Probably the most mysterious thing about tarot cards, and the most scoffed at, is the idea that one can predict the future with them. While the idea itself may seem to defy common sense, some people seem to be pretty darn good at it.
The matter of whether this is divination or prediction is a matter of origin. Divination implies the answer comes from without, from a divine being or from nature itself. Prediction relies on laws of causality, that one thing leads to the next and with enough understanding of the things that happened before one should be able to ascertain what is about to happen.
Whether it’s one or the other is really a moot point. Regardless of where the understanding originated from, it had to travel through the diviner. The person doing this divination is accomplishing the same thing either way… Regardless of what their beliefs are in how the prediction is accomplished.
It turns out, not surprisingly, that our brain is literally a prediction machine. Doctors, scientists and neurologist have discovered people react before a thing happens. There are studies on languages, movements, visual recognition of emotive responses (people shown joyous or traumatic images randomly react emotionally before the image is seen), music, etc. If there is a thing which we respond to, there is a scientist measuring how fast we do it….and often they find we are doing it before the event happens! Just about everything we do in the day happens mechanically before we even know it’s happening. Our mind knows the joke is coming we are smiling before the joke is told. When we’re really hungry or thirsty, and we eat something we will feel better right after, but really it takes 20-30 minutes maybe more for the body to process that food and do anything with it that’ll help with the hunger.
When these things happen internally or repetitively we hardly notice.
“Of course, we were smiling, that person always makes us laugh. We were just waiting for the punchline.”
“Of course, we feel better our body knew the food was in it and that it would soon have the energy needed.”
But often times these instances take place very much outside of us, outside of our experience. Sometimes the length of time is so great we notice, when these things happen to us we come up with concepts like Deja vu, intuition, signs and omens. And if we were looking for the answer, if we were making a conscious search to find out what was going to happen we may call that divination or prediction.
Some people are very good at predicting. Rarely people are just born good at it, they are the exceptions and usually we hear about them because they’re special. Most often this magical ability to predict what’s happening comes with understanding and being, awareness and focus. The more life experiences, the more aware one is of what’s going on around them, the better one’s brain works at retrieving past experiences, the more talented the individual will be at prediction.
In reality though, our lives are pretty cloudy and muddled. Worries and concerns, aches and pains, traumas and pleasures. We don’t know about you but there are nights when we can’t even shuffle and lay out a tarot spread without screwing it up a few times first. Over the ages nature and by extension the cultures of humanity have designed some really cool tools to assist in this process of dragging the prediction out of ourselves. Naturally we have dreams, gut feelings, butterflies and as cultures we have devised things like reading ashes, leftover dinner, tea leaves, clouds. As cultures started to coalesce into large dynamic bodies of people, complicated systems were created. Things like the i-ching, astrology, and tarot were created with symbols that could embrace states of being and describe the human experience in more compact forms.
But no matter what form used for divination. No matter the answer whether it be about tomorrow or next year. That prediction came from within. The brain is just being leveraged to do what it does best, predict what’s going to happen. In the general happenings of day to day life the mind must try to predict what’s going to happen to stay alive, to stay out of trouble, stay fed. By using these tools we’re tapping into that ability for our own conscious reasons. By using these tools we’re giving ourselves a way to communicate our own concerns and desires with ourselves.
Most likely the biggest treasure of all, is that we are aware of so much more than we are aware that we are aware of. The parts of our mind that do these predictive calculations have access to the nearly limitless troves of data that our senses collect. When we are mastering these techniques of divination these processes of prediction, we are re-accessing all of this data to look at it from a different point of view. Initially our mind only use this data for staying alive. By using tools like the tarot we can kind of run all that stuff through again from the point of view of our question.