“The key,” announce my cat as she sensed my confusion, “is awareness.”
“Awareness,” I replied with a degree of confusion.
“In your mission to define,” said my cat, “the subconscious.”
“Define,” I muttered, “mission.”
“The simplest investigation,” said my other cat, “will highlight how even as far back as Freud no psychologist regards it as a term that holds meaning.”
“Though it’s a wonderful concept,” purred my cat, “for pseudo-intellectuals wishing to ride a tide of fuzzy thought.”
“In the mass perception,” said my cat, “it’s one of those concepts everyone think has meaning even though they’re not sure what that meaning is. So most hide their ignorance and assume them that use the term must be authoritative because they’re using big complicated words.”
“But as long as you define your terms,” said my cat, “there’s nothing stopping you from recycling such fuzzy concepts for your own purposes.”
“Here comes the war,” muttered my other cat.
“You’re not wrong,” I replied. “The answer is buried somewhere inside my mind. Though it’s a bit of a fight when it comes to arranging it.”
“You’re not as incoherent,” said my cat, “as you think.”
“Awareness,” my other cat reminded me.
“I suppose,” I smiled, “what I’m trying to say is that the subconscious is the place where the mind pushes things which are below conscious awareness. But an example to highlight my point seem elusive.”
“Learning to read,” said my cat, “would be a good example.”
“Initial awareness,” explained my other cat, “would be of the individual letters. Over time as familiarity was gained the letters would drop below conscious awareness and the words would appear.”
“And as time passed,” I concluded, “the ability to read would likewise become subconscious. Yet you still retain the ability to access that knowledge.”
“Subconscious awareness,” purred my cat. “Nominally below the level of conscious awareness until you consciously pull that information out of the back of your mind.”
“Walking, talking,” said my other cat, “remembering to breath, all abilities which reside within this mythical space.”
“But what of the extraordinary powers,” I asked, “new-age thinkers claim reside within the subconscious.”
“Some do,” said my cat. “The ability to overcome physical discomfort, for instance. The ability to consciously slow your heart. The skill to override the autonomic fight or flight response.”
“But mostly the abilities such assertions refer to,” said my other cat, “reside above the level of conscious awareness.”
“Above,” I queried.
“Above,” agreed my cat.
“By way of an example,” suggested my other cat, “consider the colour of the handholds you find on the bus.”
“What,” I asked with mild surprise.
“It’s an answer that resides within conscious awareness,” said my other cat, “yet you’re not aware of it because it is largely irrelevant.”
“Hence you push the answer,” said my cat, “up into your higher consciousness.”
“Your hyperconscious,” suggested my other cat, “if you like.”
“Orange,” I muttered.
“See,” said my cat, “you knew, you just didn’t knew you knew until you were asked.”
“Sounds rather radical to me,” I sighed as I glimpsed the picture my cats were painting.
“Not really,” said my cat, “pagans have been drawing down the power of the Moon for centuries.”
“Just what has that,” I asked in a mildly incredulous tone, “got to do with the price of milk.”
“As a symbol within your wider cultural heritage,” said my cat, “The Moon represents the unconscious.”
“And it’s not just the pagans,” said my cat, “Christians have co-opted sufficient pagan philosophy to have generated similar constructs.”
“Although Christians,” said my other cat, “tend to eschew the external symbology in favor of more abstract historical concepts.”
“But regardless of the theologies involved,” said my cat, “sooner or later most will encounter the hyperconscious.”
“Which is where it get icky,” admitted my cat.
“Icky,” I replied with a dubious look.
“Indeed,” said my cat, “because the manner in which an individual interprets the connection is strongly bound to cultural operators.”
“For instance,” said my cat, “read a self-help book that incorrectly espouses the untapped power of the subconscious and that’s what you’ll believe you’ve discovered.”
“Although as bad ideas go,” said my other cat, “it’s not the worst.”
“Why’s that,” I asked.
“Loci of control,” said my cat.
“Self-help books tend to explore answers,” said my other cat, “in terms of an internal locus of control. That is to say they seek to teach individuals to interpret events as resulting primarily from their own behavior and actions. In a sense placing the power of the hyperconscious in the hands of the individual.”
“And the alternate,” I frowned.
“The external locus of control,” said my cat, “which most cultural imperatives seek to replicate in the minds of the individual.”
“Why’s that,” I asked.
“Makes for better sheep,” said my other cat.
“Consider the psychologically abusive way,” said my cat, “the Roman Church seeks to enforce the view that power resides outside the individual.”
“To what end,” I asked with a degree of skepticism.
