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Posted (edited)

Hello,

I'm looking for the author/title of a tarot book I once read and I was hoping someone here could help me.

In the introduction, the author (a professional Tarot reader) describes having done a kind of scientific test. They had an assistant have 10 different querent ask a question and then shuffle the deck of Tarot cards, and then the assistant wrote down the top cards of the deck (to determine what the reading would be for that querent). Separately, the Tarot reader then wrote out readings for the 10 different tarot spreads, and later presented all of the spreads to the 10 different people. The idea being, if there was something truly paranormal happening, the 10 querent should have been able to pick the reading that was done specifically for them out of the 10 different written readings.

Does anyone remember reading this anecdote? If so, from which dang book was it from!? I haven't gotten too esoteric in my Tarot readings, so it's probably one of the more popular books out there.

Thanks! 🙂

Edited by The Dizard Wizard

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I don’t think I have read that exact book but I do remember reading about someone that compiled a bunch of readings without a particular question or querent in mind, that they then handed out ‘randomly’ as gifts to guests at their wedding (or something similar), and those readings proved to be very accurate. 

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Groovy, thanks for the offer. That sounds like it could be an illustration of "the Barnum effect", which is often used as a strike against the Tarot. James Randi and Ray Hymen love doing stuff like that.

 

It was the conclusion to the writer's little experiment that I was most interested in - she elucidated on the idea that there was something, an exchange between reader and querent, that happened during a reading that was most significant. I wanted to see what they (she?) said about it again.

Upside, in my cursory googling I found this, which is hella-interesting and taught me the term "the Barnum effect" 😛 :

https://dspace.library.uvic.ca/bitstream/handle/1828/1553/Tarot%20Cards.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

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The experiment you describe doesn't test the "utility" of tarot. Utility simply means that something is useful to the user. To test this, you simply need to ask the querent if he or she sound it useful.

 

So I think you are mixing up two separate issues. Utility and paranormal are not the same thing. 

 

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Posted (edited)

McFaire: Thanks for your comment. Yes, I agree with you that utility and the paranormal are not the same thing, I was a little general in my above comment and I can see how it would have caused someone to conclude that that's what I was thinking.

My comment "Yes. I see no harm in it, but I think its utility is limited." was in reference to AJ-ish/Sharyn's comment  "the exercise sounds like newspaper daily astrology readings. Every Scorpio is going to see themselves in whatever is written because we will interpret it for ourselves. "... essentially "the Barnum effect". I think tiny daily horoscopes in newspapers are fun, but their utility is fairly limited as means of negotiating your way through the trials and tribulations of life (depending on your horoscope writer that is... for instance, despite having never met me and not knowing who I am, Rob Brezsny consistently writes his weekly Aquarius horoscope for me personally 😉 ).

I'm in the midst of writing a little talk explaining to muggles the utility of the Tarot as a psychological exercise, because of the Tarot being a sophisticated system of symbols through which one can come to a deeper knowing of the self, and find a better perspective on one's life's journey. I am writing my talk for a skeptical audience, and when they hear "Tarot cards" they can easily dismiss them as "mystical hoo-hah for starry eyed hippies". So I was hoping to find a quote from a professional reader that had dismissed the idea of the tarot being "paranormal" and what her thoughts were about the exchange between the querent and the reader. Douglas Coupland defines it as a "Situational Disinhibtion: A social contrivance within which one is allowed to become disinhibited, that is, moments of culturally approved disinhibition: when speaking with fortunetellers, to dogs and other pets, to strangers and bartenders in bars, or with Ouija boards.”

Personally, I can't deny that there is something mysterious, uncanny, that I often seem to interact with when I use the cards, but that particular insight I will keep to myself and not share with the skeptics 🙃 
 

Edited by The Dizard Wizard

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I do predictive readings - which are, if anything, more uncanny. We don't know what's at play, how the correct cards manage to fall.
So people will try to fill the vacuum ("spirits", "magic", "synchronicity", etc.) One guess is as good as the next. It's not "paranormal" - everything is "normal" and subject to the laws of nature, physics, etc., whether we understand it or not. I think the key might be in a better understanding of the nature of time. There's a lot we don't know yet.

But all of that is nothing to do with disinhibition, and so probably isn't what you're looking for at all.

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Katrinka, mmmm, yes. Thanks for your thoughts. I don't do a great deal of predictive readings, not because I don't believe in it, rather because I respect too much (*cough* fear *cough*) the consequence of the information one can receive.

 

Does it have nothing to do with disinhibition? You could say that the tarot - the mechanics of the system, the social context, the mythic narrative that it establishes, the practice of sitting with the cards, the whole schmozzle - creates a kind of container that allows us to relax the ridgid hold that the pervading rationalist/reductionist paradigm has on our psyche. This, in itself, is a kind of disinhibition - which allows for us to have the experience of connecting with this uncanny, ineffable, thing that is so difficult to define. I'm curious if someone who was raised in a culture where this kind of practice was accepted as a matter of course would think of it as a "disinhibition".

I have found there is a kind of 'click' that happens for me, internally, when I'm communicating with the ineffable. I learned how to be in touch with this thing though through using Tarot cards, but eventually I was able to find this connection outside the practice of using the Tarot. Tarot was the "gateway drug", so to speak, for me feeling and benefiting from a connection with That Which Is Unknowable. The experience isn't something that I maintain all the time, it's something that I access in little pockets throughout my day. For me, it's still a kind of disinhibition of my experience of the everyday world, but probably because I'm working against a pervasive rationalist mindset in the culture where I was raised and in which I live.

 

Anyhoo, thanks again for your thoughts, they were definitely helpful. 🙂 

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My pleasure.

