Posts Tagged ‘Tarot’

Engineering Tarot

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

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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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Games, Tarot and Research

Friday, September 21st, 2012

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Wrapping up my week catching up on other blogs, we have Rune Soup, Weird Shit Not Bullshit, and Therioshamanism.

Also, I’m heading to Albany, NY next week. If that’s your neck of the woods, drop me a line.

Magic and Games

Gordon of Rune Soup doesn’t educate so much as he prods you into new, interesting ideas. Read the last section of his post (“Magic and the British Museum), then come back.

I’ve often thought that magick needs to be experienced, rather than explained. That no words could substitute for practicing sensory connections and seeing the differences between a healthy knee and an unhealthy knee. That my goal should be to provide exercises so you can produce your own experiences, rather than providing answers.

And that feels somehow related to experiencing magick as a game. I like the idea. (Yes, this is more of a floating idea than a full post, but, well, that’s what Gordon does to me.)

(Full post here.)

The Mechanism of Tarot

I’ve talked about tarot before. Here’s my basic model:

  1. A client asks an open-ended question. Problem is, talking with ethereal software is like talking over a lousy phone line (for most mages), so it’s hard to understand open-ended answers.
  2. So, you create a series of questions. First, randomly deal out some cards. (No magick here.)
  3. But each card has multiple meanings. As you think about each possible meaning, the ethereal software gives you feedback, flagging the best one. This type of multiple-choice communication is much simpler than receiving full sentences.
  4. You turn those multiple-choice answers into a final story for the client.

I’ve had this model for years, but I don’t do tarot personally. So, it was neat to see a tarot reader explain his experience, and see how well it matches that model:

So how to turn a variety of potential interpretations into a single real one? Well, this is what I do all the time when I’m reading the Tarot – every card has a whole set of possible meanings to it, and I have to figure out which of those possible meanings is most accurate and most useful in a particular spread at a particular time. I do this by ‘feel’ – one of the interpretations will ‘feel’ like it fits best with the other cards and with the question I’m considering.

That feel he describes is step 3.

(Full post here.)

The Importance of Quality Research

And a new blog (for me), Therioshamanism, discusses why basic research methodology is important to magick. You already know I agree, so let me just quote his article:

Every shoddily constructed experiment and instrument, every poorly interpreted or deliberately manipulated set of results, every anecdote held up as firm “evidence” across the board–all these things do absolutely nothing to further your cause, and in fact do much to harm it.


If you are going to claim that you have any authority on anything that involves proving something exists objectively, then you need to be literate in the methods used in proving something exists objectively.

Indeed. (Full article here.)

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How To Do Tarot Without Cards

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

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In this post:

  • How tarot works.
  • How to get the benefits of tarot without carrying around cards.

Most people figure tarot is about which cards you deal.  That the magick is in the shuffle and cut, and that the dealing pattern matters.  That you need cards, and that you can’t do readings with a half-full deck.

They’re wrong on all counts.  Here’s why.

The Magick Isn’t In The Cards

Here are some reasons why the magick isn’t about which cards you deal:

  • Influencing how you shuffle is complex, and getting 1 card out of order would give the wrong results. It’s not a robust way to give a detailed message.
  • If it were, repeating a question would give the same cards.  It doesn’t.
  • Each card has multiple, conflicting meanings, so you can read the same deal in many ways.

So if the magick isn’t in the cards you deal, how does tarot help you predict the future?

How Tarot Works

When you read tarot, your mind receives information from The Universe, or some other external source (I call all those external sources systems). (Update: The term “systems” was confusing, so I now call them “ethereal software.” Post has been updated.)

To understand how tarot works, you need to understand how ethereal software communicates.

How Ethereal Software Communicates

Each thought you think puts each part of your mind into a different energy signature. So “Yes / Good” has one signature, and “No / Bad” has another, and “Next item” has another, and so on.

To read your question, the ethereal software reads these signatures. To write its response into your thoughts, it shifts the energy signature of each of those areas of your mind to match the signature it would normally have when you think “yes” or “no” or whatever message the software wants to send.

But precision is tricky. Imagine the ethereal software can say anything. To read it, you have to tell the difference between “you should” and “you will,” between “accident” and “disaster.” Those mental signatures are similar, so the software will have to set your mental signature very precisely, and you’ll have to interpret that signature without disturbing it with your own expectations. That’s hard.

Instead, imagine the ethereal software just has to say “Yes” or “No.” No messing around with “Probably,” “Unlikely” or any other shadings.  Now getting close to the right mental state is good enough.  Almost yes is as good as yes. That’s a lot easier.

That’s what tarot cards do: It boils down a complex question with an open answer into a series of simple questions with multiple-choice answers.

How Tarot Simplifies Questions

A client comes to you with an open-ended question.  “Tell me about my financial future.”

You deal some tarot cards. Each card has 3-5 possible meanings (I think. I don’t know all styles of tarot).

Now, the ethereal software just has to guide you to which meaning is correct. It can do that by sending one of those meanings as its message (and even getting close, you’ll probably be able to figure out which one it means), or you can go through each meaning and get a “yes / no” response. In both cases, the limited set of possibilities let the system transmit communicate its meaning more robustly.

Additionally, there’s redundancy. If you deal 10 cards, you get 10 data points. If 9 point to “You should start saving money” and one points to “Spend all you got,” you can figure that they should probably start saving. So you can still get the reading right even if you get one piece of information wrong.

How To Do Tarot Without Cards

Notice that nothing about the procedure requires actual cards.  Just a series of multiple-choice questions.

So next time you do a reading (any reading, even non-tarot), mentally go through different aspects of the situation and ask about a series of possible meanings, like you normally would when dealing tarot.  You should get the benefits of a tarot reading, without needing to carry around cards.

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