The Best or Worst of Times?

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of
wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was
the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of
Darkness . . . ” (from A Tale of Two Cities)

Charles Dickens would most likely have understood what it means to be a tarot neophyte in this time of rapid and dramatic change in the divinatory arts, some of it exhibiting dubious credibility. Many long-standing and well-honed traditions are being called into question by people who are either too shallow or too lazy to bother trying to come up to speed with their intricacies, so they adopt an uncritical “anything goes” attitude that admits of any and all aberrations. A good many, it must be acknowledged, just want to sell their books and videos; however far-fetched their ideas might be, someone with more money than sense is always buying. There is an old joke about opinions: they’re “like assholes, everybody has one,” and any budding guru with a phone camera can easily prove the truth of that observation. YouTube is probably responsible for spreading more questionable pap than any other platform. To my mind, the phenomenon unfolding before our eyes is more “devolution” than evolution or revolution.

For those of us who’ve been around since the beginning of the “New Age,” there is entirely too much of the “instant expert” vibe going around. Take one tarot deck, turn on the camera, add a smidge of intuition and a dash of razzle-dazzle, stir well and voila, “Tarot Dee-lite.” We’re the Smith-Barney types who like to say “We got our cred the old-fashioned way, we earned it!” There is a tidal wave of tarot newbies out there, most of whom are honest enough to admit that they don’t have a clue what’s going on, and their credulity leaves them wide open for all kinds of chicanery. You want all animals and no people in your deck and still insist on calling it “tarot?” Go for it. You don’t care a fig about symbolism but you know what you like? By all means. You don’t want to spend a lot of time studying the basics, just want to wing it? Read this “master-tarot-in-a-day” screed and have at it, no experience required. Whatever you do is right it it “feels right.” Gaaah!

About all of us who know the landscape well can do is point those beginners with enough presence of mind to ask toward the best books available and hope they take the time to read them. There are no shortcuts to becoming a skilled diviner; only hard-earned experience will grant the kind of expertise that is being promised by the purveyors of “instant wisdom.” Sincere divining is neither a parlor trick nor a social-media game, it’s a calling that demands both serious study and practice over a long period of time to get it right more often than not. Intuitive guesswork alone is seldom enough; a solid knowledge base will keep an overactive imagination reined in. Offering anything less to paying clients is unscrupulous at best and hazardous to their well-being at worst.

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