Monday, November 17, 2008

Ginny Hunt of 87 Notes to Self has an insightful and witty post on the pitfalls of using a purely intuitive approach to Tarot reading, one that has no regard for the established meanings of the cards. I agree wholeheartedly that while intuition is indispensable for a good reading, it is not enough. Intuition must be supported by a foundation of study and knowledge of the cards.

My own course of study has been idiosyncratic, varied, and actually began (without my knowing it at the time) long before I ever laid eyes upon a Tarot deck. The Greek and Roman myths I loved as a child provided one framework for understanding the classical cultures whose revival played such an important role in Renaissance life, the period when the Tarocchi were first developed. Western European art and history, from classical times through the Renaissance, continually deepen my appreciation for the iconography of the Tarot. The books of Thomas Moore, particularly Care of the Soul and The Reenchantment of Everyday Life, help me to cultivate a sensibility that I have found helpful when interpreting a spread. I could go on: music, literature, poetry, architecture, the works of Tarot historians and scholars - all these contribute to my learning in some manner.

None of this is meant to be prescriptive, of course. It is simply my way. I share this merely to buttress my argument that relying purely on some vague, misty idea of what the cards mean, independent of how they actually came about and evolved, is limiting at best, and misleading to the querent, at worst. The cards are eloquent, but it is necessary to learn their language to understand what they have to say.