View Rosengarten’s Tarot of the Nine Paths: Advanced Tarot for the Spiritual Traveler (Paragon House, 2009) including the Complete Travel Guide (click)
By Robert Johnson
Many years ago a wise friend gave me a name for human love. She called it “stirring-the-oatmeal” love. She was right: Within this phrase, if we will humble ourselves enough to look, is the very essence of what human love is, and it shows us the principal differences between human love and romance.
Stirring the oatmeal is a humble act—not exciting or thrilling. But it symbolizes a relatedness that brings love down to earth. It represents a willingness to share ordinary human life, to find meaning in the simple, unromantic tasks; earning a living, living within a budget, putting out the garbage, feeding the baby in the middle of the night. To “stir the oatmeal”; means to find the relatedness, the value, even the beauty in simple and ordinary things, not to eternally demand a cosmic drama, an entertainment, or an extraordinary intensity in everything. Like the rice hulling of the Zen monks, the spinning wheel of Gandhi, the tent making of Saint Paul, it represents the discovery of the sacred in the midst of the humble and ordinary.
Jung once said that feeling is a matter of the small. And in human love, we can see that it is true. The real relatedness between two people is experienced in the small tasks they do together: the quiet conversation when the day’s upheavals are at rest, the soft word of understanding, the daily companionship, the encouragent offered in a diffuclt moment, the small figt when least expected, the spontaneous gesture of love.
When a couple are genuinely related to each other, they are willing to enter the whole spectrum of human life together. They transform even the unexciting, difficult, and mundane things into a joyful and fulfilling component of life. By contrast, romantic love can only last so long as a couple are “high” on one another, so long as the money lasts and the entertainments are exciting. “Stirring the oatmeal” means that two people take their love off the airy level of exciting fantasy and convert it into earthy, practical immediacy.
Love is content to do many things that ego is bored with. Love is willing to work with the other person’s moods and unreasonableness. Love is willing to fix breakfast and balance the checkbook. Love is willing to do these “oatmeal” things of life because it is related to a person, not a projection.
Human love sees another person as an individual and makes an individualized relationship to him or her. Romantic love sees the other person only as a role player in the drama.
A man’s human love desires that a woman become a complete and independent person and encourages her to be herself. Romantic love only affirms what he would like her to be, so that she could be identical to anima. So long as romance rules a man, he affirms a woman only insofar as she is willing to change, so that she may reflect his projected ideal. Romance is never happy with the other person just as he or she is.
Human love necessarily includes friendship: friendship within relationship, within marriage, between husband and wife. When a man and a woman are truly friends, they know each other’s difficult points and weaknesses, but they are not inclined to stand in judgment on them. They are more concerned with helping each other and enjoying each other than they are with finding fault.
Friends, genuine friends, want to affirm rather than to judge; they don’t coddle, but neither do they dwell on our inadequacies. Friends back each other up in the tough times, help each other with the sordid and ordinary tasks of life. They don’t impose impossible standards on each other, they don’t as for perfection, and they help each other rather than grind each other down with demands.
In romantic love there is no friendship. Romance and friendship are utterly opposed energies, natural enemies with completely opposing motives. Sometimes people say: “I don’t want to be friends with my husband [or wife]; it would take all the romance out of our marriage.” It is true: Friendship does take the artificial drama and intensity out of a relationship, but it also takes away the egocentricity and the impossibility and replaces the drama with something human and real.
If a man and woman are friends to each other, then they are “neighbors” as well as lovers; their relationship is suddenly subject to Christ’s dictum: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” One of the glaring contradictions in romantic love is that so many couples treat their friends with so much more kindness, consideration, generosity, and forgiveness than they ever give to one another! When people are with their friends, they are charming, helpful, and courteous. But when they come home, they often vent all their anger, resentments, moods, and frustrations on each other. Strangely, they treat their friends better than they do each other.
When two people are “in love,” people commonly say that they are :more than just friends.” <pst [ep[;e think that being “in love” is a much more intimate, much more “meaningful” relationship than “mere” friendship. Why, then, do couples refuse each other the selfless love, the kindness and good will, that they readily give to their friends? People can’t ask of their friends that they carry all their projections, be scapegoats for all their moods, keep them feeling happy, and make life complete for them. Why do couples impose these demands on each other? Because the cult of romance teaches us that we have the right to expect that all our projections will be borne—all our desires satisfied, and all our fantasies made to come true—in the person we are “in love” with. In one of the Hindu rites of marriage, the bride and groom make to each other a solemn statement “You will be my best friend.” Western couples need to learn to be friends, to live with each other in a spirit of friendship, to take the quality of friendship as a guide through the tangles we have made of love.
