In keeping with my life-long aversion to the “father-knows-best” model of authoritarian determinism, I tend to avoid “isms” of any kind. But in contemplating my approach to spiritual matters in general, I was casting around for a definition that does the same thing for me that “scientific materialism” does for the pure rationalist. I consider myself a spiritually-oriented but wholly non-religious individual; one of my favorite oxymorons is that I’m “devoutly non-religious.” But I strongly suspect that there are natural laws behind the experience of spiritual phenomena that we don’t yet have the ability to measure and quantify. I decided to put together the terms “spiritual” and “realism” and go googling for any existing thoughts on the subject. Lo and behold, there is apparently an entire “ism” built around this concept that echoes many of my own notions (although it is just a bit too ponderously pedantic for my taste)!
One of its key points restates my own idea about cause-and-effect:
“Spiritual Realists do not believe in miracles or supernatural events, but see in all so-called miracles and supernatural events, as yet unexplained laws of nature.”
Which brings me to the subject of “fuzzy logic.”
One statement from the article linked above really stood out for me as describing, in terms intelligible to the non-mathematician, an interesting rationale for the intuitive approach to tarot reading:
“Fuzzy logic is based on the observation that people make decisions based on imprecise and non-numerical information. Fuzzy models or sets are mathematical means of representing vagueness and imprecise information (hence the term fuzzy). These models have the capability of recognising, representing, manipulating, interpreting, and utilising data and information that are vague and lack certainty.”
I believe that the most convincing modes of divination bridge the gap between traditional knowledge-based wisdom and entirely non-rational insights that arise from imaginative assumptions about the nature of reality. There is a middle ground that takes the best of both worlds and fashions a paradigm that is accessible from both ends of the spectrum. The challenge as I see it is to prevent the “fuzzy” from overwhelming the “logic” in our rush to bolster our own suppositions about “how tarot works” in spiritual terms, while at the same time keeping any narrow presumptions about objective realism from shutting us out of more inspired visionary thinking. It gives me another opportunity to trot out the old Reaganism: “Trust but verify.” In other words, we shouldn’t be too quick to swallow our first impressions about the apparent meaning of the cards in a particular reading; in the words of James Ricklef, we should let them “simmer in our consciousness,” gathering certainty as we bounce them off our prior learning and experience. If we open our mouth before engaging our brain, we run the risk of being miles wide of the mark in our attempt to offer meaningful observations within the context of the question being asked or the topic of the reading. There is nothing more disconcerting and damaging to our credibility than having to sheepishly backpedal away from something we said with great conviction when the querent seriously doubts its applicability.