Chapter 3


ASTROLOGY AND THE TAROT


I have often been asked during the discussions which followed my  lectures why I haven't gone further and studied astrology. Almost as if they were similar things that every mystic person ought to know. At first I replied that I didn't see the point of learning too many things at once; learning the Tarot might take me the first fifty years, after which I would see. I quoted Confucius, who started his serious study of the I Ching very late in life, not feeling ready for serious things until in his seventies.

But I reflected on it, and gradually my viewpoint changed. Perhaps the study of one might enable me to understand the other; perhaps I had been too frightened of the complicated arithmetic, which scared me plain silly. In time I started to regard myself with some contempt, and settled down with coffee, paper and pencil to tackle this work. As I progressed I reached a certain amount of insight as to why astrology seemed so unattractive to me.

Clairvoyance, character analysis, fortune-telling, psychotherapy  and all the other respectable and not so respectable personal sciences can be grouped into two major categories. To the first belong palmistry, the Tarot, tea-leaf reading and psychoanalysis; to the second psychology, astrology and numerology. The dividing line is drawn with regard to their need for the two people involved to be in physical proximity; the first group needs that interaction, and the second one doesn't. It is perfectly possible to prepare a chart of someone who is not in the room, and whom you have never met, but there is no way to select Tarot cards by post. The astrologers with whom I have discussed this immediately object that they often have their subject in the same room when interpreting their chart. This merely indicates that it is possible, not that it is necessary. After meeting many people who prefer one or the other of these groups, I gradually realized that their preferred mode reflects their own attitude to touching or being in the emotional field of other people, especially strange people with possibly very different life styles or attitudes.

Many people feel that their ideals ought to dictate their choice of  career as counsellor, therapist or fortune-teller with and for other people. To achieve this they train as social workers, psychotherapists, astrologers and the like. But their real personal feelings are that they don't want to touch the body or the psyche of the other person. So they concentrate on those aspects which will allow them to combine both their ideal and their real feelings. Typically an astrologer can be intensely involved with people without ever meeting or seeing them; he can placate his ideals as set out in his consciousness, and yet not be involved with the messy actual contact. Again, we see people who love children, and work with and for them, but never actually cuddle them, or have play-fights; others may be much more adult-oriented, and yet romp all over the living-room with them.

This is not in any way intended to convey contempt or disapproval, it merely reflects a difference between the two types of temperament. It also finally made me realize why I liked the Tarot so much. I just like mucking in.

But it must always be borne in mind that the Tarot reader will be personally involved with the Querent (the person who is being read); they are both part of an interacting spiral. The Reader reacts to the reaction of the Querent to the things the Reader says in response to the Querent's question, and so on. There is in fact 'feedback'.

Now feedback is a term borrowed from cybernetics, which is the study of how things are governed or guided to achieve the ends required in a dynamic system. The simplest way to understand the term feedback is to think about how we steer a bicycle.

Imagine yourself on a bicycle, pedalling merrily along. However carefully we hold the handlebars, sooner or later we swing off course, let us say to the left. Automatically we swing the wheel to the right, and we go on doing so until the bicycle stops going to the left, and begins to go to the right. If it goes too far to the right, we swing the handlebars to the left, till we see that the bicycle is going straight. At no time do we measure our deviation, or decide 'how much-to swing in the opposite direction. We just push the handlebars in the opposite direction from the deviation till we decide it is right.

Here we have a simple cybernetic path. The machine (which consists of the bicycle plus the cyclist) deviates from the chosen direction. The eye sees it and informs the brain which directs the hands to move the steering unit. The eye then checks to see whether the handlebars have moved, and whether the bike is still going to the left, has started to move to the right, or is going straight. The eye then tells the brain what has happened, and the brain issues further instructions to the hands; move more, move less, keep it as is. As the corrections are being made, new deviations crop up, which are dealt with on a continuous basis. In fact, the bike never goes straight; it actually moves in little swings to the left and right which are evened out into one general direction.

If a major deviation occurs (caused perhaps by trying to miss another bicycle coming straight at us), and we correct it with a big swing to the right, and then a smaller correction to the left, till we are riding fairly straight, we speak of a negative feedback. Where, however, the big swing to the left causes us to almost overbalance, we correct with an even bigger swing to the right in a desperate attempt to regain our balance. It is to no avail, the wobbling gets worse and worse, and at last we fall off. This is the situation of positive feedback. Positive feedback is then a situation where the attempt to correct the deviation results in even greater deviations, and so on till disaster occurs.

Having explained feedback, we now see that where there is an  intimate relationship between two people, the possibility of feedback reactions operating is strong. The closer two people are, the more likely these feedback effects are; something we have all noticed in situations where two people live in each other's pockets. It can also be seen in the effect of long periods of work on psychiatrists, who have an unusually high incidence of nervous breakdowns and suicides. But even in the single reading of the Tarot spread, very intimate relationships are possible, and in fact are part of the bond between Reader and Querent. When, then, the feedback becomes positive, the troubles of the Querent can influence the Reader in an unpleasant way. This is the possibility that the astrologer is secretly afraid of and then tries to avoid, whilst yet maintaining his involvement with people.

Yet we will see when discussing the 'Psychic Mirror' that the very accuracy of the Tarot depends on this feedback. Not only do we need to be in touch with ourselves, but also we must be in touch, at a psychic level, with the Querent, and the Querent must be in touch with us.
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