Psychological Tarot is a present centered, interactive, “image medium” for symbolic communication in process-oriented therapies.
Psychological Tarot engages intuition to seek deeper spheres of psychological life and enrich self experience and awareness.
Dr. Art Rosengarten is widely regarded as a pioneer in the emerging field of “Tarot Psychology” or “Psychological Tarot” having written the first doctoral dissertation on the subject in 1985 entitled Accessing the Unconscious: A Comparative Study of Dreams, TAT, and Tarot, as well as his main published texts to date, Tarot and Psychology: Spectrums of Possibility (2000) and his original deck and expanded tarot system Tarot of the Nine Paths: Advanced Tarot For The Spiritual Traveler (TNP) published in 2009.
What experts have said about Tarot and Psychology: Spectrums of Possibility:
“A deliciously rich exploration of the Tarot. Never have I seen the Tarot’s deep wealth of meaning uncovered and explained with such skilled and loving intelligence.”
-Allan Combs, author of Synchronicity: Science,
Myth, and the Trickster and The Radiance of Being
“Arthur Rosengarten’s Tarot And Psychology: Spectrums of Possibility joins Sally Nichols’ Jung and Tarot and Irene Gad’s Tarot and Individuation as the third major book on Tarot from a Jungian perspective. Spectrums of Possibility combines moving case studies with practical details of exactly how Tarot can be used as a therapeutic tool. There are no apologies here for his acceptance of Tarot as a divinatory tool; instead Rosengarten tries to show even skeptics how divination is rooted in the synchronistic coming together of a questioner’s need with the layout of the Tarot.
More than any other book to date, it also provides a deep theoretical examination of how this synchronicity is inherent in the archetypal symbolism of the Tarot. An important and useful book.”
– Robin Robertson, Ph.D., author of Jungian Archetypes
“What happens when psychic arts meet scientific methodologies, when prediction marries meaning, when image and empiricism come together? In this radical breakthrough and brilliant masterwork, Art Rosengarten merges Tarot’s 600 years of psycho-socio-cultural symbol-encoding with the newer discipline of psychology…I predict a major success, and a turning point for Tarot as well as for psychologists who pioneer the use of this demonstrably valuable resource.”
– Mary K. Greer, author of Tarot For Your Self, Tarot Mirrors, and Tarot Constellations
To receive a Tarot Consultation with Dr. Rosengarten:
-Readings. Single 90 minute readings cost $155 (by phone or office), payment by cash or credit card. For the Psychological Tarot Series (1) sign up for five 90 minute readings over the course of three months. As with dream interpretation, a series of readings track and elucidate ongoing life themes and struggles during periods of transition providing a rich window from which to open awareness to the natural intelligence stimulated by this process-oriented therapy. Particular cards and symbol patterns will repeat over weeks and months of exploration, and one experiences a special connection to deeper spheres of their psychological life. Journal work may be recommended as well as other homework exercises in depth psychology that will be incorporated and discussed in your next session. Cost $625. Office or phone sessions can be arranged to accomodate your schedule. Call Dr. Rosengarten to discuss this therapeutic process further. (760) 944-6710
The human psyche is as fascinating as it is complex. Understanding it is a major goal of psychologists, as well as anyone engaged in self-inquiry. There are many approaches one can take, and many tools that can help. Tarot is one such tool that is gaining in popularity as a way to support and and facilitate personal understanding. As Dr. Arthur Rosengarten wrote in his classic book, Tarot and Psychology: Spectrums of Possibility:
“The Tarot is a remarkable collection of images and symbols that picture multidimensional themes of universal human experience. With a random series of cards properly interpreted in pre-designated positions (a spread), the intuitive observer will be surprised by the amazing subtlety and sophistication with which this method facilitates self-reflection, deep insight, and spiritual wisdom. Contrary to a habitual Western mental reflex, in practice the placing of supreme trust in the natural intelligence that collects momentarily around events awakens a unique, non-linear, mode of perception through what we respectfully call ‘sacred’ or ‘empowered’ randomness. Loosely speaking, this is what is meant by ‘divination’ and is how the Tarot method is set in motion.”
