I can state with no hesitation at all that Tarot cards, “work.” What I mean by that is that, after decades of using them, I can attest to the fact that most of the time they’re mostly accurate in predicting the future outcomes of current events.
Which, of course, leaves a lot of questions hanging about exactly what we mean by the future and how it can possibly be predicted if it doesn’t exist yet.
There is a particularly hideous christian doctrine called, “predestination,” which holds that the future is, somehow, already decided. It was espoused in different forms by Augustine and the Calvinists, and is sort of the logical outcome of the christian world view. It holds that
- God is all knowing and all powerful;
- Which means that God already knows exactly what’s going to happen in the future; and
- Human beings don’t have the power to change what God knows to be true;
- Therefore, the future is already decided and there’s nothing we can do about it.
The upshot of that – according to their thinking – is that it’s already been decided that some people are going to heaven and some people are going to hell and that’s just the way it is. If you belong to the,“hell group,” it doesn’t matter how good or kind or compassionate you are in this lifetime, you’re still going to hell. Why? Because God already decided what the future is going to be.
Pretty weird, huh? I mean . . . it’s logical, in a strange, twisted way . . . but what a bizarre, cruel way to view life and God.
It has a major flaw in that it’s what philosophers would call a, “closed system.” That means that, if everything’s already been decided, then nothing can change, evolve, grow, or become different in any meaningful sense. And if nothing can grow or change, then it’s dead. And, as we all know, if there’s one thing in the universe that’s constant, it’s change. Everything is constantly growing, changing, and evolving and all we have to do to prove that is to look out the window.
So Predestination was kind of a sick, christian brain fart that grew into a religious doctrine. It would be laughable, except for that belief that the future somehow exists already and, therefore, can be predicted.
Which it can, but not because it already exists. It can be predicted because some things are . . . well . . . predictable.
Here’s an example. I live in Northern California which has been burning down with wildfires all summer. The Western United States has been in a major drought for two years, the forests are overgrown and dry as a match stick, and the government refused to fund any additional firefighters or fire fighting equipment.
THEREFORE . . . it was entirely predictable – last winter – that we were going to have an AWFUL summer of forest fires. No question about it. That doesn’t mean that the forest fires somehow already existed in the future, it just means that all of those factors – drought, overgrown forests, not enough firefighters – added up to a very predictable event. In terms of Tarot cards, it would have been represented by The Tower – disaster and destruction.
Human beings are also very, very predictable. If we have a friend who has a history of being involved with abusive men, the odds are very high that she’s going to go right on getting beaten up, unless she gets therapy. If we have a friend who’s suddenly experiencing black outs when he drinks, the odds are very high that he’s going to devolve into an alcoholic.
We tend to get stuck in patterns – or perhaps ruts would be a better term – and keep going in those directions unless something intervenes and changes our course. To put it in terms of Newton’s Laws of Motion, “an object in motion will stay in motion at constant velocity, unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” In this case, a life going in a particular direction will tend to keep going in that direction unless something happens to change that.
Essentially, that’s all that a Tarot reading does. There are card positions for the past, the present and the future, as well as possible intervening factors. The reading is just saying, “This is what’s happened in your past, this is where you’re at now, and this is, logically, where that pattern is taking you next. Here’s what you can do to change that, if you want to.”
The magic, of course, is how all of that information gets into a card layout. How do the cards somehow pick up on what’s happening in our lives and transfer that into a discernible, coherent pattern in a reading?
I have no idea. I just know that it works. I really don’t understand exactly how electricity, “works,” either, but that doesn’t stop me from flipping on a light switch if the room is dark.
When we’re talking about, “predicting the future,” it’s always important to remember that nothing’s ever written in stone. It’s very, very likely that a person who is into abusive relationships will go on being abused. BUT – sometimes they find a great therapist. It’s very, very likely that a person who’s having black out drinking will end up dead or in jail. BUT – sometimes they stumble into an AA meeting or just stop drinking.
In a very real sense, we’re not predicting the future at all. We’re predicting the present. And we can always change our present moment.
Dan Adair is the author of, “Just the Tarot,” available on Amazon.com at a very reasonable price.