Q: Do you feel/think the cards “think” or have their own consciousness? What do you believe makes the cards “tick?” (Is it magic/outside influences or all in the mind?)
My belief system on this:
Physics, actually. All aspects of the space-time fabric are connected, like threads in a tapestry, at quantum (very small) levels and at cosmic (very large, gravity-bound) levels. There’s energy, matter, and the fabric of space-time on which they move and exchange forms.
In my view, it is this connectivity that allows us to use the cards to “read” the energies around us, past, present, and potential (future). The cards themselves are simply paper tools with symbols on them. All the power is in the connection of the mind (conscious and subconscious) to the energies of the cosmos, channeled at the quantum level where communication can bypass the arrow of time. This connection is activated both between the reader and the querent and to a lesser degree to the potential energies surrounding the situation, including influences from other people. The archetypal symbolism in the cards is so basic to our human interface with the universe that it’s like a universal language that allows us to communicate these signals to the querent.
Y’all are channeling, you readers, one way or another. 🙂 Channelers usually just speak out what they “hear” or “see” or “feel,” but they, too, have to translate those signals into human language (symbols).
With the Tarot, I believe we use the symbolic language of the cards to perform this “translation” of the messages from the threads in the fabric of the universe. You actually don’t “need” the cards, but they help with the translation part. And you can’t just intuit whatever you want from the symbols. One of the reasons they work can be found in tradition. If you stray too far from the traditional interpretive flavors of the archetypal symbols, then you lose the message. The Tarot energy is using this card to speak this archetypal message, so you can’t twist it too far out of shape. The Tower is a breakdown, a challenge, the Two of Cups is a coming together in partnership. Now, you can bend that to a specific situation/question (as in partnership with whom and of what type? or breakdown of what kind?), but you can’t make it into something else altogether.
So, the Tarot is a translation tool, like the Babel Fish in Douglas Adams’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. We just read the output for humans to get a better idea of what’s going on around them, where their subconscious might be pointing them, and how they could use that knowledge to chart a new course if they like, or celebrate the energy wave they are currently creating.
For me, the most important thing to remember about how this works is to understand the bit about the future. Just as the universe is not static in what we call the “physical,” neither is it along the time axis; the future is always only a potential state, and is changed by our interaction with the present. So, deterministic predictions are not really possible; we always have the power to change the story, if ever so slightly, by the way we respond. And knowing a bit more about what’s going on inside us and around us can give us more power to make those changes into the future.
So, how do you see the Tarot “working,” beyond paper and ink, for you?
I found the questions for this series at a Tumblr account that no longer exists. A lovely person named Rhee started the thing. These are great prompts for telling stories about one’s journey through the world of Tarot, so I’ve started the series again on a weekly basis so you all can get to know me better, and also share your own answers to the questions in comments or links to your own posts. I’d love to hear from you!