*Alternate Titles: “Yet Another Screed on ‘How Tarot Works’ or ‘The Things You Come Up With at 4:00 AM”
Taking their cue from advances in astrophysics, science fiction writers at one time loved to talk about the “space-time continuum,” mainly as a backdrop for their noodling over ideas like “curved space” and “worm-holes” as a means of circumventing (rather than breaking) the “speed-of-light” barrier for interstellar travel. Occultists and mystics think of it more as an all-encompassing limitless expression of the Universal Mind, teeming with the ingredients for all possible events at any conceivable moment (see where this is going?). The Kybalion summed up this premise rather neatly (if a bit pretentiously):
“The ALL is MIND. The Universe is Mental” and “may be considered and thought of as AN UNIVERSAL, INFINITE, LIVING MIND” . . . the universe as a whole, and in its parts and units, has its existence in the Mind of THE ALL, in which Mind we “live and move and have our being.” (Whew! Or maybe “WOO!”)
We are born into this exalted “mental matrix” and our interaction with it – both conscious and unconscious – “invites” certain experiences into our personal sphere. (Of course, every other sentient being is doing this at the same time, so there might be some convergence – or, as the saying goes, “Some days you eat the bear and other days the bear eats you.”) Events don’t so much happen “to” us as “with” us – both the individual and collective “us” – in a reciprocal way, even when we feel that we’ve been “blindsided” by Fate. (We might even say we subconsciously cooperate with unfortunate occurrences through our carelessness, neglect, or just plain old unlucky choices of the “wrong place, wrong time” kind that put us on a collision course with said Fate.) This is where tarot comes into the picture. Through it, we can “dip into the pool” (or perhaps “open the window”) of opportunity for exploration of heretofore unrevealed aspects of our life and future circumstances. Our manipulation of the cards (through the shuffle-and-cut) induces certain cards to “drop out” of the cosmic pattern and arrange themselves on the table in a meaningful way for our edification. With many millions of unique combinations of any five cards out a total of 78 – 2.111109 E+7 to be exact; I just re-did the math and am still startled by it – this source of insight is for all practical purposes “limitless.”
I place a lot of faith in this subconscious ordering of the cards to produce just the right combination to tell the querent’s story in a coherent manner. It’s one theory for “how tarot works,” and one that allays my skeptic’s mistrust of “Divine Intervention” or other mystical presumptions. If, as Joseph Maxwell says, we each have “a presentiment about his own destiny, which may remain latent” (and therefore inaccessible to the conscious mind) and the querent can get out of its way, the subconscious mind will step in and steer a course to the correct answer via the cards it chooses through a form of psychosomatic “induction.” When we shuffle the cards ourselves, this requires avoiding any conscious preconceptions about the situation that might inadvertently skew the selection process toward our own “concealed wisdom” and away from the client’s. If we take these precautions as querent and reader, tarot works very well as a “cosmic messenger” once we stand back and let it.