August 24, 2018

Software vs. Hardware: What is a Tarot Reading?

I am the software. Tarot is the hardware.
You are the end-user... and here is your EULA.
I am the software.

When a sitter comes to me for a reading, I am not in fact the person who is using the cards: it is the sitter who is using the cards. I the fortune-teller am the software who provides an interface for the end-user to access hardware, and who also translates the Tarot code into a human-readable language. Because I am the software, I have no desires for the end-user, and therefore I have no interest in sifting through infinity to find random bytes of information. Instead, it's the job of the end-user to input variables into the software for analysis -- in other words, it's the job of the sitter to give me questions to evaluate.

Tarot is the hardware.

The 78 cards of the Tarot deck are the hardware. The three groups of cards which compose the Tarot deck -- the 40 pips, the 16 faces, and the 22 trumps -- together form a primitive kind of chaos computer which allows for input through software. Questions without context, or fishing expeditions for whatever might show up, are no better than raw data. Lacking context, the analysis produced by the software is no better than an infinite river of irrelevant data. The Tarot deck may be only 78 cards, but even among combinations from only four cards there are 34,234,200 possible permutations -- and that number doesn't even begin to express how the analysis produced by the software in service to the end-user changes as a result of elemental dignity, numerical significance, or the expression of the three septenaries. The number of combinations increases exponentially to the point that drawing even six cards from the deck would produce 184,933,148,400 possible permutations, which is roughly 76 billion more than the total number of humans both living and dead who have ever existed. Tarot is hardware capable of capturing infinity, and software is the tool which is capable of translating infinity into a language that the end-user can understand.

You are the end-user.

The fortune-teller who shuffles the cards, lays them down, and interprets them for the sitter is not the end-user. Instead, the fortune-teller is the software who operates the hardware of the Tarot deck, and the sitter is the end-user who submits search queries into the chaos computer in search of answers. For this reason, the sitter who is the end-user should understand that he or she alone is responsible for shaping and guiding the outcome of any reading. It is not the fault of the software if the end-user submits nonsense queries -- such efforts will only return a GI/GO error. It is of the greatest importance that the end-user input meaningful data into the chaos computer so that the software can return meaningful answers. 

The software is capable of offering suggestions for related queries and it also has safe-guards built in to advise the end-user when repeated submissions of the same query are unlikely to produce useful analysis, but ultimately it is not the software's responsibility to dictate how it may be used by the end-user. The software is only a means to access the hardware, and therefore it's the end-user's responsibility to input relevant queries as well as to either accept or refuse both the suggestions and the warnings.

This is your end-user license agreement.

When a sitter retains the services of a fortune-teller, he or she is accepting the end-user license agreement which is like an agreement between the fortune-teller and sitter and establishes the sitter's right to use the software. In this case, the agreement made between sitter and fortune-teller is that the fortune-teller agrees to do his or her best to return relevant hits in response to the sitter's query, and the sitter agrees to do his or her best to apply the returned hits to his or her query. A Tarot reading is neither the software nor the hardware; instead, a Tarot reading is the resulting process of the end-user who submitted the query accepting the analysis produced by the software and applying it to his or her life. 

All of which is a long way of saying that a Tarot reading is not what the fortune-teller says, but instead the sitter's decision to combine what the fortune-teller says with the sum of his or her own personal knowledge, experiences, and circumstances. Absent this final choice to merge the analysis provided by the software with the context provided by the end-user, what you see is not a Tarot reading, but only undefined statements. It's the responsibility of the end-user to take ownership of the data produced by the hardware and interpreted by the software. In fact, you might even say that the software is hard-coded to teach end-users that responsibility is for the responsible, but in the end it's not the function of the software to dictate how the end-user must use the data computed by the hardware. The software is capable of advising an end-user about the limitations of any results served by the software, but the end-use of a Tarot reading can be decided only by the end-user.

Once you understand the nature of the hardware, the function of the software, and the role of the end-user, you'll get better results and feel greater satisfaction the next time you boot up a chaos-computer.


  1. Thank you for writing this article; I certainly enjoyed it. This is one of the most comprehensive analogies I've seen. Thank you for referring to the "three septenaries." This term doesn't get used much outside tarot research, but it deserves to stand in its own light.

    1. Hi, Ignacio! Yeah, I adore the septenaries -- they've played a really big part in how I learned to understand the trumps, and I think it's a shame that the concept isn't taught more frequently to new students.


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