Monday, August 11, 2008

Just A Little More on Tarot

Okay, one more thing on Tarot so I don't forget it. I started my study of Tarot through the books and workshops of Mary K. Greer and Rachel Pollack. Mary Greer particularly likes to throw out the centuries old Tarot reading rules, encourages reinvention. I think the approach adds value, a chance to play in the waves.

But what's the saying? You first must know the rules to break them? I believe learning Tarot is a life-long process, including study. I don't begrudge it; throwing myself into deep study is a way of practicing. It can only deepen my connection to the subject. Any artist knows that understanding the greats only improves one's own attempts. Know it, then reinvent it.

A lot of Tarot readers today do like to say "I read intuitively. I just trust my gut." Study not required. Shit, it's advice I've even given to people I've read for. Well, folks, we all know that George W. Bush governs by gut instinct. Look how far it's gotten humanity.

Trusting your gut is a good start. But to do it exclusively is just plain lazy. And I've been lazy.

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2 comments:

Anonymous Mary K. Greer ~ 3:39 PM

I am commenting here because you mentioned on my blog that you wrote a reaction to my review of The Whispering Tarot here.

I read it and agree with much of what you say. However, I just couldn't pass by this statement of yours without commenting:

"Mary Greer particularly likes to throw out the centuries old Tarot reading rules, encourages reinvention."

It's true that I encourage creativity, exploration and making the tarot your own. However, I've never simply "thrown out" the old reading rules, nor do I recommend it. I do question them. I tend to question all taboos, because they are often masking deeper truths or unfounded fears. I keep and use what seems applicable in my life.

Etteilla's and de Mellet's are the only specific "centuries old" tarot reading techniques I know of. I've taught and written about them (see my blog). I also offer two first-hand descriptions of the playing card reading techniques of Madame Lenormand from almost two hundred years ago.

While I sometimes teach de Mellet's tarot spread in my classes, I don't teach Etteilla's interpretations. They can be found in various books and memorized, since, among the Pip cards, there is little rhyme or reason between a divinatory meaning and its card.

When teaching workshops I tend to focus on experiential processes rather than rote learning, using experiences that can be successfully done by participants with a whole range of tarot backgrounds from beginners to professionals. I find it's the most rewarding for everyone involved. And, yes, this kind of experiential learning does focus on creative play and exploration.

I've been known to say, "you can now throw out all the books," but this is to make a point. After that, I encourage people to go back to the books but to feel free to question and test what they find there. I don't believe everything I read, even if it's old.

In my books I reference the older texts and modern re-creations of those methods, like Paul Huson's Mystical Origins of the Tarot. My own book, a biography of four female magicians, Women of the Golden Dawn: Rebels and Priestesses details how an actual Golden Dawn tarot reading was done and expands on the interpretation using their rules. I sometimes teach these techniques, but the Golden Dawn method (invented by them) is only slightly over a hundred years old and tends to be scorned by tarot "purists" such as Huson.

I guess it would help me to know what "centuries old" tarot reading rules you find so important.

I'm enjoying your blog - especially the humor. Despite my rant above, I like the fact that you question everything.

Mary  


Blogger Working From Home Today ~ 4:34 PM

Okay, then I've misunderstood. And perhaps made a few assumptions. And not bought the right books.
((blush))

The thing is, I don't know what centuries-old traditions I'm specifically talking about. The whole entry was meant to be about my lack of study and how I need to put some meat behind my experiential work. I feel that I have to take my reading beyond "trust your gut" and "what do you see?"

While my study in experiential has been good, I lack knowledge in fundamental Tarot symbols and principles. And that is entirely my responsibility.  


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