Daily Notes #6
Sharp turns at the divination door
Serendipity has taken today’s Daily Note in two different directions—a darker trip to the hard right, and a more pleasant jaunt into the near left. I debated which to write about first . . .
Have now decided to begin with the bad news, and end on a positive note.
Here’s how I originally described the divination door:
From this vantage, you will see Tarot as a device for use in obtaining knowledge of unknown past/present influences as well as future events or trends. | Along the divination path, you find Tarot in company with many other oracle systems, from the I Ching to astrology.
That covers plenty of territory, obviously, and not all of it would be well-lit. But just how far wrong could this path go? Especially in today’s highly charged atmosphere.
I was stunned by one example.
I won’t give it further energy by providing a link, but of course you can easily find it for yourself. And there may be more examples—haven’t looked yet.
The instance I’m talking about: a detailed series of blog posts claiming that the Tarot indisputably predicted a Trump victory in 2020. Not just in “readings” done by the author, but through the very structure and design of the Tarot itself.
From that assertion, an inevitable line of development unfolds. Deep and dark forces have subverted the rightful course of events—the Tarot can uncover them. The Tarot can reveal hidden truths about Biden and his illegitimate presidency. The Tarot—
I stopped reading.
I have no idea how many people might align with such an idea, but I can tell you that the purveyor in this case is quite clever. In fact, it took me a good while to realize where they were going. And I can also tell you there were some supportive comments.
Of course we can marginalize this example as yet another type of conspiracy theory, kin to QAnon and microchips-in-the-vaccine. But it would be a mistake to laugh it off as just some nut with a deck and a blog.
“Just some nut” may be all it is now—and I’m hoping there’s not a trend. However I’m also recalling that occult ideas and practices, including the use of Tarot, played a role in some terrible parts of history. This is a complicated topic, but it’s true that the Nazi regime supported certain “occult sciences.” And it’s also true that they opposed—and intermittently tried to ban—divination in general, and Tarot-reading in particular.
Their reasoning on this point was not entirely what you might guess.
In 1943, at the height of World War II, there are thought to have been more than 3,000 practicing Tarot readers in Berlin alone. Plus many in other cities, and throughout the countryside. One serious problem with all this, from the Nazi perspective, was that a lot of self-proclaimed diviners were not purporting to help people with personal issues—they were “predicting” political events and military outcomes.
I’ll write a longer post about all this when time permits, but for now I’ll just say that while trivialization of Tarot is a bad thing (in my opinion), the weaponization of Tarot would be much, much worse.
And if it seems like that could never happen today—consider what Nazi propagandists could have done with “predictive” Tarot if they had Facebook and YouTube.
I haven’t left much time for the pleasant jaunt, but I don’t want to break a promise. So here’s a very small party favor:
If you want to know your past, look into your present conditions. If you want to know your future, look into your present actions.
This isn’t a real quote, in the sense that no one seems to have said it. It’s popular, though, and if you search, it will pop up in lots of places, attributed to “Chinese wisdom,” or various gurus.
But wherever it came from, it made me think immediately of one approach to the Celtic Cross spread.
Here’s my logic. Cards in the Present column (read as conditions) tell which aspects of the Past are relevant to the reading. They also suggest how to interpret cards marking a Future path, through the interplay of destiny and choice (read as actions).
Since the relationship of timeframes can pose a reading challenge—at least in my own experience—I could imagine using this construct to create a quick “schematic” of the spread. Which fits in with some recent thoughts I’ve had about differences between virtual and in-person readings. Still evolving, but more soon.
Thanks so much for opening today’s Note! Weekly recap tomorrow (with a link to Survey #2) and a preview on Sunday. C