THE PSYCHIC MIRROR
Generally speaking the Tarot is approached from a mystical point of view. It is assumed that there is a power in some men which allows them to perceive things which cannot be perceived by less gifted mortals. The ones who have this gift may not have developed it, but by learning how to use the cards they will be able to make use of their exceptional talent. Others, who are less lucky, do not have the gift, and will never develop it, however hard they study and work.
Many people get it firmly drummed in at an early age that they are not artistic. 'Look', they say, 'I can't paint or draw.' True, but then I ask them to look at the way they are dressed or the way they lay a table; these can be done in pleasing ways, or otherwise. They hadn't realized that these were also artistic subjects.
If you, the reader, firmly believe in the greater or lesser talent, then the best method is to buy standard book on the Tarot and a pack of cards, and proceed to find out if you have the talent or not. If you find the correct book with the most authentic meanings you are bound to succeed, provided you have the talent. Obviously, I cannot teach you to grow a talent, or mystical intuition, or gifts. I could describe them, and mention the results, much as I could chronicle the miracles of the Saints.
Now I do not disbelieve in the idea of the mystical approach to the Tarot but, as I explained above, I cannot write about it nor can I tell you how to go about getting hold of some. And wouldn't it be awful to go to all the trouble of learning the Tarot only to find you haven't the talent. The rest of this book will describe how to go about using the Tarot without ever needing to worry whether you have the talent or not.
I will start by explaining that the human mind may be thought of as having three parts. The first one is the Conscious; this is the part that talks, reasons, decides, remembers things, and is generally aware of itself. The second part is the Sub-Conscious; this is the part that feels, and notices all things, and makes the decision as to whether to tell the Conscious or not. The third part is the Un-Conscious; here are the instincts, the reflexes and drives.
The three parts communicate badly with each other, and this is especially so between the conscious and the subconscious. Everything that happens around us gets noticed by our organs of perception, i.e. our eyes, ears, nose, etc. which convert what they notice into electrical signals which are transmitted to the brain. In the brain first of all they are examined by the subconscious to see whether they are important enough to pass on to the conscious. Some signals are important enough, such as the colour of the traffic lights when we are driving a car; others don't matter enough to be passed on, but, and this must be stressed, they do get noticed and stored by the subconscious.
Unimportant signals might be a minute change in the temperature of the air around us, or perhaps a faint noise in the distance. Sometimes a signal comes in which is so laden with non-rational information that our emotions, which are in the subconscious, react first, before our conscious part learns what is going on. We hear someone say something to us and we feel a gush of anger; our hand is ready to hit when suddenly our conscious analyses what is going on, and reminds us that hitting people is wrong, so wrong that we may end up in prison. Some of the information going into the sub-conscious is so important that it goes directly to the unconscious, and stays there without ever being able to go to the conscious directly. But information reaching the unconscious forms our drives, our needs and urges, which in turn modify our emotions in the subconscious, and which then finally emerge as ideas in our conscious. We try to rationalize our actions, which is nothing other than finding a good reason to do things after we have already decided to do them - based on the seemingly irrational impulses welling up from our sub- and unconscious.
In essence, we can say that the subconscious acts as a very good secretary or personal assistant. It knows everything that goes on, but only passes on to the conscious such information as it thinks will be what the conscious would want. This would be a good arrangement except that the emotions, which are very much part of the subconscious, colour heavily the opinions of the personal assistant as to what her boss wants to know. He is often unaware of her bias, and so doesn't realize what he is missing.
Very small children, and the more intelligent animals, have a very good connection between their conscious and their subconscious. It is very difficult to tell a small child a lie about your feelings towards that small child; it is also difficult to fool an animal. You may be in the same room as your dog, who badly wants to go for a walk. Several times you get up to go to the kitchen, and each time your dog looks up and whines softly; it is his signal for indicating his needs. But the dog doesn't actually get up. Then suddenly you yourself feel like a small walk; you get up, and this time the dog is at the door of the room before you are. Somehow, the dog knows.
Konrad Lorenz, the animal psychologist, tells of an acquaintance of his who had a remarkably intelligent parrot. It could not only say words, like many other parrots, but could even understand some, like 'Good-bye', and use them correctly. Many visitors came to see this remarkable animal, and on being told that it would say 'Goodbye' when they left, immediately wanted to test this. They put on coats, hats and gloves, shook hands and left through the door. Nothing happened. But hours later, when, after an interesting chat, the visitor really got up to leave, the parrot would interrupt to say 'Good-bye'! The parrot knew, even when the visitor had forgotten its existence.
Children often 'feel' adults in the same way. When told to shake hands with the nice 'Uncle' Charlie, they refuse. Their mother will shake her head, being unable to understand what has got into the child, he's usually so nice and friendly. Some mothers will punish their children for such anti-social behaviour, others will just indicate their disapproval. Gradually, as the child grows up, it begins to be borne in upon the conscious that to react by indicating its feelings directly is 'not nice' and leads to disapproval; the subconscious makes a note of it and from now on simply doesn't tell the conscious nasty suspicions about Uncle Charlie. The censor is set up, and will get stronger and more ubiquitous day by day, and more difficult to pierce as time goes by.
