Cross My Palm With Silver
by Mystique Moonlight
The other day whilst walking through a local craft market I saw a couple of Tarot readers.
One lady had gone to incredible lengths to look authentic. She had a scarf around her head, lots of jingling bangles, incense burning and that intense glare that although you felt intimidated you knew she just had to have that psychic thing going on.
The other lady was about 30 years old. She wore faded blue jeans, a hand knitted sweater and had a Mills and Boon novel beside her to keep her entertained whilst she waited for people to ask for readings.
The first reader was inundated with customers. People gathered about all listening intently as she revealed the dark truth about her young customer's love affair with her wayward boyfriend. "I see an older woman who is not happy about you being with this boy," she announced to the 14 or 15 year old girl. The girl glared up at the lady standing beside her. "Yes, my mum isn't too keen on Mick."
The other lady, with the faded blue jeans, was also doing a reading. She was looking closely at a card as she whispered, "You have to ask yourself if you are making this decision for the right reasons. What's your motivation?"
Suddenly a waspy voice "Step away, people, you are blocking my psychic aura!" It was the gypsy lady, waving her arms about her.
This brought to mind a conversation I had once with a "devout" Christian. Now I have nothing against Christians or their belief system, it's just not my preferred belief system. This guy (I'll call him Dave) asked me what I do when I seek guidance in my life. My reply was I consult the Tarot. Dave genuinely laughed and said to me, "You look at a deck of cards for advice? I can give you a book to read. It contains all the guidance you will ever need. It was written by God especially for you".
I asked Dave what book he referred to. His reply, "The Bible, of course, not a silly deck of cards." (My intention here is not to offend any Christian Tarotists but merely to raise a point which I will get to in a moment.) My reply to Dave was, "Which version of the Bible do you refer to?"
Dave was incredulous when I asked him what version. "The BIBLE!" he replied, "You know the one about God and Jesus." "Yes, but there have been a few versions of the Bible, Dave," I responded. "Are we talking about the King James version or the Dead Sea Scrolls?"
Personally, I believe the Tarot to be a bible of sorts. To me the Tarot is not simply a deck of cards through which one's psychic energies are channelled or guided so as to provide an accurate means of fortune telling or divination. The Tarot also contains hidden truths. Some people have attempted to explain this by association to other systems (eg Qabala, I Ching or Runes). In my opinion there is nothing wrong in using other systems to better understand the Tarot, and the Qabala is very good for that, but there is a difference.
The Australian Oxford dictionary defines Tarot as: 'game played with a pack of 78 cards which are also used for fortune telling'. Let us decipher this meaning. The first part of the definition uses the word "game" then goes on to say, "which is also used for fortune telling". Is not fortune telling a type of game? If we are to use Tarot for fortune telling does that not mean we are playing with fate? The alternative perception of this meaning is that the use of Tarot may be regarded as frivolous.
If we are to accept the idea that Tarot is a game then the general perception of Tarot is therefore something not to be taken as genuine. The word game in the dictionary is defined as: play or sport especially with rules; section of this as a scoring unit, scheme, wild animals hunted for sport or food - vi. Gamble for money stakes. Our lady dressed in scarf and bangles clearing her psychic space is certainly out to play a sport here and the hunted animals are certainly her customers. No wonder Dave laughs.
The origins of the Tarot Deck are obscure to say the least. Some may be convinced we can accurately date it as far as the 15th Century because historical proof provides this. But what of Tarot itself? Let us forget the images on the cards. Those beautiful pictures so many people over time have sort to recreate in their own inspired way. Where did Tarot come from? What is the concept of Tarot?
We have tried to answer this question so many times. Some say it originated in Egypt and certainly there have been cards drawn to reflect Ancient Egyptian Archetypes. Perhaps the confusion in this connection eventuated in its Qabalistic associations. Moses was Egyptian. Then there is the story of Thoth and his game of chance when he gambled with the Moon for extra time in the day, but this is merely legend. Some suggest it is Italian: Tarocchi, the game played in the 15th Century and influential in the development of the Marseilles deck. But again we are referring only to a pack of paper cards with images drawn upon them.
Man has always sort to connect with the Gods, those archetypes who created and influence the daily lives of humans on earth. Remember the bible was not written until several hundred years after the death of Christ. Is the Tarot the concept of this archetypal connection with us? Why is there no evidence of Tarot until the 15th Century?
Perhaps "Tarot" is not the true word for what it is we believe. In our quest to label everything in our lives for the benefit of better understanding and acceptance, we have mistakenly provided a name to a system which was conceptualised by artists of the Renaissance. Or in fact we have recreated a book into a system of archetypal images derived from a religion we have lost faith in due to its despiritualisation by political motivation.
Which ever is the case, I put it to you our use of Tarot has been relegated to that of the carnival attraction due to our lack of understanding and not simply due to our fear of ridicule. If we are to remove the stigma and sideshow curiosity of Tarot from our community we must first address our personal belief in the system we so faithfully claim to follow. In our faith and understanding we can confidently and openly discuss Tarot, not just the cards or the idea of fortune telling, with those outside of our belief.
© Mystique Moonlight