Chapter 14


Part 2 was devoted to individual words; part 3 was about putting those words together to make sentences. Perhaps you imagine that is all there is to it, and that, with a bit of practice you will now be able to read cards for all and sundry. Gentle reader, I must disillusion you; there are still parts 4 and 5 to deal with before I have passed on all the information necessary to reading the Tarot. Part 4 is devoted to the idea of communicating the ideas that the Reader has to the understanding of the Querent. Chapter 14 is about telling the Querent what you have seen in terms he understands. Chapter 15 is about speaking the same language, and chapter 16 is about translating vague general questions into precisely formulated questions which can be answered by the Tarot.

Let us start with the problems of communications. Communication includes the use of words as well as the use of silence. We meet this everyday when we ask someone, perhaps a small child, whether they have knocked over the Wedgewood vase while we were out of the room. If the child says *No' then we are no wiser; if the child says 'Yes' then we know at least that the child admits to it (but we don't know if the child is covering up for a friend or a young brother). But if the child says nothing, and hangs its head to avoid meeting our eyes, then we know that it is guilty, and also feels guilty. The absence of words is a very strong form of communication in this case.

The very use of words can stop communication. A friend of mine, who is a psychiatrist in a very mixed area, tells me that when working-class mums come in with a problem, they will have difficulty in talking about their problems. They will talk vaguely of back-aches or the frequencies of headaches; only when you actually get them talking about their troubles can you really start helping. With middle-class ladies, it is almost the opposite; if only you could get them to shut up, or at least get them to listen to themselves (and others) . . .

Many people feel vaguely unhappy, without quite knowing why. Other people feel unhappy, and will tell you at great lengths exactly why, and how it is the fault of such and such, about which nothing can be done. If you have such people frequently around the house, and listen to their problems, then over a number of years you discover that most of their problems stem from an inability to communicate. They may talk too much, or too little, but they are not really telling you anything.

What does communication mean? We can think of examples of methods of communication, such as talking, writing, painting, music, T.V.; there is nowadays an enormous 'communications industry'. An industry implies, in this modern commercialized world, that there is a product or service that requires work to produce, and for which money has to be paid. The money is paid because some group or other finds it worthwhile to try to contact another group, and tell them something or other. They cannot communicate without the paid help of some part of the communication industry. In what follows I will be thinking in particular of the part that advertising plays in financing this communications industry.

Imagine a large company making chairs. The company has a factory with a lot of machines, a large number of skilled workers, and a number of decision-making managers, accountants, secretaries; in fact they have everything that is needed in order to make a large quantity of chairs. You must also imagine a large number of people out there in television-land who want chairs. Perhaps a few of them will pass by the factory and see the chairs inside; they can go in and buy one if they see the foreman. But that only sells a few; outside in the wide world are thousands of chairless people looking for chairs, while here is a factory which can satisfy that want. But neither side knows exactly where the other is; they are not communicating.

The company makes an historic decision - it decides to advertise. First of all, they have to announce they exist. If they were simply to put up posters saying 'We make chairs' and nothing else, that wouldn't help anybody. People would ask themselves who these chairmakers were, so the company must decide on an identity for itself, a name of some sort or another. Potential customers can then ask a shopkeeper for a particular brand of chair. 'Aha!' says the shopkeeper, 'you will be wanting the Tarot chair.' We nod, that is just the chair we've been thinking of, only we couldn't remember the name.

The company decides to call itself the Tarot Chair Co. By identifying itself, it allows people to distinguish this company from all other 'makers of chairs'. However, by identifying itself, it has given people some hint of the sort of company it is. They have elected to be known by a symbol, in this case Tarot', which will allow customers to guess a little or even a lot. Customers might guess that the manufacturers are interested in the Tarot; they might well be people who are interested in 'alternative' living (whatever that might be) and because of these attributes of the symbol we might guess that they are a little less 'business-like' than other companies. So the first rule is that identity creates image. In fact, of course, most commercial companies try deliberately to create image, as much image as possible, and as good an image as possible. Very blatant 'image-creating' names, like for instance The Cumfi-Chair Co.' might make us suspicious; we might decide that any company trying that hard might not be very honest.

Similarly, the individual coming to ask a question, will identify him or herself. They will say, 'my name is Mr Brown', or 'my name is Joseph Brown' or 'my name is Joe'. Other people will say, 'call me Dick', or 'most people call me John, but my real name is Jaranows-kogaszy'. A person can be baptized James Pollard Robertson, but he may be known variously as Mr Robertson, Robertson, James, Jim, Jimmy, Pollard, Polly, Poll, J.P. or whatever; perhaps he is usually called by a nickname such as Racky. His choice of name will tell you a lot about himself.