Art’s innovative methods of interpretation developed over decades of teaching and practice as a Jungian-based psychologist are designed to blend your own intuitions with some understanding of the established system of Tarot, its many applications, curiosities, and dimensions. (Below) Samples from the Rohrig Tarot:
Art Rosengarten’s highly acclaimed book and deck can be purchased on this site or on Amazon.com
To order an autographed book & deck Combo Package: Tarot and Psychology: Spectrums of Possibility ($20) PLUS –Tarot of the Nine Paths: Advanced Tarot for the Spiritual Traveler (box set $39.95) COMBO only $55.00 plus shipping and handling. Call (760) 944-6710 or email: email@example.com. Also available at Amazon and other booksellers.
Tarot of the NIne Paths: Samples from Art’s deck TNP which was crafted entirely out of Jungian Sandplay miniatures in his office:
Know Your Jungian Personality Type, that is. It will help you better understand your own personality tendencies, style, strengths and weaknesses as well as areas for growth, improvement, or greater self-acceptance. It will also give you critical insight into the personality tendencies and style of people you are in relationship with, and better ways to communicate with them.
Take this free online Jungian Typology Test based on MBTI (Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator) to learn more about your natural personality style. A useful tool in in both individual or couples therapy to help understand important thinking styles, similarities and differences.
NOTE: There are no “right or wrong” answers; if you’re not sure which response is more accurate, go with the answer you feel best reflects who you’ve been over the past year or who you are at rest. This survey is based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the most widely-used type test in the world. It is not meant to label or reduce your full complexity and individuality. It gives important information about how you tend to perceive events, approach social situations, your strengths and weaknesses, and decision-making styles. If coming in for counseling, bring your results into our session and we can discuss them further.
As an example, below are Dr. Rosengarten’s MBTI results/profile after recently taking this test:
Idealist: Portrait of the Counselor (INFJ) Introverted Intuitive Feeling Type with a Preference for Judgment
Counselors have an exceptionally strong desire to contribute to the welfare of others, and find great personal fulfillment interacting with people, nurturing their personal development, guiding them to realize their human potential. Although they are happy working at jobs (such as writing) that require solitude and close attention, Counselors do quite well with individuals or groups of people, provided that the personal interactions are not superficial, and that they find some quiet, private time every now and then to recharge their batteries. Counselors are both kind and positive in their handling of others; they are great listeners and seem naturally interested in helping people with their personal problems. Not usually visible leaders, Counselors prefer to work intensely with those close to them, especially on a one-to-one basis, quietly exerting their influence behind the scenes.
Counselors are scarce, little more than one percent of the population, and can be hard to get to know, since they tend not to share their innermost thoughts or their powerful emotional reactions except with their loved ones. They are highly private people, with an unusually rich, complicated inner life. Friends or colleagues who have known them for years may find sides emerging which come as a surprise. Not that Counselors are flighty or scattered; they value their integrity a great deal, but they have mysterious, intricately woven personalities which sometimes puzzle even them.
Counselors tend to work effectively in organizations. They value staff harmony and make every effort to help an organization run smoothly and pleasantly. They understand and use human systems creatively, and are good at consulting and cooperating with others. As employees or employers,Counselors are concerned with people’s feelings and are able to act as a barometer of the feelings within the organization. Blessed with vivid imaginations, Counselors are often seen as the most poetical of all the types, and in fact they use a lot of poetic imagery in their everyday language. Their great talent for language-both written and spoken-is usually directed toward communicating with people in a personalized way. Counselors are highly intuitive and can recognize another’s emotions or intentions – good or evil – even before that person is aware of them. Counselors themselves can seldom tell how they came to read others’ feelings so keenly. This extreme sensitivity to others could very well be the basis of the Counselor’s remarkable ability to experience a whole array of psychic phenomena. Mohandas Gandhi, Sidney Poitier, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jane Goodall, Emily Bronte, Sir Alec Guiness, Carl Jung, Mary Baker Eddy, Queen Noor are examples of the Counselor Idealist (INFJ).
