Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Omily Tarot: You Really Think Someone Would Do That...?

I'm a huge advocate of reading books. And when you're studying the tarot, tarot books can be your best friends! There are so many excellent resources out there: not just books, but websites, message boards, blogs, friends who read the tarot...as with all things in life though, not all of those resources are going to be super awesome. Some of them may just be confusing, some may be based on a different school of thought than the one you embrace, and some are just...not that good. Especially on the internet, the fact is, anyone can publish anything.
Yes, that's right Buster and friends (in case the imbedded video didn't work)! So it's up to you to evaluate your sources carefully. When in doubt, question everything! But how can you, as a novice, do your due diligence, and tell the difference between some yahoo rambling on the internet (which is totally not what I am), and someone who has done their due diligence, and has legitimate insights to offer? Relax, Buster. I'm here to help!

Tip #1: The tarot has a history, and, up to a certain point, we know it. So, anyone who starts off by telling you it's just a great mystery (or worse, it came from gypsies who got it from Egyptians, or who maybe are the Egyptians but the point is, it was totally the book of Thoth...) is probably not your best source. He, she, or they, may have really interesting, thought-provoking ideas about the interpretations of the cards, but keep in mind, if this person or persons doesn't or don't know where these interpretations came from...well, what are they based on?

Tip #2: I'm skeptical of anyone who has a lot of rules. Things like, 'Your first tarot deck must be a gift', or 'you must store your tarot deck wrapped in silk', or 'you just sleep with your deck under your pillow before it will work.' Either this person is just throwing out tarot mythology they've heard someplace, or they have a wholly different understand of how the tarot works (read: Magic powers!) than I do (read: Archetypes, psychology, and maybe a dash of collective unconscious).

Tip #3: If the source you're reading suddenly announces that a certain card, or even better, a certain suit, is the bad card or suit, it's time to question everything this source has said up to this point. There is simply no such thing as a bad card or suit. Every card embodies an incredibly broad range of meanings, from very positive, to very negative, and everything in between.

Knowing these red flags to look for in your study sources is important, because if you accept everything you find as reliable information, that's going to impact how reliable your readings are. The very first tarot book I ever read was called, Tarot for Beginners, and it described the whole suit of swords as being about selfishness and negativity, and the consequences of bad choices. At the time, I had no way of knowing how wack that was, but it still didn't sit right with me. What if I hadn't continued my studies? I could have been doing readings with a whole lot of negativity and judgement in them.

On the other hand, my experience shows you the other side of this coin: just because you aren't sure about a source you've been reading doesn't mean you have to throw it out and wash your brain clean of everything you found there. Just stick it in a mental folder marked 'maybe', and keep researching! If you have a roster of proven reliable sources, you can always turn to them to check out any new sources with ideas that aren't sitting right with you. There are many aspects of the tarot that are quite subjective, so you don't have to agree with every interpretation of a card that you find, though in general, the more potential interpretations you have in your stable, the better.

You can also easily do a little research on the author behind your source to find out how reputable they are. Of course, someone doesn't have to own their own tarot school and have three books published to have worthwhile ideas about the tarot...but it doesn't hurt to have some idea of where this person is getting his or her ideas from, and how long she or he has been working with the tarot.

Ultimately, you should be synthesizing all the information you're taking in about the tarot, and combining it with your own insights to create your own understanding of the tarot. You will probably never write your own tarot book, but over time, you should have a unique enough perspective that if you wanted to, you'd have something worth sharing...and something that would pass all these tests to be considered a reliable source!

Hopefully this information will help you streamline your tarot studies, and better evaluate what you already know, or think you know about the tarot.

Oh, and if you do decide to write a tarot book, definitely let me know!

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