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How Tarot Works in a Nutshell

“Rather, we transfer our present state of mind onto the cards and then, by transferring it back, read the unconscious expectations that we initially projected onto them.” (Akron, H.R. Giger Tarot, p 13)

7 thoughts on “How Tarot Works in a Nutshell

  1. Interesting interpretation.  Do you mean to say that divination works in an entirely psychological manner?  Or do you allow for the possible ability to obtain information through divination that even your subconscious couldn’t have known?

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  2. I think tarot reading is much more than that, especially if it comes to asking about what is going to happen in the future. Our subconscious can’t possibly contain such information. Although, we don’t know it for sure. How can we know what is our subconscious expectation projected onto cards and what is not? I am not even sure if it really matters. Lots of theory on magick seem to me just another type of cosmology. It’s more to do with how we name things and what we believe them to be, anyway. Still, interesting thought to share.

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  3. Well… I read the quote to mean that divination works in an entirely psychological manner. But Jungian psychological. And In general I’d say that all of the meaning that you get from a tarot spread is information that your unconscious already knows, or constructs in reaction to the tarot stimulus. but WHERE the unconscious got that information in the first place…

    Through the unconscious we have access to fantastic sources of information. The ancient and deep wisdom of collective unconscious. The synchronicitic libidinal internet of unconscious communication with other human beings. And amazing capacities of pattern recognition. And that’s just with a reductionist reading of what it is capable of.

    I also tend to think that the far side of the collective unconscious actually connects with others um psychically for lack of a better word. And if we follow that far enough we are connected to ALL others. This is why people who are more in touch with their unconscious tend to have an easier time connecting psychically… they don’t have to travel AS far (sorta/metaphorically) to get to that information. But that is a completely different topic in the end.

    Although, sometimes I have the experience where it seems that the card or cards are just TOO perfectly selected and I suspect the information comes from outside, from a kind of outside force.  Depends on what you believe the unconscious is capable of in terms of stacking the deck though…

    I’d say that yeah information CAN come from elsewhere but most of the time it doesn’t need to. Most of the kinds of questions we put to the tarot are things that the Unconscious is the right entity/area to question. And the Tarot is built in terms of those wiser aspects of the Unconscious, it’s archetypal in design.

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  4. @Lolita MY unconscious contains or has access to that information. Or at least it has in the past. I’ve made predictions, on occation very detailed predictions, by considering the trendlines implicit in the now projecting them forward mentally and conneting to intuitive knowledge through my unconscious. Predictions that came true. No cards required.

    Other times I’ve made use of environmental objects other than cards. For example, I’ve pulled a lot of information out of window displays of fashion stores. From the fashion. I predicted the financial situation from the motifs taken from the roaring twenties. the unconscious trend was PRE-crash mentality you see.

    I don’t like the word subconscious, even if I use it on occasion without thinking, as it carries with it all sorts of negative connotations. Sub, under, smaller, less important, freudian crap about it being full of dirty broken things. The Unconscious… is this all of these wonderful capabilities that operate automatically for you allowing you to do almost everything you do. Without it we’d have to consciously decide where to step, how much pressure to use, to breath, blink, select each word consciously, which means we’d have to think of each possible word and select one. If we didn’t have the ability to do things unconsciously we’d be miserable, IF we managed to survive.

    Basically I find that depiction of how tarot works to be a very useful one for me. I tend to apply occam’s razor. I use the most reductionist definition that allows for me to do the things I want to do with it. But the definition is always provisional and as soon as it is limiting me from something I observe as possible or just really want to do (to MAKE possible) the definition, the conception is changed.

    I resonate with the terms “projection” and “unconscious” so I like this definition. Perhaps the terms mean more to me than they do for you. I find this the BEST description of tarot from the psychological model.

    Thank you for your responses guys!

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  5. Yes true, unconscious in the Jungian sense allows for the experiences I’ve had with divination, that an entirely reductionist viewpoint would require far too much coincidence to explain adequately.  I don’t have too much problem with the term ‘subconscious’ though, as I tend to conceive it more in the sense of ‘submarine’ and a sense of ‘depth’ as opposed to the ‘surface’ of the ‘conscious’.

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  6. i wanna wake this one up again!
    Before all this interesting stuff that happened to me,
    I was often asked to read the Tarot.
    I was never taught by anyone, but just read it as I saw it.
    I was always reluctant, but strangely enough the more reluctant I was, the more people that wanted me to do it.
    Not always, but a lot of the tiem I found myself managing to get the person to more or less tell ‘me’ their fortune!
    I didn’t really think about it at the tiem, but I suppose it could have been that dome folks were genuinely rather lost, and some just were curious and maybe didn’t quite believe it. If thats the case, I wonder which were which?
    … I guess it matters not though, as far as I was told it seemed to work for them either way.

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