Is our health ok? How about our family, and the other important relationships in our lives? Our education? Our career?
And usually we find ourselves wanting in one way or another. We could be a little healthier, our family could be a little more tightly bonded, and frankly we could be making more money than we do. And so we might draw up a list of goals, or at least join a gym or try to buff up our resume. And we might follow our new plans for a week or a month, and maybe we’ll even make some hard-won progress in these areas.
In the previous twoposts 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.
Steve Pavlina, the blogosphere’s foremost authority on personal development, has written a fantastic book on astrology and the Tarot. The odd thing is that he doesn’t know it.
In fact, as far as I know, Steve is completely ignorant of astrology and the Tarot. He is something of a mystic — by his own account, he has contacted dead people, entered the astral realm, and channeled spirits — but this isn’t his main focus. Instead, his passion is personal development — the pursuit of individual growth.
Personal development is a wide area of interest, and covers everything from time management to strength building to better business practice to exploring psychic powers. Steve has touched on every one of these topics on his blog over the past four years. Partly in order to bring all of these diverse interests into one framework, and partly because he’s a nerdy guy who likes challenging puzzles, he has written a book called Personal Development for Smart People, in which he boils his mission of growth down into three basic principles (and four derived principles) which can be used by anyone as a guide to self-betterment. The seven principles are Truth, Love, Power, Oneness, Courage, Authority, and Intelligence.
What Steve doesn’t realize is that these seven principles are already an integral part of astrology and the Tarot. In fact, the mapping is incredibly straightforward, as you’ll see. But that doesn’t mean Steve’s work is redundant. On the contrary, he brings a fresh perspective and insight into these ancient symbols, and lays out a framework to put them to work in your life immediately. In this series of articles, I’ll review his book, show how his system maps to astrology and the Tarot, and tie the systems together to produce a rich tapestry of direction and possibility.
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.
A 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.