Monday, January 6, 2014
By some recent chain of events, I've been led to revisit the TAROT system.. ie. the 72 picture cards, which surfaced around the 15-16th Century in Europe.
Contrary to popular usage as a fortune-telling or divination device, TAROT can also be used for a wide range of purposes from contemplation and meditation to tantra and magic. It's along these lines- as a contemplative and self-transformation tool- that I've had a long-term interest with TAROT. This started for me personally more than a decade ago due to its relevance to systems in the Western Mystery Tradition (Hermeticism, Freemasonry, Qabalah, Alchemy etc.), which I had taken up after seeking some balance from a prior decade of completely Eastern outlook.
Returning to the TAROT however, my main current interest is along the lines of finding ways to integrate its use with that of other contemplative paths (especially those of direct awareness and self-inquiry). This might sound a little strange, though powerful results do seem evident from combining both these tools in a largely uncharted, yet workable way. On the other hand, success through using TAROT as a contemplative tool isn't so surprising, since the TAROT itself is like a mini-model for our every day reality-- virtually every scenario that could possibly play out in life (psychologically and karmically or event-wise) is displayed somewhere among the 72 cards. Further, the Trumps take into account most of the major human archetypes in existence. As Jung was interested in pointing out, these ever-present archetypes normally float under the conscious awareness of groups and individuals, yet all the while exerting silent influence. Hence any contemplative practice using the set of TAROT images and themes would likely make for an excellent controlled training ground for later transference into the "real" world of our normal (and largely unconscious and robotic) daily living environment.
The concept of a "lab" or training ground isn't a new thing in contemplative practice, which, since inception, has advocated fixed times for silent, isolated meditation, yogas, and/or contemplation, away from the usual circumstances one finds oneself enmeshed in life. Although there are certain 'teachers' around these days that dismiss the idea of fixed meditation sessions, or even the need for controlled contemplation (- I won't bother to go into the flawed rationale here), most aspirants and hands-on practitioners, do appreciate the need for a controlled environment, where 'experiments' in consciousness can be carried out calmly, precisely and without interruption. Importantly, such experiments and trainings, when repeated, can then later be transferred easily into ordinary daily activities.
Likewise, the TAROT, through it's all-encompassing scheme of Major/Minor cards, and its portability and ease of use, also offers such a controlled "lab" for experiments in consciousness and beyond. For those unfamiliar with the TAROT, I would recommend starting with the standard Rider-Waite deck, due to it being the most common deck in existence, and also due to its relative simplicity in layout, and the ease in which impressions are conveyed.
(Minor Arcana of the Rider-Waite deck, first published in 1910.)