Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly

C'mon girl, it's a better day
Get your foot out of that grave
Don't let that one love tear your world apart
C'mon babe, kick that stuff
Show the street it ain't so tough
Quit lyin' around with a crippled, broken heart

Now I know you've been seeing red
Don't put a pistol to your head
Sometimes your answer's heaven sent
Your way is so damn permanent

-
Alice Cooper, Hey Stoopid

Probably most readers out there have come across a 'bad' reading- one loaded with negative cards, indicating trouble, either in the past or present, or trouble yet to come down the road. There are cards in the deck that have strong negative connotations, it's true. The Devil can indicate addiction, bad habits, toxic thinking (to use a pop psychology-ism), the Tower can indicate trouble down the road and destruction, and the 10 of Swords can indicate pain and trouble down the road.
So what do you do when you see a reading like this? Tell that person, sorry, you're doomed? Not exactly. Let's review a few of the 'negative' cards, and see how and where there's a more mixed message. We know every action generates a reaction- but what does that reaction entail? Is there hope for the future in there as well? Very rarely is it the end of the world, and usually there's a lesson to be learned from it. The cards will indicate not the end of the world, but those things that need to be brought to our (or the client's) attention- this is the first step in resolving issues and working towards change.
First, let's examine the Tower-
Sometimes called the "Lightning-Struck Tower", this indicates upheaval and trouble- things that we thought were set in stone are uprooted and destroyed, seemingly all at once. Life is turned upside-down in an instant, and many of the things we take for granted might be gone. But this is not a bad thing either! The question is, what falls away, and what remains? It's possible to build a false front to the world, in terms of relationships and the image we project. The Tower represents the point where those facades are torn down- sometimes externally, but more often internally. This can result in a bruised ego- and the ego can get very defensive when it's threatened. But at the same time, the Tower can represent a new viewpoint- instead of operating under our previous illusions, we can come to see what truly is. Though this can be a painful process, and in fact we might well have been perfectly content to maintain our illusions, thank you very much, none of us has a free pass where hard times are concerned. It's how we move on from these hard times that determines success or failure, and seeing this card can mean it's time to pick up the pieces and move on with life, however difficult that might be. Though there is a sense of tearing down, there can also be rebuilding.
Next, let's take a look at the Devil- another 'scary' card. The Devil is somewhat like the Tower in terms of mental outlook- here are the things we'd rather not acknowledge, in terms of where we are. The Devil can represent those viewpoints we cling to at the expense of self-understanding and awareness.
So as in the case of the Tower, the Devil can be a teacher. Here we may find ourselves stuck in a situation, or finding ourselves again and again facing the same problems and same issues we've been over a hundred times already. Again, there's an element of difficulty here- facing these things is not always easy, and can be painful. But then again, sometimes pain allows us to grow, and sometimes things that are removed can allow us room to grow. The message of the Devil is that we can hold ourselves back in terms of things that we'd rather hang onto solely for comfort or out of habit rather than move forward. Getting rid of them, or even acknowledging that we have these bad habits in the first place, likewise can be very difficult. But again, coming to terms with these things can be a part of growth, and increasing self-awareness.
Another negative card is the Three of Swords- the most prominent message is one of heartbreak, of ideas not working out, and things falling apart around us, seeming like it'll never get better. However, this too has a positive side, though it may be tough to see. I chose this particular rendering not just because it looks cool, but also that this card has an eye in its center. Sometimes that heartbreak and stress can lead to clear understanding, and things ultimately leading us to a better place. Not necessarily fun at the time, but as with all of the negative, 'scary' cards, the message is to look beyond the immediate future and see the greater picture. The ability to do that might well mean that it's not so bad after all.
A good example of this is the 9 of Swords- here's a somewhat complicated message, also dealing with ideas and thoughts, as is the Three.
Here's someone waking up in the middle of the night- either realizing the nightmare isn't real, just a bad dream, and really life is not as terrible as it just seemed, or realizing that yes, there's a whole lot of trouble hanging around. Either way, the focus here is waking up- whether or not it's to trouble or imagined trouble, our course of action remains the same. The message here is that we should focus on what we can do, not what we are worried about. It's a call to action rather than a warning to sit and think.
