Randomness and Tarot

I recently finished reading The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow. In it, he shows how our lives are ruled by random chance, and talks about the statistics and theories that rule this randomness.

I found this book very interesting. Mlodinow did a great job of providing examples of how we view randomness incorrectly in our lives everyday. One particular example, dealing with how statistics are manipulated and the Prosecutor’s fallacy, helped me to really understand that there are lots of ways to look at something beyond what is presented to us. In his example, Mlodinow talks of the O.J. Simpson trial and how one of Simpson’s lawyers presented the statistic that in the United States in 1992, only 1 in 2,500 abused woman were murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. However, the more applicable statistic would have been this: in the United States in 1993, of abused woman who were murdered, 90% were murdered by the abuser. See the difference? The defence lawyer inverted the statistic in order to help his client.

Okay, you are probably wondering what this has to do with anything that I generally write about. Well, that comes in with the human need to seek patterns in data. You know: celebrity deaths always come in threes; or so-and-so has been in three bad movies in a row, so they are due for a good one. Well, we are trying to find patterns in what is actually the random events of life. And that, I believe; applies to Tarot.

There are some people out there that believe Tarot actually does tell you future through some sort of prescient gift given either to the cards or to the reader. There are others who use the cards as a way to find one possible path through life. After reading the The Drunkard’s Walk I am more inclined to think that Tarot cards aid you in finding the (nonexistent) patterns in your random life.

That doesn’t sound very helpful, does it? Well, yes and no. Knowing that life is random gives you a feeling of helplessness. But being able to recognize patterns (whether they exist or not) makes you feel like you are in the driver’s seat. And that, friends, is what we are all really seeking.

Take this recent example: last Friday, my son and I were mere inches away from being hit by a car while crossing the street with the light. That morning I drew the Sun card as my card of the day. After coming home and trying to get over what happened, I realized the Sun card meant I should rejoice in the fact that my Sun/son was still here and vibrant and happy. A random card helped me better understand my random day.

Do Tarot cards tell the future? I don’t think so. Can I use meticulously collected data to predict tonight’s lottery numbers? Nope, since they are totally random. We can plan for the future, but we also need to be flexible since all of life is random, ever-changing, and wonderful.

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  1. Jessica says:

    Really interesting post. I am wondering if Tarot can also help us create patterns, where perhaps none would exist on their own.