A Reasonable Assumption

As regular readers of this blog know, I’m not an advocate of remote tarot reading of any kind although, with COVID keeping me away from “live” divination venues for the foreseeable future, I’ve been doing a few of them by email. The thought struck me that useful parallels might be drawn between the conventions of horary astrology and the practice of online tarot reading. In horary, we require nothing from the querent other than the question itself, but prompt and precise handling of the inquiry is crucial to success. The evolving sky pattern is already there, the astrologer just pins it to a specific place and moment in time, and then interprets it according to an explicit set of rules. The horoscope calculation is based on the exact (at least to the minute) instant the question is fully understood by the astrologer, using the geographic coordinates of the astrologer’s location; the client is out of the picture from that point until the answer is delivered. There are none of the niceties of interactive protocol found in face-to-face tarot reading, such as asking querents to shuffle and cut the deck, nor (like the Ancient Mariner) fixing them with your “glittering eye” as you proclaim “The cards predict . . . .” Horary preliminaries are as bare-bones as it gets, and – barring any “strictures against judgment” in the as-cast chart – they work very well indeed. With the possible exception of timeliness, I can see many similarities between online tarot usage and the preparatory methods of horary astrology.

Extending these premises into the realm of remote tarot reading, it would seem to behoove us to pull the cards as soon as we open and read the querent’s text or email and comprehend exactly what he or she wants (especially if the subject matter is very specific in nature and presumably urgent). I think of it as “striking while the iron is hot;” if the Universe works that way for horary astrology, it seems to be a reasonable assumption that it would behave the same way with tarot. Conceivably, the more “stale” the question is at the time the cards are drawn, the more “fuzzy” the projected outcome may be since, with the passage of too much time, the querent’s circumstances could have progressed beyond the immediate need reflected in the question, and they could have already been led part-way down an entirely different path. That can necessitate considerable “backpedaling” on the original reading through supplemental interpretation to make it support the querent’s eventual feedback (assuming we get some) regarding any inaccuracies in the initial write-up. I can say from experience that this can nibble away at our credibility through no fault of our own.

This is all part of “how divination works.” The presumptive future is a kaleidoscopic flow of possible events and circumstances that can move in and out of focus as the evidentiary tides shift, especially when the destinies of more than one person or the influence of competing agendas are involved, since these are factors of which the diviner may be completely ignorant. This is where tarot departs from the assumptions of horary astrology, where a single discrete question must be formulated and there is little “wiggle room” – either something “is” or it “isn’t” – and shades of gray are typically not extrapolated from the testimony.

For example, there is usually no element of “psychological analysis” in the ancient art of horary astrology although tarot has been pressed into that service ever since the 1970s. This is not necessarily good news for the reader since people can be much more unreadable than events, and correctly surmising their intimate thoughts and intentions is a dicey proposition. We can draw credible conclusions about situational developments in the future from past and present actions and reactions (that is, “What will happen if I do the same thing this time?”), but human-interest inquiries such as “What does Joe think or feel about me?” are often a conundrum, a conjectural “wild card.” Asking “Does Joe like me?” might only be answered truthfully with “To be honest, Joe doesn’t think about you at all,” but the cards aren’t going to produce that observation in plain language without some subjective guess-work. Back in the day (or at least when I was in middle school) this was the sort of nervous, giggly question you would ask a “friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend” so the object of your affection would hopefully never find out; now, to avoid potential mortification, we can hide behind the tarot and fire away.

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