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by Dr Adrian Vaughan Hillman
Now the Tarot is everywhere. You see advertisements for readings in every magazine and newspaper. Larger bookshops and every New Age shop will have a rack of guide books and a choice of maybe 20 different packs of cards for you to learn to read Tarot yourself. Tarot has certainly become big business and an ancient icon of the early 21st Century.
But do you know how the Tarot works and how it can be a help to you? What is the best way to go about a reading or if you are interested in learning to use the Tarot yourself, where do you start?
The first time that I glimpsed the Tarot Cards was in a Bond film, Dr No. The beautiful seer was using them. In a typical Bond story line, he seduces her using a fixed Rider Waite tarot deck, in which every card is The Lovers, the card six of the Major Arcana. You have to remember that back then this film was a state of the art action adventure, featuring the very latest in special effects and stunts. It was very serious stuff, rather than the black and white comedy that time has turned it into.
The Tarot is far more than a toy or a party game. It is more even than a method of divination of the past, present and future. The key to understanding the Tarot is that it is an expression of the language of the Universe, including the language of our own minds. The language of a computer is binary; it only has two letters, on and off. Our language is in base 36, in that we have 26 letters and 10 numbers by which we can express everything and communicate. The language of the mind and of the Universe is base 78 and each card represents a character in that Universal language. Instead of having letters and numbers as subgroups in this language, 40 of the characters represent states or conditions of being, 16 characters represent people and 22 characters represent the paths or the changes in life. All of life can be expressed in terms of these 78 characters.
The beauty of Tarot of a
language is that it is structured. The characters resemble numbers rather
than letters in that they relate to one another, albeit in a rather
complex fashion. The best metaphor that I can find is that the Tarot
expresses existence as a three dimensional chess board with 40 spheres
to represent squares. There are 16 different types of chess piece and
these pieces appear whenever your game overlaps another person's game.
The 22 different ways to move are essentially the highly complex rules
of the game.
The History of the Tarot
So where does all of this ancient wisdom come from? The earliest copies of the cards themselves are dated back to fourteenth century France, probably protected from the rampages of the Catholic Church by the fact that there is a card game in France which is played to this day with Tarot Cards. This game is similar to other card games that involve tricks and trumps. The Tarot is surprisingly similar to a normal pack of cards in that there are 4 suits which run from Ace to Ten. This gives the 40 'state' cards. Each suit also has court cards associated with it, although a Page is added to the familiar Jack (called a Knight), Queen and King. These cards, known as the Minor Arcana are traditionally as plain as the faces of the playing cards that we see today. The rest of the cards that denote paths, known as the Major Arcana, always contain dramatic symbolic figures on them and so these had to be lost to avoid persecution for witchcraft in the Middle Ages in Europe. We cannot be 100% sure that the Tarot existed before this time but we can say with a high degree of certainty that the Church did not keep the 'tools of witchcraft' in public museums. Roman has the reputation of being highly skilled at annihilating their philosophical enemies from history.
Whether or not the cards existed before then, the texts that they represent did exist before that time. They are the esoteric texts of the Jews. Whilst the ordinary Hebrew populace went about their lives feeding themselves, having children and defending themselves, a small minority of mystic scholars would spend half their lives in mediation and the other half teaching, performing weddings and circumcisions and checking for other public health issues. The ordinary people did not need to know the complicated things about God. They needed to make God's Chosen People survive and prosper.
Moses had given them the first five books of the Old Testament as a set of laws and a symbolic creation myth. Remember that at the beginning of his leadership of the Jewish Nation, he had been willing to set down the magic of God onto stone tablets. He returned to find them worshipping a golden calf, smashed the truth because it was too powerful to be entrusted to a group of uneducated ex-slaves and went back up the mountain to write a simple version, the Ten Commandments. With this, Moses set the standard for the two tier Jewish society, in which the majority of the people know enough to be morally correct and have time to do productive things for the society.
This allowed the small number of Rabbis to be supported in their research into rediscovering the magic of Moses. What is hallowed as their most powerful study is a book called the Kabbalah, a book so powerful that it was written in a numerical code to stop the uninitiated from understanding its contents, or more worryingly, their enemies using it against them. The Kabbalah includes the pictures and explanations of the Tree of Life, which represents the mechanism of Creation and the remaining structure of the Universe at all levels.
