Ever mess around with Tarot cards? They’re those “fortune telling” cards from the ancient world that some believe have mystical powers. The person getting a Tarot card reading asks a personal question, the reader shuffles and then displays the cards on a table in a particular ritualistic pattern. The insights that come out of such a session are often quite profound.

I believe Tarot cards actually work, but not because they are magic.

I believe they work because they force a person to pay attention to disruptive information. Here’s what I mean. In order for new ideas to happen, different information must collide in one’s head. The information you have in your “collective experience” must collide with information “out there,” be that from something you stumble across in your environment or something from someone else’s head. The problem is, people tend to be rhythmic and live rhythmically, going through their day-to-day lives with much of what’s around them going unnoticed. And much of what’s around us is information just begging to collide with our personal information. As a result, I’d venture that millions of new ideas per minute, worldwide, never crystallize because potential new connections are not made. And they’re not made because we’re not paying attention.

The “magic” is in us, not the cards.

The “magic” of Tarot cards is that they force a person to pay attention to new information in the context of a personal issue (the question the person is asking the Tarot reader to help him or her with). Put another way, the display of Tarot cards on the table in front of someone creates an “arena” for very personal idea-collisions to happen. The brilliance of the Tarot is that each Tarot card is assigned inherent meaning – there’s a guide that comes with every deck that tells you what each card means. And, as each card is revealed and is explained to the person, this new information (the card’s meaning) enters the person’s collective experience, collides with other information already there and, sometimes, incites new ideas about the question asked.

Each card, then, is the equivalent of a life experience, a thought, an inspiration, that, because you are now actively paying attention, can disrupt your normal, rhythmic, otherwise predictable thought processes. The “magic” that people attribute to Tarot cards is really the result of two disparate thoughts colliding in the perceiver’s mind. The  proverbial “Aha!” moment. I think we’d all agree that having “Aha!” moments feel magical.

The world is our Tarot.

We don’t need Tarot cards to get this same effect. To me, life’s experiences are “Tarot cards.” Everything that happens to us, big and small, is information we COULD allow to disrupt our rhythmic line of thinking, thereby creating new thoughts, new insights, new ideas. Try this. Think about a marketing problem you’re working on. Stop on the street next time you’re outside and look around. What catches your eye? A sign? Some trash? An interesting car? Now, bring the thought of that object into your consciousness and see what happens. You might be amazed at what a daily “Tarot moment” like this will do for your creativity.

We’re surrounded by inspirational “Tarot cards.” But they only work if we pay attention.


Author: Will Burns is the founder of Ideasicle, Inc., a virtual marketing ideas company.