Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tool of the Devil or the Divine

A "Chick Tract" was shoved into my door yesterday.  I rolled my eyes and showed it to Mike.  "What is that?" he asked.
    "A Chick Tract, " I said. He looked at me quizzically.
    "What is that?" he asked again.
    "It's a Christian proselytizing cartoon that usually attempts to scare one into church.  I hate them because they're really dumb and if one thinks fear is the basis for anything resembling faith, they are sorely mistaken.  Plus, they're insulting.  I dunno, these things have always bothered me, even when I was a fundamentalist Christian.  I've always thought they were wrong."  Mike took a look at the cartoon.  It featured a guy in a car talking to a preacher saying, "Listen Preacher! I've got lots of time before accepting Christ as my Saviour, I'm gonna have  good time first!"  The second frame shows the car wrecked on the side of the highway with the warning: "Death Strikes Without Warning."  Whatever.  It irked me.  I know I should just let little irritations like this go, and I do eventually, but I feel a need to spout a bit about it first.

Lately, several of my friends have felt the need to chide me in some way for my current faith status or what they perceive as my lack thereof.  I've had people ask me what has happened to me, don't I love God anymore? I've had others tell me to contact them when I want back in the light.  Still another said she felt "so sorry" for me because my children self-identify as "agnostic."  Most of the comments are related in some way to my tarot practice.  I am told the cards have power but not the right kind of power.  It's clear these folks believe I'm dabbling in the dangerous and need to change my ways.    What is also clear to me is that they attribute a whole lot more influence and power to these cardboard images than I do.  I don't think they are the only ones to do that.  Not only fundamentalist Christians think these cards are more powerful than they really are.  Some tarot practitioners do, too.

While my friends comments may be well intentioned, they are in fact, ignorant on many levels.  For one, they are not privy to my spiritual beliefs, my ongoing relationship with the Divine, nor my thoughts on the subject.  They make assumptions based on very superficial observations.  They also display ignorance about tarot.  Though they disappoint me on the first, I don't blame them for the latter.  There is a lot of myth and mystery surrounding tarot both in the religious and secular realms.  A lot of authority is granted these cards than is truly warranted.  They are but a tool and their use depends on the one in whose hands they lie.

For me, they are a tool first and foremost of strengthening my intuition.  Secondly, they are a divination tool.  My reading style does not invoke deity but relies instead on tapping into a shared consciousness of all human beings.  I'm not even sure I believe in a universal unconscious, but I don't really know what else to call it.  I do believe in energy and connectivity of such, so I know that we are all connected to one another and to the planet and even into the universe.  I don't think we know what to do with all of that energy but I know it exists.  So when I divine with the cards, I believe I am connecting subconsciously into that network via my intuitive process.  But sometimes, particularly when I am reading for myself, I am simply connecting to my own subconscious and dredging up useful information there.  Hence the title of my blog: 78 Notes To Self.  These cards help my self exploration and also remind me of things I already know but have forgotten. 

The way I use the cards is in no way the only way or the proper way or the recommended way.  Others incorporate the cards in their religious faith, in spellwork, in ritual, in communing with deity they worship or work with.  Candles, too, are used in many religions.  Lighting a candle while saying a prayer or casting a spell is common.  They are but a tool, an expression of one's faith.  Candles, likewise, can be used in completely non-religious ways to light a room, scent a room, warm a dinner table.  Tarot cards can be used in such ways as well.  They can be used in religious and non-religious ways, it depends on who is using them.

Perhaps the cards make my friends nervous because they've been told they are tools of the devil or some variation of that.  They seem to believe that some kind of power is naturally inherent in the cards themselves or that because they have been used for religious purposes that don't align with their own, they are natural "gateways" or "stepping stones" toward demonic or other dealings with entities not sanctioned by their God.  To me, that belief seems immature and foolish.  It would be like saying candles, too, because of their use in non-Christian ritual, are inherently evil, or because Wiccans use athames, all knives are tainted.  It's as if they think the cards are inhabited by spiritual beings just waiting for some hapless dummy like myself to open the gates to hell.

Christians will often point to the story of Saul who consulted a medium and was corrected by God for doing so as reason enough to condemn divination.  And yet, in order to decide who would serve tables, Jesus' apostles drew straws to see who got the short end of the stick, believing that it was God who controlled the choice.  Besides, Christians like to intuit all the time only they call it relying on the Holy Spirit.  Honestly, I have no quarrel with those who have concluded for themselves that tarot cards represent too much of a temptation and would personally steer clear of them, but their own dear Apostle Paul made it clear that no item in and of itself is clean or unclean and one should have no fear of spiritual contamination by their use.  He only cautioned that we should bear with the weaknesses of others who aren't as confident in their faith and feel they must abstain.  So I'm finding it difficult not to roll my eyes, but it is I that needs to chill.  I wouldn't expect my Christian friends to participate in a tarot reading but it still irks me when they express that I'm dabbling in darkness because of it.

