So often, people ask “how does Tarot work”. Very rarely people think to ask “why does Tarot work”, and when they do, often they really mean to say “how”. How Tarot works is about the mechanisms that drive it: be they science, gods, randomness or human agencies. Why Tarot works is a deeper, more philosophical question about why it exists at all and its importance to us.
I have many well-documented ideas about *how* Tarot works sprinkled around the net. But *why* … aaaaahhh …
To me, the reason why Tarot works is because it is a thing of beauty and wonder. If Tarot didn’t exist, we would have to invent it. I love the idea of meaningful, colourful, graceful Rorschach images: older, more detailed and more innately charged with meaning by human archetypes than even these most specialised inkblots can be. Twenty-something years ago when I was subjected to testing with this system, for example, all I could see was spiders and the occasional beetle. The tester didn’t realise I really, really loved bugs, and chose to see it as sinister.
Tarot sits on the seam where our rational mind, our imagination, our sense of humour, our daydreams, fantasies and hopes, our sleeping-dreams and our subconscious urges are stitched together like edges of so many bits of different-coloured fabric held together by a thread. Tarot is not that thread: Tarot is a divine weaver, an aspect of the Goddess Arachne if you like, that takes those separate bits of the self and helps them heal and grow into each other as the closed lips of a wound might heal when sutured together. Like Arachne, Tarot allows these different areas of the human psyche to communicate with each other easily and fluidly, and is perhaps the only thing we have that can get all of them talking at once, rather than just one or two.
That is why Tarot works: because it is utterly necessary.