Since the new moon falls on the start of the month this time, I’d like to tie together my new moon divination article and my latest meditation article about the skill of forgetting.
I think one of the most difficult positions to learn to interpret in the usual Celtic Cross spread is #8, the way others see you or your situation. By definition, this card doesn’t fit the way you see things. But that’s one of the strengths of Tarot – if we can forget just long enough to consider things from a different point of view.
I wrote a while back about reading ourselves into narratives, or not. Since Tarot provides multiple narratives or snippets of narrative, it challenges us and gives us options; but a querent who sticks too closely to a single (probably predetermined) interpretation of her whole present situation and possible future courses of action isn’t really engaging with the Tarot. She’s just using it to mirror back what is already within herself.
Now, I do think Tarot is a means for self-reflection, but it’s a lot more like the funhouse maze of mirrors, or a kaleidoscope, than a simple flat mirror. It’s supposed to distort our perspective to help us see other possibilities. It’s supposed to help us forget what we know, or think we know, for a little while, and maybe imagine something different, try it on for size, and see how it might or might not relate to our current situations and choices.
Since my style of reading Tarot, and using it for reflection, depends on the querent’s interpretations of the cards and impressions of how the cards relate to or represent parts of her life, there’s a very fine line that I have to walk that involves both eliciting the instinctive, first reactions (“As soon as I saw the guy on the horse, I knew who he was!”) and challenging those ideas to help the querent expand her viewpoint and potential interpretations.
That’s where position #8 comes in. If you haven’t gotten around to the work of trying out other perspectives by this point in the reading, this card is likely to try to smack you pretty hard with a clue-by-four. Of course, the danger there is that the harder it smacks, the more you want to resist, or the more totally incomprehensible you find the intended clue.
That’s why this position is often so hard to understand. Sometimes a good reader can help you; I remember once pointing out to a friend that this position indicated other people thought he was worrying unnecessarily about a decision, that he should go ahead and do what he was thinking about. Another friend and I had been gently saying that over dinner, but seeing it there in the card helped the querent forget, just briefly, about his concerns and try to take our viewpoint.
That approach requires a lot of suspension of disbelief, and it gets even harder because the outside view presented in this card is often inaccurate. People who are seeing your situation from the outside may not have all the information, or they may have particular concerns that are irrelevant to your situation. On the other hand, your own perspective is biased, too. Part of the magic of Tarot as a means for self-reflection is trying to use these differently-distorted images to help you figure out where each one is accurate or distorted, useful or an impediment, sort of like how glasses or contact lenses use distortion to cancel out your own difficulties to help you see better.
Of course, in the funhouse, even when you compare and contrast and combine the images of yourself in the short, fat mirror and the long, tall mirror, you don’t necessarily get an accurate image of yourself. It’s enough to help you see whether you’ve got spinach in your teeth, and whether your friend superglued your ears while you were sleeping, but not necessarily enough to know whether your pants are really flattering or not.
The benefit we get in return for examining these strange reflections of ourselves is that if we can forget, for just a few minutes, about what we know we look like, the wild variety of reflections gives us starting points to imagine ourselves in totally different ways. Maybe you can look tall and distinguished; maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to be round as an apple. Maybe that card in position 8 suggests that you shouldn’t always assume the best about your business partner; maybe that idealized image is a suggestion to start cutting yourself a little slack, even if you know you’re not perfect.
It doesn’t have to be perfectly, totally true, just enough to give you a different vision of your current reality and your potential future courses. If you can forget what you know and try seeing things in a different shape, you can open up a whole new range of possibilities. You have to be able to imagine something different before you can start acting on it.