Daily Notes #8
The many meanings of meditation . . . .
Since writing the original Ten Doors description of this path, I’ve done a lot of thinking on the subject of meditation. And some writing.
So I believe a clarification is in order. Here’s the original:
From this vantage, you will see Tarot as a tool for use in mindfulness practice, inner work, and spiritual growth. | Along the meditation path, you find Tarot in company with certain yogas, yantra meditation, zazen, tai chi, centering prayer, and other contemplative methodologies.
Today I’d rewrite the second sentence this way: “Along the meditation path, you might find Tarot in company with technologies such as certain yogas, zazen, tai chi, as well as methodologies like centering prayer and guided meditation.”
Hopefully the relevant changes will jump right out—but to clarify, my intent was to separate one type of “meditation” from another. Basically . . . the former path works toward release of habitual thought processes, while the latter works toward the creation of new thought patterns.
That’s a complete oversimplification—and here’s another one:
In terms of practice, on the first path, you want to empty the mind of things in general, and on the second, you want to fill it up with something in particular.
These two styles of meditation (both of which have been worked out with much detail in various traditions) can be of equal value in relation to Tarot. And they are not mutually exclusive! Choose one, or create an eclectic mix.
But they take very different forms in practice. I’ll offer first some resources toward the one I personally know best.
I wrote a little about mindfulness, meditation, and Tarot in The Future Factor.
I wrote quite a bit about meditation in my second Tarot book, Methods, Mastery, and More. This passage is from the same chapter I looted for Monday’s “Therapeutic” door:
Mindfulness meditation is very useful in coming to know better the workings of consciousness, and it will also help in identifying key personal issues (in the form of obsessive or distorted thought patterns). Both of these factors can prove very valuable to the tarot practitioner. Obviously, the more you understand how consciousness produces constructions of reality, the more you can see through these constructions to a deeper level of meaning. Also, knowing more clearly what your own “stuff” is will help you limit the intrusion of personal issues when reading the cards for others.
As for the other style—I think about it as part of the contemplative tradition. But there’s a rather different interpretation popular today. I figured this out by typing “tarot meditation” in the Google search box and being bombarded with results.
I won’t go into what I found, but I can tell you the first ten non-promoted stories that claimed to be about “meditating with Tarot” were really talking about the use of Tarot cards for focused thinking. In some cases the goal was personal insight, in other cases it was connecting more deeply with the Tarot.
Those aren’t unworthy goals, but they haven’t much to do with either of the great meditative traditions. Or with magickal uses of Tarot meditation, which form a special category.
I have to wrap this up for today, but will say more in future about contemplative and magickal approaches to meditation. In the meantime, there are two significant resources to mention:
First, the brilliant Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism (1967), by Russian mystic/scholar Valentin Tomberg. I confess to never having spent enough time with it—but (encouraged by a comment from one EP reader), I have just put this very thick book by my bedside for further exploration.
You can easily find the full text online, but if you decide to acquire a physical copy, consider buying from an independent bookseller like Paradise Found.
Second, art historian Emily Auger’s Tarot and Other Meditation Decks: History, Theory, Aesthetics, Typology (2004) takes a detailed look at Tarot in the context of what she defines as “meditation decks”—that is, “decks having imagery which is supposed to have a particular spiritual or psychological import for or effect upon the user.” To get a sense of her approach, you can browse a preview on Google Books and visit her website.
Good wishes for a good Wednesday—and thanks for reading! C