What a Mountain, a Shopping Channel, and Cards Have in Common

What a Mountain, a Shopping Channel, and Cards Have in Common July 14, 2019
Enjoying the top (Photo: Bent Sørensen)

On top of the mountain in Norway I think of language, expectation, and storytelling.

Imagine this scenario: You climb to the top of the mountain – make that a mean top. If you tell others about it, the most common reaction would be to know what it was like. ‘What did you feel up there?’ You can engage in a tirade: ‘I swear wasn’t looking for God, but when I was so close to the sky, man, it happened.’ Or, ‘I felt utterly transformed, crushed to the ground and reborn.’ Or, ‘I’ve conquered the mountain. I’ve tested my character and discovered that I have a strong spine.’ ‘How awesome’, the other would say.

Compare this to this exchange: ‘I felt nothing. I climbed the mountain and that was that.’ ‘What do you mean, that was that?’ ‘Well, I mean exactly that, that I did it, climbed the mountain. Full stop.’

Now, while this would be the actual case, culturally speaking it’s not good enough. It’s boring. Where’s the heroism, the resilience, god, and the transformative? You must be a different person. Your value must have gone up too. Going through all that effort must generate a story. A story of overcoming limitation, of greatness and reward. This story must inspire others.

This is all fine, until you realize that what has an actual value here is what is the case. You climbed the mountain. Anything else besides that is fiction. Feeling anything presupposes belief in something. And what if you don’t believe in anything? By virtue of its nature belief operates with the fictitious. It that wasn’t the case, belief would have no reason to exist.

In the context of divination with the cards, where we operate with storytelling, inspiration, education, and even belief in the cards to tell the truth about a situation, it’s worth considering what is actually the case.

You read the cards, and that’s that. You read what you see. While this can generate a story, how can it ever be anchored in certitude?

Although based on pointing, depending also on what your method is – and mine is very much based on pointing to what is the case as derived from the visual stories in the cards themselves – reading cards is not unlike watching a TV shopping channel. ‘Look at this diamond, the cut is perfect, the value of this cut is amazing, it’s difficult to cut a stone like this, look at this sparkle, it’s life altering, this is the forever radical, you put this on your finger and the diamond will tell the story of your success, you’re rich, you’re healed from your poverty trauma, and lost loves…’

While the TV merchant goes like that, pointing to all the facets of this diamond and relating them to ‘real’ aspects of life, what can we say is actually the case?

You can’t actually see what the value of this diamond is, how it’s cut and from what stone, as that would require an educated investigation and a special tool. You’re watching TV for Christ’s sake. That is what you actually do.

All the other stuff is stories, certitude that’s not factual. Certitude is transacted with, however, in this form: If you don’t covet the bullshit called ‘diamonds are forever’, something is wrong with you. That’s obviously certain.

I don’t know what is valuable in my work with the cards, but one thing I know as a matter of fact. I promise nothing and I make no claims. I just read the damn cards.

With this in mind, I wanted to ask: What have I actually conquered today, because I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t the mountain?

Photo: Camelia Elias

The World, Temperance, and the Wheel of Fortune showed up to suggest the following: What I’ve conquered today is to keep two wheels going in equal measure. One wheel is about internal relations, and the other about external relations. One is about what you do, and the other is about what others do. To each their own.

The more subtle message here is this: You can’t conquer what is already equal. Although language presses on, and the shopping channels are being replaced by mailing lists, what is there to see stays. Place the factual in relation to the fictitious, and you wake up an alchemist, knowing which belongs to what wheel.

I’ll take this message. Tomorrow I’ll try another mountain top and reactivate my former alpinist ambitions, knowing, however, that the mountain will never be conquered by the world of ideas.

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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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