Wax on…Wax off

Quick! What do The Karate Kid and the study of the tarot have in common? Exactly! Every tarot reader needs a foolish protégé to wash, dry, and wax their car while they sit back and toss cards around in their study.

I’m kidding of course. The real answer is that Ralph Macchio was the ultimate Page of Wands.  Still kidding.

The inspiration for this post’s title comes from some real serious bits. If you don’t know what “wax on…wax off” means then please stop reading this immediately and go watch The Karate Kid. It’s a great movie, and teaches useful wisdom through a modern parable filled with in-your-face archetypes, a boy-gets-girl side plot, and a coming-of-age climax that epitomizes the movie genre.

The protagonist of this movie learns the true nature of karate through discipline. He ingests it all subconsciously by going through days of repetitive, monotonous, and physically demanding tasks. Tarot readers are no exception when it comes to the need for discipline, and the craft demands rigorous study of some fairly weird and irrational skills. I have yet to meet a Tarot reader who has eschewed disciplined study in lieu of some mystic natural-born skill. It simply doesn’t exist. We readers have to really work it. We work it so that it seems like we were born with it.

The month of August provided me with an opportunity to develop the discipline of lateral thinking, specifically in preparation of inducting a new-ish Tarot deck into my regular practice. As I have written before, I do not use untested and unstudied decks with my clients.

Over at the Tarot Rebels group, we implemented an exercise known as a 31-day challenge. There are many versions of this challenge, but this particular one was created by Case Watson at Clockwork Ghost Studios. For this month’s exercise, I chose the Russian Lubok Tarot.

Here is how the exercise works:
A list of 31 questions was given to the group. The questions are in the style of an interview, as if you are having a conversation with the Tarot deck. Each day of the month, the deck is shuffled and one card is drawn. The drawn card is read as an answer to that particular day’s question. But this is the tricky part…the questions are mundane, bordering on ridiculous:

What style of music would the deck listen to?
What kind of pet would the deck keep?
What does the deck think of your choice of friends?

A particularly amusing question was “What movie would the deck want to watch?” Now suppose the drawn card had an image of a moon on it…say…oh, I don’t know…maybe The Moon? A literal answer would be “Apollo 13” or “Moonstruck.” But in lateral thinking, we look at the answer that is hidden in the card’s shadow. We look at the underlying meaning of the card and parallel symbols. Taking the imagery and keywords of The Moon card and asking “What movie genre is known for dark, dreamlike sequences; one where the story tricks the viewer and the characters are not who they seem,” I deduced the films of David Lynch as the answer, narrowing it down to ‘Blue Velvet.’

The Moon

So these questions, then, become an exercise in thinking beyond the literal visual cues, and using the card symbols and imagery to form deeper lines of interpretation. It helps find a strong connection between things that are seemingly, on the surface, quite disparate. When mastered, this discipline becomes a powerful tool in pulling a card reading together and weaving storylines. While a literal answer may be entertaining and even accurate, the richness of finding the deeper answer is more rewarding. It even helps us understand how the card can universally answer other, more serious, questions.

Here is another exercise question: “If you lost the deck, where would it most likely be hiding?” I drew the Ace of Swords. I would look for the deck in the shower of course. Huh?  What does the Ace of Swords have to do with the shower? This first card of the sword suit can mean a spark of an idea, a new thought, inspiration, or even a quick decision. And where do I typically get a lot of my ideas and new thoughts? Yep. The shower.

So I’ve gone from The Karate Kid to reading the tarot in the shower. How’s that for lateral thinking?

This post is part of the Tarot Rebels Blog Hop. To explore the other participating bloggers in this month’s Tarot Rebels Blog Hop, please click the image link below:

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