More and more it seems that Americans condense their concerns into simple symbols, the cover of the Rolling Stone or a hooded sweatshirt, for instance.
Twitter teaches us to say it all in one hundred and forty characters or less.
No one seems to have the time or ability to read the whole story and make a thoughtful judgment about anything.
From a tarot perspective, this trend toward symbols-over-substance is interesting.
Tarot uses symbols – pictures and archetypes – to tell stories.
We look at the pictures and they lead us to a place where we can fill in the blanks. We can find the details once we see the symbols.
What’s happening in our greater culture seems to be the opposite of that. We accept the symbols and dig no deeper to find truth.
Could tarot help us reverse this trend?
Now more than ever tarot is making an appearance in daily life and pop culture. Elite fashions houses are basing lines of clothing and perfume on tarot. Designers are participating in tarot art projects. Even members of Catholicism are embracing the game of tarot, although not its spiritual message.
As tarot becomes a reference for the masses instead of simply a tool of the esoteric occult we may have an opportunity to shift the pop culture consciousness from the superficial to the truly significant.
If we can teach ourselves and each other to look deeper, as tarot teaches us to do, what difference might that make in our society?
Would the dreck of the 24-hour news cycle cease to captivate us?
Would marketers have to show us the facts instead of simply inciting our emotions to make a sale?
Would we be able to discuss the difficulties in our country in terms of deeper realities rather than surface appearances and slogans?
Perhaps no one understands the importance of symbolism more than tarotists do. But we also know that the symbol itself is not the whole of the information.
Symbols lead us to find the truth. They are not themselves the truth.
Perhaps the more we are able to bring tarot to the public eye and enlist the curious in its study, the more we will become the country we need to be; a society of thinkers and problem solvers.
Thinking and problem solving is what tarot teaches us to do. Tarot also teaches us to communicate and to be objective.
The poster child and the rallying point serve to get out attention. The tarot card does much the same. When we look within and beyond the initial symbol we have the opportunity to create healing in ourselves and in our greater community.