Bridging the Gap Between Magic and Meaning

You will often hear me say that, at least in my own work, divination is a subliminal process rooted in the unconscious (or, if you like, “Higher Self”) that relies heavily on imagination, inspiration and ingenuity to tease practical messages from evocative symbolism that is typically shrouded in rather obscure “magical” imagery. In the best cases, these messages dovetail seamlessly with what is being asked, resulting in insights that can be brought to bear on life’s problems and opportunities. At worst, there can be a major gap in perceived alignment between what the symbols seem to be saying and the context of the question or topic being examined. Those who “sit” (aka “sitters”) for readings – especially the more skeptical ones – are seldom shy about responding negatively to forced attempts to make something that is highly unlikely fit their situation. It may be customary to say “the cards are never wrong,” but even at the best of times they can certainly be tightfisted in dispensing their wisdom if we as diviners aren’t up to the challenge of correctly translating it into pertinent and understandable commentary.

The art of interpretation, unless we are completely deaf to the persuasions of intuition or “free-association” and only read analytically or “by the book,” begins as a mystical one in which there is an unspoken communion between the seeker and the interfacing medium of expression (usually cards), resulting in the “subconscious induction” of a coherent account of future events and/or circumstances in the final arrangement of pictures on the reader’s table. However, until the human species develops reliable mind-to-mind communication at the cognitive rather than purely psychic level, whatever suggestions we as readers harvest from our side of that interface are useless to the inquirer unless they are competently verbalized. The hardest task for the reader can be to guarantee an adequate grasp of the message by the person across the table.

As a student of esotericism for almost fifty years and a professional writer for over thirty, I have amassed both a wealth of arcane knowledge and the vocabulary with which to  effectively convey it, at least to those who have achieved a similar degree of erudition. However, most of the time that dialogue is a pursuit reserved for “armchair philosophers” and has little or no place in the act of reading for the average sitter. This is principally true of so-called “occult correspondences” (astrology, number theory, mythology, etc.); while it may be illuminating for  informed readers to infuse their presentations with this type of awareness, trying to use the relevant language with the uninitiated is only going to confuse and frustrate them. On the other hand, if our pronouncements are stripped of all traces of oracular mystery, we may fail to deliver the kind of semi-mystical experience that is expected of the “fortune-teller.” The extent to which we are able to successfully hitch our more abstract assumptions to the cause of crystal-clear communication will dictate how meaningful our observations are for the client. As I see it, this is a function of the storyteller’s art: to be able to impart a natural and graceful narrative flow to knowledge that can be inherently abstruse, while at the same time delivering valuable and easily-digestible information.

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