I had...a dream...a few hours ago.
I want to tell you about tarot cards, at least, I want to explain how I understand them...to some extent...and end with a question.
I'd never seen a tarot card before this summer. I'd heard of them (dippy nonsense, of course!), but never seen them. Reading palms, ripping people off, psychics, gypsy curses... Some strange power, which I can now equate with auto-suggestion. You have to believe...and then the person...controlling the cards...can feed you whatever they want.
But the first rule (the first rg rule) or tarot is:
Nothing bad can come from tarot cards
If you don't believe that, you shouldn't look at them, except in the name of honest enquiry and maybe to see what they look like, because they're interesting, e voila!
The picture above is a tarot card. The picture above it isn't. Tarot cards carry nothing more than a symbolism, partly logical, I believe them to have maybe syncretic characteristics linked to the unconscious.
The Tarot, The I Ching, A Run in The Park, & Meditation
All have things in common: some people enjoy them, some don't, some think they're dangerous, some find mystic significance in the activity, others find something healthy and understandable.
But a run in the park is not an I Ching reading.
And an I Ching reading is not a tarot card.
And a tarot card can be an object of meditation.
Voodoo-jumbo nonsense boogie!
Here's my understanding:
Whereas a rorschach blot is designed to be nothing more than symetrical, but does carry typical information (usually a wing form, maybe two heads meeting...let's call one up and see...)
Okay, there may be holes, so they could be eyes. The idea, though, is that there is nothing "there" that the mind hasn't attributed to squashed ink.
With tarot cards, there is a "there" there, and someone has placed it there deliberately. It has symbolic...logic, not in the mathematical sense, though similar: someone has aggregated a series of pictures and encoded within them an internal logic, but maybe only understandable to those who designed it; and maybe not to them. I see the tarot as being the country sister to the minimalist integrity of the I Ching.
Let's have a quick look at an I Ching hexagram:
Remember: it's not the I-Ching shape in itself that is the point; it is the commentary on the shape, a commentary written in The Book of Changes lo those many years ago, then translated into german, then translated into english, and it is the story-telling art of the writer(s) to give each symbol endless connections to other symbols, and each commentary the possibility to open up...specific questions which the conscious mind cannot resolve.
They are oracles: and it is not the opinion of others that is given: it is an opening into a symbolic universe which endlessly wheels about itself.
Good Cards and Bad Cards
Here's the card that a good shuffle and the luck of one in seventy eight gave me when I first asked the question: "What is ET?"--and then shuffled and cut.
Very different to a Rorschach blot. Ten swords sticking out of your back. The person on the ground is dead. The Ten of Swords.
But what does it mean?
Of course it means nothing. Unless you invest meaning into it. But you don't start from a blank slate. There is an image: a dead man held down by ten swords running down his back, by a lake, it's evening. Above: the sky is dark. The Ten of Swords. Not a good card.
Huh? Who says it's not a good card? Well, the symbolism, no? I suggest the answer is "no", because the first rg rule of tarot is: Nothing bad can come from tarot cards.
Pure Chance and Symbol Systems
As a friend said, critically: "But what does it mean?"
And as I said: "It doesn't mean anything unless you have some meaning for each card."
The key point here being: The cards are not definitive. Maybe the I Ching works the same way for an ancient chinese. Mountain above, fire below. The commentary is one person's take on how that might play out.
Click on the link to view all of the Rider-Waite tarot cards
I find them attractive. That's the first and maybe the main point. If you do not find a system attractive, you won't be attracted to it.
Why attractive? Because they are pre-renaissance. However, the Rider Waite deck (see link above) were originally published in 1909 and designed not long before that, and hence contains imagery relating to esoteric christian concepts, among other things.
Here's an example of "other things".
They are unreal images; and they vary. The Rider-Waite pack was based on a nineteenth century esoteric tradition and the wiki page tells me that there is a book, by A.E. Waite, explaining the "traditions and history behind behind the cards, criticism of various interpretations, and extensive descriptions of their symbols, along with 78 black and white plates of each card in the deck."