But what about those who actually use tarot cards and still think they are uber-powerful?  I must admit I'm confused about the statement that "the cards never lie" and how they always know best.   Personally, I've seen the cards lie and every reading I've done has not resonated with wisdom.  Those folks would say the fault lies with the reader, not the cards.  Well, no shit. I can find no fault in an inanimate object that is merely the tool of the user.   But the cards are also random and sometimes come up with wildly random readings.  I've tested the cards and asked them if I was wearing blue when I am clearly not wearing blue and the cards have affirmed that I am indeed wearing blue.  To this we hear, "Don't test the cards."  I'm sorry, but that's akin to elevating them to divine intelligence and much like saying, "Thou shalt not test the Lord your God."  Go ahead, test the cards and I bet you will find what I found:  they're just cards.  They can't tell you anything in and of themselves.  They need you, a reader, an intelligent, intuitive human being to decipher the messages.

Tarot cards are a tool.  How you use them depends entirely on how you use them, to what purpose, to what end.  I wouldn't recommend ascribing any more authority to them than to any other useful item.  It would be like saying my pen has a mind of its own and what I write is not sourced from my own mind but from some other divine source. My writing may be inspired by the divine or it may not, but it certainly comes from me.  The same is true for tarot reading.  The cards are the tool through which a reader can express intuition and wisdom, divinely inspired or not.


14 comments:

Jennifer said...

The shortest, sweetest way for me to explain how I agree with your post is to say that when my life is shaky or I feel crap, I can't read for anything. Or my reads come out funny (such as if I want something so badly that I feel nervous).

When I feel evened out emotionally and feel balanced, like anything is fine as long as it's the truth, that's when the cards are right. Or I'm right through the cards, that is.

However it works, I can't figure that. But I know that something happens when you're in the right frame of mind to read and interpret, and that's something you just "know" somehow and understand. Something's being tapped into, but what, I don't know.

André Frazatto said...

In my defense, cause I use those expressions a lot, when I say "the cards never lie" is with the certainty of where this "information" is coming and it is within myself (that is a long and completely different discussion if you ask me).

That is why I say "the problem generally lies on the reader". Like Jennifer, my mood/state of mind impacts directly on the result of the reading.
When I'm happy and confident things go more clear and straightforward, but when I'm unsure and doubtful things quickly get messy.

About "testing" the cards, I usually avoid doing that cause since the beginning I "heard" a voice clearly saying "don't make stupid questions you already know the answers" (and then I would have a crap result :P)

And no, I really don't believe the cards holds unimaginable power over reality imbued with the essence of unholy hell knowledge 666 of doom. (hehehe, it is stronger them me, can't lost the joke)

Erin said...

This article really hits home for me. I have had to deal with similar attitudes, mainly from my Mom. I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian home where homosexuality was a sickness, questioning one's beliefs was a sin, and the Devil lurked under every stone (so don't go turning them over). Looking back I see now how saturated my old belief system is with fear, shame, and superstitious ignorance. And what's more, remaining ignorant seems to be a badge of honour! Nope, I can't do that anymore. You can't unring a bell, and you can't un-see a truth when it comes to light.

You quoted all my favorite come-backs from the bible. I especially like quoting Romans 14 because it's such a broad-spectrum neutralizer of intolerances. It still doesn't keep my mother from telling my 15 year old daughter that her mother is "worshiping Satan with her hands". Trying hard not to, but I can't help rolling my eyes.

Nina said...

Just to say that this is such a wonderful post, Ginny.
I agree with you on every point and hope some of those friends of yours get to read it too.

Ginny said...

Jennifer and Andre, we are in agreement. The cards don't lie, but neither can they, in themselves, tell the truth. They need someone to read them and that someone needs to be of a mind that is calm and unhurried, a mind that can listen to itself and able to relay the impressions and meanings.

LOL Andre -- "don't make stupid questions you already know the answers." True enough. Honestly, I do get different reading "voices" or "styles" from different decks, and Thoth is one that tends to pull my leg a bit and get sarcastic and dry in humor. But I don't feel the deck itself has a personality, more that it seems to resonate with that part of my own personality and draws out that side of me. Same with the Fae deck -- playful and mischievous, that one. Again, tapping into that side of me bringing those qualities to the fore. I will agree that asking of tarot anything you already clearly consciously know as fact will usually result in a crap reading. What's the point of divining what is right in front of your nose? ;)

Erin, oh we could get started, couldn't we? LOL Alas, some people don't hear bells ringing when they are rung, nor truth when it is told. But ok. If they are happy, maybe they have something there.

André Frazatto said...