This is documented as a 12th
Century book of Hebrew mysticism but it may well date back as far as
Moses. Moses happened to be brought up as an Egyptian prince in a society
the believed in the magic of numbers. If the records of the Old Testament
are correct, it is easy to assume that Moses learned the magical 78
charactered language in Ancient Egypt. One intermediate link along the
way of this tradition is the Seal of Solomon, which was then simplified
into the Star of David, the traditional symbol of Judaism. The original
is a very strong Kabbalistic symbol, suggesting that Solomon managed
to piece together the meanings of the broken tablets of stone which
were probably kept in or with the Ark of the Covenant in the first Temple
The heritage of the Tarot also shows that it is not evil in terms of a Christian God, since that is the God that gave this language to the Jews. It is only that the Christian Churches have in the past seen themselves as the only link that an ordinary person has with God. The Tarot challenged this, their only source of power and domination of society during the Middle Ages. The Tarot is a means by which an individual can reach God, since it is the essence of God's own Universal language.
I started using the Tarot when I was a completely rational person. You do not have to leave your rationality behind to use the Tarot or to benefit from a Tarot reading. Magic is only what science cannot explain or replicate. Show your laptop to a person from the Middle Ages and they would have you toasting nicely on a stake before you could explain that silicon chips are really bits of organized sand and a bit of electrickery.
Remember, the Tarot is the language of your mind. Your conscious mind works with words. Certainly that part of the mind that is constantly talking you in words. Some people call this voice the Internal Dialogue. It tells you lots of things about yourself and a few of them are good, like your hopes and objectives. Most of these whisperings in your mind are very limiting though, reminding you of your fears and assumed limitations, or telling you what society, your parents or your peers expect of you. This Inner Dialogue natters away to you constantly, continuously fogging your clarity of thought. What if you are able to access that clarity of thought?
Through our lives we face highly complex decisions that involve so many factors all at the same time. People end up in bad relationships and marriages when blinded by a partner's obvious benefits, good sex, lots of money, all my girlfriends like him because he is so good at talking to them and they are really jealous that I have such a charming man, I must get married and she is the best I will ever get Most of these blind suggestions come from your Inner Dialogue. If you were able to listen to your whole mind, you would be able to get a balanced view before making your life changing decisions.
We ask a lot of our minds. We take in a lot of information that bypasses our conscious mind. There is a saying to trust your first impressions of people because words and actions are easy to fake. It is easy to make a person like you with words but it is far more difficult to falsify your body language. Most people's conscious minds hardly notice the deeper signs of insincerity. Would you like to access the deeper parts of your mind that do know better?
Put simply, the Tarot can allow you to reach the parts of your mind that know better.
You will normally see this referred to as a part of the subconscious by psychologists as a part of a catch all that includes our automatic responses to stress, hunger and sex and the part of our mind that still thinks that it lives in a cave. I prefer to call the part of the mind that is cleverer than our everyday consciousness the super-conscious.
By far the most common reason that I use the Tarot for people is so that I can break through their psychological barriers. I use it to clarify the past and present. The typical example of a reading is 'should I stay in this relationship?' It is possibly the most common question that a Tarot reader will hear. This is not about the future but about clarity of thought. Two cards represent more than anything how a person really feels about their partner, the one that represents their hopes and the one that represent their fears. If they hope for arguments and fear happiness and stability, then they want the relationship to break up. Then you look at their past cards and see if they have issues from previous relationships that they need to clear up before they can have a good relationship with anybody. The people that are in a good relationship fall into two categories. The first is those that have problems coming from that do not really relate to their partner, like previous bad experience or a mother that does not like their partner. The reason for the person's doubts will be elucidated and they can be reassured. The last group of people is those that are happy in their relationship and know it, but they think that a Tarot reading would be a bit of fun and they cannot think of anything else safe to ask about. To an extent they are testing the Tarot reader, since they already know the answer.
Testing the Tarot
Testing is a good thing sometimes. At medical school I was taught to analyse and test everything. I am not quite sure that they expected me to set up my own Tarot experiment but that is exactly what I did. I offered Tarot readings to 20 complete strangers. Usually you would get a person to tell you which question that they wanted to be answered, at least the general area. As you go through the reading you discuss each finding with them card by card. That is exactly what I did not do. I did the reading and the interpretation completely blind.
In all of the readings I was able to tell the person the question that they were asking and about their past and present situation.
That proved two things to me. The first thing that is fundamental to the validity of the Tarot is that it is possible for my super-conscious mind to shuffle the cards into an appropriate order for them to produce a significant reading. The second thing that this experiment proved to me was that my super-conscious could know things about another person that my conscious mind did not register.
Is it really possible to shuffle cards into order? According to stage 'magicians' who do card tricks, the answer is yes. The first skill that your conscious mind needs to perfect is to know how to split a pack consistently, so that you know the exact number of cards in a pile. This is well within the realms of discrimination of the human eye and the motor skills required to achieve this are attainable too. The more difficult skill that needs to be acquired by the conscious mind is memorizing the position of all of the cards in the pack with each shuffle. Again this is done by stage 'magicians' and also card sharks. Casinos have worked out that it is too easy to remember a 52 card pack and so they usually run on either a four or even six pack decks to stop people from 'counting cards'. Many casinos have lists of people that they have banned for being more than lucky!