These are just a few of the cards out there that can have a negative connotation. However, there are not really shades of black and white in the Tarot- usually like our life situations, it's a shade of gray, with both good and bad mixed in. The message here is not to worry and think perpetually negative. Things can get better, if we will work towards that. When you see these negative cards, it is in many ways a call to batten down the hatches and prepare for a fight. But at the same time, things are not that hopeless- what we do every day, and at every stage of the journey, determines the outcome. We are never powerless, despite being subject to outside influences. Again, another shade of gray- we're between acting in the world, and being acted upon by it.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Who's In The Black Lodge?


This may seem kind of a random and esoteric post, but it occurred to me to write it as one of those interesting parallels we sometimes see in the world. I recently finished watching the series Twin Peaks, which, to sum up, has some interesting parallels to the Tarot in it. For those not familiar with the show, here's the 'cliff notes' synopsis. First, high-schooler Laura Palmer, resident of the town of Twin Peaks, a smallish fictional town in Oregon, is murdered. The town's main industry comes from logging and the local timber mill, and the town itself is somewhat isolated, mainly by the nearby forests that surround the town, known locally as Ghostwood. An FBI agent, Dale Cooper, is called in to solve the murder case, which bears similarity to other murders that have occurred in the town. Cooper is a student of mysticism, and occasionally incorporates rather unorthodox methods in his detective work, but nonetheless manages to solve the case. The murderer is Leland Palmer, Laura's father. He subsequently dies by bashing his head against the wall. However, as time goes on, Cooper discovers that Palmer was posessed by some manner of entity, identified only as "Bob". As time goes on, Cooper remains in Twin Peaks, falls for a local waitress and is followed by a brilliant master criminal and former G-man, Windom Earle. Earle blames Cooper (as does Cooper himself) for the death of his wife, whom Cooper had an affair with, and Earle begins a string of bizarre murders and crimes to draw Cooper out. As Earle commits his crimes, we learn that he has knowledge of a place within the Ghostwood forest called the Black Lodge. The Black Lodge is a place somewhat between this world and the afterlife, and is at one point referred to as a "waiting room". It's part of a pair of places, the other being the White Lodge. We learn that a deceased soul must pass through both of these places, and in the Black Lodge we confront the worst in us, and are either able to overcome that worst, or are destroyed. Bob, along with a handful of other entities, calls the Black Lodge home. In terms of what it looks like, it appears to be a mostly empty series of rooms, the walls of which are red curtains. Ther are no walls or doors per se, and the separate rooms are defined by the curtains. Moving between rooms is simply a matter of finding the opening in the curtain. Earle's interest in the Black Lodge is as a source of power, and he manages to enter it himself, and Cooper follows him in. What Earle encounters in the Black Lodge is never clear, though Cooper faces the fact that he bears the guilt for Earle's wife's death, and encounters Laura Palmer, as well as her shadow side. Earle ultimately loses his soul, and is consumed by Bob. Cooper then subsequently escapes the Lodge and returns to the normal world, but like Palmer, has become posessed by Bob- in other words, losing his soul and the battle.
So what does this have to do with the Tarot? Well, the Black Lodge is a place that has parallels in the waking world. Astral travelers speak of the "Dweller on the Threshhold", (and actually one description of the Black Lodge mentions this as well) where we are confronted by an entity that forces us to face our own shortcomings, guilt, emotional baggage, guilt, fears, weaknesses and insecurities. Only when we have left all these things with the Dweller can we proceed forwards. This is done for our own safety, as bringing these things into other worlds could very well create some general astral nastiness, as they could either profoundly affect us or attract negative and harmful entities. The purpose of this is also to in essence purify the mental and spiritual makeup of each person- to drop those things we no longer need, and that hinder us. So where do we find this in the Tarot, and what consequences can we expect? Another aspect I found interesting is, are there "Bob"s out there, and if so, what are they and how do they relate to us? In the show, Bob is purely parasitical. Palmer has some knowledge of Bob, and especially of his violent, abusive behavior towards Laura, causing Palmer no end of mental anguish. Whether or not Bob allows this for his own amusement at Palmer's expense, or his control of Palmer is imperfect, is never made clear. As I thought about it, I found a couple Tarot cards that seem to exemplify the concept of the Black Lodge.
