Sunday, June 25, 2006

Tarot, Fear, and the Public Sphere

To those of us who read Tarot cards, Tarot is a positive, enlightening, non threatening window into forces that are not usually obvious to us. Of those who don't read, some see it as an opportunity to have the exiting personal experience of a reading; others view it as harmless superstitious nonsense. Still others, however, seem to regard Tarot as both "real" and "dangerous," perhaps even anti Christian or evil. A new movie features a Tarot card reader as the arch villian. Everyone remembers the Washington D.C. area sniper that left a Tarot card in the woods as a "clue" to play cat and mouse with the police who were hunting for him.

Any Tarot reader can tell you that, bizarre as it may sound, we all experience discrimination from time to time. We are told that we can't read cards for our organization's fundraiser, we can't have cards in the break lounge at work, or some such concern that somehow doesn't apply to knitting, reading, or anything others are doing in the same circumstances.

What is a reader to do? Some of our collegues say "suck it up and go somewhere where you are welcome." These tend to be fellow readers who have never had to deal with "real" discrimination in other areas of their lives, and perceive the answer to be as easy as slipping in and out of your identity as the need arises. Others of us, women and minorities who know what it is to be unable to change who you are, are more reluctant to do this because it reminds us of the awful choice of selling out who we are as people in order to fit in, out of necessity, at a job, school, or in a social environment.

Sure, Tarot is something we can show or hide as we see fit. What remains unanswered is, what is the right thing to do? Is it a show of respect to the greater community to stifle those parts of ourselves that others have prejudices against, or is this a disrespect and a disservice to those that are like us? Even more convoluted is the religious issue. Tarot isn't my "religion," but if another person is discriminating against me because they perceive it as such, it becomes religious discrimination on the grounds that I am perceived to be part of a protected category, and discriminated aginst for that reason. Now what is the right and proper response? What is best for the good of the entire community?

Either way , there is a price to be paid. I can "raise a stink," appear to be over sensitive and antagonistic, and contribute even more negatively to the image of Tarot readers. Or I can slink away, try to accomodate, apoplogize as if there is something wrong, and contribute to the establishment of the idea that Tarot, and Tarot readers, have no rightful place wherever it is that people have misconceptions about us.

I don't have "Tarot reader" stamped on my forehead, but if nothing else, there is value in having an appreciation for the impossible position that anyone facing true discrimination is faced with - a catch 22 that no one should be burdened with.


alfren said...

I found 2007 is the Year of Fire Pig (Boar) in Chinese astrology.
You can get your luck forecast in Lunar Chinese New Year of Pig
for your Zodiac Animal signs. Chinese horoscopes are
composed with 12 Animals in one calendar cycle:
Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat,
Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.

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