Tarot and the quest for love . . .
I’ve changed the order I had in mind for this round of Daily Notes, because I want to do a little more research on the “lost blogs” topic. So let’s start with the heart, instead.
I’ve long thought that any story can be summarized—at the levels of plot and theme—as a selected set of Tarot’s Major Arcana cards. That includes quest stories, love stories, war stories, even funny stories. And you can add details with the Minor Arcana.
Here’s a slightly revised snippet from my first book:
If you actually wanted to use the Tarot to symbolize Hamlet, for example, the structures outlined above would help you find what you need quickly, much as you might use the index in a reference book . . .
First you would analyze the major forces at work in the story — violence, love, loyalty, indecision — and select cards from the major arcana to represent them.
Then you could look among the court cards for representations of the characters, and among the pip cards for the events (Ophelia’s death, the stabbing of Polonius, the visit to the graveyard, so on).
And soon, presto! Hamlet in pictures.
Personally, I would choose The Tower, Death, The Hanged Man, The Empress, The Emperor, Judgment, and The Moon for major arcana cards; the King of Pentacles for Claudius, the Queen of Swords for Gertrude, the Knight of Wands for Hamlet, the Knight of Cups for Horatio, the Page of Cups for Ophelia; and the Ace of Swords to mark the governing aspect of conflict.
And I’ve worked out several other literary examples. Recently, though, I had a more detailed realization about Tarot’s storytelling capabilities.
It came about when I accidentally watched the “final” “live” version of The Bachelor. Accidentally in the sense that it came on when I was passing a television, and before I could sprint across the room and turn it off . . . I was hooked.
The first of two women was telling (quite sincerely, I thought) how badly the Bachelor had treated her. She never said what he did, though, so my curiosity was piqued. Then a second woman came on and said essentially the same thing, in different words.
Still no specifics, but apparently he had insulted them both, in one swell foop. So I was doubly curious. According to the show’s ritual, the Bachelor must confront his victims in person, to explain and apologize—but he did this so lamely that I was baffled about how either them could ever have liked him.
Next, it’s slowly revealed that the woman he “really” liked (which he had lied about to the other two, apparently) had also felt insulted by this klutz, and turned down his proposal. I would have been delighted if the whole thing had ended there, but of course it did not. We are now told that after filming of the series had ended, the chosen girl “gradually” decided to forgive him and they reunited.
Why am I telling this story? Because while watching the show, I realized the whole series is deliberately crafted as a quest journey, told in a fairy tale style. The Bachelor/Hero is in search of his one true love. To win her heart, he must overcome many obstacles—including his own flaws.
And there’s also a Bachelorette/Heroine version, in which her task is to select the right candidate from among many suitors.
I’m probably among the last people to figure this out! But as I was watching the big Bachelor finale unfold, it dawned on me that whatever I may think Tarot is (or should be) “about” . . . . the reality is that many people who seek a Tarot reading are looking for guidance in matters of the heart.
Some are seeking answers at a really basic level: “Is my boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse cheating on me?” “Will my true love propose?” “How can I get Person X to fall in love with me?”
A step up from basic may involve broader questions about relationships (parent/child, friendships, etc.) and more nuanced love questions, such as “Is this really the best person for me to be with?”
These seekers make up—I believe—a large part of the consumer base for advertisers on Twitter, Etsy, and other social media platforms. And it makes sense, once I looked at it this way, that people in search of an archetype (true love) might look to symbols for guidance.
Just something to consider . . .
Til tomorrow. C