Grocery lists, and what is of value (1310 words)


Bad writing
Many people think that because they can write a grocery list, they can also write a book or a short story or an essay. It's not true, but we don't think less of the written word, or look down on Shakespeare for instance, because we read a bad paragraph in a business report.

Bad photographs
Also, some people use expensive cameras and take really bad photographs - like someone standing in the street with a tree apparently growing out of their head; or a picture of child in a kitchen that gives a great view of the fridge, but hardly shows the person. This, however, doesn't lead to a general dismissal of photography and what it is capable of when done well.

There are good and bad photographs and movies and stories and paintings and everything.

The Tarot
On the other hand, mention the Tarot and when people stop laughing, they think it's about fortune telling and psychic predictions and smoky back-rooms with weird smells in the air and strange looking people. It is, or it can be, but it doesn't have to be just that. I want to show you, not only that there's more, but that it is everything.

A fellow by the name of Elbert Benjamin was commissioned by The Brotherhood of Light to write a number of books on metaphysics in the 1920s. The series was meant to give people another or a better understanding of what goes on with life, how we can make good or better use of it, and develop ourselves and our talents, while overcoming our weaknesses. One of the books was about the Tarot and he mentions early on that: What the Tarot can be made to reveal is limited only by the understanding of the reader.

Very good.

I think that what Elbert wrote is true. I'd like you to imagine what you could do if you knew it too. So the more you know, the more you can do with the Tarot.

How is a Tarot deck organized?
There are 78 cards in a deck. There are 22 major trumps - these are numbered cards with names like The Emperor and The Star.

EmperorSo the answer to your question can be The Emperor - and this can mean that you should act like an Emperor - so you run things your way; make decisions and have them implemented; plan for now and the future and be prepared to enforce your will rather than give in to other people.

By contrast, the answer to your question could be the same Emperor card, but upside down. So the advice can be to hold back, to relax and not try to make other people do what you want them to do. Maybe your plan as it exists in its present form is not that good or effective, or will lead to bigger problems so you need to back off. Or maybe you don't have the presence or strength right now to handle being in charge.

The Minor Trumps
Take away the 22 major trumps from the 78 cards and that leaves 56, that is equally divisible by 4. There are four suits of 14 cards each.

Queen CupsWe are probably all familiar with regular playing cards and their suits of Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds and Spades. With the Tarot we have Cups, Coins, Batons or Wands, and Swords; there is the Ace through to the 10 of each suit, but four court cards - the King, Queen, Knight and Page - rather than the King, Queen and Jack.

These court cards are people and they may describe you or others you will come into contact with. They may be older - like the King and Queen - or younger, like the Knight and Page. They can be male like the King and Knight, or female like the Queen and Page.

The meanings and symbolism of the four suits can be straightforward. Try making a list of things you can do with a cup:

So the Queen of Cups can indicate a good cook. Reversed, she may be someone who over- indulges the appetites; or someone who cries a lot - or some other condition of water pouring out of a receptacle.

The Rider-Waite deck
The deck I am using, and the one that I suggest you use too, is the Rider-Waite. A E Waite was a writer of books on the occult, and he was assisted in his design by Pamela Coleman Smith who did the illustrations. Rider, I think, was the original publisher, but now it is us games systems inc. and you can buy the deck in stores and on-line.

One reason for using this deck is that it works. You might think that it would be easy to produce a Tarot deck, but it isn't.

Also, there is a picture on each card. This means you can read its message without having to have any specialized knowledge of numbers or astrology or any fancy symbolism.

Avoid Astrology
King BatonsI think it's a good idea to avoid astrology as much as possible. Books and websites will tell you that the King of Wands, for instance, relates to Aries. That's all very well, but what then? What is Aries really like? Do you know much beyond saying this is an Aries person? What if you describe typical characteristics of an Aries, but the questioner says that the Aries person isn't actually like that. You probably can't argue about what's right and wrong, so you're stuck if you don't want to antagonize the questioner.

On the other hand, you can, just from general knowledge, talk about Kings, and about the strengths and weakness of the suit of Wands. So a King is or wants to be in charge or to hold a high position; this is an ambitious person.

Or, should the card be reversed, it is one who has been promoted beyond what he can handle. The questioner will understand and see the sense of this. Even if he or she doesn't know the person yet, they will be able to recognize 'the King'.

The wand in the picture is a piece of living wood, and so it represents energy and enterprise and growth. The King can therefore be an entrepreneur, a go-getter, an enterprising individual with high ambition whose personal energy will mean he can achieve his goals. He may be a self-made man or a young person who wants to make it big.

All you need is you
All you need is the deck, the pictures on the cards and your own desire to learn. You don't need a knowledge of astrology, the Kaballah, numerology, or any other system of divination, even though most books use and rely on other systems to explain the Tarot.

The Tarot is pictures, and we could cut out photographs of famous paintings and glue them to index cards and make a deck that could serve a useful - though maybe limited - purpose.

Think of the Mona Lisa. Her lesson or advice might be to smile enigmatically, keeping your own counsel. If she were to appear in your future, then it may be you who acts that way. Or you might have problems getting a straight answer to a straight question from someone you know, so don't expect people to cooperate.

You can derive meanings for any of the great works of art, and put them together in a deck.

The Rider-Waite Tarot deck has already been put together, however, and gives good answers, so why not get your own copy, and save the works of art deck as a long-term project. You will make a better one when you have had some experience of reading cards.