I write this because you are needed. Your interest in this topic is a likely indication of high intelligence, and also, a high likelihood that you face such oppressive circumstances you may not even be aware of the depth of your gifts. The masterpiece of humanity, long in the making, for countless ages and still far from completion, can be significantly furthered by you. And you have brought yourself here, of your own accord. You are important, and I hope to shorten the path between you and the whole of the natural world, if you can endure along the way, and it is often a very long and difficult way, I promise you will not be disappointed at the scale of wonder that awaits you.
This is not an academic paper, it is the work of a storyteller. There is an intentional appropriation of history, and legend, from far away places and times, in order to subvert a traditional narrative. The goal isn’t to be more perfect, or more right, but to show you how it is done. Because in the end, as you learn to create your own stories, you will discover that this sort of behavior is rather inevitable.
The symbols and signs are a blend of traditional cartomancy meanings, and the author’s own associations, assigned in a very personal way, bouncing off of history like a mallet on a drum. Each magician develops their own relationship to the cosmos, just the way they tend to find their own rhythm with enough practice.
You should always pause with incredulity when believing any claims about history, without first seeing what tree it grows on. If it is a story, you need not trust it to enjoy it.
If it is a claim of fact, and there is any doubt, you should always check with a public librarian to be sure of its veracity.
Stories are not about fact, stories are about how we reflect on the reflections of others. Of what we repeat, what we mask, and what we leave out. The future is a story that is yours to tell, the past is a story that is never very close to the truth. It was also dreary before refrigeration and electricity, it is no wonder people use things like illustrated decks of cards to seek a glimpse of the future, or at the very least, a look at the present. For this reason alone, the story in the tarot though possibly something close to what I create here, is more choose your own adventure, and may show you that your adventure is already in the cards.
Why Use the Tarot?
You’ve already got some sort of romantic attraction, isn’t that enough? No? Alright.
Tarot is a Form of Art
And it’s still vital and growing. Every year new Tarot decks are being released to the public, usually in limited editions. The artist’s endeavor of creating a deck is daunting – 78 paintings (or prints, drawings, collages, or digital renderings) must be completed, and they must have a certain degree of consistency to them. Occasionally decks are assembled from collected artwork never intended for such a purpose, like the Dali deck. Over the centuries the list of artists who have produced these thick folios has grown to the many hundreds, and historic decks are being continually reissued. So the Tarot is really a specific format, like the coffee table book and the trade paperback… it is a kind of unbound picture book that can be randomized, inverted, and flipped through in a nonlinear fashion.
Tarot is a Mental Toy
The Tarot began in its simplest sense as a game, a miniature world with a few rules that allow chance to produce unexpected results. And it happens to contain enough curiosities for stories and patterns to fire up the abstracting, daydreaming abilities of the brain.
Tarot is a Creativity Tool
The only reason for writing this, yet another series of interpretations for the cards, is because the need still exists for a pragmatic set of rules that doesn’t rely on defying reason. Quite simply, one can enjoy the contemplative aide and imaginative stimulation of the cards without creating a paradox. The cards can introduce a person to themselves, gradually, by serving as a medium of communication which both scrambles and responds with fragments of a picture story. Used correctly, they can sharpen a mind and also teach, this set of interpretations begins with the premise of cards are at once a game, and a primer for the love of wisdom.
Tarot is a Book of Poetry
The cards as symbols have a great deal in common with the art of poetry. Like poetry, Tarot has curiously survived its own loss in popularity. As the game declined, their mystique of hidden language and free association endured. Poetry has been said to have no real use in modern society, and without acknowledging how absurd that notion is, it does promote Tarot to an art form by proxy. As for the usefulness of poetry, we may not read it as widely as we once did, but we can still easily understand some sense of what it is to lead a poetic life.
Tarot is a Teaching Aide
Cartomancy, or telling fortunes with cards, is not the aim of this guide. But as author Terry Pratchett’s character Death explained, “It’s the little lies, like believing in the Hogfather,” a stand in for Santa Claus, “that make the big lies, like justice and peace, possible. In all the universe of wonders, only humans are so imaginative they invented boredom.” Using the method presented here, pulling cards for others is not about making a fool of some rube while reading their facial expressions, but rather delivering an imaginative puppet show, whose moral the audience can each extract according to their ability. By turning cause and effect into a visual exercise, shaped by one’s own lines of thinking, measure only the reader’s grasp, no harm, compromise or deception need be introduced.
Tarot is a Sphinx
Consider the cards as a tool that generates riddles. We approach them expecting as much, so there’s an advantage to the attitude of solving puzzles. Puzzles whose answers shed light on what’s already happening in that busy brain of yours. This guide is meant to show you the liminal enclosure present in the storytelling function of the cards. Learn the assignments and lore, and then calculate your own relationships. Using the Tarot like a caged bird, your errant thoughts can be examined closely as they sing. By flexing the brain to generate spontaneous storyline structures, critical thinking is enhanced, along with endurance, your ability to face complicated riddles long enough to seek a solution.
Tarot is a Wisdom Practice
You pull out the cards when you want to see a mess of feeling come up out of your head like it was words all along. You pull out the cards because you’re a visual thinker and invisible threads floating in the air have reached a point of tangles, you’re looking for a finger to stay the cords while you tie a knot. You pull out the cards because it’s great at beating binaries, pro vs. con deadlocks. Get a another opinion from within yourself about your own decisions, one that can be read like a causal swirl of leaves, or a ring of stones.