First up we have the Tower- here is a card of destruction, which we can draw a rough analogy with to the Dweller on the Threshhold.
Here is the Gilded Tarot version of the Tower, indicating destruction of what we've built up. Usually the Tower is interpreted as a blow to the ego, to strip down false pretenses, and allow us to build a more true structure on the foundation that remains. But would that false front not come from fears, misconceptions and insecurities? In other words, the very things the Dweller would strip from you- or perhaps the very things we'd be forced to confront during our own stay in the Black Lodge? The Tower may indicate a painful time, but ultimately it's a matter of liberation, of coming to terms with what we've lost, and the things we're not proud of. Even if these things never get discovered, sooner or later we ourselves have to confront them, and to come to terms with them.
The next card that drew my attention was the Devil-
Why was Cooper caught up in the Lodge? Because there were things he could not let go of- the guilt surrounding Earle's wife's death, his inability to stop the murder of Laura Palmer and Bob's subsequent victims, all these things kept him trapped in the Lodge. The Devil here represents the things not necessarily that we're guilty of, but rather, the guilt itself- the inability to just let go and move on. And with this, not just our own guilt- grudges, anger and hate all fit into this category as well. The Devil represents the things we can't let go of, even when it's clear that these things are not to our benefit. These are the things that we are unwilling or unable to leave with the Dweller, and thus will hold us back; the things we can't let go of, no matter what, that person we'll never forgive, or that past flame we're still holding a torch for. Though it's true, the lessons of the past should not be forgotten, neither should we live in the past, either trying to recreate that past, or trapped by it, unable to move on. The third and final card I related to this scenario was the Hanged Man-
The Hanged Man represents, in part, suffering and hardship. Yet this suffering has a purpose. Confronting these uncomfortable things and letting them go both are not easy tasks, and can be very painful as unresolved feelings and hurts come to the surface. Yet only by leaving these things behind can we move forwards. The Hanged Man is hanging not simply for the sake of suffering or as punishment- he does not martyr himself. Rather, he hangs and suffers because he knows that beyond suffering lies the answers he seeks. And is this not really the purpose of the Black Lodge? Sure, it's not exactly a vacation spot, but when we leave behind these things, 'purify our souls', in other words, we find a new way revealed, and new perspective found. The example of this card has often been attributed to Odin, who hung on the World Tree for nine days and nights to gain wisdom. He dies, in essence, to be freed from those things that kept him from seeing the Runes. The story goes he discovers them at the base of the tree, and reaches down to pick them up. Could it be that the Runes were there all along, and it took Odin's self-sacrifice and willingness to change to see them there?
To sum it all up- the things we fear to face are not necessarily our enemies. It's only when we can't let go, in whatever way, that we need to fear, and run the risk of these things consuming us, the things we can't leave behind, and in so doing, are destroyed by. This process is not an easy or painless one, but like the Hanged Man, we need to see, or at least hope for, the other side and a better life there.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Delphi Blues: A Consideration of the High Priestess and the Hierophant

Special thanks to author and general Tarot diva Barbara Moore for the inspiration for this one.
