The Sticking Point

sticking point (noun): “a point, detail, or circumstance causing or likely to cause a stalemate or impasse.”

For those with enough cartomantic experience to instantly spot what is working in a reading and what isn’t, there is often one card (and frequently more than one) that stands out by defying meaningful connection to the matter at hand. This can range anywhere from “bad” cards in “good” positions within a spread to the subtleties of reversal or elemental sympathy/antipthy, but most often it stems from the apparent incompatibility of a card’s more esoteric or mystical connotations with the work-a-day context of the seeker’s question. Trump cards with their archetypal trappings can be notoriously uncooperative in this regard and court cards aren’t far behind, leaving us at a loss for constructive interpretation. There can be a cognitive gap between the exalted spiritual truth and the mundane reality that can be difficult to bridge. We often get hung up on ethical and philosophical dilemmas like “Can the Devil ever be a good card?” or “Does the Knight of Wands represent a person, a psychological characteristic or an impersonal force that is given anthropomorphic qualities?” (Human beings have a penchant for putting a familiar “face” on natural phenomena in order to personify them in recognizable mental/emotional terms – like naming tropical storms.)

Years of practice will usually produce a species of “truce” with these cards that permits a degree of comfort with their appearance in a reading; we have seen enough of them in combination to know what they are unlikely to mean in a situation, and then whittle down the remaining possibilities to reach the best option. It’s what Dr. Seuss called “calculatus eliminatus.” The challenge comes in trying to accomplish this with finesse in the middle of a face-to-face reading where there is little time to deliberate. While James Ricklef put his finger on the right approach with his observation “Let them simmer in your consciousness; they will eventually make sense, they always do,” this is cold comfort when an anxious sitter is staring at you expectantly from across the table. My personal solution is to engage my querents with suggestions about the possible relevance of puzzling cards and offer them an active role in deciding what they mean. This prevents going too far down the wrong road with what amounts to a “non-starter” from the querent’s vantage point. It’s a rare client who pushes back at me with the expectation that I should have all the answers. It’s as much a matter of personal style as anything; I prefer to be regarded as a “way-shower” and guide or coach than as an oracular wise-man, and usually describe my interaction with the sitter as a “mutual voyage of discovery.” The cards act to tease out the individual’s foreknowledge of the likely outcome through the power of suggestion once the gate has been swung open.


8 thoughts on “The Sticking Point

  1. HAH. I have no idea. I mean, I don’t know how I seem to come to the meanings and interpretations that I do as I don’t know how i come to the conclusions and stuff that i do… I think of it as much less of the sticking points of the cards themselves and more to do with my brain itself… Like.. as if my brain is the scratchy half of velcro and it is rolling like tumbleweed through life. I am the tumbleweed through life. And when I read cards, I’m daubing my scratchy velcro brain thingy against the soft half of the velcro to see what sticks. What have my little hooks caught? I don’t know? It’s all… contextual… and conceptual… to my own context and filtered and verbalised to fit into the person’s own context.
    Does that make sense? Or have I over-complicated something very simple? Have I missed the point? I struggle to “anything” when it comes to “me”. But I’m very good at… connecting to others. Helping them feel seen and heard and understood… It’s funny. I feel like a hot mess but I know I don’t look like one. Maybe they’re attracted to one of my things that make up my “hot mess”? They’re stuck to it like gum on the sidewalk, or have morbid curiosity and slow down long enough to watch but not enough to do anything to help like… when you’re in a car and you want to see what’s slowing the traffic down. LOL

