“You’ll Fall Right In . . .” (b/w “The Beef Stew Annual Forecast Spread”)

A discussion I’ve been following on the “r/tarot” reddit board brought up the point that the tarot can be overused (or improperly used) in the search for personal awareness and advancement. It is a fascinating thread for what it reveals about the extremes some people will go to in overthinking their daily lives rather than simply “living them.” I was reminded of my four-year-old granddaughter, who can’t leave her navel alone (while sucking her thumb). I tell her “It’s going to get so big you’ll fall right in!” This strikes me as the perfect analogy for the “navel-gazing” (and perhaps “thumb-sucking”) crowd who can’t seem to make a move without consulting the cards.

I have to admit that I spent decades in this same pursuit when I thought that the best uses for the tarot were psychological. But then I realized that natal astrology provides much more credible insights into one’s personality than the tarot, which isn’t really all that good at “psychological profiling,” being originally an action-and-event-oriented fortune-telling tool (and before that a game-playing and gambling one). This brought me to the startling realization (at least for a “New Age survivor”) that there is really nothing wrong with simple divination. Rather than asking myself “What major psychological breakthrough will I experience next year?” I find it more worthwhile to inquire “What will be the general ‘tone’ of the circumstances I will have to work with over the next twelve months?” This amounts to not “putting too fine a point” on the specifics of the period in question. It encourages an approach that resembles the lucky or unlucky implications of the “Chinese Year:” in other words, “Will this be the ‘Year of the Sun’ or the “Year of the Tower’ for me?”

In my estimation, it’s much more enlightening (not to mention much more fun) to explore the existential threads that run through the archetypes – both “major” and “minor” – embedded in the cards rather than agonize over what they might mean for my mental and emotional well-being. Marcus Katz of the Tarosophy Association posted a remarkable spread for this purpose that I’ve adapted for my own quirky ends. I call it the “Beef Stew” Annual Forecast Spread since it captures my idea that the Major Arcana cards represent the “broth” (or binding milieu – experiential continuum, flavor, tone, backdrop, wallpaper, etc.) and the Minor Arcana the “meat-and-potatoes” (highlighted postures or potential actions) of the metaphorical “stew” that makes for a homogeneous “look-ahead” tarot reading. Rather than attempting to describe the “inner workings of the belly-button” (with the attendant hazards of “falling in”), it gives a broader and much more compelling overview of the topography. (I will post my 2022 reading as an example tomorrow.)

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