There, I said it. I can’t think of a single thing when it comes to the tarot that should be considered immutable and inviolable, except maybe its 78-card structure since I don’t cotton to extra cards; no “Happy Squirrel” card for me since such “augmented” decks act more as oracle than tarot. The same is true for radical reinvention of the interpretive “formula;” bend the tradition any way you want in private practice but don’t pretend it should be considered superior to all others or in any way universal. Above all, don’t write that book, the tarot world doesn’t need another “instant classic” full of self-flattering personal anecdotes.
All the mystical, whimsical “Do’s” and “Don’ts” that people come up with for card ownership and use are just so much nonsense (except maybe “Don’t spill coffee on the cards”). I think breaking the rules is fine as long as the rules and the reasons for them are thoroughly understood beforehand. If we all stayed inside the lines we would never have evolved as a species, but “I just don’t feel doing like it” usually isn’t a good enough excuse to ignore them. Those who think that way (at least in anything more consequential than deciding not to cut the grass) should probably have been removed from the gene pool a long time ago, if Nature – or their wives – didn’t already chastise them enough. Once I saw some really horrendous driving. My passenger said “They should revoke his driver’s license.” To which I responded “No, they should revoke his birth certificate.”
I have no problem with guidelines that protect my sitter and myself from harm. For example, trying to read on legal, financial or medical matters can be a slippery slope, as is trying to answer “Am I going to die next year?” I’m not qualified to answer such questions, so I don’t try (at least not in so many words). Another “rule-based” practice is the positional spread. I create my own and like the fact that I can set boundaries with them for the specific purpose of the reading; but many people don’t use them at all and just throw cards on the table until they “feel” like stopping. No problem here, except when they try to force their opinions down my throat; I have no desire to play “Where’s Waldo?” with my readings. Some things work (for me) and some things don’t; I hope I will always have the wisdom to tell the difference (and the balls to tell smug posers where to stick their opinions).
Although I often play the curmudgeon with practices I think are wrong-headed, I won’t condemn them while also affirming that I would never use them in a million years. I may not agree with self-styled experts, but they can go to hell in any way they choose and I won’t attempt to stop them. I expect the same courtesy from those who would presume to correct me. I’ve never been much for patriarchal “Father knows best” authority figures, not paternal (fortunately my own father wasn’t one), political nor religious. As the saying goes, “They put their pants on the same way I do, one leg at a time.” But what about Biblical times when they all wore robes? There I have to call on “a revised version of Genesis based on the Dead Sea Scrolls” as well as Mark Twain in “Letters from the Earth.” According to that unimpeachable authority, when God offered two remaining gifts to mankind, one each to Adam and Eve, Adam chose “an extraordinary arrangement of tubing and erectile tissue that will allow you to urinate while standing up.” Eve had to settle for “a brain,” for biologically she could never match Adam’s urinary prowess. Apparently, in selecting the plumbing, Adam didn’t know that God would “cut off from Jeroboam him that pisseth against the wall.” Which brings me to the point: the “experts” I mentioned will just piss into the wind when no wall is handy.