78 Notes to Self: A Tarot Journal

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

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tarot Boundaries: Significant or Insignificant Others

One of the ethical dilemmas many readers face almost as soon as we start reading for others is the question of reading about someone other than the person who requested the reading.  It really can't be avoided.  Our lives are interconnected webs of contact with others who impact our experience and clients naturally want to know how others' thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are likely to affect their situation.  There are readers who believe reading about others who are not present is akin to spying and a violation of their privacy.  Other readers have no qualms about it, while still others fall somewhere between.  If you are a reader whose ethics preclude reading for others not immediately present, problem solved.  You just don't do it.  But if you're like me, someone who views very few things in an either/or way, and a reader who takes such queries on a case-by-case basis, you could find yourself wrestling with this frequently.

Reading about others who are involved in the client's situation is tricky.  While the client is available to give feedback about the situation from their perspective, the other person is not, so you can't know for sure if what you are seeing in the cards about that person is accurate.  Because the client is biased to their own perspective, as we all are, they cannot always objectively verify the information either. I mean, if they knew the answer already, they wouldn't be asking a tarot reader.  For example, when a client asks me why their long-distance lover hasn't contacted them in two weeks, I can certainly tell them what I see in the cards, but neither of us can verify whether that information is true, at least not until my client hears from the other person.  And even then, the other person may or may not be forthcoming.

If you decide to read about others in this way, you will determine your own ethical boundaries for it.  My own line seems to reside in the practical usefulness of the information.  For example, I will read about someone's love interest, boss, friend, or relative that is immediately involved in the situation, but I often will not read on that other person's relationship with yet another person, once removed.  Even then, my decision depends on how much influence that other relationship may have on my client's situation.  If a client is romantically involved with someone who is married or partnered with someone else, my client is naturally curious about their relationship.  They often want to know if they are being told the truth, if that relationship is actually on the rocks or not.  That's a reasonable request.  However, if they want to know how that other person's partner feels or how that other, other person will likely respond, then it gets pretty far reaching and not very useful.  My perspective is that what really matters is the immediate relationship between my client and this person.  Other extraneous relationships, no matter how significant they may be to my client's other person, do not immediately affect my client.  The other person's decisions will affect my client, so we can take a look at those.  I'm not rigid about this.  If my client can explain to me why taking a look into that other-other person is important to their decision-making process, depending on their answer, I may oblige.  But I probably won't because there are few situations that truly depend on this information and it just smacks of being nosey.  Besides, I'm not infallible and I make mistakes, and I would hate for my client to make an important decision based on some potentially faulty information which can't be confirmed.  If they do, well, that's on them, but I don't recommend it. 

Other people are one of tarot reading's wild cards.  While many like to think that everything that happens to  us is something we had a say in, it just isn't true.  Other people have their own varied choices and decisions to make that may or may not ripple-effect into your life.  They also have their own reasons, known or unknown even to them, why they choose what they do.  I've also noticed that humans have a pattern of acting contrary to what they want, which may seem odd, but we're actually socialized to sublimate our desires and act according to "reason" or other socially-acceptable "logic."

I use a simple spread that examines the other person's view of the situation, their feelings about it, what they want concerning the situation and what they will likely do.  Most often the position describing what they want and the one showing what they will likely do are miles apart.  It's interesting to see whether they will act according to their view (thoughts), their feelings, or their desires or based upon something else entirely, which could be someone else's expectations, society's or their mother's, who knows?  While this spread is very revealing, it's not always useful because, again, we can't always verify whether the information is accurate.  In the instances where it can be verified it often proves accurate, because tarot is just that good, but often we cannot tell whether it really is true.  That's one of my main objection to reading about others not present for the reading.  I do it, yes, but I will always include an overall advice card to help the client make the most out of the information provided.  Because whether the information is accurate or not, it's not empowering or healthy to approach a situation in an entirely reactionary way, leaving the results in the hands of someone else's choices.

This information is usually very useful when a client is simply struggling with trying to understand another significant person in their life.  It's helpful because sometimes even when we ask the other person why they do this or think that, they may not be aware of their own motivations or subconscious goings on, so the answers we get don't always make sense to us.  I've done many readings that have brought peace out of confusion for a client who was genuinely stumped by someone else's behavior.  Using the information from such a reading, my client can then open up lines of communication between themselves and their significant other, approaching the stalemate from a different perspective, asking more relevant questions, and acknowledging the other person's point of view.    I've received feedback from clients to that end and it is very satisfying to know they used our reading in that very productive way.  Because I've seen this kind of reading put to such valuable use, I will continue to read for others about others, with my own limitations in place.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Chaos Happens, Deal With It
Science keeps trying to understand things and that's what I love about it.  We may get it wrong, but even those mistakes help us learn more.  Curiosity is essential to learning, but also humility.  Never think you know something for sure because the next discovery will prove you're wrong.  So I really have a hard time with philosophical systems that claim to base their theories in scientific fact, even though I appreciate scientific fact I also know how changeable those facts can be.  The theories known collectively as the Law of Attraction are a good example of this.  The human brain is wired to recognize patterns or even create patterns from randomness, therefore it's no wonder a lot of people have noticed the pattern that happens when one projects a positive outlook, positive thoughts, positive emotions, and positive actions.  They get positive returns.  This is not what bothers me about the theories.  What bothers me is that they then take the leap to say therefore, whatever conditions are in your life now are a direct result of your thoughts, outlook, emotions, and actions attracting them to you.  Well, yes but no.  What these folks neglect to factor in is chaos.

