Why tarot cards? How can tarot cards possibly be relevant in the twenty first century?
Tarot cards are so relevant today that their correlation to prominent members of the Trent community is clear and unmistakable.
Wait – what?
What’s the deal with tarot cards anyways?
The process of using tarot to seek or gain insight into the mundane and into the everyday is called “divination”. It’s exciting. Divination involves drawing a tarot spread and then proceeding to reflect on the associations of meaning that you can personally identify with. My brothers and sisters, tarot is a head rush.
In my approach in this first of four articles I establish the building blocks of “archetypes” in general, using Joseph Campbell’s monomyth applied to film. In subsequent articles I apply the monomyth to Microsoft founder Bill Gates and then apply tarot to profile Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, among many other biographies and situations. And in my final article I apply tarot to four of Trent University’s nine former Chancellors. Yes you read that right. I’ll say it again for emphasis. Dear fellow passionate Arthur readers: the trajectory of my line of reasoning in this four part series is rather long and winding, but our destination comes down to tarot cards and our Chancellors.
As a disclaimer, I do not claim to predict the future, read minds or play the global stock market with tarot. For me, tarot is about universal archetypes.
Distinguished scholar of myth Joseph Campbell, in a conversation with Bill Moyers in 1988, summarized his theory of the monomyth: “Moses is a hero figure. He ascends the mountain, he meets with Yahweh on the summit of the mountain, and he comes back with rules for the formation of a whole new society. That’s a typical heroic act — departure, fulfillment, return.” Those are the three core archetypes according to Joseph Campbell which captures the general contours of every single story, journey or adventure, told by any and all human beings, from every corner of the globe, from every culture.
This monomyth pattern is present in Disney’s The Lion King film. Baby cub Simba is exiled from his home (departure), meets Timon the meerkat and Pumbaa the warthog, discovers the Hakuna Matata “problem free philosophy” (gift, fulfillment) and after being divinely inspired, Simba then returns to his homeland to heroically liberate his people from the evil order of Scar and his band of hyenas.
The monomyth can be applied to The Wizard of Oz. In a fit of teenage angst, Dorothy Gale runs away from her home in Kansas (departure), is hit over the head, travels to a beautiful foreign, supernatural land of sorts, makes friends and encounters fabulous forces, endures a heroic ordeal (fulfillment) and eventually Dorothy returns home to Kansas with a renewed appreciation for her family.
Thomas Anderson was called by Morpheus and his team to confront the truth about the Matrix (departure), dawns the name “Neo”, learns kung fu, meets the Oracle, fights Agent Smith (fulfillment) and then at the end of the movie, Neo returns to the Matrix to save as many lost souls as possible.
Monomyth archetypes are present in The Lion King, The Wizard of Oz, The Matrix and all Hollywood films. Some Hollywood screenwriters explicitly and admittedly use the monomyth archetypes as their guide or as literary devices as they develop their plot and craft their characters, but most screenwriters don’t yet their works still track the departure-fulfillment-return (monomyth) pattern because we are human. The monomyth is there, whether you are aware of it or not. We are all heroes because the monomyth is the human condition. The point Joseph Campbell makes in his research with the monomyth is that archetypes are universal. It is our nature. Wherever you are, there it is.
The same is true for tarot.
In this way tarot can be very relatable and is exceedingly relevant.
Having demonstrated here how Joseph Campbell’s theory can be applied to film, next issue, instead of using the monomyth, I use tarot to profile the characters in The Matrix and The Wizard of Oz.
The author of this four part series is “The Initiate,” a Trent alumnus who majored in Philosophy from 2003-2008 and who can be reached at [email protected]. This four part series is available in full at theinitiate.agency.