The Long Result of Time

Bear with me here, soon enough you’ll see my quirky connection between Tennyson’s poetry  and the professional practice of tarot divination. Back in 1965, British science fiction author John Brunner wrote a novel dubbed The Long Result. He lifted the title from a couplet in Tennyson’s long lyrical poem, Locksley Hall, which – even though it was a rather sour rumination about the evils of human marriage – contained some remarkable visionary passages about the future of the world. Brunner quoted the verse about “the long result of Time” in the front-piece of the book, which led me to seek out the poem (no Google Search in those primitive times). The second couplet below foreshadowed my eventual interest in all forms of divination, even though at seventeen I didn’t know it yet.

“Here about the beach I wander’d, nourishing a youth sublime
With the fairy tales of science, and the long result of Time;

When I dipt into the future far as human eye could see;
Saw the Vision of the world and all the wonder that would be.”

I first encountered astrology and tarot while in Germany in 1970, and took up the study of both upon returning to the US in 1971. When I began reading the cards for other people a year or so later, a tarot session took “whatever it took” in terms of the time needed to pull all of the threads in what was then my favorite layout – the Celtic Cross. An hour wasn’t unusual when there was no need to mind every minute, although eventually I polished my technique enough to give a full interpretation in 45 minutes or less, including any needed discussion with the sitter about uncertain card meanings.

Fast-forward to 2015, when I returned to professional practice after many years away. The first hurdle I encountered was the novel experience of having to read “on the clock.” I soon realized that even a marginally thorough Celtic Cross analysis simply won’t fit comfortably into the 15-to-20 minute time slot that my local shop owner expected her readers to accommodate. Thus began my endless quest to create smaller but still meaty spreads that would make the cut (which I discussed at length in this previous post: The other side of the coin was that these “skinnier” spreads didn’t give me much satisfaction as a reader and clearly didn’t provide my clients the insights I thought they should get for their money. There have been no complaints but, having been accustomed to pursuing “the long result” allowed by adequate time, I was uneasy about having to offer the severely abridged version.

Ultimately, I decided that I will no longer beat myself up by furnishing pared-down readings that don’t do justice to the potential in the cards. I have friends who say they can do a “live” Celtic Cross in ten minutes, to which I reply “Good for you, but I don’t see how you can give your clients legitimate value by trying to shoehorn ten cards into such a brief duration.” I certainly wouldn’t pay for such a rushed job no matter how accurate the outcome, since I like a bit of the performer’s art – the “theater of tarot” – with my nuts-and-bolts predictions. In addition, I enjoy story-telling tropes such as metaphor and analogy too much to adopt the economical verbal shorthand (basically “dressed-up” keywords) necessary to such a truncated approach. I suppose it comes down to whether we consider ourselves technicians or mystics; personally, I try to keep a foot in both camps.

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