The subconscious continues to notice things. It notices the smile on the face not matching the coldness of the eyes. It notices the very slight hesitation when the nice 'Uncle' Charlie talks to your young, pretty and recently widowed mother in ever such a nice way. The conscious has learned to ignore such things, or rather the subconscious has learned that such things are not to be brought to the conscious' notice. But that doesn't stop the subconscious having feelings about matters. And it is these feelings and ideas in the subconscious that the Tarot tries to bring to the attention of the conscious. Let us make a model of the Tarot:
The two large circles are the minds or psyche of the two individuals facing each other across the table over a Tarot spread. The Querent talks to the Reader, asking him to reflect and interpret certain problems that the Querent needs a solution to. It is the,conscious of the Querent that does the talking and formulates and utters the words. The subconscious of the Reader picks up the words, sorts them out, and sends up to the conscious those things which it has learned through many years of practice will not be rejected, spurned or disapproved. The rest of the message stays with the subconscious, and some of it may be sent to the unconscious, to be processed; after processing some of it may come back to the subconscious which may, after reprocessing send some of it up to the conscious. In any event, only part of the material sent out by the Querent reaches the Reader's conscious.
The information sent out by the Querent's conscious is marked by arrow 'a'. In addition, there is other material sent out by the Querent's subconscious, marked by the arrow 'b'. We do, and say, things in such a way as to be totally unaware of what we are doing. These unaware expressions of ourselves can be read, or at least some of them can be read, by people who have trained themselves to be aware; they call it 'body language'. The next time you are in a situation where people of opposite sexes mingle informally, as in a pub or a party, watch the way that typically the young man will move about restlessly while 'chatting up a bird' till he has manoeuvred the girl with her back up against a wall. When he has got her into this position where she cannot evade him any further, he then stands nonchalantly with his arm resting against the wall, to one side of her but not touching; in his other hand he holds a cigarette or a drink. She cannot, and probably does not want to, back away or move sideways; his arm clearly signals that he would like to wrap it round her, but doesn't feel encouraged enough yet to do so. His subconscious signals his real ideas using body language; her subconscious is easily receiving them.
The subconscious of the Querent therefore also sends out signals which are picked up by the subconscious of the Reader. Moreover, the unconscious isn't going to be left out of the act, and also adds factors which go into the Reader's subconscious; these are shown by the arrow marked 'c'. Typical unconscious signals are 'fear-smells', speeding up of heartbeat and sweating under stress; nowadays we have lie detectors to measure these signals, but in fact your subconscious can also notice these things and draw the appropriate conclusions.
We see that the Reader's subconscious is in fact inundated with streams of data; as it comes in it is processed through a little 'black box'. We don't quite know how the black box works, but we do know what it does. It sorts out all the data coming in, and routes it either to other sections or keeps it. Only a small proportion actually goes to the conscious, marked by arrow V. A larger proportion goes to the unconscious, marked by arrow 'y' and the rest stays in the subconscious, where it helps to regulate the exact working of the 'black box'. If we could only see all that goes into that black box, what a story we could tell.
This is where the Tarot comes in. We cannot connect directly with our subconscious, but if somewhere there were a mirror which would allow us to 'see around the corner' into our mystic part, then we would be able to know far more. The Tarot may be thought of as a half-silvered mirror which allows us to 'look through a glass darkly' at our subconscious. The glass is half-silvered, which means that the coating on the back, which is normally thick enough to give a perfect reflection, is in this case only a thin layer; thick enough to give some reflection, and thin enough so as to allow us to look through it at the signals coming from the Querent.
The mirror image of our subconscious is therefore not very clear, just as the images received through the Tarot are not very clear. The images are smoky, reversed or upside down, but still they are much better than nothing. Arrows 's' and 'r' show the information reaching us through the Tarot. We can see things, but they are on the threshold of perception. If we want to see something a little more clearly, we must focus on a particular area. That is why we often ask a specific question. The deeper the question, the better the focus, and the more clearly we can see. Focussing the question is a very important part of the Tarot technique, and I will return to it later on in the book.
You must not imagine that the exchange of information stops here. As the Reader talks about what he sees, the words from the Reader's conscious will be received by the Querent's, subconscious, as well as signals from the Reader's subconscious and unconscious. These signals will be processed by the Querent's subconscious, and the relevant parts will be sent on to the conscious and unconscious of the Querent. Each part of the Querent will react; the conscious will perhaps interrupt or even disagree, the subconscious will change posture or cough, and the unconscious will blush or sweat. These changes in the Querent are normally considered as reactions, but really they are signals at a subconscious level, to the Reader. These signals are received by the Reader's subconscious and form further input data so as to further the accuracy of the Reader. I must emphasize that this is not a conscious confidence trick, but that the Reader is totally unaware of what is going on.
Lastly you will notice the two large semi-circles marked 'limit of Universal'. The Universal is what might be called 'God' or 'Mother Nature' or whatever; the area that is common to both the semicircle and the circle drawn to represent our psyche is what might be called the soul. Only a little part crosses the conscious part of our psyche, which is why we are not really aware of having a soul. Our subconscious is much more aware of the soul. The purpose of any form of self-evolution is to lower the line, or loosen the line, between our conscious and our subconscious, in order that we become more fully aware of our soul. The Tarot is one such measure; and after using it for a long time, we notice that as we get more proficient in its use, we need it less in order to see things. Our dependence on the mirror becomes smaller as we grow, till in the end we don't need it any more.