Jean Noblet Marseille Tarot as reconstructed ny Jean-Claude Flornoy (Photo: Camelia Elias)

This week I made a comment in a group in reference to a lamentation regarding the Devil, in connection with the ‘Read like the Devil’ manifestoes in the book, 21+1 Fortuneteller’s Rules. ‘I’ve never understood the obsession with the devil!’, a writer I appreciate said. She further added: ‘I was making a comment only on the devil and why anyone in this age entertains such a figure.’

In response I said the following: ‘The Devil is no more an obsession, or an entertainment than the High Priestess is for others where the Tarot is concerned. The Devil and the High Priestess are cards in the major arcana that people use to talk about when they want to refer to a reading method. Unlike the reading like the High Priestess, stressing intuition – which is something many a diviner I know will swear by – the reading like the Devil calls for making very sharp cuts in accordance with critical thinking.’

There’s an elaborate description of the 21+1 collective project that I put out there into the world, explaining already just what the reading like Devil is all about, but I thought I’d take the opportunity to stress this point here.

Insofar as reading like the Devil adopts a martial arts attitude towards the cards, calling for paying attention rather than reading under dictation, I can say that there’s a decided difference between the reading methods that diviners employ.

Reading like the Devil is not about receiving messages, but rather, it’s about putting two and two together.

Receiving messages is a traditional way of thinking about divination processes, even when the act of receiving a message can follow very rigid rules of decoding. You don’t just cast the bones on the table, or look at the bird formation in flight, whereupon you’re ready with a message. The Ifa diviners often take 20 years of education before they get to the stage where they can be both coherent and on point in their divination, so obviously the idea that you can just read like the oracular priestess, following her gut, doesn’t hold.

On my part I’ve never understood how intuition, in the sense of being open to receiving messages, features in any system of divination that is precisely based on a set of rules and conventions. I rather see intuition as a marker of having perfect clarity, not as something we use in a vague setting.

You achieve perfect clarity when you can engage with your cards in a completely detached and non-involved way. You answer a question precisely when you can back up what you’re saying with evidence from the cards. That’s the catch. So the condition here is that you see what you see, what is there, the obvious staring you in the face, not what is wished for that was there. Projection won’t cut it either. Alas, however, unless you’re a Zen master, projection is all you do 24/7.

How to get around that? How to avoid being obsessed with what you think you know? Being intuitive about something, in the sense of having perfect clarity about it, requires deep understanding of a situation. And this is exactly what we don’t have when we read the cards for a stranger – your own mother included. So there’s a paradox in it that calls for reflection, not for sinking into impressions.

Reading the like the Devil, the method that’s anchored in training deductive reasoning, enhances the path to perfect clarity. When they say that the Devil’s most seductive promise is the promise of knowledge, I have a feeling that this is what is meant by it, namely, the capacity to put two and two together so that you get to the point where you see everything perfectly clearly.

I’ve talked about this on a number of occasions, but suffice to say today that it simply helps to shift your thinking about divination as being all about receiving messages à la the High Priestess, and start behaving more like the Devil who entices you to own what you see, by word and transmission that’s more than a classical rhetoric device.

What you want is to be coherent about what you see precisely as it is, not coherent about hearsay, ‘meanings’ that others think are helpful, or any other such external to the plain obvious promises.

What do the cards say about it today?

Glorious cards as usual. They always me ask, ‘how did they know that today it was the Popess’s turn to get a bashing?’….

Jean Noblet Marseille Tarot as reconstructed ny Jean-Claude Flornoy (Photo: Camelia Elias)

The reading like the Devil is not the priestess’s circus, ruining the institution with her public ‘secrets’, impressions and insinuations.

I’ll take the Devil any time over whatever secret the priestess promises to unveil. At least the Devil has a better reputation when it comes to promises… He delivers according to his image.

Stay tuned for cartomantic courses. Next in line is precisely the Read Like the Devil foundation course with the Marseille cards, opening for registration on May 26. Consider joining the class if what you want is more the Devil and less the Priestess.

About Camelia Elias
Camelia Elias, PhD & Dr.Phil., is a former university professor. After 20 years in the academia, she left her career to pursue her interests in teaching and writing on the philosophy and practice of reading cards. She works with contemplative arts, oracular language, and martial arts cartomancy and Zen at her own school, Aradia Academy. You can read more about the author here.

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