Editor’s Note: Regular participants on this page are familiar with the contributions of Sarah Taylor. For years I’ve been wanting to run a feature on tarot, and when I found out that in addition to being an excellent writer, Sarah is a professional card reader, I asked her to step up — and she did. This is her third article, which looks at the role of synchronicity as a channel for expression and organizing principle in reading tarot. Future editions will cover how to work with cards on your own, how to choose a deck and specific cards. We will take direction from readers who comment, so please let us know what you think. You can visit Sarah’s website at this link. –efc
Ace of Swords from the Camoin-Jodorowsky Tarot, a restored version of the Marseille Tarot.
By Sarah Taylor
Now that we’re on the third article in our series on tarot (you’ll find article one here and article two here), we should be familiar with the basic structure of a typical deck of tarot cards –- major and minor arcana; court cards and Ace through ten. We’ve also got them in the spread we’ve chosen –- whether one card or two, a Celtic Cross, a Tree of Life reading or something else.
But… hang on a minute here… just how is this going to work? What makes sure that the cards best suited for this reading are the ones that we pick from the deck? What guides them to be assigned to a particular position in the layout?
In fact, if we’re going to start asking those questions, we might as well go back further. What made us choose that particular layout in the first place? No, go right back to the beginning. What made us choose that particular deck? Heck, why did we choose to interest ourselves with tarot in the first place, and why has this interest brought us to this discussion here?
I believe the answer is synchronicity.
But what is synchronicity? The idea of synchronicity was first discovered and introduced into public consciousness by psychologist Carl Jung in the early part of the twentieth century. This was followed by his paper entitled Synchronicity -– An Acausal Connecting Principle, published in 1952, in which he wrote:
The problem of synchronicity has puzzled me for a long time, ever since the middle twenties, when I was investigating the phenomena of the collective unconscious and kept on coming across connections which I simply could not explain as chance groupings or “runs”. What I found were “coincidences” which were connected so meaningfully that their “chance” concurrence would be incredible.
According to the Wikipedia entry on synchronicity, “Jung was transfixed by the idea that life was not a series of random events but rather an expression of a deeper order.” In other words, at its most basic, synchronicity can be seen as a universal organising principle that seeks to reconcile the conscious and the unconscious.
Remember, this takes us back to our previous two articles. In the first, we looked at the idea that tarot weaves a narrative about our lives: “what happens on the surface, and what lies beneath”; and in the second we saw how the cards were the repository for archetypal content –- the larger spiritual themes that govern our thoughts, feelings and actions. We also introduced the idea that we need do nothing except trust in this law as the basis for an effective reading: this organising principle never disappears… though we can choose to ignore it.
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