Tarot As “Wave-Form”
A wave is described as “a traveling disturbance that carries energy from one place to another.” We might consider the flow of cards from one place (the first position) to another place (the last position) in a linear tarot spread to be a “wave-form,” with observable peaks and troughs along the way (a mix of fortunate and unfortunate cards punctuated by upright and reversed orientation), as well as amplitude (cards that stand out from the rest in their pronounced significance) and frequency (the repetition or reinforcement of similar emphases throughout the row of cards). I have occasionally crafted spreads where the upright cards in a line reading are placed above a “belt-line” and the reversed cards go below, creating a visual (although sometimes skewed) wave pattern from one end to the other. I can see how we might well view the resulting up-and-down oscillation as a disturbance of the querent’s private reality (which could just as easily mean “winning the lottery” as “getting run over by a bus”).
Recently, I’ve been having some fun thinking about Elemental Dignities and reversals in terms of wave mechanics. Dignity affects a card’s “amplitude:” the potency of its energy increases or decreases depending on whether it is well-dignified or ill-dignified by its proximity to elementally friendly or unfriendly adjacent cards. In the simplest terms, Fire and Air are friendly; Fire and Water are unfriendly; Fire and Earth are “neutral and supportive” (although I prefer to think of them as “complementary opposites” that coexist peacefully and neither hinder nor help one another all that much); Water and Earth are friendly; Water and Air are mutually neutral; and Air and Earth are unfriendly. Friendly cards in combination can build to a powerful “peak” in the series while unfriendly cards can subside to a weakened “trough;” nearby neutral cards create no bias either way.
Reversal might be seen as introducing “attenuation” in the form of indirect or muted testimony, or “modulation” as a reduced frequency in the appearance of common themes. Several reversed cards can send the reading off on a tangent, disrupting the coherent and consistent flow of the energy and forcing the “empowering” narrative into a tailspin (or at best an inconvenient detour). The repetition (“frequency”) of congruent or reinforcing ideas can be lost in the shuffle of disjointed influences that sometimes war with one another. In “wave” terminology, this can give us the dissonant “square” wave instead of the smoothly undulating “sine” wave, with jarring ups-and-downs rather than gradual transitions. Depending on the nature of the cards, the “step-changes” in the reading may not be great, but they will be noticeable. The same analogy can be used for the appearance of a markedly difficult upright card in the middle of a more sanguine array; it can feel like being “stomped on by Bigfoot” when you least expect it.
This “wave-form” notion would most likely be limited to line spreads. I can’t imagine how it would work with something like the Celtic Cross, or the various circle, square and triangle layouts that are in use. But now I’m thinking that if I have two horizontal and parallel “chains” of cards showing competing parties to a situation, the up-and-down alternation of the cards in each neighboring “wave” might occasionally merge across the divide, creating the possibility for some interesting energy “bumps” or “dumps” that could blur the independence of the two entities. Depending on the direction of the movement and the compatibility of the cards involved, this could create opportunities for productive compromise or the risk of “going down in flames” together (in other words, both might be on the “upswing” or the “downswing”).
Originally published at http://parsifalswheeldivination.wordpress.com on February 8, 2022.