Engineering Tarot

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What would happen if you re-drew some cards in a tarot spread?

It sounds dumb. The spread is supposed to have meaning. You’re supposed to read it, not re-write it. But talking with a friend who does readings, I think it’ll produce better results.

First, some background:

In magick communication, it’s hard to send a long, open-ended message. Psychic communication is noisy, the person’s expectations get in the way, it gets messy. So it’s hard to answer, “Tell me about my career.”

But it’s easy to send “Yes / No.” The two concepts are clearly different, and you can repeat it until the person gets it.

How can you answer an open-ended question with just Yes/No? By playing 20 Questions, reducing “Tell me about my career” to a series of Y/N questions.

In my view, Tarot is a clever way of doing that. Each card has several contradictory meanings, and the reader picks the meaning that “feels best.” That feeling is the psychic Yes/No they receive as they consider each meaning. Added together, that series of Y/N signals produces a reading.

So, the message is transmitted by interpreting the cards. There’s no requirement for the card order to mean anything. Which is good, because psychic intuitions can’t control the order of cards.

(If they could, and we re-asked a question, we’d expect to get the same spread. Also, we’d expect to be able to cheat at poker, controlling who gets what cards. I don’t know any psychic who can do either.)

Except, there’s a snag: Cards do have meaning. Some are about money, others are about love, and so on. Each card has multiple meanings, but no card has all possible meanings. So, what if the best message isn’t available on your current card?

Here’s the solution: Let the source of psychic intuitions ask for a new card.

Here’s how: After you go through your meanings, ask, “Should I draw a new card?” If drawing feels right, do it. Repeat as necessary.

Does it lose some showmanship? Sure. But it should also get you a clearer message. If you try it, please take note of places where you got a card replacement, and leave your results in the comments.

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9 Responses to “Engineering Tarot”

  1. George says:

    I’m not very familiar with Tarot, but could the same effect be had by only doing the spread after checking whether it was “the best spread”? Getting “the feeling” right before proceeding?

    (I’m assuming that Tarot is seen as a combination of the card spread corresponding “synchronistically” with the subject plus the subsequent “receiving of meaning”. You’re suggesting the synchronistic component might get interfered with.)

    • I’m saying that cards are essentially random.

      On spread vs individual card: This is a combinatorial problem that comes up in computer science (which is my field). If you have 10 cards, and you need all 10 to be right, that’s hard. You can get 8 or 9 right and still not have the best spread. So, if you keep dealing until you get the best spread, you’ll be there a long time. Better to go one card at a time, so you have fewer re-deals.

      • Geroge says:


        See, it depends (to me) whether magick operates on an all-time-at-once basis. In other words, the cards you draw, already being part of the universe and already absorbing your intention (via software operating or whatever), could be right first time.

        In other instances, magick seems to operate this way (manifestations or influences requiring retro-causality), “everything is taken into account” somehow, so was wondering it that might apply here. Obviously that would take some experimentation. (Although the expectation of experimentation might also have an influence.)

        Just some thoughts.

        • George says:

          Oh, final thing. I’ve been looking to design little thought-experiment exercises which let people get a feeling for how their subjective world is actually created/experiences.

          You might find this post interesting for background: here.

          The Exercise

          A thought experiment, to be done by imagining it from the first person – i.e. as if you are actually experiencing it:

          * Sit comfortably. Now imagine turning off your senses one by one:
          * Turn off vision. Are you still there?
          * Turn off sound. Still there?
          * Turn off bodily sensations, such as the feeling of the chair beneath you. Uh-huh?
          * Turn off thoughts. Where/what are you now?
          * Some people are left with a fuzzy sense of being “located”. This is just a residual thought. Turn that off too.

          You’re still there, you realise; you are a wide-open “aware space” in which those other experiences appeared.

        • Hi George, actually, the experimentation has already been done. If magick could reliably and precisely control card order, we would expect to consistently reproduce tarot deals. (Ask the same question, get the same deal.) The fact that we don’t tells us that the universe does not behave that way.

          In terms of magick affecting the past, I would need overwhelming evidence to believe in that. Something like: You flip a coin, then after it lands you do manifesting to make it come up heads, and get a high success rate. That wouldn’t entirely convince me, but it would make the question worth looking into. At present, I’ve seen zero evidence suggesting magick can affect the past.

          • George says:

            Yes, I’ve never seen anything as direct as, say, a coin-face manifestation. It just doesn’t work that way.

            I’m thinking it would be less a case of magick affecting the past, so much as the correct thing already having happened (“already taken into account”) for a particular reading. Whether subsequent readings should be the same, because the circumstances are now different, and you are now getting a reading with the reading taken into account…

            Anyway, since there’s no way to test one-time events, it’s really just fun thinking than a practical idea one could use!

  2. Thank you for writing about your experience with Tarot. Mine is slightly different.

    I was taught that the mind/psyche/soul communicates to us in a symbolic language through dreams, divination, the patterns we notice etc.

    I was also taught not to “read” for oneself because of the bias there in.

    When I am reading Tarot for another person, I was taught to go for more of the open ended questions and less of the yes/no. Why?

    I was taught that life is a balance of free will and destiny. Some things are destined to happen (or out of our control) we always have choice in how we respond. Utilizing the cards to “tell us” what to do takes away our own free will.

    I read the cards saying . . . if you keep going the way you are going, this will be the likely result. Do you like that? If so, keep going? Do you not like that? Let’s look at the changes you could make.

    With regards to. . . if the cards work we would be able to pull the same reading more than once. I have been able to do this or close to it. ;-)

    Blessings on your path,

  3. I like that you ask those kinds of questions.

    My answer at this time. . . I don’t know the mechanism by which that works.

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