Back to our chair company. Having given themselves a name, they must then decide where their address is. Their factory is somewhere in the country, amongst other dark satanic mills. Do they announce their address as being at the factory, or do they rent a smart office in London. If in London, is it to be in Belgravia, or Bethnal Green? Belgravia is perhaps ten or twenty times as expensive, but then you can sell chairs for perhaps twice as much as you would get for them if your Head Office was in Bethnal Green. Again, with the individual coming for a reading, do they talk about themselves as being born in a private nursing-home, educated at a fee-paying school (English public school), living in a town-house, and working in the City? Or does he explain that there was no hospital in the neighbourhood where his parents lived, that the private school was one for children with learning difficulties sent there at public expense, that he lives in a flat over a chemist shop, and that he works as a messenger? The Head Office of the Tarot Chair Co. can be a tiny room in Belgravia or a huge building in Bethnal Green; there is no way of telling if you just phone or write letters.

Our chair company now announces its intention to supply chairs to the public. Well yes, it makes chairs; so what? Other people make chairs, what's so special about these chairs? Tarot Chair Co. chairs are comfortable, they look nice, they last and they are cheap. That's what they all say, is there nothing specially exciting about Tarot chairs? And here we come to the difficulty the company has in telling people what is so special about its chair. The fact is, the company doesn't know itself; it has simply never thought about it.

Most people with a problem will tell you at great length about their 'problem*, especially if they are articulate and are used to verbalizing. Just like some companies which spend incredible amounts of money simply to tell you that their chairs are bigger, better, more comfortable, cheaper* etc. than any other company's products. But that is not communicating, that's just shouting. Not until companies, or people, learn that merely shouting is not communicating, can they even start learning what communicating is about. Not until the little boy stops howling that he's hurt can we start learning how and why he is hurt. People, and companies, when told they're merely shouting (or crying, or moaning, or bitching), will immediately protest. You might even believe them, if you didn't perceive that all the companies are shouting. Believe me, and you will if you have a look at the posters for beer, cigarettes or cars. It is sometimes very difficult to find the facts about these products. In the same way, we might believe that people are telling us about their problems; usually they're not, they are merely letting off steam.

The only fact they are communicating is the feeling they have that they are in trouble. The only fact the advertisers of beer, cigarettes or cars communicate is that they are eager to make a profit, and that's hardly something we need to be told. Mere shouting will communicate something, but rarely will it be the something that really needs to come across.

A good example, well known amongst sociologists and sometimes, but not often enough, to managerial staff, is the Hawthorne experiment. This was the name of an experiment undertaken in the 1930s to see what effect lighting levels (the amount of light reaching the objects on the worker's bench) would have on productivity. It was commissioned by a company selling lighting equipment, who obviously wanted to prove that the more light was used, the higher the final productivity reached. So they got together a group often or so workers and set aside a special room in which they could work. The room had also special equipment to lower and raise lighting levels, and also other equipment to measure the worker's output. Specialist observers and scientists watched everything; the workers were chosen, and the experiment was explained to them.

At first, when the lighting level was increased, the output went up. Increase the levels by 10%, output went up by 6%. Increase the lighting levels by 20%, output goes up by 10%. Increase the lighting level by 30%, and output goes up by 13%. Obviously, at some point, increases in the lighting level will not increase output any further. At some stage in the experiment, they lowered the lighting levels to below what they were for the rest of the factory. Lo and behold, the output continued to rise. The light-bulb manufacturers threw up their hands in despair, but the sociologists now really got interested. After some years of thinking and repeated experiments, it became apparent that the increase in output was mainly caused by the way the workers had been treated. They had been given a special room, learned middle-class professors had talked to them as if they were human, attention was paid to their surroundings; for the first time in their working lives they were being handled as adult human beings, and not as slightly recalcitrant, biological production units.

Similarly, when workers in a factory go on strike, it may well be that they talk about more money, comfort, clean w.c.s or even, God help us, about the swear words used by the foreman. Their real problem is that they feel unloved, looked down upon, ignored by managers who do not see them as people. They cannot or do not want to communicate this feeling, and so they shout by going on strike. The individual needing help, or the company with a product to sell, needs to find out what it really wants to tell us.

The Tarot is a system which can help in rewording the problem in such a way that either the problem can be discussed, or even that the answer can be seen at a glance. In the real world of the chair company, very often an outsider can wander round the factory, have a look at the chairs made and how they are made and by whom, and come up with a flash of insight as to what it is that makes the company so special - the thing that makes a product into a Unique Selling Proposition, something that no other chair has. The chairs made by the Tarot Chair Co. are the only ones made by spiritually enlightened and pure people, the only ones that are made with an insight into the needs of the user from a psychic point of view. They are also comfortable, cheap, hardwearing and beautiful, just like all the other competitors' products, but only theirs are made by the Tarot process. Whether that actually helps to sell the chairs is another matter, but at least they have communicated an item of real information to the general public.

