The Wit to Woo-woo

As I mentioned in another blog entry, I’ve been delving much more into the world of tarot. Previously, I have preferred Scott Grossberg’s Deck of Shadows in combination with the Vitruvian Square. For those of you who haven’t seen Scott’s Deck of Shadows (DoS) you can check it out here:

It’s an oracle deck and I like it because it facilitates an intuitive reading to any degree of detail required by a sitter especially when combined with other oracles through The Vitruvian Square.
I became fascinated by reading and readers quite some time ago. My nan, ferocious Irish catholic though she was, used to read tea leaves for friends and family and was a renowned judge of form for the Grand National, picking the winner by sight alone, a reputed nine consecutive years. All I knew back then was that my grandmother was amazingly beloved by her betting brothers, had a sharp tongue, named all the birds in her garden (who ate out of her hand) and that she was a great teller of tales with the uncanny ability to hit you squarely about the head with a Dr. Scholl sandal accurately from any distance. I often watched her read for people using her vitreous china teacups, spooning tea out of her tin caddy and remember the rapt attention of her querents. I used to love her story telling sessions of her childhood in Ireland and the fairy folk. She was probably the main reason I made a pilgrimage to the Eire, backpacking about and visiting famous Celtic sites including fairy barrows and kissing the Blarney Stone!
When I grew older, I became much more reason-based in my relationship to reading, readers, oracles and divination. I still occupy a hearty position of skepticism with regards clairvoyants, clairaudients and faith healers however, I still appreciate a good reader. To me, a reader facilitates a feedback loop to your subconscious or since that term is so fluid, your sublimated concerns. Through the tarot (or I Ching, Numerology or other oracles) you are re-presented with your self, ideas and thoughts or plans that may have been placed outside your conscious attention. The job of the reader for me then, is, much like a hypnotist, to re-frame a person’s awareness and understanding and then to allow the sitter to ponder and take ownership of their altered understanding or perhaps to affect some change. I should state here, very clearly, that when I read, I do not tell people what to do, in fact, a good deal of the time I am listening. One of the criticisms often levelled at psychics (and there is a thorny term) and readers is that they are giving poor or dangerous advice, that in effect, they are unqualified counsellors. I’ve enjoyed a fair few readings in my time and a couple have been verging on the above critique, some have been ridiculous, most however, are just facilitating a process, and are very careful not to inform, nor comment on areas such as health, money and large life decisions. In the Far East interestingly, it is much more commonplace for folk to ask and expect readers to tell them information and advice on matters financial and medical and stuff such as lucky, auspicious numbers, lotto predictions and signs and portents to look for. I am sometimes amazed by the frothing ire reserved by certain skeptics for readers, you would think that they are up there with Pol Pot or Torquemada such is the invective and bile that is vented at them. Whilst I get it, that there are unscrupulous readers or psychics and that they can harm individuals and families with dangerous advice, I think the majority of readers are careful, considerate folk who market what they do as entertainment and have far less ranging effect on the populace than politicians, criminals and controlling corporations. None of the readers I visited were responsible for cutting pensions, allowing fuel providers to charge carte blanche, hitting people over the head with a crow bar, raping and killing children, polluting the environment nor forcing families in developing countries to work fourteen hour shifts in dangerous, jerry-built factories. But I suppose some of them do fleece punters out of the occasional twenty five quid. I’ve always been very clear on those who imagine that they are talking to your dead relatives, or Grief Farmers, as I call them. I don’t like them, they can cause pain, prolong grief and are being false or deluded in their claims (although, again, I’ve seen people have cathartic moments during these exhibitions even though this is not to my taste). Emotionally draining yes, but in the same league as politicos? As the arms trade or Big Pharma? I’m not so sure.

So, I’ll end with an example of a reading as entertainment that I performed the other day. I was performing in a London venue strolling around offering hypnotism, pendulum and tarot. I asked a lady if she’d like a single card tarot reading. She replied by stating ‘yes, that’s fine, but I don’t believe in tarot’. I countered ‘that’s fine, because the tarot believes in you!’ She laughed and we sat. She mixed the cards and picked a single card (I do single card readings at these events following excellent advice from Paul Voodini an you can check out his amazing material at:
which turned out to be the High Priestess. I gave an intuitive reading (and by that I mean I riff off the card meaning and anything that the imagery is giving me) and about a minute in, she burst into tears. I stopped straight away, her friend sitting next to her gave her a cuddle and we allowed the tears to subside. This was a Christmas party and corporate event, I didn’t want her upset and I suggested that we’d touched a nerve and that perhaps we should finish with a positive piece of ESP. We had a much more light-hearted moment where we examined coincidence and we were back to smiles. As I made to leave, after asking again if she was alright, she stopped me and insisted on telling me her circumstances. I won’t share the details but it had to do with leaving and moving onto pastures new, a re-focus of energies in a newer, more positive direction. Evidently, the reading had highlighted her decision and made the moment poignant but she told me it had also confirmed in her mind that it was the right choice and she was off to celebrate with her friends that she would miss so much.
And that sums up why I appreciate tarot, and oracles in general. They are not particularly mystical to me, rather a set of tools that allow you to reflect. They give you a pause that we so seldom get in the haze, daze, rush and rumble of modern life. They give you the space to examine the unexamined (or under-examined) and allow a little insight into how your mind works, your personality, preferences and a little rapport as we realise our hopes, dreams, aspirations and worries are incredibly similar.
You are not alone in this, even if your mileage may vary.