April 22, 2016

10 Questions Every Tarot Reader Must Answer

Some time ago, I ran across another blogger's "10 Tarot Tips for Beginners," and I decided that since I'm so opinionated on the matter, I ought to write my own list. But, me being who I am, I'm not approaching this in the form of direct advice. Instead, I'm approaching this in the form of questions. If you're a Tarot reader, I encourage you to ask yourself these questions, and if you're shopping for a Tarot reading, I encourage you to ask your reader these questions precisely because these questions are designed to be threatening to shallow egos and to force specific answers on frequently vague subjects. If in the process of answering these questions, the respondent (be it you or another person) starts to feel anxious and is looking for an escape, then congratulations: you just found either an area for self improvement, or a reason to not work with a reader who can't or won't answer these questions. These questions are mostly arranged by theme, and you'll see the connection as the questions progress. Also, perhaps the most important thing to this series of questions is that there isn't intended to be a right or wrong answer, because the quantity of the answer isn't important. Instead, it's the quality of the answer that's intended to reveal sensitive and challenging subjects about the respondent.  
  1. Were you mentored, or were you self-taught?
    1. This is the first question to ask yourself or another reader because it's an ego trap. There's nothing wrong with being mentored, and nothing wrong with being self-taught, but the respondent's answer will show whether he or she has a fragile ego and cares about impressing you, or whether this person is comfortable owning his or her Tarot lineage and simply doing the work which you've requested.
  2. Are you a psychic or a Tarot reader?
    1. Like the first question, this second question is an ego trap. Readers with fragile egos will feel the need to impress you with their inborn psychic abilities, or to impress upon you their special abilities. This isn't intended to be a criticism of people who claim to have these abilities, only to reveal those who care deeply about showing how powerful they are. Or is the respondent a Tarot card reader who literally just reads the cards? There's nothing wrong with either approach, or even a combination of the two, but this question is used to elicit a measurement of the respondent's self-confidence and whether he or she is secure in his or her practice. A lack of confidence or personal security is a sign that you should look elsewhere.
  3. Are your predictions accurate, and is accuracy important to you?
    1. While we're talking about innate psychic abilities, let's ask a very loaded question: Does the reader claim to offer accurate predictions? Does the reader him or herself care about accuracy? This is a dirty question to ask another reader! This question will put the respondent's character to the test, and the quality of the answer will reveal a great deal about his or her reading style and the degree to which he or she wants to impress you. Whether it's insecurity and anxiety, or bombast and over-confidence, a respondent who swings far to either end of the pole is hiding something.
  4. Is there anything you can't predict in a reading?
    1. And on the matter of dirty questions, you should ask if there's anything the reader can't predict. Lotto numbers? Natural disaster? Terrorist attacks? Missing children? Stock picks? On this question, a lack of confidence isn't nearly as telling as an excess of confidence. When asking this question, look for a mature, honest answer. Respondents who claim to be able to predict anything are either entertainers putting on a performance, or they're fools who're deceiving possibly themselves but definitely you.
  5. Do you use only Tarot, or are you multi-disciplinary?
    1. This isn't so much a dirty question, or even a trick question, so much as it's a question intended to reveal how the respondent produces the reading. Whether the respondent uses only Tarot cards, or whether the respondent branches into oracle cards, numerology, astrology, angel communication, spirit mediumship, tea leaves, and even bones, it's not important. What is important is that the respondent can explain how he or she does the job for which he or she was hired, and can do so confidently and without feeling the need to apologize for using just Tarot, or for using many different tools. There's nothing wrong with being a Tarot specialist or a broad multi-disciplinarian, but if the respondent feels the need to apologize for how he or she works, that's a red flag that should be investigated or avoided.
  6. Is the message in the cards, or in your head?
    1. This question is a follow-on to the previous question, and is useful for understanding the respondent's reading style. Is the respondent an image-based reader who looks at the cards and uses the imagery and symbolism to create a message? Or is the respondent somebody who uses the cards as an outer tool to express an inner philosophy? Cards-based readers frequently use a variety of decks with different pictures in order to change the philosophy expressed, but head-based readers are following a complex system of cartomantic divination and use their knowledge of this inner philosophy to interpret the outer ritual of the cards. Again, there's nothing wrong with either approach: whether the respondent simply allows the image of the card to inspire the message, or follows a specific system, the quantity of answer is less important than the quality of the answer: if the respondent can't or won't explain, or the answer leaves you feeling uncertain, this is a sign that you should look elsewhere.
  7. Are you a priest or a fortune-teller?
    1. Tarot can be everything from a cheap parlor trick to a religious relic, and it's up to each Tarot reader to choose for him or herself where on this spectrum it exists. Some Tarot readers care nothing for spiritual and metaphysical philosophies, and others do. For those who do, the Tarot is frequently wrapped up in their personal spirituality or religion, and these people often literally call themselves priests or priestesses, and if they don't, they frequently play the role of confessor or divine mediator. Is the respondent a priest, or a fortune teller? Again, the quantity of the answer is less important than the quality of the answer, because this will reveal the character and personality of the respondent in a way that will help you understand the kind of experience you'll have. 
  8. Are you a fixer or a looker?
    1. As a follow-on to the previous question, is the respondent somebody who's going to try and fix any problems that appear in your reading, or somebody who merely shows you that the problems exist? This is important because the role of a Tarot reader is filled with ego traps and the temptation to take responsibility for the client's decisions. If you're specifically looking for problem-solving, then a fixer is what you want, but if you don't want anybody to be telling you how to live your life, then you want a looker. So remember: whether the reader is a fixer or a looker isn't quite as important as whether or not the respondent can confidently explain his or her reading style.
  9. Do you read for free, or for fee?
    1. There are many scenarios in which reading for either free or fee would be either right or wrong, so as with all these questions, the goal isn't to say what should or shouldn't be, but to show how the questions elicit the character of the respondent. Respondents who know that they're unaccomplished or just not very good at Tarot will often feel guilty about charging for their service, whereas pretentious readers who consider themselves the God's gift to Tarot will emphasize their high prices and exclusivity. Look at the respondent's answer to discern anxiety and fear, or pretentiousness and over-confidence. If the respondent is far to either side of the spectrum, this is an indicator you should look elsewhere.
  10. Is there anything you won't predict in a reading?
    1. This question is important for both Tarot readers and Tarot clients alike because it defines the experience. If you're a Tarot reader, do you ever ask yourself, "Why do I always find myself doing (stupid, worthless, insulting, degrading) readings?" If you're a Tarot client, do you ever ask yourself, "Why do I always wind up with bad readers who can't show me what I'm trying to find?" In both cases, it's because nobody asked the reader, "Is there anything you won't predict?" Accomplished readers can confidently explain the things they will or won't predict, and if you don't understand, they can show you why. And it's also worth saying that there's nothing wrong with a reader who doesn't impose any limitations on him or herself, but such a reader should be able to confidently explain why this is so. 
So by this point, you should understand that the quantity of the answers you receive is of little importance, but the quality is of vast importance: if you ask yourself or another reader these questions and the answers are accompanied by a hard swing into either anxiety, fear, and uncertainty, or into pretentiousness, over-confidence, and showmanship, then you've found a cause for concern. If you're a Tarot reader, then you've found something you didn't know about yourself. If you're shopping for a Tarot reader, then you should proceed with caution.

