No doubt a great importance in the paranormal field is the problem of fraud. The field of psychic research and spiritualism has been so notoriously full of charlatans, such as the Fox sisters and Eusapia Palladino–individuals who claim to have special power and gifts but who are actually conjurers who have hoodwinked scientists and the public as well–that we have to be especially cautious about claims made on their behalf.
(Everything That Rises Must Converge), Flannery O'Connor put the twisted vision and dark humor of Southern Gothic fiction to spiritual purposes. Though O'Connor, a rural Southerner, knew she would die young of lupus, she remained a faithful Catholic. Indeed, she was determined to undermine the '50s worldview which saw science and logic as steadily leading us to becoming a society based on rationality, consumerism, and progress, which would make God superfluous. Acutely aware of the extremes of religion in the South, she nonetheless preferred that "God-haunted" region to a bland world produced by advertising. She believed the supernatural lay just below the surface of the everyday, requiring the spiritual artist to portray the mundane world with great care and accuracy, however bizarre some of its events and characters might be. O'Connor saw the potential for mysterious grace in any place where the spirit, though twisted, was still alive. Her writing is powerful, at times violent, often hilarious. Sometimes I find it best to read her a little at a time; her unconquerable wit and her deep, abiding spirituality always shine through.
In 1970 two psychical researchers investigated the direct-voice medium Leslie Flint and found that all the "spirit" voices in his séance sounded exactly like himself and attributed his mediumship to "second-rate ventriloquism". The medium Arthur Ford died leaving specific instructions that all of his files should be burned. In 1971 after his death, psychical researchers discovered his files but instead of burning them they were examined and discovered to be filled with obituaries, newspaper articles and other information, which enabled Ford to research his séance sitters backgrounds.
In 1781, a French Freemason (and former Protestant minister) named Antoine Court de Gebelin published a complex analysis of the Tarot, in which he revealed that the symbolism in the Tarot was in fact derived from the esoteric secrets of Egyptian priests. De Gebelin went on to explain that this ancient occult knowledge had been carried to Rome and revealed to the Catholic Church and the popes, who desperately wanted to keep this arcane knowledge secret. In his essay, the chapter on Tarot meanings explains the detailed symbolism of Tarot artwork and connects it to the legends of Isis, Osiris and other Egyptian gods.
The Tarot is probably one of the most popularly used tools of divination in the world today. While not as simple as some other methods, like pendulums or tea leaves, the Tarot has drawn people into its magic for centuries. Today, cards are available to purchase in hundreds of different designs. There is a Tarot deck for just about any practitioner, no matter where his or her interests may lie. Whether you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings or baseball, whether you love zombies or are interested in the writings of Jane Austen, you name it, there’s probably a deck out there for you to choose.