In relationships, INFJs are warm and affirming people who are usually also deep and complex. They’re likely to seek out and promote relationships that are intense and meaningful. They tend to be perfectionists, and are always striving for the Ultimate Relationship. For the most part, this is a positive feature, but sometimes works against the INFJ if they fall into the habit of moving from relationship to relationship, always in search of a more perfect partner. In general, the INFJ is a deeply warm and caring person who is highly invested in the health of their close relationships, and puts forth a lot of effort to make them positive. They are valued by those close to them for these special qualities. They seek long-term, lifelong relationships, although they don’t always find them.
Read the timeless advice below adapted from the ancient Chinese Book of Changes or I Ching. Hexagram 44 “Coming To Meet” skillfully describes a therapeutic strategy that empowers all living systems (including all interpersonal relationships, marriage, family, and work relationships) towards their natural states of completion, well-being, aliveness, and wholeness. As a therapist I adapt these principles in counseling as a template for positive relationship growth and change and can help you to apply these basic principles to your own unique situations.
On “MEETING HALFWAY”
“Coming to meet halfway is possible only between people who are mutually honest and sincere in their way of life.” I Ching
1. The hexagram describes a “correct” relationship as one in which two people come to meet each other halfway. Halfway means that both are open and receptive to each other. It must be mutually voluntary.
2. We must maintain reserve in our relationships until the coming to meet is mutual. Maintaining “reserve” is the correct action (or nonaction) during turbulence and communication breakdown
3. Coming to meet halfway is possible only between people who are mutually honest and sincere in their way of life. It is the great joy of such relationships that they are full of mutual trust and sensitivity
4. “Coming to meet” is best understood as a contract made between two people. If one is indolent in performing his part, or has mental reservations about what he is willing to do, the contract may fail. Although such a person may have entered the contract without any immediate objections, his attitude may contain objections which arise only at the time his obligations are to be performed. Such a person may secretly feel that contracts are not to be taken seriously, or, on seeing how difficult it is to fulfill his part, he may hedge on doing it because of some idea that all contracts are subject to fitting into his concept of what is “reasonable.”
5. It is impossible to come to meet such a person halfway and it is better for us to go on our way alone and to wait until the fundamentals of unity are firmly established before we commit ourselves to other people.
6. When we cater to another person’s ego because it is uncomfortable to go on our way alone, we choose the high road of comfort rather the low road of modesty and loneliness. Withdrawal from the high road is the action often counseled by the I Ching (The Classic Chinese Book of Changes).
7. If a person is treating us presumptuously, and if we remind him (or her) of this, he may correct his habits for a few days, but gradually revert to the same pattern of neglect. This he does from egotistical indolence (apathy), something in his point of view makes him feel he has the right to be indifferent.
8. Likewise, we must withdraw from the indolent person, “cutting our inner strings” of attachment to him, and no longer look at his wrongdoings with our inner eye (preoccupations, self talk, ideations etc.).
9. This enables the person to see what he is doing in the mirror created by the void. By dispersing any alienation we may feel, we also lend strength to his superior self. Momentarily, his ego is overcome. We need to realize that his change is short-lived, but it is an essential beginning. The change does not last because it is only founded on his response to feeling the void. It becomes permanent change when he sees clearly that unity with others depends upon his devoting himself to correcting his mistakes. Only then can we abandon a more formal way of relating to him.
10. The sense of loss, loneliness, or poverty of self a person feels on our withdrawing from him is called “punishment” (in the I Ching), but I prefer the term “mindful disengagement.” Mindful disengagement works only if it is applied in the way described—we must consistently and immediately withdraw, neither contending with him nor trying to force progress by leverage. We withdraw accepting his state of mind, letting him go. We must take care not to withdraw with any other attitude than that required to maintain inner serenity, and to keep from “giving up on” him (or her).
11. If on the other hand we withdraw with feelings of alienation, or of self-righteousness, our ego is involved as the punisher. The ego lacks “the power and authority” to punish. The culprits not only do not submit, but “by taking up the problem the punisher arouses poisonous hatred against himself.” One person’s ego may not punish another person’s ego.
12. When a person returns to the path of “responding correctly” (being open and receptive) we likewise go to meet him (or her) halfway, rather than tell him he is doing things correctly. In this way he comes to relating correctly from his own need to relate correctly and we do not force it on him. Our consistence and discipline in feeling out each moment and responding to it does the work.
