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To: alt.tarot,alt.divination,alt.magick.tyagi
From: (nagasiva)
Subject: Interpretation/Knowledge (Was Re: JKarlin: The Haindl Deck,...)
Date: 23 Oct 1995 08:59:52 -0700

ky951023 [kaos day!  the return of the Abyss!; cc'd to Jess in email]

Jess Karlin  writes:

|Which other books written specifically for a deck do you think 'bite'[?]

I'd like to hear your feedback on this also, Jess, as well as which books
you'd recommend (if any).

|...a truly feminist revision of the old symbols might produce something 
|interesting if it were to be disconnected from such nonsense as the 
|Goddess and the eternal debts owed to women by the evil patriarchy.

While I did enjoy your review (I don't always like things I REpost), I
came away from it thinking that you have a rather denigrating attitude
toward 'Goddess-worshipers'.  It seems you have a very specific notion
of what 'true feminism' should include and are supporting it here in
your statement concerning 'a truly feminist revision of the old symbols
(presumably in a 'feminist tarot deck')'.

What do you call feminism and what tarot decks which do or do not call
themselves 'feminist' (Motherpeace?  others?) have you looked at?  Why
do you find them to be problematic?  The cards, not the books.  Is it
important that the cards be connected to some previous symbolism used
within decks?  Perhaps you did not consider the Motherpeace (an obvious
example to which you did not refer complementarily) valuable?  Or do you
just think that it is a *different* set of symbols (which it is not, in
its in entirety -- 'The Tower' comes to mind :>).

|>...When i am using a tarot deck, i am using a tool to serve as a focus 
|>and an intermediary between a source very like an oracle, and the 
|>information in my own subconcious mind that is brought out by an 
|>intuitive process....lots of people like to call it psychic, 
|>but when i'm doing it it's intuition and interpretation of symbols.

I think you've got the basic idea, but express it somewhat ambiguously.
I hear you saying there are three elements: tarot, source, mind.  It
would be easy to equate 'source' and 'tarot' here, but you've also
mentioned that the tarot (a tool) serves as 'a focus and an intermed-
iary'.  An intermediary between what source and your mind?  Intuition?

|>people pay me money to do this for them - this intuitive process of 
|>interpreting symbols and seeing associations and relationships within the 

|Nor are they paying you to make up whatever crap you decide the
|cards mean---the meanings of the symbols have both a traditional
|as well as a semiotic essence---if you are going to dismiss
|the meanings in the little books you must explain (to us anyway)
|why you are doing it and how your changes are indicated by your
|correct understanding of the symbols.

I think that what Jess said is false or at least overly extreme and I'll
tell you why.  There is a wide range of motive for seeking a tarot
reading from another person, especially for money.  Your appearance,
the particular seeker, the day they had, what they had for breakfast, etc.,
all may have an influence on the client.  Some people are simply not
discerning enough to know what they should be hearing from you, using
tarot readers just like 'psychics' for sounding boards rather than as
instructors in the esoterics or mirrors of deep reflection.  

Many readers (some of them quite intuitively skilled) do not know very
much about traditional meanings.  This is the value of the tools of
divination, that we may ascribe meaning to the tool itself and use it
just as effectively as if we are tied into the social meme-complex.

There is no 'correct understanding' of any symbol.

|>It is helpful to know what you can about symbols, period.  

|No, it's vital to know exactly what they mean. 

Again I think you are too extreme here, positing an 'exact meaning'
to a symbol wherein there is no such thing.  Symbols are what they
are, and that is all (though some contend that they have other-worldly
existence :>).  They do not contain their own meaning.  We, as humans
with reflective and imaginative intellects, have ascribed many different
meanings to various symbols and even those which are most popular and
obvious vary as to their *possible meaning* to an imaginative person.

In this case 'knowing exactly what they mean' amounts to knowing exactly
what many others (presumably the 'authorities' whom you value) say that 
the cards mean.

|Anything else means you are guessing and despite the nonchalance with which
|so many bad readers dismiss this requirement it's still there.

Actually you are imagining this requirement, based on your conception of
what makes a 'good reader'.  

|If a person is gifted with reading skills they can read cards
|without knowing all the symbology---

There's an admission with which I can agree and I think Moonchild does too.

|...the quality of any sophisticated reading demands that one be familiar 
|with the symological dynamics of their deck--- 

Having used a deck for a few years I think they'd automatically be familiar
with the *symbology*, but what do you mean by 'symbolical dynamics', and
do you think that these things may be absorbed unconsciously through the
use of the tool (as can familiarity with the symbols themselves)?

