We are all wanderers on this earth. Our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Karmic Wrist-Slap

When you see Justice in symbolic iconography, she is often depicted with scales.  They represent, of course, balance.  Hers is the cosmic force of karma which is the means of keeping human behavior in equilibrium.  Sometimes people can go years and years doing underhanded crap and it seems maybe Justice isn't looking.  But given the right moment, she sneaks up on situations and people and delivers her backhand with aplomb.  It is meant to be corrective, not retributive, so we must be careful when celebrating someone getting what was coming to them.  It's not always the hand of Justice.  Sometimes it's just the Wheel turning, and Providence is simply dealing one a normal dose of life's vicissitudes.  We need to watch our own attitudes and judgments, lest we become too haughty and presumptuous, such as some well-known political televangelists who seem to enjoy pointing out that earthquakes in Haiti are the direct result of the population's practice of Voodoo, or that AIDS is Justice for a homosexual lifestyle.  That kind of arrogance sets one up for a karmic backhand of your own.  It's all about Balance and taking a wide-angle view.  That scale is wielded by a goddess, not a mortal, who sees over time and into hearts and intentions.  We, being quite myopic and unable to hear all the evidence that she is privy to, can't begin to fully assess the final decree.

Often she lends a gentle warning, a smack on the wrist, rather than a full on backhand slap upside the head.  Sometimes it's so gentle it goes unnoticed, but we are wiser to pay attention.  Recently Theresa Reed published a wonderful post on her blog, The Tarot Lady, called "The F Word."  It pretty much sums up the way I and many other tarot readers feel about reclaiming the fortune telling aspect of tarot.  There does seem to be a strong sense in the tarot community of distancing from predictive readings, of "telling the future," and yet those of us who read professionally can attest that most of our clients come to us wanting us to read their future.  I wholeheartedly support Theresa's statements.   I got pissy  four years ago at a tarot conference because fortune telling and divination seemed to be addressed as so "passe," that the only acceptable and worthy use of reading tarot was for one's own "spiritual enlightenment." I left the table in a hurry lest I said something I'd regret. I went out for a smoke and found a small clan of tarot readers who likewise felt the same. It was comforting, but we felt "rebellious,"  as if we weren't in the center of things but in the margins. Well, that's ok with me.  The margins are where I've lived my whole life, so what makes practicing tarot any different? Fortune tellers are, and forever will be, margin dwellers. Celebrate it if you dare and if you identify with it. I don't care to legitimize it for it may lose its magic otherwise. Dance in the margins and offer your gifts to those who visit there.  

Then came the karmic nudge.  Two days later, Theresa blogged again.  This time, her post "Medium Low" described a scene in a television reality show where a well-known psychic medium showed herself in a most undesirable light.  While I know that kind of thing makes for good TV, it also embarrasses those of us in the fortune-telling community that work hard to maintain a respectable and ethical environment.  She wrote:
The grand irony is that I had just written an article on reclaiming the dignity of the psychic profession (“The F Word”), when along comes this “psychic” (of some renown apparently) displaying behavior that would be considered abhorrent to anyone, but which is particularly shameful and harmful when done by someone who represents the profession on television in front of millions of viewers.

I don't know if anyone else felt the nudge, but I did.  In my fervor for reclaiming the fortune teller moniker in all its glory, this was a stern reminder of why the term has fallen into disfavor.  Psychics and tarot readers are human and as such we are prone to mistakes and showing our less than attractive sides.  But then there are those, and I'm not saying this woman on the show is such a one, who seem to make it their mission to downgrade the profession.  Some think its an easy way to make a few bucks, to tell clients what they want to hear, to pretend to read their futures, to do cold readings with much ado and flourish.   Clear away the smoke and mirrors and you find...nothing of substance.  The general public knows this and expects fortune tellers to be all fluff and no genuine substance.  We're entertaining and all, but that's about it.  Maybe Justice wanted me to know that there is a reason for this perception and not to dismiss it casually.  I need to likewise respect the well-founded impression that the public holds for tarot readers while simultaneously do my best to counter it by being genuine and by offering more than smoke and mirrors.  Also, there is good reason why some tarot readers opt out of doing predictive readings.  Some have found them to be of little practical value and have chosen not to offer them because they've found their own personal gift and strength is in a form of life coaching using tarot.  People who seek out their services tend to be the kind of people who want that kind of reading and those who want more predictive readings simply move on to another kind of reader.

