Tarot: Readings, Conceptual Blending, and Mind Mapping by Vincent Pitisci
Years ago, I decided to use four basic aspects when doing most of my Tarot card readings—aspects that would be beneficial to any issue presented to me. Those four aspects are:
WHAT? WHY? HOW? WHEN?
If you could answer these four aspects accurately in regard to any issue every time you did a reading, you would be richer than Donald Trump and Bill Gates combined.
WHAT allows me to explore the real issue the seeker/client wants to resolve. Asking WHAT allows me to question the question itself and probe the client’s viewpoint of her own question.
WHY allows me to question why the seeker/client wants this particular objective in their life? Looking into WHY helps me see the true motive behind the ostensible goal being sought.
HOW allows me to see possible ways to accomplish this goal; it allows me to look into future opportunities and options that may help bring about success.
WHEN allows me to see when the best time is for the seeker/client to act on this objective. Maybe certain things need to be done before starting in terms of preparation and readiness. Maybe more information needs to be gathered more information before taking on this challenge. Or maybe the time is now, before the opportunity is lost.
Here we have a four-card spread using these four aspects—WHAT, WHY, HOW, AND WHEN—as the positions:
Breaking a question like this into sections is a way of mapping the question into segments of importance that can now be looked at in depth. To break a question apart into such segments has also been recognized as a pattern among great thinkers, past and present.
Today, this pattern is recognized as part of a technique called creative thinking in psychological studies exploring methods of problem solving. The four sections shown here would be called the fixed elements of the question. In a tarot card reading, they are called the positions of the card spread. The card reader essentially uses a creative-thinking technique by laying out the fixed elements of a card reading every time they look into a question. These elements become a map of the question.
The next step in the reading would be to place Tarot cards randomly into each position/element of the spread. This practice of random placement is also a basic creative-thinking technique, referred to as adding random stimulus. A random stimulus is combined with the fixed elements of the question. Making associations between the random stimulus and the fixed elements is called conceptual blending. Adding randomness to the positions of a Tarot card spread enables us to make fresh associations and get new ideas for the element of the question each card represents. Again, this is a very common technique based on the well-established psychological study of creative thinking.
What attributes can be seen as a result of the randomness added to the element of the question? How can they help modify, create, improve, invent, substitute, or find some other new way of thinking about that element—whether intuitively, logically, metaphorically, or in some other way? This way of thinking cannot be achieved with conventional thought.
The randomly selected Tarot cards that are placed in each position now give us new insightful ideas. Ideas are shown here as tiny branches of insight stemming from each positioned card. These tiny branches of insight would not be visible on the reader’s table, like they are in the diagram above; instead, they would be expressed verbally as they come into the reader’s mind. The tiny branches stemming from each position would be spoken advice given by the experienced Tarot reader to the client.
The result would be a wealth of ideas and insight for discussion. If this whole process were illustrated on paper as it is above, it would automatically become a mind map—another recognized creative-thinking technique.
In a reading, even though neither the fine branches of insight nor the positions of the card spreads are visually seen, they are both still very important parts of the process. The reader has a mental picture of the spread before she performs the reading.
The only things visible on a reader’s table are the cards themselves. The Tarot cards are a perfect resource for sparking ideas about aspects of the question being explored. The insights found are told to the client as the reader realizes them. That is, a card reading is a verbal version of a mind map.
To recap, the aspects of the centuries-old practice of card reading seem to have the same procedures that are recognized today as basic creative-thinking techniques—specifically, conceptual blending and mind mapping. Here are the steps:
- Mapping the question out: A card spread is created that breaks the question apart into sections to be examined.
- Assigning fixed elements to the question: Each section of the card-spread map is assigned aspects of importance regarding the question itself. These sections are called fixed elements.
- Adding Random Stimulus: A random stimulus in the form of Tarot cards is added to each fixed element of the question to discover new and original ideas.
Again, this procedure of associating a random stimulus to a fixed element of a question is called conceptual blending. It is a well-established technique used by creative consultants to make predictions on future objectives; in other words, to predict the future. Typically, the term used to describe what a card reader does is divination. That terminology sparks a stereotyped impression of Tarot card reading as something mysterious and unexplainable. It is a mind-set we have had about the Tarot for centuries. But today, that mystery can be solved and the unexplainable now explained. And with that new insight, we can open doors never before seen or realized.
Vincent Pitisci is the author of Genius of the Tarot: A Guide to Divination with the Tarot and The Essential Tarot: Unlocking the Mystery (both available in paperback through Amazon). His contact information and services can be found at www.pitisci.com. Pitisci lives and maintains a private practice as an intuitive consultant in Chicago’s southwest suburb of Berwyn, Illinois.
Illustration from the Universal Waite Tarot Deck® reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902 USA. Copyright ©1990 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.