In the latest issue of The Playing-Card Thierry Depaulis makes the following remark in a footnote on the first page of his essay: “The Tarot de Marseille: Facts and Fallacies” pertaining to the meaning of ‘Tarotist’.
While he rightly points out one of the cultural differences between the different approaches to tarot, he neglects to say that the reason why the Tarotists and the Tarologues may not be interested in the history of the cards is because they are busy with reading the cards. The Tarotist does not necessarily need history in order to read the cards. What she needs is a method for reading the cards.
Basically you cannot hold it against people the fact that they prefer one thing over the other, divination over history. Tarotists are not historians. They are card readers, and most of them acknowledge themselves as such. Passing judgment on how they supposedly intuit things about the history of the cards or ‘know’ things about the cards that no one else does without actually getting their ‘sources’ right is to stretch the prejudice against a practice that is not your own practice. I actually happen to know Tarotists who, while insisting on reading cards than on digging out facts about the provenance of the cards, also know history. What I myself appreciate in such readers is the fact that while they are obviously capable of keeping with the facts, they have more to say than a historian simply because they know something about the history of divination, which is not something that a ‘straight’ historian wants to bother with.
Just for fun, and since the Tarotists are not held in high respect by the historians, I’ve asked the Tarot de Marseille to tell me what name would do.
I’m using here a newly reconstructed deck by someone who fits Depaulis’s definition of both a Tarotist and a Tarologue. Wilfried Houdoin both holds the tarot to have a secret code, and he also believes he has found a key. Whatever the man thinks, I find that we can use his deck and some of the ideas behind it. Just because someone may be wrong historically does not mean that they cannot offer something for the rest of us to think about. As far as I’m concerned, if an idea is interesting, I’m interested. This goes for my appreciation of Depaulis’s own historical insights too.
The three cards, The Hanged Man, The Emperor, The Wheel of Fortune, suggest that no matter what you’ll call yourself some authority will always think it wrong. Therefore you can call yourself a fortuneteller.
I’ll take this. As yet I have to see a historian accusing a fortuneteller of ignorance. What a relief.
Note on the deck: Tarot de Marseille, Edition Millenium, as reconstructed by Wilfried Houdoin, 2011