Do not doubt the mesmerizing power of cards. For centuries people have assigned their fate to the outcome of a game of poker, blackjack or chemin-de-fer. So vital is the card game to the plot of the James Bond movie Casino Royale that the film devotes some 40 minutes to dramatizing it.
A colleague of this newspaper recently gave me my first tarot reading, and it was illuminating. As with any occult art there are different methods, but this is the one I experienced: From the tarot deck I drew five cards, which served as something like plot points in the story of my life. There was the establishment of present concerns, then barriers and finally a sacrifice to be made to reach the resolution. The cards provided archetypal images, and my imagination did the rest.
By imagination I do not mean simple daydreams, of course, but a power of realization that mirrors by analogy the act of divine creation. The “magic” of tarot lies in the power conferred by the user. The cards are imbued with divinatory power, and to the tarot reader one attributes arcane insight. The session is experienced as a moment outside profane everyday life, a sojourn into sacred time that reveals the workings of Providence upon destiny. The imagination serves as the bridge between the physical world and the metaphysical realm of potentials and possibilities, and crafts a story for the reader and only the reader.
“The tarot is one of the most wonderful of human inventions,” writes occult historian Emile Grillot de Givry. “This pack of pictures, in which destiny is reflected as in a mirror with multiple facets, exercises so irresistible an attraction on imaginative minds that it is hardly possible austere critics should ever succeed in abolishing its employment.”
A warning: One should use the power of one’s will to keep imagination in check, as one’s first interpretation of the card spread may be only what their lower consciousness or ego wants to see. One should employ the method of initiatic science and test one’s interpretation until intuition confirms the interpretation that resonates the most deeply; that may not be the interpretation one wanted, as the challenges it presents may seem impossible. Then again, what is possible is merely a matter of opinion.
Those fascinated by the kings and queens, knights and fools in a standard deck of playing cards will find that the tarot will take them from poker to the Kabbalah, and from blackjack to the sacred science of Hermeticism and the powers of the soul to transform itself and create the life it envisions based on their highest potential.