A mystics attempt at demystifying and re-mystifying the Tarot

One of the challenges facing the new Tarot student is coming to a personal understanding of what Tarot is or is not.   Does it hold the answer for everything past and present, or is it just a collection of paper with pretty pictures?  That’s a large spectrum to begin with, but I think the extremity of those positions is fairly honest  in how both skeptics and enthusiasts see Tarot.

I’ve studied copious amounts of Tarot material, and the one thing I’ve taken away from it is this; Tarot, as modern readers and users know it, has very little in common with the card game (s) it was meant to be used for when it (or its very similar predecessor) was created in the 15th century.  All the thousands of books on the Tarot are merely guides on how everyone else perceives Tarot, and if you’re using Tarot in any way as a spiritual/mystical/life informing-affirming tool you’re relying on a very kabbalistic/hermetic creation of the 19th century. Yes, you can read the Golden Dawn material and derive all the meanings that modern practitioners use (most without even knowing themselves where much of that symbolism derives from), you can read the how-to books, and those on Tarosophy…But if you honestly look at and question the Tarot what will be your personal stance on the cards?

My stance has mostly always been that Tarot is nothing special.  I don’t charge my cards with crystals, I don’t assume they hold the keys to universal knowledge, and I don’t expect them to answer all the problems plaguing my sub-conscious.  More than not I lean toward the Tarot being a bunch of paper with pretty pictures.  Yet, I read Tarot and I work with Tarot nearly on a daily basis.  Odd you say.  Not really, I respond.  Things in my opinion don’t hold power – people do.

Tarot is a repository of wisdom, yes.  It is not wisdom in and of itself.  Tarot bares (or can bare) in it’s images generations of knowledge, a heritage of what it means to live in a Western society.  It conveys the psychological and sociological truths that we as modern individuals have been adapted to live within for hundreds of years at this point.  The multi-layered fabric of the Tarot is woven from the threads of that which we all share, it’s a mirror reflecting the great ‘Dreaming’ of Western culture – the truths of work, relationships, life challenges, our emotional well being, religion, etc.

Crowley, in his popular book The Book of Thoth expounded that the Tarot is a representation of the Cosmos, that each card is also a being, and that the deck is literally the composition and culmination of the Wisdom of Thoth.   I don’t think the Cosmos is written in the Tarot, I feel it’s wisdom is much more terrestrial and immediate to our lives – I don’t feel that each card is a unique entity but a mirror of our own existence – and Thoth had very little to do with the creation of a 15th century card game.   And to be blunt true/historical Tarot should have nothing to do with Kabbalistic wisdom.  Can it? Sure.  The beauty of Tarot is that, again, it’s a reflection of what the Reader brings to it…I tend to be pretty rational (in my opinion) when using tools like Tarot.  Some would say though that Tarot is a tool of the irrational..so there you go.

My tendency is toward seeing Tarot as a Reality Simulation device.  It’s a technology that functions as  a Simulation of events and life situations based in reality.   Jean Baudrillard, a French sociologist is a great place to start with such thinking.  He goes a bit further to say that perhaps most of our icons and the symbols of our society (which Tarot of course uses and probably IS) are mostly historical and even fictitious to the modern westerner, but I digress…There is a Tarot book by Emily Auger which discusses briefly these concepts, and even postulates that Tarot is a kind of Cyber Reality Simulation, which is an absolutely inspired way of looking at the Tarot.  Cyber here means artificial or a Technology that has been manufactured or created, just as the Tarot is a technology; an artificial representation of reality. This concept really influenced my image of the Tarot and what it means to be a Reader – and the mental image of a Cyberpunk Astralnaut jacked into a fanned out Tarot spread while he co-mingles fiction, fact, and history into a hazy surreal blend of human potential is an awesome ideal.

Tarot, to end it all, is about what makes sense to you in your world.  Just as the final Major is The World (or perhaps the Fool), it’s up to the journeyer to discover just what it will be.  Use the books, use the websites, and the tutorials but remember that the mirror of the tarot is for you to understand and should not be used as just another technology meant to box you in.

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Star Wars Tarot: Episode 2

This is the second part of my Star Wars Tarot post, the first part can be found here:  Episode1

Episode 1 showed some of the Major Arcana and discussed a few of the specific cards and how they relate to the traditional Rider-Waite deck.  This post will be similar, but will highlight the Minor Arcana.