Heavy Heavy Mumbo Mamba!
What is the point of the tarot, the I Ching, and other divinatory practices? There's a tarot card which explains it.
The two swords point to alternative rational directions. Rational is part of "rationalise", when the conscious mind seeks reasons for behaviour. But what to do when it hits the wall? What to do when the rational mind--the conscious "ego"--gets stuck? Each direction is explicable. But how to choose?
Some toss a coin. Some go with "gut instinct"--but maybe a person has tried gut instinct before and it all came horribly unstuck.
Time to remember the rg rule about tarot.
What kind of questions fall into this category?
Should I continue doing X, Y, or Z?
What will happen if I try A, B, or C?
What might I find if I go to place J to do activity K?
All the what-ifs, the unknowns. And here we sit with our huge brains, and the ego struggles to understand the complexities, and...I have a question about that.
The random element. With tarot cards, you are simply picking from a pack. If you are getting someone else to shuffle the cards, they could be spiked, but let's assume it's just you and a pack of cards.
How many are there?
Seventy eight, made up of four suits of fourteen cards as follows:
Cards: Ace to ten, then page, knight, queen, king.
Suits: Pentacles (or coins), cups, swords, and wands.
Here's the page of cups.
He has a fish in his cup.
Here's the eight of wands.
The Other Twenty Two Cards
are known as the Major Arcana. They can be seen as describing a symbolic story of life, with the emphasis on "symbolic", and here we can cut to my chase:
You can make up any story you want about the cards. You can imbue each of the cards with any symbolic resonance you like, because, combined, there is enough variation in the images--this is my theory--that as long as you come up with your idea for each card, just by looking at the picture and pondering, then...well....okay.
Here's my story for the Major Arcana.
One day a Fool meets a Magician. "Well done!" says the magician to the fool, "You are prepared. Now let me introduce you to The High Priestess"
I have done a very humorous tarot reading--a mystical one to be done only once in your lifetime, maybe--with a good friend of mine. He did mine, and I did his, meaning I pulled cards for him and he pulled cards for me, or was it that we pulled our own cards but the other person had to say what they might mean? Yes, high humour, and intriguing cards. We had two cards in common (if I remember rightly)
The Seven of Swords
and The Nine of Pentacles
I had previously explained to him the logical system I had decided on for understanding the cards (very briefly: pentacles = physical assets; cups = vitality; swords = rationality; wands = ....ach, I don't know how to describe wands. Sorta like swords, only round at the ends and with young leaves sprouting. Organic growth. Humorous battle. Sommat like that. Hey hey!)
So: My question.
Let us assume that a system can be built that tunes straight into whatever systems our other-than-ego-conscious parts of the brain deal in. I mean, the part of the brain we might associate with words like "hypnosis", "Placebo effect", "will power", "death wish", and the like.
Now: Pull a card, any card. The choice is random. There can be no connection between the card and the question--or the questioner--beyond the symbolic system's ability to be "all things to all people."
So....here is my question (I'm thinking in particular of Senor Triloqvist, but all answers appreciated):
How do the brain, the body, and energy connect?
I don't know how to ask it any better, and it maybe has nothing to do with the topic of the diary, but I'm intrigued that the right thought, or the right words, or the right music at the right time can have psychically and physically revivifying effects as (if not more) potent than eight hours' sleep.
It must be electric, no? I read the other day that the brain is still running when we are fully unconscious (of course it is), I mean: they found that it was still running through its processes, but at the microscopic level. What looked like "no activity" was, in fact, activity way inside, or should I say "very tiny", or should I ponder how energy--without which we wouldn't "be"--
Ach. Enough! The holidays are almost over (for me.) All hail the weather, and may we weather the hail! Northern hemisphere folks: enjoy yer autumns! And southern hemisphere folks, Winter's almost over! Here cometh spring!
And for you folks around the equator: Enjoy!