There's an interesting parallel in these two cards, and their meanings, I've found are intertwined and complementary in some ways. To start, let's consider the High Priestess- here is the regular old Rider-Waite take on the card-
Let's examine first some of the symbols of this card- I chose the R-W version because of its commonly occurring symbols. Perhaps most prominent in this card are the two pillars in the background, marked B and J. This is a reference to the two pillars of Solomon's temple, Boaz and Jaketh. Interestingly, this symbolism also occurs in Masonic circles, where it is said to represent the dichotomy and balance between the two opposing principles that hold the world in balance. But for our purposes, we'll consider them as that- opposites. This concept also occurs in many depictions of the ten Sephiroth, where we find one standing for the Pillar of Severity (that is, restriction and in this way providing structure) and the Pillar of Mercy (the opposite in some ways of restriction, indicating growth and expansion). So in this way, we find a balance- restriction giving structure and form to growth. Too much growth, and we find chaos. Too much restriction, and we find suffocation and oppression. The Priestess sits between these, indicating a knowledge of both extremes, yet also the knowledge of the balance between them.
The High Priestess also sits in a position of authority, like a throne, and bears symbols of her authority. Her headdress (crown?) is one, as is the equal- armed cross she wears. The cross indicates a balance and current between the divine and the more physical world. The Priestess also holds a scroll marked TORA- a reference to the Torah, the group of Jewish teachings, as well as history. Here we have experiences as well as an explanation of divine order in the world- again, the High Priestess understands this and shares that wisdom with others.
A third symbol is the crescent moon at her feet. The Moon has long been tied to intuition and insight rather than entirely logical, analytical thought, indicating that the High Priestess speaks to intution rather than the rational mind.
Overall, the High Priestess is kind of an oracle figure, and is similar in some ways to the Oracle of Delphi, Apollo's prophetic oracle. The Oracle was thought to speak with the voice of Apollo, and would give cryptic answers to questions put to her. The aspect I'm focusing on here is the fact that both of these figures have a direct connection to the divine- in one case, the words of Apollo, in the other, a more general sense of the divine, yet ultimately the same source. The Priestess simply presents us with the information- as in the case of the Oracle, it's up to us to figure it out, to interpret it in terms of the everyday experiences we have, and what's going on in our lives.
Now, let's consider the Hierophant.

This version too comes from the Rider-Waite deck, and has several elements in common with the High Priestess. Notice the two pillars on either side of the Hierophant, and that the Hierophant is seated between them- here, however, the pillars seem to perform a somewhat more practical function, as they are supporting the building. Again, the pillars are a common feature in temples and buildings of a religious nature- the place where we go to contact the divine, perhaps. The Hierophant also bears a symbol of authority at his feet, here the crossed keys of both the Catholic church and of St. Peter. The Christian Bible notes that Jesus said to Peter how what he "bound in Heaven would be bound on earth", indicating, in this case, a connection between the divine and the earthly world. This connection will become apparent shortly. The keys in the Catholic church represent first, a locked door, which is excommunication (the Church has the right to excommunicate members, thereby blocking them from recieving any benefit from the church) and second, an unlocked door, meaning the Christian concept of salvation, offered by the church to those that would choose it. The idea here is that the power of the divine, which is in all of us, has been also given to this figure of authority. As Apollo spoke to his Oracle, so here we see the divine has given authority to those who would pursue it. The Hierophant is not some scam artist, setting himself up as an authority figure with no backing. Actually, the Hierophant is a wise man- he's worked for the knowledge and wisdom he has, and has worked to develop this connection to the divine. It's true that there are corrupt figures of spiritual authority across the spectrum, but here the Hierophant represents an ideal, not an actual person. The card is meant to represent the concept, not a specific person.
The Hierophant also wears a symbolic headdress, and also carries a triple cross on his staff, sceptre or whatever that is. It emphasizes his authority and wisdom, at any rate. The fact that there are three layers to both of these objects is a clue to their meaning. This represents three levels of understanding- the highest, a direct connection to the divine, as the High Priestess herself employs, the realm of ideas and thought, which is an abstraction and interpretation of the world above it, and the third, the material, physical world, where these two higher factors are put into everyday experience and action.