So the main reason why I chose the deck I did for the creation of the Star Wars Minor Arcana is because of two things; the Pictures are great and every card image is unique, second each card along with an image has an individual quote from the films.  Tarot is about symbolism and the images are very important, not just for the reader but also the querent – If there’s one thing that’s important to Tarot it’s the images and what they represent.  Now, being that I’m creating a deck here from cards that have been massed produced without the intention of holding any symbolism other than for mundane play not all the cards excel at presenting the ideas found in the Tarot…but surprisingly most do, and hit the mark dead on.

When I use normal playing cards as a Tarot stand-in my system of correspondence is this: Wands=Clubs, Pentacles=Diamonds, Cups=Hearts, and Swords=Spades.  This makes sense to me, but I have seen other correspondences around and in books, but this works well and with the Star Wars deck it works to near perfection.  As long as you understand the correspondences you have assigned to the deck prior to readings you’ll be fine, I’m not one to get to caught up with how things “should be”, my main goal is that things work.

Minor Arcana

Here’s an example of some of the cards

shot 0016 of Cups/Hearts

7 of Cups/Hearts

9 of Swords/Spades

Ace of Swords/Spades

shot 004King of Wands/Clubs

Ace of Wands/Clubs

10 of Pentacles/Diamonds

Queen of Pentacles/Diamonds

Highlights from the Minor Arcana:

The Six of Cups: Generally this is a card showing Hopes rejuvenated, recreated, or returning.  Leia being saved here by Luke is representative of that hope.  This is the first meeting of the two siblings and the card details well the turning point in the first film and in the Saga – A new beginning.

The Seven of Cups: This card has to do with wishful thinking and/or illusions that come from within and effect our lives.  Obi-wan and Anakin are meeting for the first time in the card image and it’s fairly easy to embed the traditional meaning onto this card.  Both Anakin and Obi-Wan can be seen here as harboring thoughts and feelings about the other that are illusory…both immediately as in the scene presented and down the road as their relationship evolves.

Nine of Wands:  I won’t get into this card to much.  Resolve – plain and simple

Ace of Wands:  Vadar here with the super statement that had fans quaking.  Motivation and actions of Determination are what this card is about.  Both themes are readily seen here.  Vadars motivation is apparent, and he is Determined to push his will onto the Galaxy and onto his son.

King of Swords:  Force of Will.  It’s important to know that Swords as a suit represents mental aspects of the self.  Here Palpatine in full Sith transformation mode represents the complete ruler of his will, no longer hiding, no longer a shadow of the man he was…he is fully truthful to himself and others and therefore an honest being.  Good or bad do not factor in here…the King of Swords is beyond such things.

Ace of Swords: Luke in Episode 1, about to work his magic.  Swords, again is about mentality.  The Ace of any suit holds the purified intention and meaning of the whole suit.  This card is about the Clarity of Intent.  To me the Ace also signifies intellectual clarity…and Luke, recognizing the power of the Force, here for the first time, is shown clearly understanding the Force as real and intellectually accepting the peace and calm that comes from that knowledge.

The Ten of Pentacles:  This card is about wise investment, having the insight to look to the future and understand the need for prudent management of the present leading to beneficial consequences.  Here Luke confronts Vadar in Episode 6 with all the wisdom he has been granted by his teachers…easy to see the meaning here.

Queen of Pentacles:  For me the Queen of Pents is about earthly intuition.  This intuition relates to money, physical life, and material based wisdom.  Amidala is a ruler and knows the burden of understanding, body and soul, the needs of her kingdom and people.  She must make intuitive choices that come from within based on her compassion for her planet – choices that are made quickly.

Conclusion:

This deck is used and quite frequently.  On thing with this deck is that it has no Knights being that playing card decks don’t have Knights.  Not a big deal in my opinion, but others may have a problem with this.  The power of decks like these that hold common social imagery readily recognizable by most in our modern culture is that the querent brings to the table her/his own ideas of the scenes and characters displayed.  Not only are my interpretations in play, but also the person getting the reading.  I enjoy this aspect of reading, it’s a two way street and a conversation instead of merely me as the reader interpreting cards.

If you would like a reading with these cards give me a buzz at  risinginsight at gmail.com