The Psychology of Divination
by Royce Carlson
years ago I was involved with a group in the study of tarot as it
related to astrology and the Kabballah. Each day for a whole year we
meditated on the energies of each of the cards in relation to the sun
sign at the time and correlated the meanings with the ten Sephira of the
Kaballah. After this year of work I began to do tarot readings just for
fun. I really intended it only as a sort of parlor game and it turned
out to be much more than that. I am, by nature, a skeptical person and I
was amazed at the relevancy of the readings.
When a tarot reader lays out the cards to do a reading and the
reading turns out to be pretty accurate, what is really going on?
Mainstream science has no good explanations for it and, in fact, denies
the effectiveness of such tools. Nevertheless, they work. Even a total
skeptic can be amazed by the accuracy of divination systems. There are
two main reasons for their effectiveness.
First, divination systems can be very effective as a mirror of the
subconscious. The more complex the system the better the results. An
astrology chart that takes into account the positions of all the planets
and their relationships with each other gives us a system with millions
of possible elements that are supposed to be significant. As the
interpreter of the chart recounts the meanings of each celestial
relationship, the person being read for (the client) will latch onto the
meanings that they feel a connection to and the other ones will go right
by, unnoticed and not remembered. Thus people can use astrology as a
mirror of their subconscious and thereby understand themselves better.
With the tarot, I found that the readings had the most relevance when
the client has a fairly clear question or particular personal
circumstance in mind. I would ask the client to focus on a question or
circumstance in a brief meditation before the reading. Then, when the
reading was underway, their minds were already primed to absorb the
meanings related to their question and to reject the ones that have no
relevancy. This all happens below the conscious level. The subconscious
does the filtering thereby making objective its reflection.
The second factor that can make divination effective is the relative
psychic abilities of the reader. The emotional world is a very real
world. Even though it is not measurable by scientific instruments, it is
as real as the physical world. Everyone has some ability to understand
this world. We wouldnít be able to relate effectively with each other
at all if we were not sensitive to the ebb and flow of emotional energy.
A psychic has more sensitivity to this world and can enhance the
effectiveness of divination systems by applying these abilities to
"see" the emotional forces at work within the client.
Even without psychic ability divination systems can be very useful. I
used to do readings for myself if I was in a dilemma about how to
respond to certain issues in my life. I would focus the situation in my
mind and then lay out the tarot cards in a ten-card spread to get the
maximum complexity. I would read the tarot to show all the forces at
work around the situation so I could see the situation more clearly.
Then I would throw the I Ching for a recommendation on how to
proceed. I found this a very effective way to concentrate on a problem
and then come up with a solution. Not much "magic" here, but
very useful, nonetheless. Even knowing that it was my subconscious doing
the work, and not the cards, didnít diminish the effectiveness of
using these divination tools.
So, the next time you see someone throw some runes or read chicken
entrails, donít throw it all out as nonsense. These tools work
although not for the reasons some people think.
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