Steve Pavlina Book Review III: the Tarot for Smart People

In the previous two posts in this series, I reviewed Steve Pavlina‘s new book Personal Development for Smart People, and suggested a way in which his seven principles (Truth, Love, Power, Courage, Authority, Oneness, and Intelligence) could be mapped to the seven visible planets in astrology (the Sun, the Moon, Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Venus, and Mercury, respectively).  In this post I’ll carry it further, and tackle the correspondence of these principles with the Tarot.

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The Narnian Tarot

My nine-year-old daughter absolutely adores the Chronicles of Narnia. Nothing unusual about that, really — lots of kids do — but why?

ire52After all, isn’t Narnia Christian allegory? It’s blatantly obvious to anyone who gives it a moment’s thought. But I’ve argued elsewhere that children are natural born pagans. So what’s the attraction? Does Christianity touch something in children, after all? Or is Narnia not wholly Christian?

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The Tolkien Tarot Spread III: Fiction and Divination

What does fiction have to do with divination?

The common thread is the story structure, the plot. A work of fiction is an illustration of prototypical event structures, plotlines that are moving or meaningful. A divination system also provides plotlines, as well as general elements to flesh out the events of the story. A divination system shows you a possible plot line for your own personal story; it allows you to construct a tale to make sense of your life.

plightofbeeA Tarot spread can be thought of as a narrative structure upon which you can hang the life events surrounding the theme of your reading. The classic three-card reading — past, present, future — is just about as basic a narrative structure as one can imagine. The Celtic Cross is an elaboration of that basic narrative, showing obstacles, influences from ‘above’ and ‘below’, etc. Diane Sylvan has a marvelous spread (the Storyteller) that echoes Campbell’s journey of the hero. The Tetractys spread, which I learned of while researching this article, is a fascinating one that I’d love to try sometime, and seems to combine four plot patterns into one.

The Tolkien spread uses Tolkien’s favorite six-part plot pattern, which I explain in detail in the previous post; it underlies most of the action of The Lord of the Rings, as well as the overall arc of the novel itself. It illustrates Tolkien’s primary theme, eucatastrophe — the sudden twist, unexpected and yet intimately bound up with the framework of the tale, that brings the story to a positive conclusion.

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