Hemingway had his cats.
BB King’s got Lucille.
Sweeney Todd had his razors.
I have Tarot.
So, of course, whatever we love, we want to know as much as we can about it – where does it come from? What does it do? How do I meld this majick into my everyday life? We respect what we love. We accept what we love for what it is, because to us, it has its own special perfection. Acceptance and understanding are principle elements of real love. This goes for other people, all people, all things.
In other words, I don’t think BB would look at his guitar and complain that she doesn’t look like a cello.
And yet, I have witnessed this very strange phenomenon with a few — not many mind you, but a few — divinationists, specifically Tarot readers. Now, again, I reiterate that I don’t know everything, no one does. But, I’m pretty sure The Emperor doesn’t specifically mean “the establishment designed to cut down trees” or that the Queen of Cups is “an angel that appears to you in a dream.”
With this kind of specificity, you can just as well say that the 10 of Swords means you’re gonna buy a new pincushion.
Now, I’m not saying these are out and out wrong. The Queen of Cups could be an angel presented in a dream and The Emperor usually personifies a prestigious leader or ruling entity, such as the military or a corporation who might cut down trees…unless it’s the president of Greenpeace. But, these definitions are so limited, so specific, so personally biased, it would be like naming The High Priestess “Cher” because she’s got a fancy headdress.
Granted, if you’re reading for fun and this is a light-parlor-trick-hobby-thing you like to perform at sleepovers, then hey, rock on with your bad self! No harm, no foul, really. But, if you’re taking someone’s money and you have a client that is looking for genuine guidance through a challenging situation, then I lovingly remind you that you’re only as good as your tool.
(Oh my goddess, that sounded SO wrong…)
Lemme rephrase: if the system you’re using is corrupt, your information will be, too. I don’t use the word “corrupt” lightly, either.
Keep in mind the Tarot is almost as old as the Quabbalah, designed way before the Vatican, before tights, before pictures printed on cloth for clothing. The system was formulated around the most basic and universal aspects of existence.
Take the Major Arcana, for example: Every single human being, regardless of sex, race, creed, stature, whatever, even if you live in a third world country, you are going to experience Death, The Chariot, The World, The Tower, the Fool, etc. Those cards represent the inevitabilities in life, itself.
I don’t think those who live more simply will experience getting their financial portfolio hacked into. So, why would anyone assign that meaning to the 3 of Pentacles, of all cards? Not everyone will look at The Hierophant and know immediately that it means patriarchal and sexual oppression against women, especially if the system was formulated before Christianity. (Granted, Christianity got their hands on the system later in the 1400’s, but that’s a different blog.)
Now, I’m not saying these are absolutely impossible interpretations. I’m just saying, I don’t think that’s the general idea of what the founders had in mind…
Though it is true that the meanings of the cards sway a bit with our individual perspectives as well as other influences such as the placement, card it relates to, etc. Nevertheless, each card was purposefully crafted to have its own boundary of significance. If these boundaries are stretched too far or downright broken by individual prejudices, the beautiful balance of the system gets off-kilter. This does an injustice to the system, to the querant, and to you.
There are literally hundreds of different decks on the market today, each of them having their own personalities and auras, just like the cards, themselves. At some point, there was/is an artist who determined there’s too much sexism or not enough color or not enough religion, not enough fairies, whatever and created a deck with you in mind. Whatever your personal alignment may be in your ethics, ethnicity, spirituality, interests, or even humor (they even have pirates!) there is a deck that you can agree with which would work best for you. But, if your personal alignment in life is straightforward and conservative, then maybe the Deviant Moon or the Motherpeace Round may not be for you, you know what I mean?
And hey, in all seriousness, you can always design your own! Why not? Who knows, maybe your interpretations may speak to someone else.
The point is, if you decide that the letter “A” in the English alphabet has a “pew” sound, what’s your story gonna sound like?
And who’s gonna understand you?