Sunday, February 28, 2010

The "yes/no" questions and tarot

At the very beginning of my trip with tarot, I learned the pitfalls of these kind of questions. I accept that my teacher and mentor did his best to keep me away from this swamp and I did not pay attention and insisted in those “quickie” questions. The truth is that whoever asks a dycotomic or bipolar question (the sort that only accept “Yes/No” for an answer) is not acting out of consideration for the time of the reader and because it is a “quick” one, but because he wants the ultimate answer, that that seems definitive: some event will happen, yes or no?

Lets examine the usual mechanisms for bipolar readings. It is done counting how many reversed cards show up in a spread, or by setting the number of cards you must take from the deck without getting a "negative” one. In the first method, you set the number of cards (always odd, usually 5 or 7) and that number is drawn from the whole deck of cards. If you get more than half inverted, the answer is no (3 among 5 cards, for example); otherwise is yes. In the second method you must use only major arcana, and previously established which cards are negative, (the usual suspects being "The Devil", "Death", “The Tower”, "The Moon", "The Emperor" and "The Hanged Man") In this method the number of cards you must withdraw the deck is usually five: if you withdraw them without getting any of the negative ones, you had a positive response. There are a lot of mathematical variants of these methods (for example, giving double value to the center card, or to some major arcana if they show up in the spread), but basically the methods to confront this kind of questions are these.

That's it! The truth (MY truth, at least), and I keep insisting on this, there is no such thing as fate, things are not written in advance, much less so strongly you can summarize them in “yes/no”. But even if so, to exempt the tarot of statistics requires more than magical thinking which, of course, use to have great hatred to the numbers. I believe in a collective unconscious, in individual/universe synchronicity and if you press me maybe, just maybe, I would concede something like the Akashic records, for those of my readers who likes teosophy. But these two methods are anything but oracular. It would be exactly the same if we used the phone book, open at random and if the name we come across starts with a consonant the answer is yes. The deck itself, the very deck you, me and John Doe use, is not mystical. Mystical are its principles, its concepts, but any deck, no matter how much we love it, is cardboard and ink made and therefore is subject to the same statistics laws that rules anything else.

In all honesty, the Gypsies, who developed and preserved much of tarot as divination tool, must be exonerated from these rather tricky methods which are, believe or not, an adaptation and heritage from the Christian consultations to the Bible. This method is simple: you ask a question, open the Book at random and read a verse. Most of the times is a phrase to ponder about (which is progress) but if the verse includes "yes" or "no", no matter the context, the answer is given. Since the tool is the Bible, Christians who use this practice don’t see any resemblance with cartomancy, but the underlying mechanism is identical to the methods of bipolar questions: none of them have any consideration for mathematics, a discipline that God seems to have in high esteem and usually don’t trespass its rules.

The answers in "yes or no" questions may be the longest ones. If the consultant said "come on, is quickie" you know you’ll need twenty minutes just for that question and then there will be questions of deepening. And beyond the time, what the consultant actually is doing is handing the responsibility of his decision to the reader through the deck. He doesn’t want to think, he doesn’t want even a tip. He wants the security of a divine commandment, being God, destiny or any other entity of his choice. On top of that, there’s not one positive or negative letter itself. If he wanted to hear the nuances, the consultant may find an answer like "Yes, it is going to work. And remember: beware of your wishes, for you may get them... "

There are no such thing as things that "yes or no" are going to happen. Show me a successful example of these predictions and I'll show you a person who took the necessary decisions to get things turned out well. What there are is roads open, meaning possibilities and consequences

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