It’s All in the Cards; I Mean Stars; I Mean . . .

Mechanical fortuneteller ZoltarIn a previous blog post I mentioned research that suggests Generation Z has even less trust in institutions than Millennials, and, like Millennials, are replacing institutional religious practice with alternatives such as mystical experience, astrology, and Tarot. 

In the fundamentalist tradition I grew up in, playing cards were a big no-no. Yes, those cards—the ones with kings and queens and jacks. With those forbidden, it’s not hard to guess what Tarot cards meant: Evil. Pure evil. 

After all, the Bible makes the case clearly: 

There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. (Deuteronomy 18:9-11 KJV)

About covers the bases there, no? Just as roasting your children is a no-no, so is divination and “observing the times,” meaning the stars and planets in their seasons.

The interesting thing, in my family anyway, is that they believed absolutely in the power and truth of all these things (though I don’t recall the subject of burning children in sacrifice ever being discussed).  

But . . . Why?

The answer to why we should avoid these things, among fundamentalists anyway, is because only the Good Lord knows what happens next, and we’d darn well better keep it that way. 

Yet it’s very human to want to know what happens next. It’s a scary world out there. And thus lives divination, whether that be watching birds, reading tea leaves (or coffee grounds or wine sediment: tasseography), bibliomancy, astrology, Tarot, the I Ching, and other methods too numerous to mention.

As a skeptic (and no longer a fundamentalist), my question has to do with how seriously and in what spirt any of these are used. There are humorous astrology sites such as this one. We also learn that “Astrology Is Serious Business, Even If It’s Not Real and gain insight into why: it’s “a way that’s much more wellness-y or Myers-Briggs-y, so it’s interesting.”* And then, as with most things, there is the true believer. 

Mindfulness by Any Other Name

Like dieting, exercise—or anything else requiring daily reflection—my skeptical suspicion is that all of the above are most effective as ways to calm down, center, and reflect. 

After all, a little mindfulness is good for us.

Here’s my horoscope for today:

It’s part of your character to be an individual, to strive to raise yourself above the common herd. This is why today’s stressful planetary alignment, which will be so difficult for many lesser people, will be wonderfully stimulating for you.*

Flattery will get you everywhere, astrologer! 

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