Chapter 17


It is four o'clock in the office and everyone is dreaming over their desks, when gradually the peace is disturbed by one of the cleaners coming round to sell tickets for the Christmas draw in aid of the Fund for Inebriated Washerwomen. She comes to you and suggests you buy two, three, perhaps go wild and buy five. As you hesitate at this totally irrational way of looking at things, at throwing money away, she looks at you with her shrewd eyes out of a lined but experienced face, and says: 'Go on, it's only money; be a devil for once in your life. It'll do you good.' So, reluctantly, you buy.

A few days later, you take the morning off for an important appointment. You have made the important appointment four months earlier by phoning the great man's appointments secretary, and even that was only possible by mentioning the name of a mutual aquaintance, whose letter of introduction you carry with you. You reach his office, which is part of an enormous organization in a fifteen-storey building with millions of pounds worth of equipment, and more than two thousand fellow workers. You announce your direction to the main receptionist, who directs you to the eighth floor where another receptionist asks you to sit down and wait for a few minutes. Your appointment is checked and confirmed, files are opened on your behalf; you sit waiting while telephones ring, intercoms buzz, porters and messengers scurry about. Then at last the great man is ready; you enter his office and there he sits behind an enormous desk with no telephone whatsoever. You are invited to sit down and explain your problems while he listens attentively; after all, that is his job. He doesn't say anything except to prompt you to continue, and it may be months before his opinions as to the solution to your problem are filtered through to you, but the notes on his file will say succinctly 'anal retention'.

Essentially, the cleaner woman and the psychiatrist have come to the same conclusion. They have probably both the same insight into us crazy humans. But which one would you rather accept and believe? Perhaps you are very liberated and really believe that you would take every person at their real value; maybe you would, but most people don't. If you were quite honest with yourself you would realize that you wouldn't really accept everyone equally readily. So what is it that makes us accept the words of a shrink and not those of a cleaner?

Well, a shrink is trained, he has had many years of experience at school. But has he? For a start, most of those years were spent training to be a doctor of medicine, mostly physical medicine; after years of very hard work, during which time the student didn't have time to find out what life was about, he then studied three or four more years to finish as a psychiatrist. At no time does he experience life in the way that most of his future patients will experience it. He hasn't done time on an assembly belt, he hasn't been on the dole, he hasn't been bored out of his mind in a dead-end office job. Above all, he hasn't had time to simply sit down with people, friends and aquaintances and simply talk about problems, aspirations, and just everyday things. There simply hasn't been time to do all those things, and there usually never will be in the life of an average doctor or psychiatrist. But the office cleaner has done all these things; in addition, anyone who survives a lifetime at the bottom end of the hierarchy and keeps their good humour picks up enough working knowledge to deal with your average depressed or frustrated office worker. Yet we need psychiatrists in ever increasing numbers, not for the mad, the really mad, but just for the depressed and the frustrated. Why not use cleaners?

Basically, it is very much a matter of presentation. The great man in his office says nothing very much, just murmurs encouragement for you to go on, makes notes and gradually channels you to look at yourself. How do you know that it isn't his secretary occupying the bosses' chair for the day? Would it matter? Most countries have a story about a preacher, a rabbi or a lecturer on tour which goes like this:

The Great Man is on tour; he rides from town to town in his comfortable limousine, making notes in the back while his chauffeur drives him to the next town. In the evening, they reach the town where he will hold his meeting; the Great Man is wined and dined, while the chauffeur gets shown the servant's quarters. One day the chauffeur suggests to the Great Man that they swap places; the chauffeur knows all the lectures by heart, and would just like to be admired. The Great Man agrees, and at the next town the chauffeur gets the VIP treatment; the next morning he gives the lecture. After the lecture there are questions, and besides the serious questions which just demand common sense and a good memory as to what the Great Man said to a similar question, there are also a few trick questions put by a young man trying to catch out the Great Man. The real Great Man laughs at the chauffeur's predicament; the chauffeur deals with the situation by sneering at the clever young man's ingenuity and suggesting that his 'clever' question is in fact so simple that even his chauffeur could answer it, and here he points to the real Great Man, who is dressed as the chauffeur.

Obviously, for the real difficult cases we need the experienced trained expert; but for the average run-of-the-mill ones the cleaner will do just as well; and there are far more cleaners than psychiatrists.

How does this apply to the Tarot? Well, somehow we must learn to create a feeling of awe and respect. We can't borrow a multi-million pound hospital and all the trappings of equipment and personnel that go with it. We must learn to do with what is at hand. Remember, it is necessary to gain the Querent's respect for the Tarot in order that what is revealed is not wasted. Only by making the Querent feel the same respect and awe that he assigns to consultant psychiatrists are we able to help him.

That is the real meaning of all the hocus-pocus you will hear about the ritual of the cards. Like all of what is called 'magic' there are strong, sensible reasons behind the apparent mystery; it is through the use of these underlying psychological rules in an intelligent fashion that we can make the fullest use of the Tarot.
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