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      • I truly appreciate your unveiling of your intended message based upon your inspiration.
        As such is I, I just.. read words differently. I interpret words and narratology. I adore symbols and symbology. That’s how I just… I don’t know.. I just am what I am. I do what I do. And… I don’t always know what that means, it really depends on who I am speaking to.
        I am really stuck right now. I’m in pain in my head and my heart. I used to be the fool and the wheel but I am now the world. I know I contain a universe within myself and I have the potential and the capabilities to manifest magic with but a whim and a spoken word. But.. I am tired.. so tired of being misunderstood. And not by strangers for they never knew me nor owe me anything. I am reeling and writhing inside as I hurt the ones I love the most again and again. I… don’t know what to do. I feel as if I must crawl back inside of my own cage.. it’s okay I’m not imprisoned or anything. It’s my own cage that I made. But.. my cage doesn’t fit and I have to find a new way to slip through the cracks and navigate the universes and still find my way back. Like a kaleidoscope of colours. I know who I am and what I do. I just wish.. I knew which way to turn and break me constructively. To show people the spectrum of colour and light within themselves too.


  2. I’m neither a psychoanalyst nor a psychotherapist, just a lifelong student of human nature, but I sense a lot of revealing insight in your observations. I tend to be more analytical than intuitive, and more self-referential than other-directed. That’s probably why I seized upon the qabalistic system way back in 1971 as a meaningful way to explain the Universe. It saw me through my decades as an esoteric hermit here in the woods of New England long before there was an on-line outlet for my thoughts. I move inward much more easily than outward and don’t expect to find my personal truth in other people. I inhabit more of a cave than a cage, and I’m constantly excavating new tunnels, looking for treasure. As a Scorpio/Cancer/Capricorn personality, I’m perfectly at home in the depths and the dark and find contemplation to be a regenerating influence in my life. Aleister Crowley’s essay on Silence in the Book of Thoth is an accurate portrayal of the way I seek.

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    • I am Scorpio, Taurus, Aquarius (mars and mc). This year my chart turns and my empty nadir Leo moves to my Scorpio Dsc.
      I am very literal when I write, but I use metaphor to explain because it’s hard to address or phrase stuff that is so.. complicated. I often don’t realise I write poetically. I just write emphatically, to emphasise what is important to me.. I write about *me*… and it somehow… mirrors others and seen as empathic prophecy. I am so mundane. I am material. I am just this person where I am, who I am, that.. I just am.
      Have you seen my birthchart? I don’t know. If you wanted to look at it. I can tell you my birth details.. 15 November 1986, 5:55pm. Sydney. Australia. I like to ascribe meaning to myself to give me hope that I not just lame and mundane and boring and profane. I wrote a manifesto and shoved it up on my blog. It’s about me having to just… take care of myself.
      I read stuff for fun. And like to look at stuff. I looked into the qabalah a couple of months ago for the first time. And that is what drove me near insanity for I found myself in da’ath. That’s me, who I am and where I am found. And… I lament I am all or nothing. I am full and empty. The kalabah and qlippoth. I have to root myself in Malkuth. That’s where I am now. I despise lies, I speak truth and teach truth and know facts and fiction and stories and manipulations. So yeah. I am huge on consent. And I have to stop reaching out and wait to be called. I communicate. I do not dictate. But I know my power and the power… of whatever I do and attach myself to. I feel really awkward when I speak of myself like this. I’m not mysterious but I speak like I’m some sort of mystic. I select my metaphors specifically for their imagery. My cage is my ribcage. It contains my heart.

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  3. Oh also. You have claimed yourself to be an.. artist engineer. I have described myself an artist scientist.. because I don’t create, I recreate. Your blog has been paramount in my development as a tarot reader. So I want to thank you so much. I think I posted something ages ago about Thanking you for your teachings. Your… tarot your way stuff. Honestly I never read through it, but I wanted to come back to it. Because… I’m a teacher. Not an expert. I’m a jack of all trades kind of girl. I like stuff and thank my own gods, who are all just people. Experts in their own fields that I value. So thank you again but the depths of my soul, you’ve given me so much and I just want to extol you. If I made a library, you’d be the author of the tarot network encyclopedia. You’d be my own akshaka library contributor. Because your words have echoed and resounded in me. And I love to give and share knowledge freely. You’d be part of my bibliography.

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