Ginny, you touched on a subject I don't quite understand, this thing of "deck personality".

I'm still using the Rider Waite deck simple for lack of choice and that is probably why I don't get it. (in Brasil we don't have the overwhelming variety of decks you have and they are all garbage)

I heard from people that say this is bullshit and Tarot is just what we make of it, period!
Ultimately I agree, but we search for different decks EXACTLY because of the different energies and patterns they offer.

But that is what "personality" means, doesn't it?!
The way we react is just consequence....hummm...right?

Ginny said...

Andre, I think the whole deck personality thing is a blog post in itself. I will get on it. :)

Suffice it to say it is deeply subjective and the way one reacts/responds to a deck is dependent upon your own personality and therefore certain decks tap into different aspects of that. Tarot readers will sometimes anthropomorphize a deck but in the end a deck is still just a deck of cards. It is we who lend it voice and "personality."

Jennifer said...

I remembered something tonight that actually is a great tool to "test" yourself and the cards, and is quite fun and valuable.

Ask about.....your pets. What do they feel for you, what do they feel for each other, etc. You'd be shocked at how accurate it is.

For one I asked about tonight it gave me something so "her", which is that she loves me but wants me to not bug her right now.

Last year I asked about a cat that was my favorite who ended up dying months later of a type of bone cancer that was around her stomach and chest. Before we had any inkling of this the cards told me one day how she felt for me, but said she didn't like being picked up so much. Cant' recall how on earth I got the picking up part, but you guys know how that works with the cards! But soon after she started to make little sounds when she was picked up. And a month or two after that is when we felt the lump.

I've asked about another pet who isn't liked much by the others and the cards tell me her feelings, which make sense.

So this is a great "test" I feel. Maybe it can be done for babies or a group sentiment. But I find it's a great way to see how accurate your skills are at any moment.

Celeste said...

Hi Ginny,

I read this post and was appalled for you. I always think that acceptance in inherent in people but I realize that it is not.

I wish that we could all respect each other's choices and even be HAPPY for people for choosing, but that is often not the case.

Big Hugs,
Hannah Celeste

Z. E. Accordino said...

Such a wonderful post! I'm glad to have stumbled upon this blog. I agree that the fault generally lies with the reader. Like Jennifer and Andre above, I can't read for crap when I'm tired or upset. Things just come out jumbled. I've also noticed that after a big reading I often become ravenously hungry.

I'm looking forward to that blog on card personalities. ;) That's something I've had trouble explaining to people while at the same time maintaining that "they're just cards." I've noticed that the more distinct the personality is, the easier it is for me to read with that deck as well.

Also, don't let the Chick Tracts get you down. Try to see them as the unintentionally hilarious opportunity they are and draw all over them in mockery. (It's a lot easier with the online ones and MS paint.) :D

Helen said...

A great post as usual Ginny talking a lot of sense!

Biddy Tarot said...

Wow, excellent post! You have really summed up a lot of what I feel about the Tarot. It really is about tapping into a greater consciousness that exists between all human beings. In many religions, this is called God. What is the problem with connecting with this energy? Why can't we all have access to it? It doesn't mean that we are trying to be all-powerful, just that we are trying to understand and make sense of our lives by connecting with this universal energy.

Additionally, the cards are just cards. In my view, the cards are like 'signposts' that alert us to specific issues or messages from the Universal energy. It's just bringing our attention to what needs it most at this time. It isn't about predicting the future or looking into the crystal ball to outsmart the Universe or God. It's simply about understanding the present to help guide us into the future.
My all-time favourite quote related to this type of thing is from The Alchemist - "When people consult me, it’s not that I’m reading the future; I am guessing at the future. The future belongs to [a Higher Being], and it is only he who reveals it, under extraordinary circumstances. How do I guess at the future? Based on the omens of the present. The secret is here in the present. If you pay attention to the present, you can improve upon it. And if you improve on the present, what comes later will also be better. Forget about the future, and live each day according to the teachings, confident that [a Higher Being] loves his children. Each day, in itself, brings with it an eternity.”
Anyway, some food for thought. Thanks again for a great post!

Ginny said...

Wonderful quote, I love it! That pretty much sums up how I view "fortunetelling" as well. I would expand on that and say the future belongs to the Divine/God/Universe AND each individual. While there are a lot of unknowns and uncontrollable factors that "just happen" in life, the choices we make in light of those happenings very much influence our futures. What we think, say, choose, and do right now creates our futures. Tarot is a wonderful tool that can help us sort out today so we can make those choices with clear intention, and with Divine/God's/Universal assistance, we can create the futures we so desire.

Thanks for adding your comment, Biddy Tarot, and I'm glad you're here. :)

Ginny

---Lea Elisabeth said...

That was fantastic!

Post a Comment

 
;