Tarot: Twelve Axioms

Take them for what they’re worth.

  1. It was originally a card game. It is still played as a game by some people. See “The Game of Tarot” by Michael Dummett.
  2. We will never know what the “true” original card order was, but it was probably close, if not the same, as in the “Tarot de Marseille“. Other areas in Italy quickly adopted the game and cards, but frequently changed the number, order, and other defining characteristics.
  3. The original meaning of the tarot was more felt and unconscious, than explicit and thought out. Any power it now has is from the power of the depicted archetypes. (We are more our parents children than we would like to admit).
  4. Though the Tarot originated at the beginning of the Renaissance, its iconography draws for the Middle Ages. The meaning of the cards did not have to be explained to people of the time. See “The Tarot Cards Painted by Bonifacio Bembo” by  Gertrude Moakley.
  5. Because the tarot cards meaning pulled from the collective culture that we’ve inherited so effectively, the original meaning of the trump cards, if not unchanged, is largely intact. The meaning of a few cards, though, specifically the Hanged Man, has dramatically changed. The Hanged Man, originally meaning a traitor to the city-government, is now taken more to mean someone unjustly accused.
  6. The Tarot was not used for divination prior to the late 18th century, and was not used in a fashion recognizable to a modern tarot reader until the mid to late 19th century.
  7. The iconography of the Rider-Waite deck, and the interpretation found in “The Pictorial Key To The Tarot” by Arthur Waite, formed the main stream of tarot we have inherited as readers today. His biggest gift in the field was to organize meanings for the minor cards with descriptive pictures.
  8. Arthur Waite was wrong to try to find a way to reconcile tarot and astrology, or any other metaphysical tradition. The resulting change in order of the trumps from that of the Tarot de Marseille should be rescinded.
  9. Aleister Crowley was a bad, bad man, and listening to anything he has to say imperils your very soul. The Thoth deck though does have some power and adherents, if you’re willing to walk a little on the dark side.
  10. Using the tarot for divination is no different than what is done in many other cultures or traditions. The I Ching for example works for the same reason that the tarot does. It’s just in Chinese, and requires a book.
  11. A tarot reading cannot predict the future, or more correctly predicts the future the same way the weather man predicts the weather. And you know how often he’s correct. What it can do is tell you what’s up now, for you. If a reader tells you something that’s really out in left field for you, you either need a new reader, or you have just found a large blind spot.
  12. The tarot, despite what I learned in church, is not anti-Christian. It is, though, a way of looking at the world that is similar to, but distinct from that which is generally taught. Just look at the progression of the Swords (standing for intellect) for an example. The tarot is generally for those that want to let their religious freak flag fly.
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