Monday, October 30, 2006

Why Tarot Readings Work


Many people may view Tarot cards as a pointless pastime or play thing of certain ""new age"" dabblers or ""crazy psychics"", but the truth is, the images and concepts imbedded in the Tarot are ancient expressions of deeply ingrained human archetypes. As such, the cards can be very useful in exploring the subconscious mind, its hidden fears and desires, and its suppressed potentials.

What is an archetype? The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung used the term ""archetype"" to refer to the generalized patterns of images that form the world of human representations, through which humans relate to their outer reality. Representations of archetypes can be seen in all cultures throughout history. Since archetypes are rooted in the collective unconscious, they may be brought to the surface through the ""psychic"" activity of individuals who are in tune with their intuition, the bridge to the unconscious mind. This is literally a bridge to what some scientists are now calling ""implicit reality"", where everything exists in a state of chaos as one. In order to perceive reality as a solid stream of time and space, humans require a set of archetypes, or symbols, to guide their awareness. This is why the same archetypes, many of which are contained in the Tarot, can be found repeating in numerous works of cultural creation throughout the world and throughout history.

The first modern psychologist to recognize the potential of the Tarot in exploring the far regions of the unconscious was Carl Jung. In fact, during a Tarot reading, the client, with the assistance of the reader, discusses possible meanings of the symbols in specific cards and relates those meanings to the client's problem in much the same way as psychotherapists conduct dream analysis.

Jung was first drawn to the Tarot when he noticed the images contained within ""descended from the archetypes of transformation"". Many of these archetypes can be seen in Jung's ""individuation process"", which is a representation of the natural psychological maturation of the human being. The Tarot also contains symbols representing other important archetypes of the transformative processes, including the Self, the sacrifice, the hero, rebirth and the mother. A typical Tarot reading can be compared to a chaos model of therapy in that it can help induce in the reader a period of psychic instability by stimulating the imagination via the archetypal symbols in the Tarot.

Chaos Theory

Modern chaos theory was formulated to explain complex systems with many interrelated components as well as dynamic systems. Such complex systems, especially living systems, are known as dissipative structures. This is because such structures dissipate energy as they interact with their environment. In the case of living systems, this allows the process of growth to occur. Ilya Prigogine, who won the Nobel prize for chemistry in 1977 for his work in dissipative structures, noted that dissipative systems are systems that are able to maintain cohesion only because they are able to open to flows of energy, matter or information from their environments.

How does the Tarot work into this? Well, besides our body being a dissipative system, our psyches are as well. Our ""ego complex"", the part of ourselves with which we identify, is only a part of our psyche. Jung looked at the psyche as a self-regulating system that maintains itself in the same manner that the body does. Dreams are one way in which the psyche regulates itself, by bringing rise to suppressed unconscious energies and allowing them to dissipate. The Tarot is another way we can bring our unconscious energies to the surface.

History of the Tarot

The Tarot has been called the oldest book in the world. Legend has it that the cards came from a book called The Book of Toth. Toth was depicted in ancient Egypt as the ibis-headed god of wisdom and knowledge. He is said to have helped with the founding of Egypt, and to have given humanity mathematics, engineering, medicine, astrology and language, among other things. When the Egyptian empire began to fall several thousand years after its inception, Thoth intervened. To keep the knowledge and wisdom that he had passed to humanity alive, he summarized it on a series of 22 tablets. This was done using symbols instead of words, so that anyone could read it. These tablets came to be known as The Book of Thoth, and it is said that a roving people later known as the gypsies copied these symbols onto cards.

Whatever the origin of the Tarot deck, one thing is certain: the images correspond well with known human archetypes, and the cards have been used for centuries not just for divinization and fortune telling, but for serious psychological growth. Many a skeptic has tried their hand at a Tarot reading, only to be genuinely shocked at the accuracy and quality of information provided to them, and there is no doubt that many more skeptics will continue to be convinced of the power of the Tarot as it becomes increasingly popular throughout the world.

About the author: This article is from where you can learn more about the Tarot or get your own highly accurate heart-centered Tarot Reading.


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