The Virtue of Simplicity

As time goes on I find myself drawn more and more to working with only the 56 Minor Arcana cards in divination. Granted, the 22 Major Arcana are where most of the philosophical “meat” lies in the tarot, but very few of my readings rise to that level of metaphysical complexity and intensity. Most of them deal with basic human concerns like love, money, work and personal well-being (health). As I mentioned in my last post, you can always just dial down the significance of the trump cards and interpret them at their most commonplace, but why not omit them entirely in certain cases that clearly don’t involve major life-changing considerations? I’ve been using this approach for my Monthly Lunar Look-ahead readings with generally good results; astrologically, the Moon is so changeable and rapid in its daily transits, coming and going quickly on a regular basis, that its  impact is never more than momentary. The combination of suit-and-number symbolism in the minor cards is well-favored to show the fleeting conditions this implies.

It stands to reason that the minor cards should be easier to parse into specific mundane details than the trump cards, which are more like “destiny writ large.” I once wrote a post talking about the trumps as suggesting being “thrown under the bus by fate,” something that thankfully doesn’t happen every day. Conversely, the court cards can be conveniently reduced to indications of other people involved in a situation; of attitudes or behaviors the querent should either adopt or avoid; or of external forces or energies influencing the matter in a more impersonal way. The small cards are the “nuts-and-bolts” of routine experience and can be taken as the “tone” of the period ahead even when they don’t signify actual events that may come to pass. Between the two an appropriately comprehensive picture of near-term circumstances and likely occurrences can be drawn without resorting to the Jungian intricacies of trump-card sophistication that can be more trouble to interpret than they’re worth in real-world terms.

Other forms of cartomancy are much less schizophrenic in this regard. For example, in the Lenormand and Kipper systems all cards carry equal weight in a reading, and playing-card divination is very similar to what I’m proposing for the tarot. These tools are well-suited to addressing practical, “garden-variety” questions that don’t involve highly critical decisions or radical action; when such far-reaching implications are known to be present, it is sufficient to simply use a larger spread like the Grand Tableau that can cover any eventuality. With the tarot I would still be inclined to keep the trump cards in the deck when long-range consequences of a life-altering nature are being contemplated, but for more immediate questions with a narrower scope I’m going to continue experimenting with leaving them out of the equation.

2 thoughts on “The Virtue of Simplicity

  1. Pingback: The Thoth Minor Arcana: “Back Door” to Cartomancy? | Parsifal's Wheel Tarot & Astrology

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