RE[2]: virus: Virion tarot
Wed, 2 Oct 1996 00:03:24 -0600

>:Hey, all --
>: As long as we're throwing around the idea, why not set up some tests?
>:E-mail readings would seem the perfect means for eliminating verbal or
>:non-verbal feedback (which most "psychics" use as a guide for their
>If all we're doing is randomly generating memes, what kind of tests would
we do?
>David Leeper
>Homo Deus

Tests to figure out if we are just generating memes -- to see if the
card (or yarrow stalk, or whatever) patterns actually are random. If they
aren't, we'd have to modify our take on the Tarot. I realize that this type
of testing has been done before, but the following are points that, I feel,
justify a new evaluation:

The I Ching (which is better translated "the Classic of Versatility"
than "the Book of Changes" -- note the *vast* connotative difference) is
usually used to predict the future, which it is explicitly _not_ designed
to do (the closest Chinese oracle to that is the T'ai Hsuan Ching or
"Elemental Change Classic," which should actually be used to determine
timing, not the future). As such, a test that accords with the intended
design needs to be done.

The Tarot is usually interpreted in terms of psychology and process,
which again is a method in conflict with design, requiring a new test.
[The entire concept of Tarot "layouts" originated with the Hermetic
Order of the Golden Dawn in the late 19th century, and was intended for use
only with their own version of the Tarot (which Waite later co-opted and
bastardized), which was a complete break from earlier decks. The reading
procedure that the Golden Dawn members developed has, to my knowledge,
fallen into near oblivion, aside from Israel Regardie retaining it in
print; without it, the Golden Dawn-style decks (and all of those derived
from Waite) are useless. Crowley's deck (and those derived from it) also
falls into this category, since even the methods he devised have fallen
into disuse.]

Runes were traditionally only effective if carved and smeared with the
blood of the carver (and were magical tools primarily, not divinatory
ones). No rune-caster I have met bloods their runes, for divination or
anything else. Again, this suggests the necessity for a new test.

In sum: divination methods are currently extreme distortions of their
original designs, and as such, tests of these perversions cannot be
regarded as applicable to the methods themselves. Hence, new tests are
required if their efficacy is to be attested to or argued against. Then we
will be in the position to say whether or not divinations produce random
phenomena -- not before.
An equivalent to the modern interpretations of divinatory tools was
presented to me in high school, when I was given a flyer for a "Taoist
Anarchist" political party. Would anyone who is familiar with Chinese
thought -- especially of the philosophical Taoist or Legalist schools --
agree with this concept? I doubt it. It's based on a shallow reading of the
Te-Tao Ching (so-called according to the Ma-Wang-Tui texts), in ignorance
of the culture of the times in which it was transcribed, combined with a
puerile revolt against authority... I highly doubt that this is what
Lao-Tzu (whoever they were) had in mind. This type of transformation is
what has occurred with the Tarot, et. al.; judgements about their modern
forms are no more and no less valid than this description of "Taoism."

Toward the accumulation of useful information,