Modern Day Tarot is much like Modern Day Language. It's based on antiquity, the input of our ancestors to codify communication. Through the centuries it is tweaked, made less charming perhaps, for a need for speed. No one would confuse modern day American English with the King's English. It is a language which has evolved, grabbing words and phrases from foreign parlance along the generations. It thrives and will continue to thrive for this reason.
Still, as a person who appreciates the understanding of how stuff works, it makes me cringe when I read, I should of done this or that, instead of, I should have. Our abbreviated speech patterns have abbreviated our writing skills and command of the language. It's and its are rarely used properly, and forget plural possessives. It seems that when in doubt, people will throw an apostrophe in random places just in case. And don't get me started on there, they're, and their.
Why does it bug me? After all I can still understand what is being communicated most of the time, but not all of the time. In order to communicate effectively, or even to be taken seriously in many situations, a fundamental understanding of how language works is vital to communicating effectively and having command of one's language. When learning a foreign language we learn the structure first.
I've said it numerous times in the content of my tarot blogs, that tarot is a lot like language. And like modern day language, there seems to be a lot of sloppy shortcuts taken with tarot.
Tarot's roots are largely shrouded in mystery which is part of its allure, and granted we will never know all its secrets; but for one who seriously studies tarot there is still a wealth of fascinating well-researched history available to allow a practitioner to have greater command of this wonderful practice. Now more than ever, tarot has been embraced by the world across many cultures. Lots of new people are learning the language of tarot.
And like learning to read, write, and speak a language with greater proficiency than merely being able to ask where the library is or if your friend likes the meatballs, I maintain that if one wants to make a living as a tarot professional, then one needs to make the commitment to unveil the many layers of tarot in order to learn it and practice it with proficiency beyond the basic knowledge of a language 101 class. I'm not talking about people who only want to learn the basics for self-actualization or out of curiosity. I'm talking about people who claim to be professionals making money from the practice.
Similar to a practicing 'witch' for want of a better word, at least for me, tarot is a way of life, It's a path. You either are or aren't genuine. You can't buy it in five easy lessons. It is a life-long commitment to a practice. Sure, we can exchange ideas with others, and even congregate and meet like-minded individuals for discussion and knowledge, and yes there is value to being mentored. Heck, I've mentored many students myself. But there is no magic wand or genuine entity that can say, 'You have arrived.' It takes more than what can be learned from a book or a course. It takes understanding that all things are connected. It takes intuition and being able to tap into the pool of human unconsciousness. It is a meditative and reflective practice that can't be learned in eight weeks.
And that brings me to my next point, Tarot has also become big business. Websites and webinars are everywhere, and not just tarot reader sites for getting a reading such as my own, but big business tarot sites. Sites that promise to teach the mystery of the tarot. Shortcuts to the learning process. Videos and online courses. It used to be that a reader earned her or his living through the practice of reading tarot, not selling it on the mass market. Today it seems that more professionals are making their money with the promise of selling tarot skills rather than by doing it. It's tapping into the mentality of, Why walk the walk when you can buy it for a price?
One of the reasons I am writing this particular blog, is out of frustration from a dialogue on a professional tarot forum. A forum of supposed professional readers, i.e. people earning money in the tarot field, were oohing and awing over a photo of a Medieval or early Renaissance painting of a pope and it's similarity to The Hierophant as though it were a grand revelation.
The most basic superficial research will reveal that connection. I was stunned by what seemed to be the most basic and obvious connection being a true revelation for so many 'professionals'. I was unable to bite my tongue and said so. Of course I was admonished for it with responses like, 'This It is a supportive group,' etc, I backed off and left the argument. I sometimes forget that we live in a society where everyone gets a trophy.
It pains me to take a snarky attitude because I strive to be a kind and compassionate person; but I think sometimes one must speak out on certain occasions. It bugs me that the bar isn't very high especially among those claiming to be in the higher tier of a study or practice. I'm kind of disgusted because understanding seems to be largely superficial even among professionals earning money by the practice.
Parallels made between The Hierophant and a medieval pope should not be an 'aha' moment for people proclaiming to be professionals in the field of tarot. That's all I'm saying.
Maybe this is because some modern tarot decks represent The Hierophant as an animal or some other image not related to its roots. This in and of itself is fine and evidence that tarot is evolving. But wouldn't a serious practitioner of tarot, certainly one earning a living at it, make it her/his business to know the basic concepts behind the Hierophant, The Fool, or any of the other cards?
Of course it can also suggest that some readers don't take the time to read beyond a particular deck's accompanying literature. Reading with one deck proficiently does not make one a master reader. Every deck is different, even cloned decks have significant differences from the mother deck. A master reader can read from almost any deck. But it takes years of practice and study.
I have devoted decades of my life to learning tarot. I've read nearly every book that has been brought to my attention on the subject. (Even the fluffy lightweight ones.) I'm confident in saying that I've probably forgotten more than most people have ever learned. But even after forty years of tarot practice and study, I would not proclaim myself to be a Grand Master. Yes, I do consider that I have an advanced and masterful understanding of tarot. But I have not mastered it. How can anyone claim that? Especially people barely thirty years old? I kind of want to slap sense into those who claim that title. I dropped out of the tarot certification mentality when tarot big business trends began about two decades ago. But that's a discussion for another day.
The featured deck in the photo may be purchased here: http://www.loscarabeo.com