Step One (970 words)


Bishop Oliver King
Years ago, I lived in Bath, a town in the south-west of England where I was taking a post-graduate teaching course. One day while passing the medieval Abbey, a friend from those days asked if I knew who had restored it. I didn't, so he told me to figure out the sculpture above the door. There was a tree with a crown and some religious headgear in the branches. It turned out that it was an olive tree; the crown represented a king; and the hat was a bishop's mitre. The Abbey had been restored by Bishop Oliver King.

The answer was in the symbols, if you knew how to read them.

Let's say you want to decorate a room, so you go into a store and buy things. You might pick up some posters or framed reproductions of works of art. Some painting may look nice; others, however, are not just decorative because they are telling a story or have hidden messages that may not be immediately obvious.

Art historians and eminent academics publish well-received books on the subject of the messages and stories in famous painting. So, yes, looking at pictures and seeing significance there can be respectable. The technique with Tarot cards may be similar - interpreting symbols - but the public perception is very different. One is reputable; the Tarot isn't. I want to show that the Tarot should be, and is, worthy of serious study. It is the universal key to unlock any mystery.

Interpreting symbols
There are symbols in the pictures and we interpret them individually and in combination to get an idea of what is going on, or to see how best to deal with a situation or problem.

You don't get very far if you just recite memorized meanings for cards, however. This makes for a choppy and disjointed analysis. Giving people random bits of information might be quite interesting (depending on what the information is). It is probably not that helpful or useful, though, in understanding what is really going on, or making sense of a situation, or seeing a few steps into the future.

I watched a YouTube reading of a Celtic Cross spread for someone who wanted to know if she would meet a man who would be reliable and who would not run away from her. The first card was The Sun, which according to the reader means clarity and illumination and a kind of success is going to happen, so in general what you are looking for is the right path. If you're looking for something else, you might be a bit deluded.

The second card - that gives a little more insight on the situation - was the 3 of Coins. It's telling me here that you might have to enlist the help of a friend, or a mother, or an internet dating agency. You know, something like that, something where there is kind of organization involved, you know. OK. So this is kind of interesting, so you have a really favourable outcome, but you kind of need the help of some kind of structure like friends or family or... it requires a kind of planning in order to get this started and rolling, he said.

I'm not going to spend time complaining about the person reading this spread. I would like to say that it's easier and more sensible - with the Celtic Cross spread that was used here - to have an idea of what is shown by a card in any particular position.

The first card shows the present condition, but not really the final outcome as well. The Sun is a major trump and so the woman is looking for a soul-mate kind of person, but it is later cards that will show if she will be successful in her quest in the near and longer-term future.

We can't just make it up, even though some people do
The sun shines, we know, so we can understand that The Sun card shows clarity and illumination. How do these words relate to a question about future relationships? I would not have been any the wiser if the reader had mentioned clarity and illumination and a kind of success going to happen. I recognize the words, but I don't know what the reader means - though I would hope for a clear picture in my own mind from the reading.

When you listen to some people's interpretations, the Tarot can seem to be ridiculous; or rather their use of it is. They talk, and you know that they're just making it up; or that they are talking about themselves and do not know it; or they are saying things that can't be proved, even though it may be true, or it could have happened. In the end, it's not really that much use.

It's like psychics on television who are asked about a departed loved one. Yes, he's very happy now and relieved to be where he is, but he misses you and is looking out for you. His spirit is just behind you.

Maybe; but just as easily, or more likely, maybe not.

The audience member has been told something, but then what? Then nothing.

Psychics or readers may be telling you what you want to hear. So yes, you're going to get the job or the promotion or a new boyfriend or girlfriend and go on that trip and live happily ever after.

But how?
Fairy tales are not generally real, even though miracles can and do happen. You've been acting or behaving in a certain way, that has got you into this bad situation, and it's not going to magically transform itself into paradise. You have to do something - something probably different from your usual actions. You can be helped by the Tarot if you are shown what to do differently.