The point is, there are many reasons why fortune telling has earned its reputation and it takes more than a simple statement of reclamation to tidy up its image.  I'm not saying it can't be done, but I don't think it will ever be considered entirely legitimate.  I'm not sure we should even want it to be.  The appeal of fortune telling lies in its mystery and magical otherworldly aura.  It rightfully belongs in the margins, in that liminal place where the High Priestess dwells, between acceptable and non-acceptable.  As long as one is comfortable in the margins I think there is where fortune telling becomes respected.  It will always be something doubted by skeptics, but then again, even mainstream professions like psychology have their skeptics, too. 

Justice broadens my view in ways no one else can.  She helps me view all sides of an issue with the least amount of bias I can muster.  She helps keep my own views in balance and the lessons she has taught me have been the most significant in my life.  She never fails to remind me when my mind is becoming too narrow, my sight too myopic, or my stance too dogmatic.  She tells me all is not what it seems, there is much to be considered before rendering judgment and her authority will not be usurped by the likes of mortals, that we are all simply subjects of her cosmic court and as such are vulnerable to her decrees as well.  Luckily for us, her aim is to help us grow and become more whole, more compassionate, more divine.  Her drive is not to punish but to correct, to balance, and we are more liable to avoid the more severe sentences if we respond positively to the lighter ones.

Credits: Justice tarot card from The Classic Tarot By Carlo DellaRocca, a reproduction of a Milanese deck, dated 1835. Published by Lo Scarabeo 2000


  1. This is a wonderful post - and your thoughts round out my posts beautifully. Thank you for this.


  2. BRAVO!!! Nicely worded, and with passion and flair. I'd have been frustrated sitting at that table, too. There are many uses of tarot, all are due respect. Nicely done, Ginny!

  3. This is an excellent article Ginny! I think in this blog you showed a very balanced perspective of the whole fortune telling aspect of reading.

  4. Great job Ginny! I love being in the rebellious, fringe, unaccepted side of tarot. I am glad that there are readers like you that are there with me.

    I think your article sums up exactly the way I feel. I refuse to water down the way I do readings to fit the tarot community, but rather do readings that help my clients with what they are paying me to do.

    You are blessing!


  5. It is my, shallow, experience that the future prediction part of Tarot reading is merely the logical outcome or the outcome with most potential to become truth, based on the situation being "investigated".
    Are you saying that there are minimally reliable ways of "reading the future" without a context to apply the cards to?
    (reminding that I yet have not developed latent psychic abilities)

  6. Hi Andre,

    Yes, there are other ways to divine the future that have little basis in past/present/future models. They are, in practice, somewhat reliable. There are spreads, for example, for Yes/No answers and for telling the date/time of something. Whether they are truly reliable probably depends very heavily on the reader and his/her interpretive abilities. Myself, I haven't had a whole lot of consistent results with these methods, but I do use them on occasion to positive results. But then again, a broken clock is right twice a day, too. ;)

  7. Yes yes...I have stumbled on some of those spreads but I found it to be messy to work with, creating confusing results.
    Even the authors of the publishings questioned the practicability and reliability of the results.

    For Yes/No questions, for instance, I find the pendulum a much more suitable tool.

  8. I agree with the idea that perhaps we do not want tarot or 'mystics' to be legitimised. Imagine the amount of legislation, rules and oppressive damage this would cause. I love your blog/site, thank you for an informative, diverse and eclectic range of information and service

  9. Anonymous7:07 PM


    A timely post for me. With the New Year I revisted the Tarot Year Card concept and found that I am now in a VIII Justice Year. I use the Marseille system, not the RWS.

    Karma is about balance. Every action has a desire and a thought which precedes it. I reap what I sow. Those words reduce something quite complex to the essence and I think it is important to know that the process is not a cruel one and may extend over many life times. I believe that one has to come to understand the karmic process to begin to fashion a a different future. Sometimes this understanding is unconcious. Sometimes it has to be acquired through experience.

    I think that fortune telling needs to be seen in this light. Mistakes, difficulties and even 'evil' can be understood as ignorance of the karmic process, ignorance of the power within us all and the capacity each of human soul to develop good intention and to make free choices.

    If Tarot can help others understand these concepts and assist them towards better thinking and better choices then it can help in 'fortune telling'. These understanding can help others more directly create their own future. Not always of course, because events outside ourselves can impinge on best laid plans (X Wheel) but it all contributes to the individual spiritual path.

    Tarot can do many other things as well. It can be a pathway to knowledge of the internal voice and the power of symbolic language. Sometimes we lack this fundamental knowledge knowledge and gaining it is a slow process :). It took a long time for me to understand the power of thought, the need for connection to God (whatever that is) and my own capacity to be free. So good Tarot readers understand intuitively the cuurent situation of each person and read for them on that basis, trusting the process.

    Thank you for helping me think through and express some of these thoughts.


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