I must be getting really desperate if I’m resorting to “Archie-Bunker-isms” for my post titles; for the culturally uninitiated, it reads “The Point and the Choice.” What I’m referring to, of course, is the key point (goal, not location) in our approach to divining with the tarot cards and the choices we make in their interpretation. I’m going to quote once again from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Way of Tarot, this time presenting an observation that I fully agree with:
“We can consider our duty as a tarologist to consist of translating a message from the individual’s subconscious and helping the person understand it in ways that he can grasp it in his daily life and apply it to his most vital concerns.”
The point in doing a reading is that our principal role should be to help our clients absorb and accept what the cards are showing them about the inner workings of their own subconscious, focusing on the latent situational awareness and developmental insights that dwell there. We aren’t obliged to give advice or entertain, just to faithfully render the import of the cards into language that fits the context of the question or subject of the reading. It’s up to the seeker to process that information and turn it into appropriate actions and reactions, or at least into self-empowering postures and attitudes in positioning themselves for future opportunities and challenges. This engagement doesn’t always involve concrete circumstances in the querent’s life, it often takes the form of psychological or even spiritual responses to the stimulus; in more socially articulate terms, it can reveal personal, relational or transpersonal aspects of the situation. The reader’s task is to put his or her finger on which is uppermost in the sitter’s mind at the time and “pull the string” that unravels the knot of ambiguity.
Although I never read his book before, I find that I have always entered the kind of “trance” that Jodo talks about when reading for another person; he just gave me a more coherent explanation for it. It’s not a separation from objective reality in an unconscious or irrational way, but instead entails going into a mystical, superconsious “overdrive,” a self-initiated state of heightened awareness that greatly increases sensitivity to the subtle interaction of the energies at work in the cards of the reading. As Jodorowsky says, “The rational does not disappear in a trance, but the landscape expands.” It creates a state of “extreme presence” in the moment, an “intensification of attention.” I liken it to putting out “feelers” to probe the invisible architecture of the Universe, or perhaps spreading a net to capture very elusive fish; another analogy I’ve used is running my mental fingers through the fabric of the Cosmic Mind (or Collective Unconscious) to tease out insights that evade conscious perception. (Many call it intuition but that’s too elastic a term for a cognitive process I find to be more inductive than deductive.) However, this is only on my side of the table; querents must still hold their own silent conversation or “communion” with the cards.
The choices we make involve deciding which of the multifarious cues in the imagery and usage to select as the starting point in crafting our narrative. In one reading, Death could signal an emphatic ending, in another it might refer to a profound change in direction (which in most cases assumes an ending of some kind that precipitates the shift ). On the other hand, the 10 of Swords almost always signifies the drawing of a situation to its inevitable conclusion, the closing chapter in the saga that brought the querent to that point (all of the Tens can, even though some don’t look like it). For me it often appears in “recovery from divorce” readings. Some of the Tens are bittersweet and others just bitter, but all are necessary for further growth as augured by the Ace of the following suit, the “new beginning” that overtakes the “ending” the same way dawn invariably dispels the night. The overall thrust of the reading conveyed by the combination of cards can favor one interpretation over another, but the sitter’s confirmation or rejection of the “story-line” puts the final stamp on the reader’s impressions. The true litmus test for the validity of the choices we make lies in that simple nod of acceptance, the “aha!” moment of utter comprehension.