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Why birth charts are like tarot cards

Geoffrey Dean

Abstract -- How can a positive experience of astrology arise from astrological effects that, according to half a century of research, seem not to exist? The answer is a process called projection, which underlies the hidden persuaders we call "finding meaning where none exists" and "consider only confirming cases". We can see how projection works by looking at the psychological tarot of the French-Canadian psychotherapist Denise Roussel. The client deals 13 cards and interprets each one according to their personal situation. What they don't see (or don't want to see) is as meaningful as what they do see. The approach works extremely well. Tarot images have a huge richness, so clients can look at almost any card and find it meaningful. Examples are given that show how the same card can evoke quite different responses in different people. Conclusion: it is the client who personalises the cards and gives them meaning, not some mysterious paranormal process. In more than five hundred psychological tarots, there was not a single instance where significant meaning could not be perceived. Susan Blackmore's tests of the tarot confirm that nothing paranormal is involved. Projection alone is sufficient to explain tarot success. The same applies to astrology. Astrological images are as evocative and ambiguous as tarot images (ambiguous both in their interpretation and in the inevitable presence of opposing images elsewhere in the birth chart). The projection process that works so well for the psychological tarot cannot help but work equally well for astrology including horary astrology. Indeed, the psychological tarot deals very well with horary-like questions (many examples are given). Of course to view an astrology reading as an exercise in projection may seem inappropriate for what can be a strong emotional experience. In a sense it hardly matters whether astrology involves truth or other levels of reality or projection or whatever, because for most clients it does its job, and that may be enough. They can proceed in whatever direction the experience suggests, confident that it was meaningful and had changed their lives. On the other hand, for people to deal with problems better, they need to learn a whole series of coping skills. So we need to ask what type of learning takes place during a chart reading, and whether the astrologer is competent to guide such learning. Self-determination is one of the more important components of well-being. Astrology should not be allowed to suggest there are mysterious forces we can tap into to achieve happiness, for that (like heroin) could be devastatingly harmful. Ten references.

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