13. It is unnecessary to watch a person’s behavior to see if he is becoming worse or better; we need only be in tune with ourselves. Our inner voice warns us precisely when to withdraw and when to relate. We need only listen within.
14. It is important to work with a situation only so long as the other person is receptive and open, and to retreat the instant this receptivity wanes. When we understand that this represents a natural circle of influence, we learn to “let go” when the moment of influence passes, and not to press our views. This gives other people the space they need to move away from us and return of their own accord.
15. We must avoid egotistical enthusiasm when we think we are making progress, or discouragement when the dark period ensues. Throughout the cycle we learn to remain detached. Holding steadily to the light within us and within others. The instant we strive to influence, we “push upward blindly.” If we insist on accomplishing the goal at all costs, our inner light is darkened and our will to see things through is damaged.
16. The strength of a person’s ego corresponds to the amount of attention it can attract. On the most simple level this recognition is by eye-to-eye contact; on the more basic inner level we strengthen other people’s egos by watching them with our inner eye. Only when we withdraw both our eye-to-eye contact and our inner gaze do we deprive his ego of its power—“We cannot lead those whom we follow.”
17. Inner withdrawal is an action of perseverance that has its own reward, but only when it is modest perseverance, not an attempt to impress others by getting them to notice our withdrawal. In many situations the problem is resolved, not through any external action that arises spontaneously on our part, but by simply “letting it happen,” through letting go of the problem. Our “action” is to “let go.”
I whole-heartedly subscribe to this elegant strategy of “meeting halfway” as a template for modern relationships. I can help you implement needed changes and fine-tune where necessary in ways. Contact me at Moonlight Counseling (760) 944-6710 to set up an appointment.
Adapted from the essay: “Coming To Meet: Advice From The I Ching,” by Carol Anthony, [included in the anthology, Challenge Of The Heart, John Welwood, Shambhala).
These Key indicators of a relationship’s health or dysfunction are based on the seminal work of American Psychologist Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving, first published in 1957 though timeless in its relevance today. I use these key questions as a general barometer of the present state of your relationship:
CRITERIA FOR LOVE or ADDICTION?
1. Does each partner have a secure belief in his or her own value?
2. Are the partners improved by the relationship? By some measure outside of the relationship, are they better, stronger, more attractive, more accomplished, or more sensitive individuals? Do they value the relationship for this very reason?
3. Do the partners maintain serious interests outside the relationship, including other meaningful personal relationships?
4. Are the partners beyond being possessive or jealous of each other’s growth and expansion of interests?
5. Are the lovers also friends? Would they seek each other out if they should cease to be primary partners?
6. Can the partners support and tolerate the natural ebb and flow of each individual’s need, from time to time, for both closeness and distance (i.e. space)?
CONCLUSION: If you have answered in the negative two or more of these important assessment areas you are likely operating on the “addicted” (or dysfunctional) end of the scale that characterizes troubled, immature, mis-matched, co-dependent, or potentially abusive situations. To set up an appointment for further evaluation, to discuss your relationship situation together or individually, and to learn about treatment options, call Dr. Rosengarten at (760)-944-6710
By Polly Young-Eisendrath (Edited by Art Rosengarten)
[From HAGS AND HEROES A Feminist Approach to Jungian Psychotherapy with Couples, Polly Young-Eisendrath, Inner City Books, 1984.]
One day King Arthur is out hunting in the North, in Inglewood Forest, where he stalks a white hart until he wounds it with an arrow. Just as he goes to gather his kill, a monstrous fellow steps out of the woods. He calls himself, “Sir Gromer Somer Jour” and threatens Arthur instantly with death by his ax. Shaken and confused, Arthur responds that he is unarmed for battle, and Sir Gromer grants him a twelve-month span in which to answer a riddle or return for his death blow. King Arthur departs this encounter entirely crestfallen and confused about the intent of the riddle.
When he arrives back at the castle, only Sir Gawain, among the Knights of the Round Table, can elicit the story of the adventure from the king. Reluctantly, Arthur describes the details of his confusing encounter and ends with great perplexity about the riddle posed by Sir Gromer. Gromer has asked Arthur to answer correctly the question, “What is it that women most desire, about all else?”
