Wednesday, August 13, 2008

On Tarot: Sigh UPDATED

I spent a couple of days reading a very harsh Tarotist and critic. It put me in a truly dark mood so I had to stop for a bit.

I thought I was over it. But today, I came across Mary Greer’s blogged interview with someone who created a new Tarot deck:
[Mary Greer]: What was the initial inspiration for this deck?

LIZ: My stubborn, determined & picky Taurus rising! I wanted a deck with everything I find pleasing in tarot, and with nothing I find displeasing. I wanted Kings and Queens to look in love with each other, not angry or constipated looking, or on the verge of divorce.
I have so many concerns with this premise. Trevor just said it reminded him of a film called The Last Supper, made in the 90s and which I vaguely remember. In it, a group of liberal graduate students kill off extreme conservatives "to make the world a better place," basically, the way they want it. Of course it backfires.

In this person's description of her deck, she seems to want to force the world (as Tarot represents) into the exact mold she wants. Well, why would you even want to restrict it to only those things that please you? How can you learn more about yourself if you're never challenged, never made to feel a little uncomfortable?

Look, the God, Goddess, or the Big Bang (take your pick) created the good along with the bad. Death, rot and despicable human behavior is all a part of it and I can guarantee 'the bad' is going to be part of whoever you read for. So how can a deck be truly complete without the expression of human frailty? We-the-World have big freakin' problems, big ugly spots on our apple. We must not be afraid to look at them.

Now that said, Tarot is tough because cards are Art. Anyone should be able to create art without censorship. But can a deck like this, with a clear mandate, then be trusted as a tool and used on people? The fact that there even is an expressed mandate sounds off major warning bells for me.

(Side note: I never considered the Kings and Queens divorcing because it never occurred to me they were literally married (see my rant on masculine / feminine vs. male / female interpretations of a deck). Plus, I tend to see the harsh in them only when I need to see the harsh. The possibility must remain)

Now, before anyone gets angry, I understand the good intentions behind any deck and I appreciate anyone with the guts to get their art out there. I’m kind of surprised at my own reaction to it. Must be my Angry Bitch Rising. But it's an honest reaction, so I'll put it out there. This is part of my challenge, helping me decide what kind of reader I want to be. Luckily, the world is big enough for all of us.

p.s. I realize that I contradict myself between this post and my rant. I call the Hierophant misleading. But since I was raised a Catholic and read for many who are so familiar with the Western Christian tradition, perhaps it is the perfect image for me after all. I am inherently familiar with the good and the bad in this card. The blessing of everything that is good in a spiritual / religious community versus the warning of a system gone awry. For me to truly understand both, the Pope should probably stay, especially because he's uncomfortable.

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Blogger Marisa ~ 9:41 AM

Although the woman creating the "only positive" deck seems to miss this point, the tarot isn't literal. As you say, the queens and kings aren't intended to be literally married to each other, nor are they simply the symbolic representation of a single relationship. The fluidity of meaning is part of the art (or skill or what-have-you) of tarot reading, and using a deck that's meaningful to you is an important part of how it works.

Or maybe I'm talking out of my ass - you have read much more (and much more recently) about tarot than I have, I think. When I was more actively using the cards, the above was how I thought about the deck.  

Anonymous international divorce solicitors ~ 9:18 AM

I don't think this would really be a reason for a divorce would it. I am not sure how much power I feel tarot decks have? They got the gender of my first two kids correct by that a 50/50 chance isn't it/  

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