The “Blottomancer”

A couple of different themes come together in this essay: “ordinary” divination and “augmented” divination.

If you’ve ever gone googling for every instance of the suffix “-mancy” you were probably amazed by how many different forms of divination have been practiced throughout recorded history, more than a few of which are quite odd and also long-since extinct (I don’t know of anyone who still reads animal entrails, although I can’t discount the rare primitive shaman who might). An amusing question came up recently regarding what term we might use to describe “divining by the random stains on the pages of a book.” I offered the idea of “blotomancy,” although I had no clue whether it’s already been applied to some other method of prognostication and I also wondered if the Rorschach “ink-blot” crowd might cry foul (it’s doubtful since their objectives are more scientific and psychological than divinatory). This brought me by devious ways to Aleister Crowley’s statement “All divination resembles an attempt by a man born blind to obtain sight by getting blind drunk.” I can see it now: “Hello, I’m a blottomancer!”

Enough with the jokes. The second thing I want to examine is the debate over whether it’s OK to be even borderline compromised (aka semi-“blotto”) when reading the tarot cards for other people. Many readers report that having an alcoholic drink or smoking a joint before a session puts them in a relaxed mood that allows their intuition to blossom (and not coincidentally quells their nervousness about the imminent face-to-face encounter). Others find that it dulls their senses to the point that they aren’t sharp enough for precise interpretation. I lean toward the second group in my own practice. I want to be alert to nuances in the dialogue, not tone-deaf (“stone-deaf?”) to hints I might otherwise miss. Getting “likkered-up” (I no longer smoke anything) is something I do only occasionally (and always sparingly) when I want to get really relaxed. I don’t think its fair to paying clients to be even a little bit sloppy in my presentation, so I abstain before readings.

It comes down to a matter of personal style and preference. There are some stimulants from my (very) distant past that would certainly put me on my toes and not out of my head, but those shall remain in the past. A case might be made for mild intoxication in a casual setting like a party where the interaction is more social than professional and nobody is going to be especially hard on the reader. Personally, I don’t “do” parties because I don’t want drunks leaning over my shoulder and perhaps spilling beer on my cards, but having a lubricating “drink in hand” is a common posture at such affairs and I probably wouldn’t be immune to the temptation. By and large, though, I’m uncomfortable presenting anything other than my perceptive best because I want to give my sitters everything I’ve got.

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