As a retiree with a fair amount of time on my hands and no pressing income concerns, I sometimes contemplate what I can offer to the divination community that is within my power to give. I’m not much into volunteering my time and effort to “good causes;” I’m presently re-reading Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, and it strikes me that — although I don’t use cocaine or opium and I don’t suffer from debilitating bouts of lassitude and depression — I have much in common with the celebrated sleuth’s introverted personality. I’d rather observe, think and write than host classes or lead seminars, although I do get great pleasure from reading the cards for others. On my previous blog, Parsifal’s Wheel Tarot and Astrology, I gave freely of the knowledge gained over more than four decades of study and practice in the esoteric arts and, more to the point, I offered free use of well over 200 tarot and Lenormand spreads of my own design. The blog was mainly an outlet for my creative writing, and having an audience or clientele was secondary to being able to say whatever I felt like on the subject of divination.
Recently, a world-famous tarot author thanked me for my generosity of spirit in giving her permission to use one of my ideas in a class she will be conducting in China. This is the second time over the last few years that she has honored me with her appreciation, and that recognition is certainly a high point of my career as a diviner. I’m not trying to make a lot of money at these pursuits (although I did offer an online reading service on my old blog), so whatever I launch into cyberspace is intended for public consumption with no strings attached. I do expect, however, that my claim to copyright will be respected and that nobody will pilfer my material for their own monetary gain without permission (apart from using my spreads in their professional practice).
In the present incarnation of my blogging adventure, I am for the most part limiting myself to narratives of greater length and depth on topics that are more complex than those I presented in the three-paragraph essays that were the mainstay of my previous work. I’ve been diligently plugging away at merging many of those brief expositions into lengthier pieces that better fit the expectations of this platform and its readers. At the moment I’m not planning to publish many more spreads or example readings for them, and will instead expand the metaphysical and philosophical range of my writing. The goal is to encourage profound thinking on the subject of divination given the current resurgence of public interest of the more casual, social kind that does not yet seem to run very deep.
Lately I’ve taken to thinking of myself as “Divinosaurus Recidivus,” a divinatory throwback. Sometimes I feel like a displaced “dinosaur,” and at other times I’m more a “cosmic anomaly” like the Douglas Adams protagonist Arthur Dent — a walking anachronism on one hand and a “man-out-of-time” on the other — with one foot planted firmly in the cartomantic past and the other tentatively treading the future of the art, but with little affinity for the populist sentiments of present-day online culture. As a card-carrying “old guy” (see, it says “AARP” at the top), I find myself returning often to my roots in late-19th-Century esotericism, and sometimes slipping even farther back into the historical tarot of the Renaissance, while at the same time constantly seeking to adapt their virtues for post-modern use. Whether I’m providing a public service by posting my observations here or simply seizing the opportunity to indulge my personal beliefs is open to debate.
The “dinosaur within” takes a dim view of the “fast-food” internet culture that would rather push a button in an app than shuffle a deck of cards or travel half-an-hour for a sit-down reading session. But the “21st-Century Man” in me looks forward to the day when “how tarot works” can be explained empirically in terms of quantifiable phenomena, not anecdotal “feel-good” testimonials. In my own practice I don’t have much use for “tarot as therapy,” or “tarot as entertainment;” rather than being herded into either fold, I’ll take my chances as an old-fashioned “fortune-teller” since psychological hair-splitting doesn’t often intrude into my action-and-event-based readings.
I’m a dedicated prognosticator, not a spiritual or secular cheerleader (aka “life-coach”). Doing otherwise is tantamount to wandering into a minefield of unsubstantiated suspicions, presumptions and misconceptions about the vagaries of human nature that I will leave to the psychoanalysts; I choose not to fan the fire of anyone’s idle curiosity. I’m aware that the cynical attitude is “The customer is always right” so why not just go ahead, take their money and feed their fantasies about so-and-so or such-and-such, but I never feel like I’m offering anything truly worthwhile by saying “Yes, your ex really wants you back” or “Joe at the office thinks about you all the time.” My generosity of spirit doesn’t extend to handing out baseless bullshit with a straight face, no matter how much encouraging hyperbole I might be tempted to wrap it in.
My primary objective in reading the cards for others is to give them practical insights about future possibilities that they can use in productive ways. I’ve long grown past the allure of personality profiling that fascinated me during my early years with the tarot. To be honest, I’ve used natal and predictive astrology to much greater effect for that purpose, and still find them more precise and accurate than the tarot for character analysis. Reading the cards is largely anecdotal, relying much more heavily on inspiration, imagination and ingenuity (my less mystical stand-ins for “intuition”) than on observable characteristics encoded in patterns of cosmic energy, and as such it doesn’t have the historical database of semi-empirical evidence that one finds with astrology. I’m far more comfortable exploring the “what,” “why,” and “how” of any forecast than trying to play “mid-reader” by figuring out the intentions and motives of a seeker’s person of interest.
I love to read the cards for other people in a face-to-face setting where I can give them timely input while also benefiting from their prompt feedback. From the diviner’s standpoint there is an immediacy to it, a stimulating “sink-or-swim, think on your feet, don’t look down” kind of exhilaration that can’t be duplicated in remote reading scenarios where we can sit sipping coffee in our pajamas while puzzling over a difficult spread for someone on the other side of the world. I do online readings now, but only on my own terms. I sometimes feel like I’ve put myself “out to pasture” by doing so because the pace is so sedentary, but at least I get to hone my storytelling skills. On the other hand, writing up a reading definitely takes a lot more time than a spoken-word presentation, and it is less amenable to sudden epiphanies of inspired wordplay. I like nothing better than dropping a trenchant metaphor on a sitter out-of-the-blue and seeing that sudden light of comprehension dawn where before there was only bewilderment. It does the ol’ carnivore’s heart good to still be able to “bite down to the bone” now and then rather than just “chewing the fat.” As an author my goal is to bring that same provocative sense of empowerment to the written word in a way that inspires and enlightens.