Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Reading and the reader's responsibility

It has been said that readers have difficulties in keeping their own personal experience from the reading... In my mind the reader SHOULD read the cards by her own personal experience and feelings.
You shouldn't be listening to the words the questioner gives you, but the words the cards give you.
You shouldn't be thinking about the wisest advice you can give, you should be giving the advice the cards give.
A lot of my reading consists of "I think about this and this, I don't know what it has to do with your situation, but I'm sure you do." I share a lot of stories when I read cards, because that is how my mind works. I drag the words from my experience, my knowledge, my wisdom, my treasury of tales and anecdotes, variating from classic fairytales and Biblical stories to Readers' Digest fillers and things I saw in television.

I would also probably be a bad reader, as I don't fear death, illnesses and despair. I am not afraid of the Dark Mother, Death nor Swords. Life goes on after death, the Tower of Babylon came tumbling down, but the humanity survived and is a better place today because of the hundreds of different languages.
I don't think you should try to invent a positive meaning to Death, Tower, Three of Swords or four pages on the table. "Yes, I see serious illness, I see serious trouble, but don't get frightened. It's part of life. You are to be prepared, think about how to deal with it when it arrives."
I am reminded of my father's cancer, and what a shock the news were.
I am thinking of all the homosexuals in the world who fear telling their loved ones the truth, who rather hide and lie about themselves than risk loosing the relationship, and nine times out of ten, their loved ones already knew.
I am thinking of my husband's father who refused to believe he was dying, so when his time came, he wasn't ready and went down fighting, kicking and screaming and insane of fear.
I am thinking of my grandmother who wasn't told she was dying, so she didn't take any precautions, didn't organize her business and things, but left a mess to her daughters to clean up.
I am thinking of my brother-in-law, who told my sisters first that he had cancer, and then to his wife, who freaked out totally by seeing my serious sisters in the room. He thought they would be able to help and support her, she would have appreciated if he'd told him in private.
I am also thinking of the father who killed his son when told the boy would have a difficult life.
I am thinking of the power of mind, and people's ability to either heal themselves or make themselves sick.
I am thinking of self-realizing prophecies and predictions. What you are afraid of will come.
I am also thinking of that divination is an image of the most probable future in this moment, and you can change it by changing what you are doing now. Perhaps you haven't been to mammography for a while now, and it's time... perhaps you haven't gone to your yearly check-up? Perhaps you could change your lifestyle? Perhaps you could take this as a wake-up call, and start doing things differently, start putting your economy in order, being with your friends, straightening the priorities? I believe we often get sick, because that is the only way God can stop you from harming yourself.
I am not sick nor dead today, so I could stop and enjoy the flowers and take that slow walk in the park and laugh at the playing dogs and eat that ice cream and write that letter, today, while I still can. Perhaps the "bad" cards are just a warning or a reminder of that life is good, and you are here to enjoy it, not to rush through it as if it was a competition.
Sky is blue to everyone, the same rain falls to the rich and the poor, the same wind caresses the sick and the healthy. There is beauty to be enjoyed for everyone, but everyone has to enjoy it for themselves ;-)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Minor Arcana Royalty

The Dressed Cards are actually a group of their own. They follow the suits, but don't represent a thought the same way as pips and major arcana. They represent people, fair and square. Now, there are people who disagree about this. Of course, I disagree on many things with my fellow tarot readers, and the funny thing is that none of us is wrong...

The traditional interpretation is that Cups are blonde, Scandinavian type people, Coins are redheads, Staffs are brunettes and Swords blackhaired and -eyed people. This has been adjusted a lot during the times, people have been trying to fit in non-Caucasian people, and placed dark-skinned people in Staffs and Asian people in Swords, but in the end, looks don't matter that much. It's the impression that matters.
The impression is the one of the questioner, not the reader. We all have different impressions on people. A motherly woman is something for one and totally different for another. One perhaps thinks all mothers are like Joan Crawford, another sees a bun-baking 50's housewife, nurturing, self-sacrificing woman. A third sees a modern woman with career, who will defend her pups to the last drop of blood when needed.

Pages are children, knights are teenagers, queens women and kings men. It really is that simple. What makes it a bit more complicated is that we don't always act our age... Some people were born old, some won't grow one day older how long they ever live. We have heard "boys grow until they are five, after that it's only their toys that grow". Very generalizing and wrong assumption, but some boys (and girls) are like that. They would be presented with a page, even when they are over 30, 40 and 50 by their birth certificate. We have the Lost Boys and Girls, who will be presented with knights.

