Thursday, June 21 , 2018, 7:11 pm | Partly Cloudy 65º


Brian Burke: About Your Divorce (Letter 119) — Get a Tarot Card Reading Without Thought or Delay

Oblique Strategy #15 — Get a Tarot card reading without thought or delay

Before reading this column, take a minute to Google “tarot card reading Santa Barbara.” Yikes! There are more than forty possibilities!

I’ve explored none of these possibilities except for Paradise Found, which is directly across from the library on East Anapamu Street and next door to the Book Den.

Other than walking past it twice daily, I’ve had little contact with the store. Given the nature of its wares, however, I admire its 30-year longevity in the same location.

Make an appointment and see what happens. I don’t think the result will be miraculous or mystical. I don’t think that you’ll learn a single important fact that you weren’t aware of before the reading.

Of course, if you’ve never had a reading, you’ll see what it’s like, and that may count as a worthwhile lesson in itself.

The belief behind my directive is that most or all of the “psychic arts” take fragments of the story or narrative we believe describes our lives or our selves and uses the techniques of the Tarot (or palmistry, I Ching, etc.) to organize that material into a slightly different story.

The new story comes complete with your own “stuff,” including that which originates in refreshed memory.

The attempt can fall flat, and perhaps that is a typical outcome. Or, on occasion, it may give you a slightly different view of your self and your environment, which allows for better adaptation to the new (and often painful) subjective and objective conditions experienced during divorce.

Give it a try. It can’t hurt, it might help, and it could be fun. That’s the essence of what I’ve got to say on the subject.

What follows is mere personal history. I don’t know if it supports or detracts from the action suggested.

• • •

I remember my three scheduled Tarot card readings. The first two were nearly 30 years ago. The third was recent and done as part of this Oblique Divorce Strategy project. 

During the interim I took a Tarot card-reading class at Paradise Found. I tried to be a good student, and there was nothing in the curriculum I found fraudulent or even guileless. 

More than anything else it was similar to the many writing classes I took from the wonderful Anne Lowenkopf.

The difference was that, with Anne, you had to create your own characters and plots; you had to write them down, and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite, until you were prepared to hear it read aloud to the class (with Anne always standing by to prevent your total humiliation no matter how much it was deserved).

With the Tarot, however, you make up the story from the pre-assigned meanings of the cards dealt. Tailoring the plotline to the customer’s apparent reaction might be taught in the advanced classes, but for me the amount of meaning contained on the exposed cards was overwhelming.

If there had been grades I would have failed the class. But this didn’t diminish my belief that the Tarot — and similar esoteric practices — could help some people at certain times in their lives (myself included).

I specifically recall that this belief was fortified by the content of a short book called The Tao of Psychology by Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., which I purchased at the Book Den and read at least 25 years ago.

Before going further into a topic like this, I checked Dr. Bolen’s credentials. According to the California Board of Medical Quality Assurance, her license to practice medicine is current and she is a graduate of the medical school at UC San Francisco; her license has been valid since 1963 and her disciplinary record is without blemish.

She is also a Jungian analyst and the author of several other books.

In anticipation of this column, I attempted to re-read The Tao of Psychology and gave up on page three. I was blocked by words like “primal unity,” “cosmic mother,” “infinite and ineffable principle of life,” the “one” and, of course, “God.”

Just before she uses this language, Dr. Bolen quotes a popular saying: "When the pupil is ready the teacher will come."

This “pupil” was ready at one time, probably because of pain. In the absence of that pain, what once made sense now makes me really want to scream!

An attribution such as “according to an Eastern Saying” inspires an impulse to tear the little book into smaller pieces. Nevertheless, I still believe that Dr. Bolen provides a convincing rationale for the usefulness of the psychic arts to an open and willing mind.

• • •

I started work on the Oblique Divorce Strategies a year ago by creating a set of fifty-four cards, each containing a different aphorism I’ve collected during decades of practice. 

This is the way the original Oblique Strategies were published by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt.

I made each aphorism as pithy as I could. Then I remembered my brief experience with the Tarot and scheduled a reading  — not of the Tarot cards but of my own oblique strategy cards — in the hope that a Tarot card reader could give me some tips on how to express short statements in a way most likely to “get through.”

My reader was an affable woman in her thirties who at first seemed to take the unusual reason for the session in stride. She suggested we start with five-card horseshoe spread.

The third card dealt was the The Hanged Man, which is disconcerting to observe even though it is supposed to bode well.

After 15 minutes of talk about the Tarot, my reader paused and blurted out the fact that she was involved in some nasty litigation managed by a very mean lawyer, and it was poisoning her life. She couldn’t stop wondering if I had been sent to her as an agent for the opposition.

Rarely do I defend my profession but this was too much.

“No way!” I exclaimed. “Lawyers can be bad, but not that bad…or that stupid.”

She said she had been experiencing me as either a cunning messenger of the Devil…or a Messenger of God.

I suppose a case could be made that anyone can become a “messenger” for either, and at least in this instance I could effectively assure her that I was not the former.

No one has ever before suggested that I’m a messenger of any god. I didn’t believe it, but I liked the association, and it was well worth the $50 fee.

It is still worth that $50, and though I still don’t believe it, I still like it, even though I don’t know if it was part of the Tarot card reading or something else entirely.

Next column: Oblique Strategy #16 — What Pope Francis has figured out about divorce that you haven’t

— Brian H. Burke is a certified family law specialist practicing family law and mediation in Santa Barbara. A researcher and educator in the field of divorce and family conflicts, he is also the creator of the Legal Road Map™. Click here for more information, call 805.965.2888 or e-mail [email protected]. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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