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tarot & truth

I take out my tarot deck pretty sparingly – this last reading was my third this year. Tarot doesn’t have a significant place in my own paradigm of superstitions, but it’s a fantastic practice in looking at parts of the whole, and finding meaning in symbols, and learning to dialogue with myself and my experiences and values and beliefs with more direction than sitting down with a pen and blank sheet of paper. Less of the sense of intense vulnerability and severity that comes with therapy questions, with all the pith.

I sat down to a tarot spread this weekend, and the question for the final card in the spread was, what truth am I going to be invited to embrace and embody in 2021? The question stood out to me because I’d just been speaking with a friend the night before, and one of the big themes in our conversation was truth – its existence, its architecture. I’ve been thinking about truth a lot this year, and I like the way that question frames it – as fragment, as something to be found and interpreted, then chosen through action (embraced and embodied ).

Spending more time alone has meant more frequently getting caught in cycles of hyper-rationalization around existential questions, and the matter of truth has been at the top of my list. Personally and politically, questioning the nature/nurture of truth has been a utilitarian undertaking. Over the last few years, I kept getting tired with other people, and then I kept getting tired with myself, and then I got tired of the world, and I needed to know how to make sense of things and create a system of understanding and communication that would let me cope with angst, anxiety, and frustration in a healthy, long-term way. Examining truth was a way of developing strategy around communicating with various people, and around placing myself somewhere emotionally, rationally, socially, personally.

My understanding is that truth is essentially constructed, that it exists in the abstract until it manifests externally, explicitly, outside the individual. Truth is reaction and response. Truth is how we process our experiences, our circumstances, our relationships, our desires. Truth is unknowable, but it’s also the foundation of knowing anything at all, and so we have no choice but to try tessellating those pieces ad infinitum.

Larger truth, like the sky is blue or 1+1 = 2, is organized reaction and response, codified by explicit mutual understanding and agreement between people. This is especially the case when it comes to the question of morality, which, more than being personal, informs some critical social functions like justice, priority, and possibility. Collective imagination and vision is important for a functioning society – it’s also the key to one that progresses.

An aphorism to tie things up for now:

find truth, choose it, and let what follows follow.

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