No Fortune-Telling Here . . . Well, Not Much

It’s fashionable these days for people who write about the tarot to say “The cards don’t predict the future.” My response to that is “Well, of course they don’t, they never did.” They are nothing but tools, evocative visual aids that serve as pointers for the diviner in helping the seeker explore the potential consequences of their action or inaction in the situation under review. (This time I won’t call their use “psychism-with-props,” but I’ve been known to do so in remote-reading situations.) The cards themselves are neutral and don’t say much of anything pertinent until they’re shaped into a relevant pattern of meaning through the shuffler’s subconscious intervention (and then accurately interpreted). There are those who say proudly “I am a diviner,” implying a personal pipeline to Divine inspiration through which they channel their insights, while admittedly fewer others just as staunchly say “I am a fortune-teller,” making clear what they think of the “grand” purpose of divination. One has epiphanies of exalted “intuition” while the other “just reads the cards.”

Personally, my sympathies lie with the fortune-tellers, although I don’t practice the art anywhere near as resolutely or systematically as the most dedicated among them. My focus is on the situational implications of any actions and events hinted at by the cards; the “actions” are generally those that the querent might choose to take in response to the stimulus, and the “events” are those that either arise from the actions taken (or, as the case may be, not taken) or those that are independent of the querent and occur on their own initiative and timetable (so-called “external events”). How these considerations are likely to unfold is the focus of most of my readings, and the field of operation is unavoidably the “future” since every moment following the delivery of the reading is an unwritten page. Certainly, some aspects of the narrative can touch on past and present actions and events that influence the diviner’s outlook on how the scenario will play out, but that is instructive background material and not what seekers come to hear. They want to know how they can gain an edge on upcoming circumstances, to either profit from them or successfully dodge any identifiable hazards (the “forewarned is forearmed” assumption).

As I see it, if a client wants a non-clinical psychological profile of themselves or someone else, they’re better off consulting an astrologer. I don’t have much faith in the tarot as an instrument for psychological “navel-gazing” because it is too vulnerable to subjective bias. I’m not a certified coach, counselor or therapist (I doubt many tarot readers are); about as far as I’m willing to go down that path is to style myself as a “consultant” and point my clients at prudent attitudes and behaviors as intimated by the cards. If they don’t trust the legitimacy of that advice, the potential risks become entirely their problem; I don’t hire myself out as a “fixer” for anyone’s headaches, self-inflicted or otherwise. That work is internal and the only objective of my readings is to shine a spotlight on the inner stage. If they wander away from the self-penned script and fail to follow their own cues, they could flounder and the curtain may come down on the outcome well before they hit their stride.

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