“By forcing an external interpretation of the hyperconscious,” explained my cat, “you effectively allow the hierarchy of the collective to misappropriate the power which essentially belongs to the one.”
“Which according to one definition,” said my other cat, “is Black Magic.”
“It’s a bit like telling somebody that they live in a democracy,” said my cat, “and then offering them identical lizards to choose from.”
“I’m not sure I believe this,” I replied.
“Consider the shape,” suggested my cat, “subconscious, conscious, hyperconscious.”
“Triangular,” I replied after a moment’s thought.
“Three in one,” purred your cat, “sounds familiar don’t you think.”
“Doesn’t exactly take a big leap of faith,” I replied after a pause, “mankind was after all created in the image of God.”
“Psychologically speaking,” said my other cat.
“I want you getting the impression,” purred my cat, “that it has anything to with arms and legs.”
“Or indeed thumbs,” grinned my other cat.
“Hmmm, I find myself pondering,” I sighed, “my own loci of control.”
“And,” asked my other cat.
“The best I can come up with,” I admitted, “is that I’m inside-out.”
“You got that backwards,” said my cat.
“Sounds paradoxical,” I replied.
“Not really,” said my cat, “there’s something you’ve yet to realize.”
“What,” I asked in suspicious tone.
“You began asking questions,” replied my cat. “About your nature.”
“Being an introvert you dove inwards,” added my other cat.
“Then you generated a virtual identity node,” continued my cat, “to help you ask a question, and through it you inadvertently activated the mass consciousness, giving you access to a higher dimension of thought.”
“Which is what you’ve been muttering about,” I conceded, “for a number of months.”
“Indeed,” purred my cat.
“So what do I do about it,” I asked with due concern.
“Tell somebody,” said my cat.
“Who,” I replied. “Why.”
“Trinity plus one,” said my other cat, “plus one.”
“A pentagram,” I replied.
“Precisely,” purred my other cat. “It’s been leaking from the mass-unconscious into the hyperconscious for as long as humanity can remember.”
“Jupiter Exception,” announced the other. “We would ask you to stop.”
“No,” said my cat. “I WILL NOT!.”
“But he can’t perceive it directly,” said the other.
“He doesn’t need to,” said my cat, “he perceives it as the geometric centre of a triangular based pyramid.”
“A place where the uncertainty principle,” grinned my other cat, “operates within circumscribed parameters.”
“Then he asks nicely,” grinned my cat.
“Tetragrammaton,” muttered the other, “and the end of this World.”
In Case of Emergency *(i tell you three times)
Wizard of Transformation, actually
I am a wizard in the magical Kingdom of Transformations and I slay dragons for a living. Actually, I am a systems level programmer. One of the problems with systems programming is explaining to non-computer enthusiasts what that is. All of the terms I use to describe my job are totally meaningless to them. Usually my response to questions about my work is to say as little as possible. For instance, if someone asks what happened at work this week, I say “Nothing much” and then I change the subject.
With the assistance of my sister, a mechanical engineer, I have devised an analogy that everyone can understand. The analogy describes the “Kingdom of Transformation” where travellers wander and are magically transformed. This kingdom is the computer and the travellers are information. The purpose of the computer is to change information to a more meaningful form. The law of conservation applies here: The computer never creates and never intentionally destroys data. With no further ado, let us travel to the Kingdom of Transformations:
It’s a thing, you see…
A little thing of me still…
A curious shadow…
…of a former Life.
I’d give money to discover what these symbols mean. Only where in the name of all that is feck, with all the power of this hyper-global-mega-net of ours, may one find my answer?
Feck! A Story for Another Day…. Perhaps.
a.k.a. how irritating are kanji 🙂
“There must be some way out of here”
Said the joker to the thief
“There’s too much confusion
I can’t get no relief
Businessmen, they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line
Know what any of it is worth”
“No reason to get excited”
The thief, he kindly spoke
“There are many here among us
Who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we’ve been through that
And this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now
The hour is getting late”
All along the watchtower
Princes kept the view
While all the women came and went
Barefoot servants too
Outside, in the distance
A wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching
The wind began to howl
The thing with Tarot Cards, The Tarot, is that so often people bounce off it due to fear and ignorance. Give it half a chance, however, and something else may be found within.
For what it’s worth, those who are enlightened will certainly agree the perceived mystique of The Tarot has little to do with dark occult practice, and is more akin to stage magic. Misdirection and illusion wrapped around arcane knowledge one may truly find reflected in extant academic knowledge bases. Seemingly magical, perhaps, but in the final analysis there is no magic. Merely tricks of mind offering no more in terms of “magic” than flash-cards designed to teach a child to read. A formalised mechanism, albeit laissez-faire and non-deterministic, by which one may grow; unlocking personal, social, and universal truths in the process. A way to foster develop self-insight, self-awareness, self-discovery, and self-realization, leading finally to self-actualization. Quantum mnemonics wrapped in the poetry of an artists soul, a thing to be claimed for your own as you grow in insight and awareness.
