About Tarot Cards & Reading (from 2/09)

why do I have all these decks?

1.  the art — it’s like having a small gallery or art collection — with each deck an interpretatioin of the same ideas, thoughts, symbols and metaphors.  The variety of styles and media used over time and across cultures is amazing.

2.  the artists — all art -all communication, really- is about one person (the artist or communicator) getting what is in his/her head into the artwork so that others can share it and have a chance at understanding it.  It also provides a kind of emotional and psychological record of what is going on in the collective unconscious of the culture/society.  Each artist imbeds their own emotions, psychological state, belief systems, behavioral norms etc in their artworks.  As a result, each deck carries its own context.  Some decks are excellent for thinking about relationships — because that was something the artist imbeded there.  Other decks are better suited for thinking about the earth, the eco system, or the environment — because those things were placed there by the artist.  Like all works of art — paintings, dance, pieces of music, or poetry — each one conjures up a fresh perspective — specifically, a perspective others might not have experienced.

3. the depth and expanse of human experience.  As I look at decks created in Mexico and compare them to decks created in Eastern Europe, and compare them to decks created in Florida or Montreal or Kyoto… and to decks created 5 centuries ago and 5 months ago… in cities, exurbs, the wilderness, a computer lab, or in a bucolic environment… with a watercolor brush and paper, a high end computer, pastels, filmstock camera, digital camera, acryllic, oil, colored pencils, oil pastels, fabric, eggshells, legos, pen and ink…  Each of these variables effects the way the cards are presented as a set of images that represent our existence.

Art is not one-size-fits-all.
And some decks are not art at all.

How do the cards “work”?

As far as I can tell, they don’t.  It’s not about the cards.  It’s about the reader and the person asking the question. Specifically, it’s about the relationship that exists there.  All the card meanings given in books, and all layouts described there are just guidelines and suggestions.  And as a trained therapeutic hypnotist, I know how much bang you get for the buck with suggestions.   In general, people just want help understanding what’s happening around them and to them.  They don’t want a time and date that they will find true love, or when Aunt Emily will kick the bucket.  They want to know how to work things out and get to a life they will appreciate.

Reading cards is like having a very deep conversation with a total stranger.  Sometimes, those situations are where we glean the most useful insights into ourselves.  Someone with fresh eyes and ears listens to us and reflects back on us what we are saying and experiencing — and it is both therapeutic and astonishing.  All we really need sometimes is that fresh perspective.  At its heart, a tarot reading is just a therapeutic devise, disguised as fortune telling.  As a shopkeeper in the French Quarter once said, “you don’t really need the cards, do you?”

I have no evidence but my own experience, but there is a huge chasm between a reading done with the intent to do good by the questioner, and a reading done blind/cold.  Just laying down a card — the way a computer program does — and stamping out a few lines of “meaning” from a book is about as useful as breaking buttons onto a Ouiji Board.  A real reading has more to do with finding a “reader” who can actually read their questioner’s body language, cues, ideomotor responses, language patterns, eye patterns, stress level, and unconscious and physical state as a non-static element of the reading.   It’s not just that the questioner is communicating all the time — it’s that the content of the communication is changing constantly.  “Reading” them once when they first sit down is not enough.  It’s a matter of reading them non-stop and at full burn for the entire process.  They are there to find out what they already know, what they don’t know, and how to bridge the gap.  This is not something a machine or automaton can do — and it’s not something you want an unstable, damaged, inexperienced, dissociated/detached, or criminal reader to do.  You want someone who is emotionally healthy, perceptive, alert, intentional, and purposeful to read for you.  Lazy, silly, and by rote just won’t do it.

What decks do you use the most and why?

1.   Any deck by Ciro Marchetti.  His decks are very positive, clear images, and therefore very easy to explain when creating a narrative for the layout.  That they are also beautiful helps a lot.

2.   The Artists’ Inner Vision deck.  This is a compiled deck done by several artists, with each artist taking x-number of cards.  The result is full of variety, and helps keep a questioner from deciding on their own what the cards mean.  And the art is interesting.

3.   The Transparent Tarot.  A fairly new deck — and I’m anxious to see how the transparent material stands up over time.  But the concept is very straight forward — it allows for the “stacking” of cards as they are laid down — and so builds an image or landscape of images that are less tied to absolute time.  It makes the passage of time more clear.  So to speak.  And the accompanying book is extremely well done.

4.   Chris Butler’s Greylight deck.  Black and white and glorious shades of grey — mostly embellished photo-collage.  Again, a fairly recent deck that has so much original and creative thinking behind it that it is nearly impossible for the questioner to pre-form judgments about what the cards “mean.”    One of the best “collage” decks ever created.

I use several others for various purposes — I generally carry at least 8 decks with me so I can pick the right one.  (These 4 or 5, plus the Tarot Swietlistej Drogi, The Intuitive Tarot, Morgan’s Tarot, and maybe something like Morgan Greer or a Radient or Universal deck that is in the Rider Waite tradition.

Is Fortune Telling for real?

Is the unconscious mind real?  Well — yes.  Can you prove it?  Probably not.  Are we sure it really exists?  Yes.
So, just knowing the unconscious mind/subconscious mind exists opens all kinds of possibilities that psychologists have been building on for several decades — and that “fortune tellers” have been building on for centuries.  Things like:

  • reverse psychology (only works with meta-program mismatchers, which most psychologists don’t know)
  • the power of suggestion
  • self-fulfilling prophesies
  • time collapsing
  • analog marking
  • sensory based cues
  • future pacing
  • reframing
  • toward/away-from behavior
  • motivational drivers
  • ideomotor responses
  • trance inductions


Once you understand and work with all the presuppositions that can be made about the unconscious mind, and set out to gather the information that people are communicating all the time — and know that wherever there is a “transmiter” there is a “receiver” — then the amount of useable and useful data for a “cold” reading spikes off the charts.  As long as you are working with an experienced, intentional, honest, and healthy reader — then, YES.  The process is real.

That doesn’t mean it is what most people think it is — but something very real is happening.
Communication is happening.
Understanding is happening.
Help and emotional health are happening.

Can you tell the future?

No more or less than you can.   Maybe a little better than you can — I’ve been paying attention.

Nothing is set in stone or unchangeable.  Everything is in flux right up until it isn’t.  But some odds are pretty good.  If you do X and Y always happens, then chances are — if you do X again, Y will happen again.  It’s about that simple.  If you start to do X and then –STOP.  Then it’s pretty clear Y is off the list.

Do you worship Satan?

I beg your pardon?  Has anybody here mentioned Satan?  Or God for that matter?  This isn’t about religion — it’s about psychology and the human mind and behavior and wandering lost in a dark world looking for understanding.

And no.  I don’t.  As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who actually does.
What a stupid question.

Do you believe in angels, the Loch Ness Monster, aliens, werewolves, gremlins, vampires, the Illuminati, Skull and Bones Society, Freemasons, Big Foot, The Magician’s Club of Santa Barbara, or flesh eating bacteria?

Thanks, I had crazy in the corporate world.  I think I’ll pass.


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