Both Gawain and Arthur suspect this question is a trick because it seems so inconsequential. Gawain is optimistic, however, saying “After all, we have an entire year to collect answers throughout the kingdom. Surely someone will know. “ Arthur is less certain.
For an entire year, Arthur and his companions set about gathering data in their notebooks, asking the question of a broad and diverse sample of their population. Ultimately, they come together and compare notes, Gawain feeling certain that one of the answers will be right. Arthur doubts and worries, secretly assuming that no answer can be found to such a ridiculous question. With only a few days to go, he meanders again into Inglewood Forest, not too far from the place he originally shot the hart.
Out of the woods scrambles a hideous old hag who introduces herself as “the Lady Ragnell.” She challenges Arthur, saying she knows he does not have the right answer to the riddle. Arthur is astounded by her officious manner, and replies that he cannot see how she might be concerned with his business. “The impudence of the woman!” is all he can think. Ragnell presses forward with a confidence that is startling to the king. She insists that only she can offer the correct response since she is the stepsister of Sir Gromer and privy to information that Arthur does not have.
Himself unconvinced of the answers he has collected, Arthur finally responds by offering her land, gold or jewels for the right answer. Ragnell refuses his material rewards, replying, “What use do I have for gold or jewels?” and asserts that only one thing will do”: “If your nephew Gawain agrees to marry me, I will tell you the correct answer. That is my condition.” Arthur says that Gawain is not his to give, that Gawain is his own free man. Ragnell replies that she is not asking for Arthur to give her Gawain: she is only asking him to propose the matter to Gawain and to discover what Gawain chooses to do, of his own free will.
Although Arthur asserts that he cannot put his nephew on the spot in this way, he immediately goes back to the castle and makes the proposal. Seeing his uncle almost groveling before him, Gawain cannot but take pity on the poor king and vows that he would wed the Devil himself in order to save the king’s life. Together they go back to Ragnell and Gawain agrees to marry her if the answer she gives them is the one that saves the king’s life.
On the appointed day, Arthur and Gawain ride solemnly out to meet the monstrous Sir Gromer. With his sword raised and his eye glinting, Gromer listens to Arthur read off the answers the two men collected in their research. None of them is the right one, and just as Gromer is about to let fall his ax, Arthur blurts out Ragnell’s response to the question: What women desire, above all else, is the power of sovereignty, the right to govern their own lives!”
At this Gromer dashes off, spitting hateful remarks about Ragnell and screaming that Arthur could never have found that answer on his own.
Arthur, Gawain and Ragnell ride back to the castle in silence. Only Lady Ragnell is in good spirits. There follows a great wedding banquet attended by the lords and ladies of the castle. Everyone is uncomfortable, squirming and commenting on the ugliness and bad manners of the bride. Ragnell, however, is unabashed; she eats heartily and appears to have a very good time.
In the wedding chamber later that evening, Ragnell seems pleased with Gawain’s responses to her. “You have treated me with dignity,” she says, “You have been neither repulsed nor pitying in your concern for me. Come kiss me now.”
Gawain steps forward and kisses her on the lips and lo!, there stands a lovely and graceful woman with beautiful grey eyes. She turns round before him and queries, “Do you prefer me in this, my true form, or in my former shape”?” “Well, of course in this shape. I mean, what….what a beautiful woman you are!” Gawain stammers. Then he leaps back with a challenge: “What manner of sorcery is this? What is going on here?”
Lady Ragnell explains that her brother had cursed her for being so bold as to disobey his orders. His curse was that she should appear as a loathsome hag until the greatest knight in all of Britain willingly agreed to marry her. Arthur’s mistake of hunting in Inglewood Forest (the land Arthur had given to Gawain, but which rightfully belonged to Sir Gromer) was her first opportunity to be in contact with the king and to try to break Sir Gromer’s vengeful spell.
Overjoyed, Gawain rushes toward his bride, crying, “You have done it! You have freed yourself from your brother’s angry spell and now you are my own lovely bride!”
“Wait!” Ragnell interrupts. “I must tell you that only part of the curse is broken. You now have a choice to make , my friend. I can be in this my true shape during the day, in the castle, and take my other form at night in our chamber—or I can be in my true shape at night, in our bed and in my former ugly shape by day in the castle. You cannot have it both ways. Think carefully before you choose.”
