Every Tarot reader must develop along the way a philosophy about their craft. It's different for every person, because everyone's personal experience with Tarot is unique. This is also why someone can go to two different readers who use the exact same deck, and get two completely different outcomes. Before I continue with this informative series on Tarot, I thought it would be best if I told you guys my own theories about Tarot, so you can become familiar with my perspective.
Many skeptics believe that Tarot is something of a superstition. Something that only desperate people who are incapable of making their own choices use to feel better about their life. It's a harsh opinion, but trust me, I have had many conversations with people about Tarot, and the resentment that I've found against it is tremendous. Some dismiss the cards because of a religious background that claims using any form of divination is Devil worship. Others attack them based on scientific principle, and think that Tarot readers are just scam artists hoping to make a quick buck off of someone whose fallen on hard times.
There was a time in classical history when philosophy, spirituality and science were interwoven subjects of study. The greatest philosophers of ancient Greece from Pythagoras to Plato embraced a holistic view of the cosmos, unlike the extreme polarized environment found today. In those days, some of the greatest minds came together in the first Academies. They made amazing discoveries and great scientific advancements. Around the turn of the Millennium, a great melting pot had convened around the Mediterranean, and the best minds of ancient human civilization met together in the great halls of the Library of Alexandria and in the underground caverns of the Mystery Schools. An eclectic blend of the great arts emerged, only to be quickly snuffed out with the coming of the Dark Age. The books of antiquity burned as religious zealots one after another destroyed the remnants of a golden age we may never know the extent of.
It was at this time that those who wished to save any ancient knowledge that went against church doctrine disappeared. They were forced to keep their wisdom secret, because saying the wrong thing to the wrong person could mean torture and death. The term occult is a verb that means to "cut off from view". I mention this because society and the media have so much fear surrounding the use of this word, and anything that remotely relates to it. The Occult is simply knowledge and wisdom that was "cut off from view" for a while in order to preserve the information and to keep the men and women who protected it from burning at the stake. This includes Kabbalah, Hermetic Philosophy, Egyptian and Eastern Science and anything that went against the very narrow definition of history espoused by the then highly tyrannical Roman Catholic Church.
There was a reason that when the Age of Enlightenment dawned, there was a flooding of interest in classical antiquity. Every philosopher from Immanuel Kant, to Sir Francis Bacon toSir Isaac Newton, couldn't get enough of pre-christian Roman and Greek philosophy, because it represented a knowledge and wisdom that once thrived in humanity. They had to resurrect this great heritage. If it wasn't for these men, what little information had survived the Dark Ages might have been lost forever. At this time, Occult knowledge also began to come to light. Information that had been suppressed for thousands of years resurfaced. The art of Alchemy was practiced once again by men and women of genius, Newton among them.
It was as if a seed lied dormant in the ground for centuries, and these fresh minds poured water on it. Over time, the lost wisdom from the past fed the thirsty branches of modern science and philosophy until it began to flower. It was during this time that Tarot emerged, one of many gifts handed down to us from that age.
Modern Tarot emerged from the minds of Occultists who spent decades of their life pouring over volumes of information from ancient Greece and Egypt to the Great Alchemists of the Renaissance to the scientific studies leading up to the Victorian Age. The women who illustrated decks like the Rider Waite Smith and the Golden Dawn were highly respected Priestesses of Wisdom who were tasked with transcending time and becoming the Oracles of Modern Man. They used this knowledge and embedded it in the symbols and vivid imagery used in those decks, and now we have them today as a window into a collective wisdom of humanity that stretches from Ancient Egypt to the Twentieth Century.
It is the historian and anthropologist in me that first fell in love with Tarot. I saw in it's pictures a key, a link to our past and a bridge towards our future. Within those 78 cards are found nearly all of nature's archetypes. In them sits a blueprint of possibility and potential. Carl Jung, one of the father's of modern psychology, based a large portion of his work on the study of archetype's or what he called "primordial images". He wrote in The Psychology of Individuation (1921), "The great problems of life...are always related to the primordial images of the collective unconscious. These images are really balancing or compensating factors which correspond with the problems life presents in actuality. This is not to be marveled at, since these images are deposits representing the accumulated experience of thousands of years of struggle for adaptation and existence."
I agree with Jung. We are bombarded from infancy, whether metaphysically or psychologically, with remnants and fragments of our collective history. Through the way our parents interact with us, we are given a glimpse into their past, we are shown character traits passed down from generations ago. Everything we do is influenced by the archetypal forces at work in the subconscious mind of humanity. If we understand these archetypes, these primordial images, then we can gain a higher perspective on the events of not only our personal histories, but that of the whole of creation.
When I give someone a Tarot reading, they are coming to me with a problem. It is likely that though their problem is unique in their experience, it still fits within the realm of a specific pattern. One that countless others have also experienced. As I unveil the cards, and they look at the images, they cannot help but be effected by the symbolic representation of the card in relation to their underlying issue. Each card represents a stage of human life, a common personality trait, or a recurring mythological character.
When we have a problem, it is very difficult to remain unbiased. The answers and solutions become muddied and unclear and that is usually when we turn to others for guidance. The problem is, sometimes we go to our best friend, our pasture, our mother, or our spouse for answers - but their perspectives are also clouded by their personal experiences, biases and judgement's.
The same holds true for the counselor, psychologist and Tarot Reader. However, a good psychologist, spiritual coach or diviner realizes that the answers the querent seeks do not come from them. They are merely a channel that allows the seeker to journey through their own mind and discover the path that they would most like to take. The Tarot is a fantastic way to achieve this. When the seeker looks at the cards, and a generic explanation of the symbols are given, the Reader can gently take them on a walk through their psyche, using the card as a prompt, and help them discover the 'missing pieces' to the puzzle. When they discover the answer was within them all along, they become empowered, and gain clarity.