So it is possible to train
the conscious mind to shuffle cards into order with lots of training
and the chance to shuffle them very slowly. My results suggest that
it is possible for us to do this in the super-conscious without any
training. Basically, if you give the super-conscious an alphabet in
its own language it can make a complex sentence of the characters.
Obviously the super-conscious is picking up far more clues than body language and intonation of voice. Even if you add an aura to the information that those will give you, I have never heard anybody claim that they could give you the level of information that I was getting. There are two possibilities that have been proven beyond reasonable doubt as latent human abilities, telepathy and object reading.
Yes, the existence of people that are telepathic has been proven. There are a small minority of people that are able to consistently score over 80% with those cards with circles and squares and squiggly patterns on them. You do not hear much about these results because scientists want to forget about their implications and the researchers who used to do the experiments have such good evidence that they have moved onto other areas of research now that the existence of telepaths has been proven. The same is true of object reading being statistically proven under laboratory conditions. Object reading is the ability to know the history of the owner of an item, simply by touching it.
Knowing these two possible mechanisms, I gave myself the best chance by continuously being in physical contact with the recipient of the reading. Generally we would both sit cross legged on the floor and my left knee would be in contact with their right knee. It seems to work and to make sense that the person doing and the person receiving the reading should be in physical contact to allow the best possible connection between them and I would usually do that in my readings.
It is only habit and my personal ritual that I continue to do this as my preferred method of Tarot reading. I also do reading from a distance for people that I know and the accuracy of the results is still reproducible. In some ways it is the memory of what they feel like that I conjure as I am preparing to consult the cards.
To fully believe in Tarot reading at a distance you have to have a total belief in the Collective Unconsciousness, as described by Carl Jung, one of the two founders of modern day psychology. The concepts of the Collective Unconsciousness are that we are all linked together, where ever we are. He may have been one of the founders of modern psychology but psychologists prefer to view this concept as a spiritual belief of his, rather than a psychological fact. At the moment the right side of my mind, the artistic and intuitive side that I am developing more and more, knows that we are all joined and that the Tarot is a method of tapping into this. At the same time the left side of my brain, the side that is rational and was trained as a mathematician and doctor, refuses to believe in something that would directly assault its limited view of reality and sanity.
Tarot readings from a distance are perfectly possible if we accept telepathy as a latent ability that we are unable to tap into. Or rather, the Tarot is a means to tap into our latent telepathy. In fact it is not strictly telepathy that is being used. The transmission of emotion is better called Empathy. We all know from experience that it is easier to pick up on another person's emotions than their thoughts. We all recognize when our friends have a 'black cloud over their head' or when a person is 'full of the joys of spring'. Transmission of emotion is something that happens very easily. We can feel another person's intent, their gaze. Look around at people with complete disinterest and nobody with notice. Focus on them with anger, lust or love and the person will lock eyes with you.
Are You Empathic?
Most people have tried the game where you guess what the other person is drawing but try this. Select six emotionally charged words, for instance beauty, kindness, lust, violence, excitement and depression. Number the words from one to six so that you can use a dice to randomly decide which one of the six will be used.
Turn your back to the person that you are playing the game with. It is up to you if you are in physical contact with them, sitting back to back, or if you are a little distance away from one another. The closeness dictates the strength of the link between you. If you are touching, you are sharing at every level, effectively using object reading. If you are about a metre apart, you will be able to share emotions through your auras. If you are over two metres apart, or in different rooms, then your connection will be purely through the Collective Unconsciousness.
The person giving out the signal should concentrate on one of the words that has been randomly selected, with the help of drawing a picture that represents that word to them, or writing a few lines on it. They could even think of a piece of music that typifies that emotion to them. The important thing is that they must feel the emotion of that word. The other person, the recipient of the emotion must relax, clear their mind and send their concentration to their partner in the game.
Take a break to clear your mind of that emotion and repeat this game ten times as the sender and ten times as the recipient. Add up your scores for each of you. At a standard level of medical proof, the pair of you have a psychic link if you can both score 3/10 or more. This is the level of proof that the medical profession will take for an operation to be beneficial or to start you on life long drugs and tell you to put up with the side effects.
These are just faked emotions. To perform the test perfectly, you need to learn to fully immerse yourself as the sender in the emotion that you are trying to feel and to completely relax and empty you mind as the recipient of the emotion. It is possible to train for this, feeling one another's emotions without words. Learning to meditate helps with the act of clearing the mind and of focusing it.
Our true emotions are stronger
but more complex. It is the complexity of our emotions that make them
very difficult to test scientifically. In terms of the Tarot, its significance
is that it is the most sensible way to express somebody else's complex
emotions, simply because it is the language in which they are being
Further Tarot References