Gawain falls silent. Pondering the intent of the question, but only for a moment. “It is your choice, Ragnell, because it involves your life. Only you can decide, “ is his answer.
With this, Ragnell becomes radiant with joy and ease. She says, “My dear Gawain, you have answered well, because now the spell is entirely broken. The final condition was that if, after I became the bride of the greatest knight, he freely gave me sovereignty over my own life, I could return to my true form. Now I am free to be beautiful by day and beautiful by night.”
Thus began the marriage of Sir Gawain and the Lady Ragnell.
Click above for fascinating interview with author/psychologist Dr. Art Rosengarten discussing Jungian and Buddhist psychology as they relate to tarot cards, divination, and synchronicity, the deep unconscious, the power of oracles for modern psychology, and the makings of his own tarot deck using miniatures and digital photography as his medium. Illustrated with images of Dr. Rosengarten’s work.
By Art Rosengarten, Ph.D., January 21, 2000.
Like many of my generation, I still hold the Sixties with reverence for its underlying vision, its music and emotion, its call for change and possibility. Such things resounded through my youthful imagination like thunder through lightning.
In the Seventies I did graduate study in philosophy, religion, and psychology in San Francisco, and discovered the practice of psychotherapy to be the perfect professional calling. Compassionate and intuitive, creative and effective, intellectual and spontaneous, how better to align my spiritual and artistic passions with meaningful employment?
I was then first introduced to Tarot in a Graduate Weekend Seminar. Despite my innate cynicism for faddism and fakery, I was touched to the bone by the cards. All questions and answers of a personal nature seemed to coalesce under their spell. I spent the next three years during off hours from my clinical practicums making daily Tarot experiments until my world, such that it was, seemed more an outer confirmation of my cards, than the reverse. Words failed to describe the compelling synchronicities of this phase, and I remained largely in hiding like some protective keeper of great secrets.
Then came the Eighties. I wrote the first accredited doctoral dissertation on Tarot (which I compared with dream interpretation and projective storytelling) and demonstrated statistically the reliability and validity of the Tarot method. This was amazing, but I didn’t know how to estimate exactly how amazing? I asked my Committee Chair, a well-known expert in the field, how my findings would be met in the conventional academic world? He said my study would probably garner more interest if I had demonstrated Tarot’s lack of validity and reliability. Academic psychologists would chomp at the bit to scientifically dismiss Tarot as another medieval anachronism. Even the Parapsychologists (wolves in sheep’s clothing) would likely be uncomfortable (threatened) by a mantic method that couldn’t easily be controlled in their experimental trials. (Technically, Tarot readers are not psychics, but diviners). So much for my noble efforts.
I put the work on hold and focused instead on my clinical development in conventional psychology. Through internships and Fellowships I worked for years in private psychiatric hospitals, residential treatment centers, and eventually full-time private practice which I continue to this day. I took as much advanced training and personal analysis as I could, and received two professional licenses in California. But I was not done with Tarot. I continued teaching, reading professionally, and experimenting on the side. I knew the power of conventional psychotherapy, and indeed the beauty, yet to my mind it paled next to the potentials of an instrument like Tarot.
I felt strongly that the real Tarot has been improperly lumped with gypsy folklore, raffish occultists, and New Age-ism and if it belonged anywhere given its Italian Renaissance roots, it would more likely find its natural home in the psychology of the individual, including Jungian, Humanistic, Dynamic, and even Existential psychologies. Other systems, particularly in this turbulent age of brief, cost-contained, issue-targeted modalities, might also benefit from Tarot’s rich, image-based, multi-level, non-linear language which seems to possess some uncanny knack for mirroring subjective experience. Nowhere does it say psychotherapy must remain dull.
Unfortunately, I could not find a single book that did poetic justice to the spectrums of psychological meaning and healing laden in Tarot. I decided if I couldn’t read it, I would have to write it myself. I prefer not to be alone. TAROT AND PSYCHOLOGY: SPECTRUMS OF POSSIBILITY has been a most satisfying culmination of this love affair.
Emily E. Auger (ed) This volume is expected to total over 900 pages and includes 24 colour plates.
