinatory meanings
Just how irrelevant the tarot divinatory meanings are to me was hit home during my talk at Brighton University recently. I had made a Powerpoint presentation to illustrate some projective geometry in the Thoth Tarot, so I had images of the High Priestess, Aeon, Queen of Cups, 5 of Swords and 6 of Wands. As each card flashed up, I thought I had better comment about what each meant, and here is what happened: “This is the High Priestess, which means um, change, fluctuation… anyone have any other insights? Here is the Aeon, which is about the end of something…” and so on. Not exactly the scintillating description from someone who has read the Tarot for 30 years is it? Things changed however for the second part of the talk where I do impromptu readings for members of the audience. Each person gets to pick 3 cards, and I do a reading. When I hold the 3 cards, they talk to me, and I am able to say something that is greater than the sum of the 3 cards that is very pertinent to the person. How much of the divinatory meaning of each card is I could not tell, but the links are tenuous.