Thursday, July 15, 2004

Despite earlier reports, change is good

Via Snowball:

The Death Card

You are the Death card. Death is a stage in the
cycle of life. Without death, there would be no
room for new things to grow. When you receive
the Death card in a tarot reading, fear not;
Death is only an indication that transformation
is about to occur. Death allows us all to
evolve by removing that which is no longer
needed. The end of one cycle makes way for a
new one. Old behaviours and patterns which have
tied us down are released. Death cleans house
so that we don't have needless drains on our
energy. In Death's ruthless destruction there
lies compassion. Image from: Danielle Sylvie

Which Tarot Card Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

I'd be mortified (no pun intended) by this if I weren't a little acquainted with Tarot cards! But the Death card isn't a bad pick for me. I've gone through a lot of changes in my life and come out better because of them.

Here's my take on the Tarot. I'm not a believer in magic, the occult, etc., but I do believe that a set of cards printed with archetypal images can be a useful tool when you're trying to flush a few answers out of your unconscious mind. At key times in my life--when I was looking for a job, when I was getting divorced, etc.--I've done little amateur readings for myself, and each time they helped me understand what was going on in my thoughts and emotions, simply because they gave me the proper tools to contemplate my situation.

What I'm trying to say is that there's probably nothing too spooky about the cards and what order they turn up in. They just jog your mind to think about certain things. A good self-help book might do the same thing.

I do believe it's important to use cards that have all the critical archetypal images in place, so that they can do their brain-jogging job. I'm not a fan of new-agey or revisionist decks, which tend to be crowded with political agendas or useless cutesy details to the exclusion of all the important stuff. I like the classic Rider-Waite deck (here's their version of Death), or Thoth if that's not available.

All that aside, my very favorite thing about Tarot cards is the memory of my college graduation ceremony. Every year the school had a contest: Whichever graduating student wrote the best commencement speech got to deliver it in front of the crowd. My classmates were either too busy or too apathetic to participate, though, so the administration received only one speech. They had to go with it.

On the appointed day, a petite crew-cutted girl mounted the stage and adjusted the microphone down to her height. Over the course of the next 25 minutes, she gave a thorough examination of how Tarot divination had helped her get through years of turmoil, the death of her mother, and the discovery of her lesbianism. She went into the details of a ten-card spread she'd done her freshman year, and linked the cards to events and people in her life--including her partner, who rose and stood next to her as "Exhibit A."

This didn't faze the students. My college put the "liberal" in the phrase "liberal arts school," so it took something a whole lot more unusual than this to get our attention. The vast majority of us were distractedly adjusting our mortarboards, passing around airplane liquor bottles, and kicking each other in the shins. But I happened to glance over at the college president and noticed that the veins on his forehead were bulging visibly and he was tugging at the collar of his robe. And you could see scores of grandparents fiddling with their hearing aids. "Can't make head or tail of this!" they were muttering.

I've never seen or heard another commencement speech quite like it. And we have the Tarot to thank for it.