Sunday, August 09, 2009

More on I Ching and Tarot

Now, is it purely a mental exercise to consider parallels and similarities between the I Ching and Tarot? It is a mental exercise, but maybe not just that.

The commentary surrounding the I Ching is very specific regarding its origins. It goes something like this:

Prior to the time of organized society, humans did not have dreams, 'were not troubled' by dreams. Then, as the first laws came into place, the natural state of the human psyche was 'framed in'. At that point, dreams were the consequence: there were thoughts that were submerged, and so had to manifest themselves.

Around this same time, the hexagrams were somehow manifestations of a subconscious thought process that helped men invent new things, and the correlation that the commentary provides along with the inventions in question doesn't make a lot of intuitive sense, but the point is that when men contemplated the juxtaposition of two of the energies or forces indicated by the trigrams, they derived new things.

So the trigrams were regarded as a way to tie back civilized man to the pre-civilized mode of thought.

Tarot, being a more westernized form of divination, is maybe more readily understood as a collection of archetypes, as opposed to the more abstract forces of nature involved in the I Ching. But, both refer to sets of archetypes, both in a timeless sense and in a particular historical frame of reference that can be projected into a current frame if one understands the references.

Now, whether or not these things tell the future is one thing. Whether or not they lead one to believe that they represent some deeper knowledge is another, and whether or not the exercise of attempting to understand the message provided by a reading or consultation is 'useful' is yet another. That people have consulted fortune tellers since time immemorial is a fact. That people have been deceived by quacks is also a fact. That Nostradamus predictions sell stacks of tabloids is undeniable, and that there seems to be some sense of valid prophecy in what he wrote has been nagging people for centuries.

Nobody can really make sense of these things to the point where they can be as easily explained as negative charged particles and positive charged particles sticking together to form atoms.

However, that is the exercise, so if we regard Yin and Yang as opposite charges, and hexagrams indicating an imbalance of one or the other, then that the hexagrams should change to remedy that imbalance is as readily understood as electrons and protons. And that the states of imbalance should be 'catalogued' in the idiom of sets of broken or unbroken lines, or as archetypical states of being as indicated on a set of cards, so they can be applied to something as important as telling the future should not seem outrageous.

OK, so the identification and collection of certain situations, actions and types of people as referred to in both the I Ching and Tarot should make some kind of sense, what makes less sense is how the arrangement of those elements is caused to occur through the activity of the consultation or reading.

Because in each case the reading depends on randomization of the elements and then their arrangement into a framework. On one hand, the six lines and in the other in the layout of cards. So the effectiveness of the result lies either in the clever manipulation of the person doing the reading, in order to mold the received set of messages to fit the question at hand, or the willingness of the querent to do the molding themselves, or some combination of the two. The messages themselves are vague enough to fit almost any situation, so it is a matter of just making them fit.

And you either take issue with that, or are satisfied with it. This is the unknowable part: what happens if you get some kind of messages that make sense, in an unexpected way, and so you tend to pay some attention to them while remaining skeptical. It is no help that shady 'fortune tellers' who try to pry into the nature of the question or person's past will try to make that connection happen artificially.

But the point is this: when you get a message via the I Ching or Tarot that makes sense to you, it makes sense in a certain way because it is designed to, and it is designed that way because it was designed to work.

So how does it work?


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