What they have communicated is another matter. The chair company may be very sure of what they mean by the phrases 'spiritually pure' and 'enlightened interest*; they really think they know what they are saying. The problems surrounding the actual meaning of symbols were discussed earlier in chapter 7, and they apply here.

Having identified themselves, given themselves a background, found their Unique Selling Proposition, and explained it in terms which most people will understand sufficiently well, the next problem is to reach those people of interest to the company; in this case potential chair-buyers. Chairs are used by everyone, but only bought by certain people. It is no good advertising in children's comics; it is no good advertising expensive chairs in papers bought by the masses. So we must identify our likely audience and talk to members in terms they are able to understand. When we read the cards, we gain a great deal of understanding with regard to any given person; if we want to tell these people of some of our findings, we must tell them in a way they can understand. We must also tell them things they are interested in.

A young girl who has recently moved into London and is working as a shop assistant will understand if you talk about being poor and being lonely. Will she understand what it is like to be rich and lonely? To her, rich people can afford to have a house big enough to entertain, with enough money to buy food and drinks, a car to go off at weekends to see friends. How can such a person be lonely? Will she understand what it is like to have people around you all the time who pay attention to you because they want to obtain some or all of your money, people who are interested in being helped through the rich person's influence, or who merely like the creature comforts supplied by a rich person? So, if you want to talk about a type of loneliness, find a person who is interested in such matters. One aim in working with the Tarot is to try to understand, to feel, all conditions, in order that people with any sort of problem can come to us and be sure of being understood. Simultaneously, we must make sure that what we are trying to tell them is said in such a way, using their symbols and language, that they are sure to understand.

So when someone comes to us with a problem, we first of all try to talk a little with them. Make them a cup of tea, and ask about them, their ideas, their likes and dislikes. Then gradually lead up to the point where they state their question. Usually, they will talk about all sorts of things that upset them, many small problems they have; you must try to get them to come down to one, and only one, really important question. It may be very necessary to guide their conversation towards being specific, and here we run the danger of bullying people into stating a question just for the sake of it. Go carefully, and when they have come out with the real question, lay the first spread. Very often this first spread will merely give you further information on the problem that particular person has, the one they didn't even know existed. Go on discussing that problem, and lay a second spread to probe deeper. Again, don't merely announce the results, try to discuss. I generally try to tell the Querent what the chapter headings are, what are the particular meanings of the cards in the spread, and how the meanings change as we find 'adjacent' cards. Each reading, if there is time, is used as a platform for a miniature lesson in the Tarot. Ideally, after ten or fifteen readings, the Querent should be capable of using the Tarot him or herself.

When both Querent and Reader speak the same language, real communication becomes possible. In the meanwhile, it is up to the Reader to talk to the Querent in a way that the recipient understands. To help you, and to make you face some of the problems encountered, I suggest you play a game which can be fun if entered in the right spirit. I call it:


If you are playing this by yourself, have a look in your pockets, your handbag, wallet, or the desk you work on. Set aside an object such as a coin, a label, a packet of matches, or some other object which is very commonplace. If several people are playing, it is more fun if only one person chooses the objects.

Now imagine you are an archaeologist living a thousand years from now. Perhaps there has been an atomic war, or Earth has been overrun by Martians; in any event, this object has been found as they were digging the foundations for the new rocket factory, and nobody knows anything very much about it. So there it is, in front of you, and you have to find out what it is, where it came from, what it is made of, what it is used for; by inference you must also try to discover all about the civilization in which this product was used. You must imagine that you have many machines and computers which can analyse the precise materials, and perhaps even translate the language.

Write down all the facts about the object, and the people who made it, that you can think of. If you are playing this game in a group, you can then challenge opinions, and the premises upon which you base your reasoning. Try to use your fantasy to think of logical yet totally different functions which might be attributed to such an object if seen by someone living a thousand years from now.


Try writing a letter to the head of Personnel of a large company explaining what use can be made of Tarot cards in staff selection and relations. You must explain things using words and phrases he understands and will accept. Try also writing a letter explaining why European people find it necessary to save up in order to buy a house which has been built by a builder, including the concept of interest; this letter will be addressed to an African tribesman who counts his wealth in cattle, and barters for the rest, and whose housing consists of wattle-and-daub round huts with a thatch roof. Remember, his house costs virtually nothing, but he will have to pay for his wife, often using cattle, and more cattle than he can afford at the time.

Lastly, if you have strong left-wing political feelings, try your hand at writing a convincing pamphlet on behalf of a right-wing party, but without giving up any of your ideals. You must try to restate your ideas in a different language. Obviously, if you tend to vote right-wing, you write a left-wing pamphlet. If you have no strong feelings, then write both, and let that be a lesson for you to come off the fence!
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