A good example is the Thoth deck and its astronomical symbolism contained
within most all of the cards (Small Cards have it in each, setting up a
grand lattice, Majors have it as well but sometimes more anthropomorphic
in representation).  One may become unconsciously familiar with the sign
of 'Taurus', for example after having seen it on many cards (circle
inferior to up-open crescent), but I may not ever assimilate the relation-
ship *between* the cards, that grand lattice.

|but most people are not gifted in this way and rely on a coherent grasp of 
|the symols and these people certainly must study and memorize the symbols 
|to further the process or learing how to read.

Well, that's different.  Now you're saying that those people who cannot
absorb the significance from handling the deck must derive it from previous
book-publishers.  I think this is again overly extreme, but much less harsh
a response to Moonchild, who would probably agree with you to some extent.

|Further, the memorization process is meant to actually free
|a person from having to try to remember what something means.

'Memorization' is just the recall of 'indoctrination'.  Memory requires 
data.  It does not say anything about the truth value of that data.  
Sometimes that which is quite difficult (impossible?) to remember is the 
most accurate.  Sometimes the opposite seems true.

|>it's good to know about the symbology of tarot and the esoteric 
|>meanings of the cards.  

This in fact varies.  Sometimes that knowledge can be an impediment to
fluid interpretation.  It is much like playing an instrument.  One may
be constrained by one's knowledge of 'how it is supposed to sound'.

|>...a good reader has to be able to percieve what qualities in a card 
|>have significance.

|What does that mean? Significance based on what?

Based on the reading, the cards surrounding the card in question, the
individual situation and the vibes which the reader might get from
sources other than the deck, among other things.  It is a matter of
keyed timing.  Significance varies based on the circumstances and the

|>rote memorization of card meanings gets in the way of free form and fluid 
|>thinking, it gets in the way of versatile perception.  

|fluid thinking comes from the ability to rapidly and coherently process 
|thoughts, NOT from actively avoiding providing your brain with 'too many 
|notes' to process.... 

I think that Moonchild was just saying what you'd said wrt memorization

|Only in tarot is it thought best by so many twits to avoid learning the 
|basics because it might 'get in the way'....  

Look around.  It is a tendency among many of occult arts and sciences.  
It also has some essential truth: that society's values, ideas and truths
may get in the way of learning our own.  Of course they may also become
windows to ourselves....

|> open for a new way of perceiving a particular symbol within the 
|>picture on a card if you are trying to excercise an intuitive process.

|What's that mean exactly, give an example from a real deck and card.

Tower, Thoth.   The significance of the lightning bolt (one might use
any deck which has the Tower/War card and a lightning bolt -- there
are many).  Learning, I meet up with my own inner limitations.  If I
am open to new ways of perceiving symbols, then I may find grander and
more expansive significances within readings than I am likely to read
from Eden Gray, for example, or perhaps some of the 'feminist' writers. :>

|>...I can be a little snooty about this because i find that the way i 
|>like to learn a new deck is more effective for my particular technique 
|>of reading....and i am happy with that technique.

|You are happy getting money from people who don't know any better.

I think Mr. Karlin is looking for nits.

|If this process of yours is so effective then tell me what the 
|following Haindl cards mean based on your intuitive process---


[rest of list omitted]

That's ridiculous.  As Moonchild said, the significance (ever heard of
the term 'the Significator'?) of the card is largely influenced by its
placement within the spread and other possible factors as well.  Merely
being given a card from a deck with which one is familiar and asked to
'tell you what it means' is fairly ludicrous, though I think most
skilled readers can give you some valuable reflections on what those
cards mean *to them* or have meant to others.

You appear to be asking for the traditional associations.  As has been
adequately argued above, traditional associations are not always very
important to successful tarot readings.  The whole hinges on the notion
of what 'successful' means.  I gather that most readers think that they
have been 'successful' if they and their client are pleased with the
results, not trying to satisfy some sort of 'minimum esoteric complexity'
which you may wish to level upon their art.

Please explain why you find the traditional associations so compelling
and/or necessary.  Thanks.
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