And PS - I don't think you have to communicate with the ineffable to read cards, at least no moreso than you do when driving, frying an egg, walking the dog, etc. Sometimes it might feel like we are. But most times it's just knowing the cards. Suppose you're using Lenormand and you want to know if you'll move this summer. Coffin-Clouds-Mountain is a very definite no!

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It's nice when you can sit down and reflect, and get that click. But I've gotten crisis calls in the supermarket aisle and similar places, where I had to read cuts inside my purse in an effort not to be obvious! No clicks when you do that - but it still works. 😉

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Posted (edited)

@AJ-ish/Sharyn

 

I think the experiment @The Dizard Wizard described is an an attempt at creating a double blind (triple, maybe) situation in which neither the sitters, the readers, nor the testers know what's what in advance. If done properly (participants picking out the readings performed for them from a selection of control readings) it would be nothing like squinting at fuzzy newspaper astrology. 

 

I've heard of this approach used with psychics before, but never tarot. Interesting.

 

If you're talking psychological tarot, I think this quote from Enrique Enriquez is appropriate:

 

The first thing the cards - each and every sequence of cards - has to tell us is that the riddle we solve on the table gives us the ability to solve one riddle in our lives. "Similia similibus curentur [like is cured by like]." An act of magic.

 

Good luck with the talk!

 

Edited by devin

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I remember something Mary Greer said on AT, that is (concerning accuracy) results seem better with a cartomantic approach than a psychic approach; she referred to Lenormand and to feedbacks with regard to readings done (on an internet list if I remember things properly).

After it can depend on such or such particular psychic maybe!

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8 minutes ago, Decan said:

I remember something Mary Greer said on AT, that is (concerning accuracy) results seem better with a cartomantic approach than a psychic approach; she referred to Lenormand and to feedbacks with regard to readings done (on an internet list if I remember things properly).

After it can depend on such or such particular psychic maybe!

I remember this too. Yeah, it was about lenormand, and that intuitive interpretations of lenormand readings seemed less accurate than traditional interpretations. I know that Mary definitely has and believes in psychic skills, I just think she meant that not every system is as suitable for psychic readings. I cannot comment on that myself, since I don't do lenormand readings, but I imagine that there can be something to what she is saying. 

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Posted (edited)

Yes absolutely, it’s what I understood too!

Edited by Decan

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On 6/6/2019 at 4:13 PM, The Dizard Wizard said:

So I was hoping to find a quote from a professional reader that had dismissed the idea of the tarot being "paranormal" and what her thoughts were about the exchange between the querent and the reader. Douglas Coupland defines it as a "Situational Disinhibtion: A social contrivance within which one is allowed to become disinhibited, that is, moments of culturally approved disinhibition: when speaking with fortunetellers, to dogs and other pets, to strangers and bartenders in bars, or with Ouija boards.”

Personally, I can't deny that there is something mysterious, uncanny, that I often seem to interact with when I use the cards, but that particular insight I will keep to myself and not share with the skeptics 🙃 
 

You might also be interested in the book Re-Symbolization of the Self: Human Development and the Tarot Hermeneutic by Inna Semetsky.  Among other things, she talks about the reader “facilitating a growth-promoting process” and the querent as an “equal participant in the emerging, therapeutic, and learning relation.”  

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On 6/12/2019 at 2:28 AM, Raggydoll said:

I remember this too. Yeah, it was about lenormand, and that intuitive interpretations of lenormand readings seemed less accurate than traditional interpretations. I know that Mary definitely has and believes in psychic skills, I just think she meant that not every system is as suitable for psychic readings. I cannot comment on that myself, since I don't do lenormand readings, but I imagine that there can be something to what she is saying. 

There's a lot of variables with Tarot, a lot of systems. I don't think there's a single unified Tarot method.
 

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I guess what I was trying to say there is, look at the exchanges and "help with a reading" threads here, AT, facebook, wherever - people do things very differently, and there are trends that come and go.  So when I see these "Lenormand vs. Tarot" comparisons, it always seems like they're referring to modern, psychological Tarot, with lots of reading off the pictures. But Tarot can be read in an older, cartomantic style (Caitlin Matthews gives a good explanation of this in her Untold Tarot), very predictive and Lenormand-like. In addition there's the esoteric stuff - Qabalah, astrology, etc. - that people might or might not incorporate. To further compound the issue, a lot of people tend to blend these. Even Andy Boroveshenga, who reads very precisely and cartomantically, incorporates astrology and color pooling in his Tarot readings (but never in Lenormand!) So it would be very difficult to categorize for the purpose of comparing it to Lenormand reading.


 

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2 hours ago, katrinka said:

But Tarot can be read in an older, cartomantic style (Caitlin Matthews gives a good explanation of this in her Untold Tarot), very predictive and Lenormand-like.

It's what I tend to do. Actually I had a phase when I focused on Lenormand only and when I put off a bit Tarot. Now I come back to Tarot again, but differently I think and I don't see a wall between Tarot and Lenormand in the way of doing things.

Depending on people of course, but I don't deal with cards like a psychic, while this way of doing could be fine for other people I guess.

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1 hour ago, Decan said:

It's what I tend to do. Actually I had a phase when I focused on Lenormand only and when I put off a bit Tarot. Now I come back to Tarot again, but differently I think and I don't see a wall between Tarot and Lenormand in the way of doing things.

Same here. I think it improves Tarot reading, you get more decisive and more used to reading combinations. A lot of the modern Tarot literature has drifted away from that.

1 hour ago, Decan said:

Depending on people of course, but I don't deal with cards like a psychic, while this way of doing could be fine for other people I guess.

Me either. It's about reading what's there on the table. 😉

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