I am a fairytale fantast, fantasy reader and medievalist, so to me page and knight are important - king and his page, queen and her knight.
In some decks the names have been changed; page to princess, knight to prince, in an effort to equalize "the family" and to modernize the deck. (The court cards are sometimes seen as a family; King the Father, Queen the Mother, Knight the Son and Page the Daughter.)

Young noble boys were sent to a foreign court to be trained. They were supposed to be small helpers, running errands, fetching things, standing by you ready to help, like a surgery nurse. In the Victorian times, this job was switched from males to females, and fell to unmarried women in the family. "Fetch my shawl, take this book back, fetch the book and read to me, walk the dog, comb Harriet's hair..."
For Alistair Crowley to change the name from Page to Princess was not a good move. I don't know what he was thinking. That a lot of women have taken the practice in use with gratitude is understandable, after all, tarot cards, just as any other old tradition, is very male dominant, and it is not nice when you are a woman. Nevertheless, it's not a good idea to change the name of the card, and making the pages female... not a good idea either. Most feminists don't wish to enhance the female servitude and docility any further. Also, making the page a girl instead of a boy is a better idea, because of the meaning of the card. Princesses don't run errands, deliver messages or fetch forgotten things.

Some pages and princesses of Cups

Another pet peeve of mine is Golden Dawn and Paradosi (Western Esoteric Kabbalah, distorted version of the Real Jewish thing, and shouldn't be called with the Jewish name either.)
Tarot is a perfect, complete divination system and doesn't need to be tainted with astrology, paradosi, numerology or other such things.
Tarot works on the subconscious symbolical level, you are to read the 1000 words hidden in the picture, and these words are always different depending on the company and situation.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The value of Minor Arcana

People have been discussing the Major Arcana very thoroughly and ignoring the Minors, as if they don't mean as much. I have been pottering with Divination for some 30 years now, and I know the Minors are just as important and influential as the Majors. Very much of it has to do with the "High Magicians" who frown at witches and other "low" magic practitioners. Gypsies read playing cards, REAL Divinators read Major Arcana. Now, I happen to have very much respect to the Gypsy Divination. With the dozens of "oracles" being published every year, people should have understood the concept of reading cards.

Minor Arcana cards are not "more general". They are exactly as general and specific as the Major Arcana. "Lesser Secret" doesn't sound as nice as "Greater Secret", but believe me, that's just wizardry.
It has also been said that as the Major Arcana presents the Universal Influences in one's life, the Minor Arcana presents the small everyday problems. But, frankly, if you look at your life, you don't give a damn about whether your problems are shared by no-one else or millions of other people. I am really rather upset about this minimizing of the home sphere, spin side, domestic values and influences. In the end, it all comes to whether you sleep well, eat well, breathe well and exercise. Wars have been fought because of minor problems in homes.

Another problem I see is the connection to Astrology. Sure, it helps - sometimes - but is often an obstacle to understanding the cards. I know I had a lot of problems, because people disagree very much on which element to connect with which suit, and if you are used to think "wand=fire", you will have problems in using a deck where wands are connected to air or earth. One of my favorite decks connects Cups with air, while 99% of other decks connect Cups with water.

Wands, Staffs, Clubs or what ever you wish to call these, are connected to trees.
Coins, Pentacles, Diamonds or what ever you call these, are connected to stones and minerals.
Cups, Bowls, Chalices, Hearts... are connected to heart.
Swords, Blades, Spades are connected to sharp tools.

Wands talk about drive and ambition. Wands can be as quick to grow as willow, as steadfast and mighty as oak-trees, as vulnerable as any forest to fire and axes and plows, as relentless as the forest that covers the ancient cities in South America and Asia. Look at wands and see weeds. Look at wands and see rose garden. Look at wands and see a field of golden wheat.

Coins talk about possession, economy, stability, security. Coins are not only about gold, silver and jewels, it's about salt of life, nutrition and minerals necessary for life. Coins are also about the ground you are standing on, the mountains and cliffs, granite deep under your feet that supports you.

Cups are about emotions, ideals, wishes and dreams; what your heart is filled with. It's not only about love and relationships, it's about your dreams and desires, ideals and ideologies, what you believe in, what you enjoy, what you envy, what you reach for. It's about dreamwork, castles in clouds and wishing wells, Fairy Godmothers and magical reality.

Swords are about battle and obstacles. Some times you must fight your way through the thicket to get to the castle to awaken the princess. Some times you must use the spade and dig the ditch to irrigate the field so that something might grow. You must plow the field to be able to sow and get a crop. You have to cut away the dead and rotten so that the wound can heal, otherwise it will poison the whole body. People are usually very afraid of Swords, as they tell you to stop, they warn you from heartbreak, obstacles, problems and fears, they say something you want is impossible, at least right now, in this form and manner. No-one wants to hear that.