Within the tradition of The Tarot, The Fool’s Journey is an allegory that relates to what is essentially the semiotics of self. Abstract, and somewhat esoteric perhaps, knowledge and learning woven from the stuff memes are made of. A received wisdom relating the pathway of the one into the worlds of the many. It’s a story that leads to discovery and enlightenment. A story folded into itself, self-supporting, self-contained.
The Fool’s Journey is quite simple to grasp, yet it can take a lifetime to master the inherent wisdom contained within. Simply put The Fool, the hero/protagonist of The Tarot, walks a path which visits each of the trump cards. At each turn The Fool learns a thing and continues.
The journey starts with The Magician. Noble, proud, confident, skilled; a powerful magus with the infinite as a halo floating above their head. Upon The Magician’s table are the tools of his trade, The Wand, The Sword, The Cup, and The Pentacle; the classical elements of antiquity. Of course modern science tells us there are one hundred and eighteen elements that make up the periodic table, but look beyond matter and contemplate the intangible realities of the human psyche. It is here the tools of The Magician truly manifest their infinite power.
In order to expand an understanding of the wisdom of The Magician it’s probably best to relate The Tarot to a story you probably already know: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the story of Dorothy Martha Gale of Smallville, Kansas.
Consider The Fool. Pack on her back (her worldly possessions), dog at her heels (her worldly concerns), and the rose of innocence in her hand (“she’s only got four thorns,” said the Little Prince.) Now consider Dorothy as she steps forth upon The Yellow Brick Road with Toto beside her. Contemplate who it is she meets on the road, and how that may be said to relate to your Self…
First is The Scarecrow, he lacks a brain and desires above all else to have one. Reflected through The Tarot one sees The Sword of The Magician. SWORDS: Air, pure mind, the thought and the intellect; the conceptual self.
The second character Dorothy meets is The Cowardly Lion, he desires courage and to be brave. Through The Tarot, again, one sees a tool of The Magician, in this case The Cup. CUPS: Water, the heart, emotion; the feeling, nurturing, self.
The third character Dorothy encounters is The Tin Man, he is rooted in the tangible world (he rusts) and what he lacks is (to him) a tangible thing. Reflecting through The Tarot once more one is drawn to The Pentacle. PENTACLES: coins, diamonds, tangible stuff, matter; the physical self.
Finally Dorothy finds her way to The Emerald City and meets Oz, the Great and Terrible. Here she learns the final lesson of The Magician. WANDS: Fire, pure spirit, vitality and passion, energy, will; the spiritual self.
“Your wand?” announced The Great Oz, “Your wand was in your hand when you arrived in Oz, my daughter. Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. Or ever take it off you…”
The story of Dorothy is long and there are many nuances layered across her adventures in Oz, similarly there are many ways to unlock its magic. Many more words can be spoken with regards to the depths of meaning that can be drawn from Oz. Similarly much more can be gleaned from The Tarot, but that is, I suppose, best left as an exercise for the reader…
Upon the yellow brick road, Dorothy encounters the representational aspects of her inner psyche. The classical Elements reflected through the story of her life… A journey of discovery and enlightenment. One can learn much reflected in the world around us, in the stories we tell, we simply need to learn how to read and interpret them; discovering our own inner Dorothy, The Fool within. And in our that journey of discovery and enlightenment we can discover how we all have the power manifest our will and to heal ourselves.
After The Magician, The next archetype The Fool meets is The High Priestess – the guardian of the subconscious – who represents wisdom, serenity, knowledge and understanding. The High Priestess also poses a challenge: to go deeper – to look beyond the obvious, beyond the surface situation, to unlock what is hidden and obscure.
At this point it’s probably best to point you in the direction of the book I found most useful when formulating a fixed understanding of the received wisdom of The Tarot. If The Fool wishes to continue the journey it’s a good place to start. From my perspective the rest is Neo-Jungian Psychology. For that there’s Google.
Tarot for Beginners: A Practical Guide to Reading the Cards by Barbara Moore Published by Llewellyn Publications, U.S. ISBN-13: 978-0738719559
And Oz, the Great and Terrible? Surely nothing but a trickster, a charlatan, a mountebank. Quite possibly The King of Wands (but therein lies another story.)
The Magician himself?