The common meaning of "chaos" is a state of disorder and anyone who has seen an average teenager's bedroom knows about that.  But there is a mathematical version of chaos that is more precise and which affects how things play out in life.  It has to do with the elements being sensitive to the conditions around them and thereby changing, even slightly, which then effect change in elements that are in close proximity to them.  The result is that even though the elements themselves are deterministic, meaning one can predict the future behavior of each of these initial elements alone, but because the initial elements patterns are mutable in combination with the other elements around it, how they affect the elements around them varies so widely and yield so many diverging outcomes, long term accurate prediction is virtually impossible.  An example of this can be seen in meteorology and in tarot reading. Tracking weather patterns and situational patterns in tarot is an estimating game at best and we know how sensitive the conditions can be to last minute changes and surprising outcomes.   It's called "chaos theory" and while we know it when we see it in play, we can't predict it. 

Complex Chaos Pattern
You might know this pattern also by the term "Butterfly Effect," coined as a result of a paper written in 1972 by scientist Edward Lorenz entitled: Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil set off a Tornado in Texas? A popular movie by the same name, The Butterfly Effect, explored the idea in one man's life, to sometimes humorous and other times tragic results, by allowing him to relive certain pivotal moments in his life and make changes in how he responded.  Who hasn't wished they could go back in time and change our choices?  What would have happened, how would your life played out if you had done this instead of that?  But since no one has yet been able to build a workable time machine, we can only use this knowledge for present and future events, and it's not terribly useful when the whole concept tells us we can't know results for certain.

In my experience, the Law of Attraction works about as well as cloud seeding.  You can do your part in creating the conditions, but you're not the only gear in the machinery.  The promoters of  LoA don't deny this, but they say to just leave all that "up to the Universe."  And I've got no problem with that, either.  What I have a problem with is the idea that we each control everything that happens to us, consciously or subconsciously.  How can we when so many other factors and Butterfly Effects from so many other elements are in play?  The LoA theory states that if we put forth an energy frequency by thinking, feeling, and acting on those thoughts and feelings, the Universe will respond by orchestrating all those "Butterfly Effects" in domino-like fashion and the end result will be seen in our experience, in our lives.  Not a bad theory and it does have support in discoveries made by quantum physicists, but again, it is a theory not a fact.  Just because we see the patterns doesn't mean it's working the way we  think it is.

I'm not dissing the theory at all.  I've seen it in action in my own life plenty of times.  I'm just not going to buy that I control everything that I experience.  I'm not going to take credit for only the good things that happen, either, while dismissing the negative.  I understand that I can invite negative things into my life as easily as I can invite positive things.  I just don't accept that I invited them ALL.  This kind of thinking is just another version of those who say the reason you're sick is because you sinned and you just need to search your soul for that sin then confess and repent.  Or you lost your spouse because you chose this life experience before you were born because your soul knew you needed to learn this lesson.  Or you got raped because you wore a short skirt.  It's all the same victim blaming bullshit and I won't participate in that.  I raise an eyebrow toward any theory that doesn't factor in chaos.  Shit happens and it doesn't always happen "for a reason."

From what I have seen, the theory does seem to be evolving.  More and more people who practice some form of LoA are accepting that there simply are things that happen to us that we did not specifically attract and so are shifting their focus towards our conscious responses to the random that happens in our lives as well as positively projecting that which we want.  I appreciate that kind of thinking and it resonates more with what we understand about chaos and its impact on systems.

My son, Ryan, has been a lifelong pessimist.  This character trait has been evident for as long as he could express feelings.  Generating excitement about a future event such as a party, a trip, or virtually anything fun was difficult with him and always met with some version of, "I don't want to go", "It's not going to be fun" or, "Why do I have to go?"  So I'd drag him to these events and consequently he would have a blast and not want to leave when it was time to go, which resulted in more than a few unpleasant exit scenes.  When he entered adolescence this trait became full blown and while he was always open to new adventures and experiences, he also maintained that not only was the glass half empty, the contents were poisonous.  I've always tried to persuade him otherwise and when I discovered the Law of Attraction theories, I tried to share them with him a couple of years ago.  True to form, he dismissed this "nonsense" immediately. I never brought it up again.  Imagine my surprise this year when, as a birthday gift, I sent him an Amazon.com gift card that he used to purchase The Secret books and movie.  I was so delighted I squealed!  I trust my son's critical thinking skills enough that the flaws in this series don't matter, he will be able to parse them out.  In a very random series of events that I hope had everything to do with my positive vibrations toward my son and my wish that he would discover these things on his own, he did just that.  Although Ryan now accepts the theories and believe strongly in their effectiveness, he still wonders how douchebags end up with all the goodies when the theory promotes that you get what you give.  Chaos at work.

My romantic partner, Mike, is an attraction magnet.  People just hand him things he has expressed a desire for so many times that I've lost count.  He's a natural with it and yet his life still has big areas he wishes he could manifest much better results. His recent manifestations include a new smartphone, a high-tech gaming laptop and a 50-inch flat screen TV.  I have no doubt that a big part of his success in this area is his natural optimism, a quality that attracted me to him for sure.  The magical part about his optimistic nature is not that he is able to attract these things but that in spite of his negative childhood experiences of poverty, abuse and neglect, he has been able to remain so incredibly positive and proactive in his life.  Both he and I have managed to take soul-crushing experiences and put them to use in positive ways in our lives.  While we cannot explain how or why these experiences found us, what we choose, how we consciously respond, on a daily basis has made all the difference.