So what does all this translate into? There are common elements here, as well as one very important difference. Both the Hierophant and the Priestess are in many ways between the worlds- they communicate with both the divine and 'mundane' world, and pass messages from one to the other. However, the High Priestess offers no interpretation- her words and offerings are what they are, and it's up to us to discover their meaning. This is why another symbol is present in one card and absent in the other- the veil behind her. The Hierophant has no veil. The High Priestess gives us the words to go beyond the veil, but it's up to us to go beyond that veil- to lift it and see what's hidden there. She also uses these words to guard the way- when we're ready, we can use those words to go beyond that veil and what has been hidden will then be revealed to us. The Hierophant does not have the veil, because he's already gone beyond it, and come back to the other side. The Hierophant is a counselor figure precisely because he can do this- can offer interpretation and insight to the High Priestess' mysteries (try saying that three times fast). But the Hierophant represents authority precisely because of all that he has done and all that he has learned. In some ways the evolution of the Priestess, the Hierophant has learned not only the mysteries, but how to apply and translate the principles of these mysteries to the world we live in. The purpose of the Hierophant figure is not to boss us around, and fill our lives with "thou shalt nots" but rather to provide us guidance, and lead us beyond that veil ourselves.
So from this, you might be thinking, why then do we even need the High Priestess? If the Hierophant is there to explain it all away, why do we need to go beyond that veil ourselves? There are a couple reasons for this. First, I can sit here and tell you about Wyoming, and paint a picture for you. I took the time to actually go to Wyoming, to see what was there, and come back. But if you haven't been to Wyoming, well, then you haven't been to Wyoming. My experience will not be the same as yours, and no doubt things will be different for you. Each of us finds a different experience beyond this veil, and it's different for each of us.
But as John Donne so famously wrote, no man (woman or child, for that matter too) is an island. We don't go it alone, and we all need advice and guidance sometimes, and that's where the Hierophant comes in. A teacher or professor is similar to the Hierophant- they are an authority on a subject, and share their knowledge with us. They don't do the coursework for us, and challenge us to find things out for ourselves, but will however point us in the right direction, and help us to understand the material, having been there before themselves.
There's a further balance between these two cards as well- we can't always go it alone, yet at the same time, neither should we be too dependent on authority. Though there are authorities, and these authorities can help us along the way, this is not an excuse not to think for ourselves. In fact, the most useful and effective authorities are those that challenge our own thoughts and beliefs, and the assumptions that we hold. The Hierophant may make it easier, but in both cases, there's only one person that can go beyond the veil for you, and that person is you yourself.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ten Tarot Myths


What do you mean...Evil??
The odds are, if you're at all familiar with Tarot cards, you've heard some of the stories associated with them. Some are anecdotal ("I read for a friend, all the lights went out, and we heard a demonic voice laughing...") or more institutional ("Tarot dates back to ancient Egypt, and represents the hidden wisdom of the ages"). There are a lot of them out there, and while by no means comprehensive, I'm hoping to address a few of the more common ones here. So let's first start with one I hear a good deal- meaning no disrespect, here goes-
1. Tarot cards are evil, summon evil spirits, cause posession, and/or are Satanic.
This is a tough one to answer, as the influence the cards have depends to a large extent on how willing and able you are to be influenced by them. My experience is there is usually something going on to attract negative energy to you in the first place- if you find yourself surrounded with negativity, as sometimes happens, perhaps it's your own outlook, thoughts and actions that are at the root? Tarot is a tool for examination, not influence. So if you feel a lot of negativity around you, the Tarot can be a useful tool to root out that negativity.
In regards to Satan- well, that's really up to you. If you're not comfortable around Tarot cards, a good reader will respect that and do everything they can to make you feel a little more comfortable. And if you're still uncomfortable around the cards, that's fine also! Not all readers believe in Satan, or even an absolute evil force in the world. Again, this is a matter of personal belief. It's up to you whether or not to read, or have a reading done.
In regards to causing posession, well, how do you get posessed in the first place? Do you live in constant fear of demons? Perhaps if this is the case, you need a more objective view on life. Apart from that, again, if you find yourself with all manner of negativity, perhaps even mental issues, I encourage you to seek help with this! But as to Tarot causing it- only if you believe that. Our beliefs have a tremendous influence over us.
