The 21st Century offers us practically everything we could want, and all at the touch of a button. The world is connected in a way that it never has been before. Emails and VoIP technology mean we can communicate quickly and cheaply with people who may be on the other side of the world. You can order products at virtually any time of day or night, and you can find the answer to virtually any question you might have, tucked away in the corner of the Internet.
As a result, you might be forgiven for thinking that the demand for the ancient practice of reading Tarot cards has dwindled or even become redundant.
Another factor we need to take into consideration when trying to determine the popularity of the Tarot is the current economic climate. In these times of austerity, consumers are spending less. While the cost of living increases, wages remain fixed, making life incredibly hard for many households and, in turn, affecting business. Families are less inclined to eat out and restaurants are suffering. Those who are struggling to pay bills have to make decisions between eating and splashing out on luxuries that may once have been perceived as necessities.
Again, you would be forgiven for assuming that what’s lacking in people’s wage-packets is having a negative impact on Tarot readers across the world.
However, the truth is that Tarot readers are finding that their services are more in demand now than in recent years. Part of the reason is a simple one; while we may have technology to deal with all our practicalities, when it comes to the issues that make us human, there's very little that a computer can do to answer our questions.
The majority of Tarot readings, broadly speaking, cover one of three subjects: love, health and money. These issues have been explored by Tarot readers since the cards were first developed and, despite the technology that surrounds us, they are still the questions that seem to require the human touch to answer. However, this only suggests that the stream of querents is as steady as it ever was; the Association of Psychics report that the number of people seeking the services of Tarot readers has drastically increased. Why should this be?
The answer, surprisingly, is to be found in the current global recession. Spiritually, society is at its lowest ebb; there seems to be nothing we can fully trust in. Politicians are revealing themselves to be nothing but self-serving charlatans, bankers have been exposed as the powers behind a number of thrones, jobs are insecure and the cost of living continues to climb.
If the world is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy then, spiritually, we are already deep in debt. People’s trust in the world around them is failing; our heroes and leaders are forever being outed as untrustworthy at a time when we desperately need someone to put our collective faith in. As a result, many people are looking for alternative sources to gain insight as to how to run their lives.
A Power Shift?
It seems as if, collectively, society is seeking other answers and that we are trying to find other ways to govern our spiritual and material well-being. Fundamentally, we are trying to take power back from the hands of the people that have betrayed us.
Tarot offers us this control: you have a reader who neither judges nor ridicules our desire for spiritual independence, and then there are the cards themselves. As opposed to viewing the cards as a tool for looking into the future, more and more people are coming to see them as extension of our subconscious minds. Somewhere, deep down, we have the answers to our own problems locked away inside us. In unlocking those answers, the Tarot gives us the freedom and facility to make our own decisions - decisions that those in power, who view us simply as statistics, cannot possibly hope to make with any humanity or spiritual involvement.
Greece and the Tarot
Greece, one of the countries that has suffered worst at the hands of the recession, is proof of this phenomenon in action. Tarot readings are rocketing in popularity and huge reading sessions are taking place, ironically, in the building that was the Athens Stock Exchange. The festival, known as Bienniale, is attracting record numbers of querents, who are all turning to Tarot readers for some insight into how they can take charge of what little they have left. Co-director of the festival, Polydoros Karyofyllis, says that “Greece has become like a chemistry lab where the outcome of the experiment could be something completely new or something corrosive. We see where science and statistics have lead us so maybe it’s time to look at art.”
A reader, Teo Moschopoulos, seems to back up the thoughts of many of the people seeking his services. He believes that The Fool is the card inhibiting Greece’s recovery: “the Fool is hesitant to take risks, with no willingness to break norms, to break free of past patterns. The Magician talks about new beginnings; the much-coveted risks the Fool is not willing to take.”
Signs of Spiritual Revolution?
However, this phenomenon isn’t just confined to Greece. UK residents are part of a Tarot renaissance, as beleaguered members of the public look for ways to take back control over what little they have left. While the Tarot is usually concerned with spiritual guidance, it also uses spiritual advice to explain to people how best to get to grips with their material possessions. The Tarot offers unbiased spiritual and financial advice, rather than simply recommending financial products. Many Tarot readers have even created special ‘Recession Spreads’ to give deeper insight into the current situation, although some see this as a rather cheap 'cash in' on people's insecurities and a dilution of the true meaning of the Tarot.
But whatever the reasons, the fact that there is a resurgence of interest in this ancient practice suggests that society is dissatisfied with those who are in control of it. With each step they take on our behalves, we are reminded of the spiritual and material holes in our modern lives. It seems that we are individually retracting from the hand that the politicians and bankers have dealt us – but on a collective level.
There is some talk of a burgeoning spiritual revolution, and the renewed popularity of the Tarot might just be one of the early indicators that, while the material world may be faltering, the spiritual aspect of our lives is on the ascent.