I love it when people brush off what we do. “Tarot is a trend. It’ll burn out like tattoos!”
Cracks me up…
And I’ll say, it’s interesting (and very nice) to hear other professionals and dabblers defend the practice. The real proof in the pudding is the mere fact there are now literally hundreds of different tarot decks on the market today. Not to mention oracles, oracle cards, goddess cards, runes, boards, pendulums, dowsing kits, scrying mirrors, and on and on.
Matter of fact, I’d go so far as to say they’re as common as tattoos. (*innocent whistle*)
As a matter of further fact, I would actually go so far as to say the practice of divination is just as old as tattoos, maybe even a littler further. I’ve heard a lot of people theorize about what the first rituals man may have conducted – worshipping this, homage to that. But, I think before anything can be worshipped, it has to be discovered first…
If we visualize or compare primitive man and its evolution to an individual’s birth and growth, then it can be better understood that a rite of symbol and social passing would probably be a little stretch. Just as children are egocentric, I would imagine the primitive human would be, as well. The “left brain exercising” probably wouldn’t come until the homo sapien started losing most of its hair and standing up straighter because existence itself him would be more “magical” and explorative, just as it would for a new toddler.
So, with that, we accept the human as an animal, pure and simple. Above anything else, before anything else – before name, sex, occupation, race, religion, community, it is among the fish, wolves, birds, and other various noise-making and sexing organisms. And just as with any other quad or biped, they can smell air and danger, food, weather…they live by their instincts. Running around naked in the rocks and the woods, our forefathers’ and mothers’ forefathers and mothers lived by their psyche while they explored this incredible world full of cold white stuff and green mushy stuff surrounded by big, big masses of wet stuff that’s almost the same colors as the blanket over the Big Rock stuff.
Symbol? Sacred space? Worship? Passage? Most likely unlikely. Five million years ago, eating, walking, and breeding probably made for a happy Australopithecus.
But, when our species began to “grow up,” sort of speak, then they started to try to make sense of the Big Rock and taught themselves how to create. Instead of finding shelter, they started putting it together. Instead of consuming food after its found, they started preparing it first. With these psychological and cognitive developments, the left brain finally got some exercise, but I still don’t believe it was quite ready for the complexity of aligning with a grand creative force yet.
As the left brain develops, the instincts and center brains are less used. Logic becomes the new psyche, just as a blind person’s hearing becomes their new sight. With this argument, we can accept the very first “rites” were more probably used for (that’s right!) Divination.
To illustrate, let’s say there’s a “disturbance in the Force,” but the homo halibus can’t quite understand it as his / her sahelanthropus tchadensis siblings did. They need some help understanding what it means. Well, since they’ve tapped into their tool-making abilities, they wondered what if they took those sticks…or those rocks? Or those bones? What if they tossed them into the air or broke them or scratched them onto a bark of a tree and looked at the patterns? Maybe the patterns can help jog their – “Oh, okay, yeah! Oh, that’s not a disturbance in the force! It’s just going to get a little colder here is all, so let’s take the kids and find another cave,” or “Looks like the food’s not so good here. Let’s go to another forest for different berries.”
“Hey Oonga! Check this out, it works! Here, try it!”
So, Oonga takes up the sticks or rocks and throws them into the air again, but this time they land differently than Oonga’s. But, Boonga’s psyche is jogged by the new image, all the same. It becomes a game. It’s fun and they’re told important information at the same time. Then they begin to get bigger and better ideas to make the game more interesting and effective, and soon, they have a great epiphany: “What if we used sticks AND rocks at the same time?!” And so on and on, until Oonga and Boonga show their game to Koonga. And Koonga thinks this game is so great, she realizes she got so caught up, that she didn’t notice the big red thing in the sky getting smaller in the blue blanket over the Big Rock and it was becoming harder to see.
Koonga went into a trance. Koonga went into “an altered state.”
So, the “Ga” community, Oonga, Boonga, and Koonga, present their game to the “Oogoo” village down the hill. Turns out the Oogoo’s have their own games — they use fish skins! And their fish skins tell them not only about the weather and food, but also where to go when it gets cold and where little Johnny Oogoo’s hiding place is! Now, sticks, rocks, fish skins and all these gifts are telling them stories…but, how? From where? How do these sticks know that it’s going to get cold? How can the fish skin find direction?
And how do they understand them? Is Oonga a stick? No, Oonga is not a stick. Is Boonga a rock? No, Boonga is NOT a rock. Then how do they understand what stick, rock, and fish skin are saying?
Hmmmm, there must be stick, rock, and fish skin…somewhere.