2. The Tarot comes from Egypt (alternately, the Romany/Gypsy people).
The simple fact is, there just isn't enough evidence to support either of these ideas. It's true that the Egyptians did indeed use playing cards, although for divination purposes, there is no real evidence of this. The Tarot may well have been used by Gypsies (my understanding was that they would more commonly use playing cards for fortune-telling), but as to origins, there are a lot of stories floating around out there. The most reliable story I've heard was that the Tarot as we know it today originated in Europe around the time of the Renaissance- the Persian region of the world was home at the time to a card game called taroq- this was brought back along with various other ideas to Europe, and the game became popular, but as a card game. It wasn't until 1781 that one Antoine Court de Gebelin first identified occult correspondences in the Tarot, and it began to gain popularity as a tool of divination. In terms of its use as a divinatory tool, I'd postulate that the fact is, it works because of common elements and aspects of human experience. Combine this with the fact that an underlying pattern exists in the world, and that everything follows that pattern- thus, the Tarot becomes a convenient but by no means exclusive tool of divination.
3. You must recieve Tarot cards as a gift-never buy your own cards
I'm still unsure where this particular superstition comes from. My experience has been, don't worry about it. If there's a deck out there that really speaks to you, and works really well for you, then great! Use that deck. Where they come from has little influence on the cards themselves, though if you consider this a major block to performing effective readings, then by all means don't buy cards. Most people choose a deck not because it chooses them, but rather because they have seen it, heard about it or otherwise encountered it and felt a resonance with it, perhaps a single symbol or card in the deck, or the deck overall.
4. You have to have a certain ritual to properly read.
Usually this is keep the cards in a box and/or wrapped in white (or black) silk, and never let anyone else touch them, or light a candle or incense, and 'clear' the deck before and after. Now, this is putting the proverbial cart ahead of the horse in many ways. I highly recommend having a pre-reading routine, to focus your mind and bring your thoughts in line with the reading you're about to do. Having a set routine like that will help you gather your thoughts, and often make your reading more effective. Think of it as a form of meditation- it can alter your mental state and outlook, and calm you down in many ways. But if your routine differs from mine, does that make you less effective, and me right and you wrong? Not necessarily. Again, it's about the ends, not the means. If you're feeling wound up, stressed out or upset, yes, your readings will be less effective. Keeping your cards in a safe place and handling them with care and respect is always a good idea, however, and I recommend re-shuffling the cards after you read- again, just a personal preference, I find it removes accumulated energy in the cards, letting you start over fresh each time you do a reading. But again, the value of having a routine is that it can put you in the right mindset, free of distracting thoughts, and allow you a moment to collect your thoughts.
5. There is only one proper interpretation of the cards, (alternately the _____ Tarot is the only 'true' Tarot)
There are two elements to Tarot reading- interpretation and insight. Knowing the meaning behind the cards is the first step, and the jumping off point for doing your own readings. The meanings are generally in accordance with one another- the Death card, as a for example, rarely means you'll recieve cupcakes in the mail, though this too is not beyond the scope of probability. There are common elements in various interpretations of the cards, although there is also a degree of personal interpretation. On occasion I've had people look at a card and say "what about this picture here in the corner", or "this looks like this to me", on occasion pointing out something I had completely overlooked! The meanings of the cards allow for a degree of flexibility in reading them- the meanings will hold true to the central message of the card, yet are flexible- you may find one aspect of the card jumping out at you, or see a correlation between cards in a reading. If this is the case, go with your first impression. A good exercise for learning the cards is also to just look at the cards, and record what things each one makes you think of. My experience has been that these interpretations fall into the general meaning of the card. Keep an open mind when reading- you may not find the cards fitting precisely into the pigeon holes of one definition, and that's quite all right. Different experiences provide different meanings for different people, yet at the same time the common threads far outweigh the differences.