Reviewed by Arthur E. Rosengarten, Ph.D., a Clinical Psychologist in Encinitas, California, and the author of Tarot and Psychology: Spectrums of Possibility (2000), creator of Tarot of the Nine Paths: Advanced Tarot for the Spiritual Traveler (2009), and Owner/Moderator of the website/discussion forum Tarotpsych
Tarot in Culture is both original and extensive in its attempt to distinguish the complex streams of history, sociology, and metaphysics that have entwined Tarot ever since its first appearances in Northern Italy in the early fifteenth century. The fascinating narrative of this famous metaphysical deck of 78 cards is advanced significantly through fine scholarship from many perspectives. In an entertaining and thought-provoking collection of papers from contemporary scholars around the world, we discover the vast scope and variance of thought surrounding the deck itself, if only in the sheer range of analysis presented in this tome. Tarot, to varying degrees, has been cast by its purveyors as exalted, recreational, clandestine, archetypal, cliquish, magical, revered, and debunked. Hence its unique fascination.
Much of the discussion in Tarot in Culture is a kind of scholarly mystery tale that engages both sensibility and imagination, particularly given the disquieting fact that no agreed upon theory or evidence of the first designer(s) today exists. The vacuum left for heady and arcane speculation is filled here, however, with grounded research that allows a useful laying to rest of the popular fables. Essays regarding Tarot’s origin and original purpose make a strong case for something no more esoteric than a trump-bearing card game, stemming perhaps from the Middle East and akin to bridge, thus ruling-out the more common romantic notions of ancient Egyptian beginnings (which persists today, regardless, in some darkened corridors under the aegis of “popular misconceptions”). Likewise rendered moot is a very thorough accounting of Tarot’s mistaken saddlebag of associations with the gypsies, and the legacy of fortune-telling, which has been challenged convincingly by historians.
The Tarot lineage is traced skillfully up through the French school of Tarot de Marseille– referring to a deck style originating in the sixteenth century in Italy and appearing in France in the mid-seventeenth century– onto the milestones of Tarot’s occult beginnings including the Eteilla Tarot published in 1789, marking the first tarot designed with a divinatory aim, History of Magic by Eliphas Levi (1860) which strengthened Tarot’s developing associations with Masonry and Caballa, and leading to the grand finale of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in London (founded in 1888), the hotbed of Tarot’s famed British incarnation, with such turn-of-the century notables as MacGregor Mathers, William Wynn Wescott, the poet William Butler Yeats, the often-acknowledged fathers (and mothers) of the modern movement, Arthur E. Waite (with Pamela Colman Smith) who authored of the Rider Tarot (1909), and Aleister Crowley (with Lady Freida Harris) who authored The Thoth Tarot (1944).
In Tarot and Culture, a web of socio-cultural forces and precedents inform this previously-documented linear history. One feels safely-educated here in the otherwise elusive journey through the deck’s evolution and its current relevance as a map of consciousness as ascribed by some Jungian scholars. The book showcases a slice of Tarot’s contemporary era, marked by a profusion of creativity, commercialism, artistic experimentation, human potentials, and cultural funkiness, as first splashed down onto the scene of the American 1960’s and has grown remarkably through its adolescence over ensuing decades. As a part of popular culture today, Tarot’s appearance in twentieth-century literature and film is discussed, including how it grapples with its counter-cultural costumery, and as well, its undressing in through the lens of postmodernist deconstruction. Tarot’s liminal stance at the threshold of social acceptability, its ambiguous relation to the law, as well as its coming of age initiatives, relative successes and failures with professionalizing and credentialing organizations are also laid out.
In one of Auger’s own entries a particularly fascinating distinction is made regarding the post-modernist notion of “heterotopia.” Referencing Michel Foucault’s (1926-1984) definition as “real locations where otherwise incompatible spaces intersect or events that are incompatible with social norms occur (Auger, p. 236),” Auger suggests Tarot itself is a “heterotopian radiating point,” one that has inspired the creation and use of a vast array of different Tarot and other meditational decks. I find this a credible elucidation of what occurs in psychotherapeutically-based readings with Tarot as well; an opening of the “real locations” in one’s subjective life occurs and intersects with the spiritually-laden symbolism of the cards in such a way as to deepen one’s understanding and visually capture the complex web of simultaneous forces operating in the moment.