April 14, 2016

Satanic justification for infanticide

(AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File. Read more here.)
The current conversation around Zika virus and related birth defects is provocative. Me being who I am, I think life is preferable to death and I'm deeply uncomfortable with the idea of killing children. Still, I force myself to take the long view and accept that my personal norms and attitudes (especially toward infanticide) are shaped by contemporary values. If you go back a few thousand years to ancient Greece, you'll find that it was common practice to expose deformed or unwanted infants, which is polite language for, "abandon the child immediately after birth at the local trash dump." 

By today's standards, is it a grotesque and revolting practice? You bet. But I don't agree with today's egalitarian standards that all life is equal. For example, when you go out to the shopping mall, do you ever see that 40-something parent pushing an elaborate wheelchair carrying a 20-something, massively-disabled and often mentally retarded adult child? And when you see that scenario, do you ever immediately think, "Holy shit, I'm glad I'm not that parent?" 

I think kids are precious and I don't want to force a decision on any parent that I wouldn't want forced on myself, but if I'm honest with myself, I have to say that I resent my tax dollars being used to subsidize medical services and equipment for severely disabled and profoundly retarded children who will never, ever provide a return on that money and who are also a drain on the potential future success and contributions of their parents or caretakers.

Possibly the parent of such a child is in that position because he or she knew of the health risks to the child but chose not to abort (or was not permitted to abort if the pregnancy was unwanted.) And then, possibly, the parent is in that position because the child's deformities weren't known until after birth and today's laws insisted that the parent be chained to the child for rest of its natural life.

If egalitarian values regarding both the sanctity and equality of all life were re-evaluated, we wouldn't see parents in the position of being chained to their massively disabled or severely retarded children. Forced-lifers have shaped a lot of public opinion regarding not just birth control and abortion, and not just euthanasia and end-of-life decisions, but also created a culture where parents are forced to sacrifice their future happiness, success, and potential for the sake of caring for an immobile meat-sack who will probably accomplish nothing, ever.

Perhaps as a result of Biblical teachings that man is superior and separate from animals, people do a lot of things in the name of "humanity," but if we start from the premise that humans are not separate from animals, then we can also take a page from the animal kingdom where naturalists have long documented that mothers will abandon or kill (and sometimes even eat) deformed offspring. In that sense, infanticide is a natural phenomenon, and the legislation of laws and imposition of artificial morality go against the natural biological order, as well as against historical precedent in the cradle of Western civilization.