In terms of the second part, how there is one 'true' Tarot, my answer is, which one? I'd love to take a peek at it! It's the same as above- people relate to different symbols differently. Most readers have a concept in their head coming in of what each card means, and will generally go with this one, though again, being too rigid and fixed in your interpretation can decrease the effectiveness of your reading. So what deck is best for you? The one you relate most to, and feel most comfortable with. For me, I found there are a couple different decks I can relate to easiest- that's just me though. Some decks that other people really like, I have a tough time understanding and using. It's not wholly trial and error, actually. The first step is identify your interests, and find a deck that can relate to them. There are pretty common decks that seem to be most popular- the perennial favorite, the Rider-Waite deck, comes to mind. It's useful to get to know other decks, and ask questions of others, such as what decks do they like, what decks have they had experience with?
6. Never do your own readings.
Okay, this one actually can be pretty good advice. No one can be less objective in a reading than you yourself, and coming to a point where you can read your own cards objectively can be challenging. But it can be done, and sometimes can provide deeper insight, if you're willing to see it. This is primarily advised against because it's difficult to be objective with yourself. Ego, fear and hopes can get in the way. But there's nothing wrong with doing your own readings, just be aware that you're not exactly an impartial observer.
7. The cards indicate what's destined to happen- no avoiding it.
The Tarot points to what is likely to happen- sometimes this can be inevitable, as we know every action has an equal and opposite reaction. However, if the subject at hand is, say, the direction your life is taking, then free will does have a place in all this. You can change the course of your own life- the role Tarot plays in this is to provide insight, and show you what you may have been missing. Remember that each decision you make sets your own future in motion- in other words, the greatest influence on the course of your own life is you! The Tarot can provide guidance and insight, but don't confuse the map with the road itself.
8. Tarot readers are psychic/you need to be psychic to read Tarot.
The problem with this statement is, what definition of psychic are you using? What defines a psychic? If a psychic is someone with innate psychic abilities, as opposed to those developed over time, then no, you don't need to be psychic to read the cards. Does it help? Certainly. I've encountered a couple people who were indeed born with very potent abilities in this area. The rest of us had to work for our abilities, and if there's a difference, I have yet to find it. It's like being able to run fast, or paint or draw- some people are just better at it than others, but virtually everyone can develop these abilities through hard work and practice, practice, practice.
Some people have experienced an increase in what we'd generally call psychic powers as a result of working with the Tarot, or doing reiki, aura work, or any number of these things, and like any kind of learning, it can create new connections between your "little gray cells" and lead you to think in new ways. I don't consider myself particularly psychic, but as time has gone on, have cultivated and developed insight and understanding of these things.
9. Reversed or "bad" cards are trouble!
Actually, yes and no. Seeing negative cards in a reading doesn't mean you should head for the fallout shelter. It does warn you to keep your eyes open, and perhaps to see where this negative influence is hiding, and what you're not seeing at the present. Reversed cards usually mean this energy or influence is blocked or subverted by something else going on. If that blocked card is a negative one, do be aware that it came up in the reading in the first place, and this can be something to keep alert to. If it's a positive one, look and see what's blocking that energy from coming into your (or your client's) life. Again, keep in mind that the Tarot is a tool for insight and divination- not for predicting inevitable and dire omens! The Tarot can show you something new that you may not have seen, but does not dictate your fate- you do that yourself.
10. Tarot is the exclusive domain of Witches/Wiccans/Pagans.
Actually, there are people from all walks of life who become interested in the Tarot, and all kinds of people who find that the Tarot works for them. The Tarot did not originate with Pagans or Witches, though both of these groups have certainly made use of it. Nor does one have to be a Witch, Wiccan or any other particular religion or lineage to use the Tarot. Some people find that they have a knack for it, others gain skill through time and study, and both of these are perfectly normal ways of gaining insight to the Tarot. So all things considered, the Tarot is, at its core, simply a set of symbols and pictures. To someone who doesn't know the meaning behind those symbols, or doesn't assign meaning to them, the cards reveal nothing. However, looking at a greater pattern and applying greater meaning to the cards, we find that the cards can be a useful tool for divination.
Well, I hope this has helped to clarify a few of the ideas floating around out there in regards to the Tarot. Until next time, happy reading, and stay well, everyone!