left biblioblography: Written In The Cards? Actually, No It Isn’t.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Written In The Cards? Actually, No It Isn’t.

Cross posted @ Atheist Oasis2010.01.13.tarot

And that deck of Tarot cards
Won't get you very far
There ain't no hand to break your fall – Lazlo Bane

While we rage at the monolithic madnesses of religion gone wild, sometimes we forget all the small flotsam and jetsam that float down the river, little slivers of silliness that can chip away at the meme stream of critical thought. And there’s so many. There’s astrology, numerology, feng shui, reflexology – the laundry list is long.

As I’ve had a lot of experience with some of the older foolishnesses, I think that I can speak from some (anecdotal) authority about them. Of course, I was in my twenties, I hung around a lot of stoners who’d read LotR (to the extent that we had a Fellowship Of The Bong – and yes, I did manage to get laid during high school, so shut it), and pissed away a great deal of resources and money by squandering it on those ‘forbidden topics’, the sort that are have their own section in the library (you know whereof I speak – where Von Daniken is paired up with the Bigfoot books). I did ‘witchcraft’ in my teens, and wolfed down multiple occultic books throughout my early to late twenties.

The truth of it, is that children are not only testing barriers, but struggling to find some sort of niche in the general herd, and also finding something that makes them stand out. Likelihood is that we all know what I’m talking about, so I’ll not deconstruct the mindset. Sufficient to say, those of us who had little or no athletic skill, weren’t extraordinarily attractive, or had some other major perceived dysfunction, tended to flock to the fringe cliques where our…discrepancies wouldn’t be outed at the top of someone’s lungs, or made a constant target. Nutshelling it: self-esteem problems make you do the nuttiest ass things. For me it was the occult. I got to the point where I could (somehow) influence dice being thrown, read an ephemeris, and yes, I could read a ‘mean’ tarot.

Mind you, I did this sort of nonsense as a way to attract attention to myself. It also helps when you are doing a reading at a party where everybody is in some state of intoxication, which makes people more malleable to suggestion.

The easy answer is that yes, it is a load of unmitigated crap. The long version is somewhat interesting. The Tarot is

(first known as tarocchi, also tarock and similar names), pronounced /ˈtæroʊ/, is a pack of cards (most commonly numbering 78), used from the mid-15th century in various parts of Europe to play a group of card games such as Italian tarocchini and French tarot. From the late 18th century until the present time the tarot has also found use by mystics and occultists in efforts at divination or as a map of mental and spiritual pathways.

So the cards aren’t the ‘beginnings’ of all card games (like astrology is to astronomy), nor are they as ancient as most think (there is an Egyptian variant that has the design of ancient Egypt). If you were ever to pick up a book on the topic, you’d find long involved explanations for each card, both major and minor arcana, and their uses in cross-reference to other cards dependent on spread. It’s just as easy to bend the ‘interpretation’ of said cards to one’s own vision as it is the bible, or any other ‘sacred’ text. So it is one part extensive context, one part playing with people’s minds, and one part cold reading.

On my part, every time I see a tarot deck get whipped out, I immediately call bullshit. Perhaps a little more diplomatically than that, but not by much. Because people who do astrological readings, tarot cards, psychic ‘visions’ are classified (in my book) the same as priest, ministers, and rabbis. They’re lazy little parasites who should get a real job, and try actually doing something to benefit society, not rip it off.

Till the next post, then.

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