Thursday, December 19, 2013

12/20/13—Thinking Outside the Bun

Today's Draw: Coffin Full of Tacos Full of Snakes from the Arcane Bullshit deck. Do you mind being mocked? If you read tarot, do you rely more heavily on intuition or on learned symbols and meanings? What does this card say to you?

Arcane Bullshit is a deck that basically mocks the things some tarotists hold dear—their arcane knowledge and symbology. If tarot cards seem mysterious and/or random and/or "a whole bunch of crap to memorize" to someone who doesn't read, trust me, it's just gets worse from there. There are people who can tell you what even the tiniest, barely visible elements of a RWS or Thoth deck mean and symbolize. It can be enough to cause someone to roll their eyes and create a deck with random card names and images just to poke fun at all the meaning we find in drawings. And that's just what some dude named Evan did. 

I have to apologize because, although I've chatted with Evan a few times, I didn't interview him and ask specific questions. I'm just extrapolating on what was said, as I extrapolate on what I see in the tarot every day here in this blog. So I apologize in advance if I've got this wrong. But I don't think Evan knows a whole lot about tarot or oracles. Rather he's got a great sense of humor, an artistic ability and, well, he's just creative. Which is why he made this deck. And, before I continue, full disclosure is that Evan did me a solid and I said I'd write about his deck again. Extra full disclosure was that I was going to use his deck again anyway, even if he hadn't done me that favor. :P

All that said, OMG, this deck is funny. It's 49 cards with titles such as "The", "Look at this Fucking Hourglass", "The All-Seeing Slice", "Pit Bull Driving a Tiny Truck", "Dildo Wizard Crucifixion" and my personal favorite, "Knees". They mean nothing. They're random. And therein lies the giggly pleasure of owning them. Looking at them, I'm reminded of the first time I saw tarot and thought it was "a system of made-up imagery and words that are seething with intense mystical potency" as Evan describes his deck as being (albeit with tongue in cheek.) 

Then, after I memorized all 78 tarot cards, I realized Evan was wrong. There's a method to the madness. Then when I learned to get out of my head and intuit tarot, I realized Evan was half right. I mean, somebody made this stuff up. Somebody decided the images would be the way they are. Whether it was the creator of the Sola Busca or Arthur Waite or Aleister Crowley, someone came up with meaningful visual cues and card meanings. And someone expanded on that with their interpretations. And somewhere along the lines, a bunch of someones decided none of that would ever change and anyone who thought differently would be wrong, while other someones said "screw this arcane bullshit, I'm going to do a deck based entirely on my imagery and interpretations." It's kind of like the Bible and religion in that regard. And great debates break out over something that was ultimately made up by somebody who decided they could tell fortunes using a deck of playing cards. Random. Yet now considered sacred and beyond question. 

Ultimately, I'm guessing that's what Evan had in his mind when he created this deck. It's a parody of sorts. And yet, what I and anyone who's ever had a good tarot reading will tell you, it works. The random arcane bullshit works. It works if you memorize the cards. It works if you ascribe to all the arcane symbolism. And it works if you just talk off the top of your head, maybe incorporating intended meanings and maybe not. It works because, ultimately, it's a tool. A prop, of sorts, to either trigger your innate symbolic nerd or your innate psychic self (or, most of the time, both) to access that part of you that already knows the answer. It's like a key that unlocks the door to a mystical power possessed by all humans that can't be measured or proven, but is nonetheless there. 

And what does it have to do with a coffin full of tacos full of snakes? Well, the psychic arts are like layers of an onion. And the further you go into yourself and train yourself to listen and hear, the more detail you get. What looks like a simple coffin turns out to be a coffin full of tacos. And when you look closer, those tacos are full of snakes. Some may be highly gifted and go deep right off the bat. But most of us study for years, peeling layer by layer off.

This "layered onion" thing applies for all such phenomena, whether it's card reading or bone throwing or talking to dead people. On the surface, it's all "WTF?" But there *is* something to it. And just as I'm reading coffin/tacos/snakes as layers of an onion today, tomorrow it might occur to me that it means trust your intuition (in the sense that upon seeing the coffin, you thought "no", but opened it anyway to the delight of seeing tacos, but then it turned out they were full of snakes. So you should have trusted your intuition.) Or I might decide it's about heartbreak because of the upside down heart on the coffin and how all my beloved tacos have become snake-ridden. Or I might see that heart as a mouth with the circles above as eyes and decide that it's about chaos, because the face I see is stressed. 

So Evan, in creating a made-up system filled with arcane bullshit, actually created something that can be read. Something, dare I say, with depth. Proving once again, that pretty much anything can be read...haha...whether it's clouds, a stain on our shirt or spots on a pig. But what's nice about this deck is that, for a reader, it challenges that intuitive part of you that doesn't have to work so hard when it has book meanings and memorized symbology to fall back on. I'm sure this whole entry will just serve to flatter and amuse a mocker of something I hold dear. But I have a high mock tolerance. And because it makes me stronger and better at something I enjoy, I'm all for it. :)


  1. Great analogy:a tarot deck and the bible. I Praise the day, Hallelujah, that I've shed my compulsion to memorize every detail of the RW deck and discovered intuitive reading:)

  2. You and I had the same experience...haha. For me, it was the Mythic Tarot, which is close enough to RWS. But I ended up using Soul Cards for a year or more to get me out of the habit of automatically going to that memorized place. Now when I teach, I warn against that. I believe you should know...even memorize...the intended meaning of a card. But I teach that before you even look at the suit and whatnot, you register your first impressions. And you try to keep your head out of it for as long as you can before you read the card. Ideally, I think there should be a balance of both. But that's my style. There are plenty in the tarot world who just go to all the arcane bullshit (haha) to give a reading. Like I said, no matter what, it always works.