Yesterday, I met with a friend who has done an extensive study of meditation, psychology, and matters of the mind. He and I discussed what meditation is. His opinion is that it has some connection to a universal consciousness. He believes that there is a reason why everything happens. For example, at every critical point in your life, you meet the right person. I politely but forcibly disagreed. I believe that meditation, like hypnosis, is simply a way into accessing our own unconscious minds.
We were in my office where I see my hypnotherapy clients and he noticed that I have some tarot cards on my bookshelf. He expressed interest in the tarot cards. Apparently he had heard of Tarot cards, but had never examined a pack closely. I let him handle the cards, and I showed him several other sets I have which have different themes. I often use the Tarot to open up the unconscious thoughts of my clients.He said he thought I was the last person on earth who would have used tarot cards, given my strictly logical view of the world. I started to explain to him how I used them and why. He was trying to reconcile his view of tarot cards as some sort of mystical gateway, with my view of tarot cards as logical tools to understanding the unconscious mind. We got into a heated discussion. In order to give him a specific example, I offered to do a tarot reading for him.
The tarot spread
I told him to select five cards and lay them out face down. I then offered him the chance to rearrange the order if he wanted. In this reading, the first card was his current situation. The second card represented the near future, and the third card represented the longer term future. His fourth card represented a surprise, something unexpected. And the fifth card was something that influenced all the others, that gave a particular interpretation to them.My friend was looking for a career change. The new job he is in is now is not working out. He is likely to be offered another job but isn't sure about it. He is completely undecided about even what industry he wants to work in, or whether to move to a different place.
The Tarot Reading
To do the reading I began to explain the cards one by one. The first card, the immediate part, was the Four of Cups. This shows a man with 3 cups in front of him turning his back on a castle and the offer of the fourth cup. I explained that this was him refusing to look at the things he was being offered, by focusing on what he had. I suggested the card meant that he was focusing on only part of his assets.The second card was the High Priestess. I explained that this was about mysteries revealed and that he could expect to find things happening for which there was no explanation. I also pointed out that the crescent moon is on top of the columns. These suggested that things come and go, wax and wane, and that he can expect variations in his progress.The third card, the long-term future, was the Moon. I explained again that this was about things changing, not being one thing or the other, constantly moving. On the card, the crab symbol is partly in the water and partly on the land. The whole card is about things being in flux, that nothing is ever fixed, or right, or final. Its message is: there is no certainty.
The surprise card was the King of Pentacles. I explained that this meant success in physical pleasures, luxury, abundance. He then started talking about what abundance meant. saying that was different for everyone. The card started him pretty much thinking aloud, and allowed him to firm up his ideas of what 'abundance' might mean for him personally.The fifth card, the card that underlies or influences all the rest of the cards in the set, was the Two of Pentacles. the Two of Pentacles represents the beginning of a journey. Its meaning in this case is that he has started on a journey and that there will be no straightforward progression. No one knows where the journey will go, but he has made a start on it, whether he realizes it or not.
Interpreting the Tarot cards
We then started to talk about this and he agreed that this was a very good description of his life at the moment. I told him that I found that more times than not the cards actually did match people's current situation. He thought that was deeply significant and had something to do with a universal consciousness of that kind of thing. As he talked about the cards in front of him, it seemed to me that he had clarified his thoughts. He seemed more sure of what to do, more focused.
Why does Tarot work?
Thinking about it later, I wondered "why do the Tarot cards seem to match so well, so often?" I think I have come to an understanding. I watched this man trying to make sense of the cards he choose and then listened to him rationalize the connections.I think that most people do not actually understand their own life, and cannot put into context. I think people unconsciously think about their life as a series of random, unplanned events. This gives them a large number of different, possibly conflicting, views of where they are, and who they are, and what they should be doing. This leaves them looking for confirmation and guidance.
Tarot creates a life story
My theory is that the normal way that people understand themselves is incomplete, biased, uninformed, and in constant change.I think what the tarot cards do is to offer a symbolic representation that they can then create sense from. I get my client to look at a tarot spread and I explain the symbolism and what it means. They then can sort through the partly formed, incomplete ideas and possibilities in their mind. And from that random jumble they can find some combination that makes a sensible pattern that connects the tarot cards. I think that what the tarot card reading does is to give them a template around which they can arrange incomplete thoughts and ideas. They then link those incomplete thoughts and ideas to other incomplete thoughts and ideas until they make some kind of sense of their life.
Find the pattern
This is why it works with almost any cards. The symbolism is like the crystal seed that allows everything else to form a regular and understandable pattern around it. Having created that pattern, the client's mind then goes through all the other currently unconnected bits and reinforces the pattern that crystallized around the tarot card symbol. The client's mind is much happier with the idea that the tarot somehow pulled out symbols with a meaning special to them.It works because they can create a complete "story" around that symbolism. The "story" helps them to make sense of their own life and their current problems. It gives them a sense of certainty, that this is the correct interpretation. It makes sense out of the mass of uninformed, incomplete, and contradictory half-understood feelings and beliefs. The fact that it comes from an external influence helps to validate one particular interpretation of all those partial feelings and beliefs.Do you use Tarot? Share your thoughts below.