Over time, many great thinkers have added to the deeper understanding of the Tarot cards. Carl Jung connected the symbology of the trumps to archetypes, concluding that the tarot might play an important role in psychoanalysis. The Hero’s Journey discussed by Joseph Campbell laid the foundation for the Journey of the Fool, who jumps heedlessly off a cliff only to come full circle into the position of magician. The archetypal symbols in each card tell a story, and therefore clue the reader into what influences are appearing in the querent’s own life.
Though historians like Kaplan and Matthews publish new information on divination decks every year, there are still many holes in the larger story of fortune-telling cards. Wolf points out that those who use cards for divination are often at odds with academics researching their past. “There’s a lot of friction between tarot historians and card readers about the origins and purpose of tarot cards,” Wolf says. “The evidence suggests they were invented for gaming and evolved for use in divination at a much later date. Personally, I believe they were designed for game play, but that the design is a bit more sophisticated than many tarot historians seem to believe.”
Contrary to what the uninitiated might think, the meaning of divination cards changes over time, shaped by each era’s culture and the needs of individual users. This is partly why these decks can be so puzzling to outsiders, as most of them reference allegories or events familiar to people many centuries ago. Caitlín Matthews, who teaches courses on cartomancy, or divination with cards, says that before the 18th century, the imagery on these cards was accessible to a much broader population. But in contrast to these historic decks, Matthews finds most modern decks harder to engage with.
Scientists who study anomalistic psychology consider mediumship to be the result of fraud and psychological factors. Research from psychology for over a hundred years suggests that where there is not fraud, mediumship and Spiritualist practices can be explained by hypnotism, magical thinking and suggestion. Trance mediumship, which according to Spiritualists is caused by discarnate spirits speaking through the medium, can be explained by dissociative identity disorder.
The biblical basis of this practice is St. Paul's advice to his disciple Timothy whom he appointed bishop. St. Paul told him to "Attend to reading." The word "attend" an allusion to the many other concerns that a bishop has to attend to. By this, according to St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church on Moral theology, the Apostle Paul "wished him to apply to the reading of holy books, not in a passing way and for a short time, but regularly and for a considerable time."
(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.
The Burning Question reading is for times when you have a question that needs to be answered immediately—a burning question, if you will. A card symbolizing the question is placed at the center of the spread with the remaining six cards placed around it, suggesting the shape of a flame as it clings onto an object. Spread created by veteran tarot reader Laura Mead-Desmet.