Sometimes I feel like a displaced “dinosaur,” and at other times I’m more a “cosmic anomaly” like Arthur Dent – a walking anachronism on one hand and a “man-out-of-time” on the other – with one foot planted firmly in the cartomantic past and the other tentatively treading the future of the art, but with little affinity for the populist sentiments of present-day online culture. As a card-carrying “old guy” (see, it says “AARP” at the top), I find myself returning often to my roots in late-19th-Century esotericism, and sometimes slipping even farther back into the historical tarot of the Renaissance, while at the same time constantly seeking to adapt their virtues for post-modern use. Whether I’m providing a public service by posting my observations here or simply paying for the privilege of indulging my personal beliefs is open to debate.
The “dinosaur within” takes a dim view of the “fast-food” internet culture that would rather push a button in an app than shuffle a deck of cards or travel half-an-hour for a sit-down reading session. But the “21st-Century Man” looks forward to the day when “how tarot works” can be explained scientifically in terms of quantifiable phenomena, not anecdotal “feel-good” testimonials. In my own practice I don’t have much use for “tarot as therapy,” or “tarot as entertainment;” rather than being herded into either fold, I’ll take my chances as an old-fashioned “fortune-teller” since psychological hair-splitting doesn’t often intrude into my action-and-event-based readings.
I love to read the cards for other people in a face-to-face setting. There is an immediacy to it, a stimulating “sink-or-swim, think on your feet, don’t look down” kind of exhilaration that can’t be duplicated in remote reading scenarios where we can sit sipping coffee (or bourbon!) in our pajamas while puzzling over a difficult spread for someone on the other side of the world. I do online readings now, but only on my own terms. I sometimes feel like I’ve put myself “out to pasture” by doing so because the pace is so sedentary, but at least I get to hone my storytelling skills. On the other hand, writing up a reading definitely takes a lot more time than a spoken-word presentation, and it is less amenable to sudden epiphanies of inspired wordplay. I like nothing better than dropping a trenchant metaphor on a sitter out-of-the-blue and seeing that sudden light of comprehension dawn where before there was only bewilderment. It does the ol’ carnivore’s heart good to still be able to “bite down to the bone” now and then rather than just “chewing the fat.”