Big Impact of a Little System

By Jeanne Fiorini

Back in the 1990’s when I was first starting my practice as a professional Tarot reader, there were many opportunities to formulate the appropriate combination of words –i.e. create an explanation -- for what I was doing and why I was doing it. (In truth, twenty years later, my brain still replies “say what?” to the declaration of being a professional Tarotist. To my ears it sounds like a confession at a 12-step meeting: “Hi, my name is Jeanne and I’m a Tarot reader.”)

Here in the second decade of the 21st century we’re somewhat accustomed to the Tarot being part of the popular culture, although many folks continue to misunderstand its purpose and function, and/ or simply wouldn’t care to get near it with a ten foot pole. Thankfully, we don’t have to explain it like we used to. But in the mid-90’s when metaphysical matters were still pretty much on the fringe, a certain interaction with a friend drove home the necessity of articulating a clear thought about my involvement with the Tarot.

This particular friend was working in New York City for CBS at the time, and by all accounts was “successful” in the ways that counted: professionally, personally, financially. Somewhere in the midst of a telephone conversation he made mention of Bill Gates, to which I replied, “Who’s that?” never having heard of the guy. My friend acted as though I’d never heard of Mickey Mantle or Gandhi. 

“Well, have you ever heard of Mary Greer?!” was my desperate reply. 

Of course he hadn’t. Case closed.

It was simply a matter of living in different worlds, only problem being that no one was buying into my world. I suspect that many of you have had this experience with some of your friends, family members, and your community at large. Consensus reality (often equated with “reality”) can be a strong force yanking perpendicularly against metaphysical truths.

At the time, my in-the-know friend wouldn’t have foreseen the enormous impact that Bill and his empire would have on the big wide world. In August of 2004 it was reported that the number of PC users worldwide was expected to reach 1 billion by 2010; that number was surpassed in 2005. It’s simply a matter of the right idea at the right time. The world bought into Bill’s vision in a big way, and he’s got the measurable results to prove it.

But what about the intangible benefits and outcomes of computer technologies: task management for the disabled, handicapped, elderly, and physically-challenged populations, the dissemination of information to remote areas and third-world countries, or the rapid advances in health care, publishing, news, and communications?  How do such things improve and progress the state of humankind? 

The ancillary influences of computer technology are equally (if not more so) valid as the measurable PC sales, but are by their very nature incalculable. How can we measure well-being, ease of motion, the value of truthful information, or the consequences of an inspired mind? 

In terms of the Bill Gates/Mary Greer conversation from the ‘90’s, here’s their common denominator.

We could compute the number of Tarot decks that are sold in any given year, but how would we measure the impact of their use? In this same way that we know there to be a multitude of benefits from computer technology beyond number of PC’s sold, Tarot practitioners understand that what they do yields results which are not readily -- or immediately -- obvious to casual observation:

  • A client has struggled to find a place of authenticity within her family for years. In a family of intelligent over-achievers, her caring nature and personal creativity has never been valued. Inevitably she suffers frustration, criticism from her family, and the scorn of her own self-judgement.

    Once we identify this internalized family dynamic as a tug of war between the Emperor and the Empress and give to each their entitled power and value, tensions ease within the client. Acceptance of both these attributes within her (and by extension, within family members as well) allows space for each to grow and flourish. The client enters graduate school to become a registered nurse and pottery appears in her office alongside her books.

  • A woman in her early 40’s who has worked as a dietician, a nutritionist, and a manager in the family business gets the go-ahead from a reading that YES SHE CAN go to medical school to become a doctor. She has since graduated and works with cancer patients.

  • A person sees her partner of twenty years in a new way when the cards depict his unwillingness to engage in conflict not as a mechanism of avoidance or resistance, but of his pragmatic and laissez-faire attitude to relationships. “He isn’t closed off, he just doesn’t bother himself with things like I do!”

What is the measure of confirmation and clarification? What is the price of inspiration, understanding, or closure? How do we gauge outcomes from personal awareness and confidence? What is the value of insight, validation, or the seed of a new idea? How can we quantify the peace that comes from accepting who we are and finding ways to express it in the world? 

Of course we can’t do any of these things. But Tarot readers know that their little 78-card system packs a wallop! We trust that the echoes of our words will have unseen impacts and uncharted gains beyond what we could ever measure, a fact which makes the use of the Tarot a solemn undertaking and serious responsibility….for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that you never know when a client will come up to you and say, “Remember when you told me…….”

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