The Other “I” Words

Since I describe myself as a storyteller in the same breath that I profess to being a diviner, I often find that intuition is thin sauce with which to season my readings. It’s not something that can typically be turned on and off at will like a faucet; when it’s “on,” it’s free-flowing and insightful, but when it’s “off” it’s frequently an unreliable source of awareness. Trying to force it to cooperate through sweeping free-association from the images may jump-start it, but there is no experience more daunting for a reader than sitting in front of a client with your mouth hanging open and nothing particularly wise to say. It’s even worse when you don’t have a “live” sitter across the table to help you puzzle your way through the fog (I’m thinking “remote” reading here) since your own subconscious can trick you into thinking you’re “on the money” when all you’re really doing is fishing in your private memory stream.  Subjective navel-gazing is a blunter way to put it. I like to ask myself in any reading situation “Whose subconscious are we tapping here?” If the sitter can’t relate to anything I’m saying, I think I have my answer.

I’ve posted similar sentiments before (, but I just realized that, although I’ve been throwing the terms “imagination, inspiration and ingenuity” around rather loosely in my writing as a more trustworthy alternative to “intuition,” I’ve never really defined what they mean to me. So here’s something to correct the oversight.

Imagination: Creativity, originality, inventiveness, fruitful vision, fertility of thought or conception.

Inspiration: Stimulus, enlightenment, motivation, incentive, impulse, “brainstorm;” literally, being “informed by Spirit.”

Ingenuity: Cleverness, resourcefulness, skillfulness, adroitness, aptitude, flair.

Because these words are often used interchangeably to describe one another, I tried to “cherry-pick” only those definitions that give a unique flavor to each one. As I use them, the main thing they have in common is that, from a storyteller’s perspective, they are all  rooted in the soil of visionary perception fortified by creative thought and are not simply bearers of emotional fancy with no discernible grounding in reality, as intuition can often be. In short, they don’t desert you if the wind is blowing the wrong way. I have many detractors among “New Age-y” practitioners of the mystical arts who, although they say “to each his own,”  in their hearts don’t really believe that the intellect is the right tool for exploring the unseen. I don’t entirely disagree, but as long as reading the tarot is a verbal exchange between reader and querent and not a telepathic one, a robust command of knowledge-based ideas and vocabulary serves me better than casting my net aimlessly into the waters of intuitive guesswork with no clue what the quarry might be.  While the latter can be fun, the fish are usually smaller and less meaty.

As an afterthought, just don’t call me the “I-Man.” I would be surprised if Don Imus doesn’t have that trademarked.

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