Human Conflict: The Tarotscopic View

Human conflict is one of my favorite areas to explore with the tarot because it is such a target-rich environment. I don’t do much with multi-party conflicts because they are much rarer than the one-on-one face-off, but here is the latest example of my current approach.

Tarot is an excellent microscope through which to scrutinize human nature in disarray, especially as it involves individuals in conflict situations. I have created numerous spreads that take a “two-channel” approach to such interaction, with an identical chain of cards for each party to the occasion, allowing meaningful comparison to see which presents the strongest position. The most obvious target is romantic disharmony, either emerging or in progress and often in serious crisis; many of these spreads are also  serviceable for social and professional confrontations, although I’ve developed layouts specifically aimed at those circumstances. All designs typically include at least three key elements: two parties at odds with one another, and a particular bone of contention that divides them; these arrays are often expandable simply by adding an identical chain of spread positions for each participant.

The multi-party conflict is a rarer occurrence, and can range from romantic “triangles” to major litigation in which all potential claimants are dragged into the fray. Each participant brings a unique set of advantages and handicaps to the table, which it is the pleasure of therapists and lawyers to help sort out. In tarot terms, I often turn to the convenience of the “quintessence” card to roll these strengths and weakness up into a single expression of relative potency as shown by a numerologically derived trump card. There will normally by a “sub-quint” for each antagonist and a “grand quint” for the situation in general, all of which can be matched to see which party holds the upper hand at the higher levels of “cosmic justice.” Sympathetic pairings bode well for the favored party, while more uncomfortable alignments spell trouble.

My latest foray into the realm of human conflict is the collision-course spread I call the “3-Car Crack-up,” an allusion to vehicular mayhem. The novel wrinkle here is that I use the idea of the astrological “mirror” card for the Grand Quint trump to show whether the “jury’s” verdict is in accord or strongly at odds with the “judge’s” outlook.  The verdict lies in how sympathetic the “mirror” card  is to the sub-quint favored by the “judge” (Grand Quint). It may in fact give the nod to a different participant.

3 thoughts on “Human Conflict: The Tarotscopic View

  1. This was so interesting to read. The word conflict feels so heavy and emotionally charged that I rarely use it in readings or conversation because I am normally trying to steer the attention away from situations and circumstances that have manifested in the past to release the attachment to them and create new outcomes. I found your post interesting because I have never really basked in the conflict … you know, stood on the battle ground and allowed the wars to wage around me. It feels like a great weight to carry. So, instead, I remain detached like I’m holding it all in a crystal ball in my hand, and I deconstruct the conflict a piece at a time, until we reach the core. Having said that… I see the value of stepping in… knee deep… and being surrounded. My fear is I’d be overwhelmed and end up waving my arms and yelling, “ENOUGH!” and clearing out the good… with the bad. 🙂 Thank you, very thought provoking for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I certainly don’t revel in human discomfort, but from a purely clinical perspective one of the main categories of tarot spread development is Problem-Solving, and problems aren’t necessarily self-created, nor do they arise in a vacuum. Another is Relationships, which by definition invite disagreement. As intelligent, autonomous beings, each of us has a strong urge for self-preservation and self-promotion that has to be acknowledged and understood before it can be curbed in the interest of social harmony. It’s supposed to be learned growing up, but many people just acquire a thin veneer of civility over their more dystopian tendencies., just enough so the other caveman don’t instinctively bash their brains out. In short, it’s learned behavior and not inherent to the human condition; I don’t think the “hive-mind” concept will ever gain much traction in the human psyche. Tarot is good at examining the interstices where friction occurs from self-absorbed people rubbing up against one another in the course of pushing their private agendas.

      Liked by 1 person

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