For the past two days, in the “Proceed” and “Zombie Cat’s Short Summer Shamble” posts we’ve talked a lot about how to do yes or no Tarot readings for yourself. Today is a throwback to the original blog post where we meet Zombie Cat.
First published in April 2015, I re-post it every year to go with Zombie Cat’s summer shamble. By summer shamble I mean the annual summer special offer for my yes or no Tarot readings that I’ve named for the notion of a friendly, tarot-reading zombie cat.
I make tiny changes to the original post every year to update any new things I might pick up about the science part of it. I haven’t learned much that impacts the original post. More importantly, precise scientific accuracy is by not by any means the point of the post in the first place. It is about the common ground between psychics and science. And yes, that common ground really does exist in the case of genuine, authentic intuitive readings. With fiction, fantasy, ego trips and scammy nonsense – not so much.
This year I’ve given the original post a major overhaul. I’ve updated links to the videos that explain the Schrodinger’s Cat thought experiment and changed some of the text to make the whole thing a little more podcast-friendly.
This post was written well before I rebranded from Modern Oracle to TaoCraft Tarot, but it still shows the influence Taoist philosophy has always had on my Tarot philosophy. I guess it was in some sense foreshadowing the name and aesthetic change. Zombie Cat was probably the first big tap on the brakes when it came to my bad habit of trying to make Tarot acceptable to mainstream suburbia. Now I’m protecting my Tarot work FROM mainstream suburbia and current American politics. Things can change a lot in seven years, even if Zombie Cat himself hasn’t changed much.
To my mind, science and spirituality mirrors the yin yang symbol. The original post was in large part inspired by an episode of Menage A Tarot podcast where we talked about the interplay of science and spirituality in Tarot. That harmony of seeming opposites also reminds me of a quote from the 1996 movie, The Craft “Magic is neither black nor white – it is both because nature is both; loving and cruel all at the same time.”
Tarot, science, art, emotion, wonder, curiosity, spirituality, and skepticism are all compatible things within the whole of human experience all at the same time.
Carl Sagan said “The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.”
Zombie Cat as a character is unafraid of the mysterious and unknowable. No matter what happens to Schrodinger’s cat or why, Zombie Cat begs the question of “why not?”
Zombie Cat likes quotes, too. The original post started with one by Steven Moffat writing in the “Blink” episode of BBC’s Doctor Who
“People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint – it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly… time-y wimey… stuff.”
There are two words that make me cringe a little when I get them in a Tarot question: “will” and “when.”
Predictions and time are knotty subjects in psychic work.
Predictions are actually a scientific thing. A scientific prediction is essentially a pronouncement about what will happen based on existing data and past results. For example, we can predict where in the sky Mars will be a year from now based on Newton’s laws of gravity, Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, existing observations and so on. As I understand it, that is the kind of prediction that a law of physics or scientific principle has to be able to make in order for the principle to be considered valid within the scientific method.
Skeptics spend a great deal of time and energy bashing and demeaning “psychic predictions” in the name of science. Unlike overt scams, ego trips and outlandish fiction, when psychic predictions are made authentically and traditionally, they are essentially the same as the scientific kind. The psychic reader is an objective observer who is knowledgeable about symbolism and human nature. Because of that wider perspective the reader can see trends that the person getting the reading may not see. A Tarot reader can predict where things are headed in a relationship just like a scientist can predict where Mars is headed in the sky. The biggest difference that I see is that psychic predictions are based in non-linear logic and psychology instead of linear logic and numerical data.
That is looking at it all from a very superficial, everyday experience point of view. This is Isaac Newton kind of stuff. It’s like predicting that when an apple detaches from a tree, it will fall down. What if we go a just a little bit more modern with it?
Think Schrodinger’s Cat.
Schrodinger’s Cat is a thought experiment that everyone seems to love. Scientists who try to explain it love to use it to take a swipe at non-scientific or spiritual thinking. If you want to understand the hard core science side of this, Star Talk with Dr. Degrasse Tyson and Chuck Nice is very understandable (and fun!)
I’m no physicist but let me take a stab at this, more for the analogy than for the science of it. As Dr. Degrasse Tyson hints, this experiment is really about stuff we can’t observe and we can’t know. Tarot is one way people could talk about stuff we can’t know in a time long before quantum physics. The Visconti-Sforza Tarot deck dates back to the 1440s, predating both Galileo and Newton. The discovery of quantum physics doesn’t mean that Newton’s laws are untrue. The existence of objective science doesn’t mean subjective experiences of human intuition is untrue.
Thought experiments rely on your imagination. Intuition relies on your imagination. So it seems reasonable to use a thought experiment to talk about psychic predictions.
But back to the Schrodinger thing.
In the thought experiment, a poor unsuspecting cat from an era when no one cared about animal welfare was put in a box with a vial of poison gas. There is a trigger on the vial connected to a radioactive molecule that has a 50-50 random chance of breaking down within the next hour. During that hour we cannot know and we cannot predict what the result is going to be. Either the molecule decays and triggers the poison, or it doesn’t. Until the observation is made and the whole thing has happened the cat can potentially wind up in either condition. During the time that the experiment is in progress, the cat is both dead and alive up until the moment when we look in the box to see what happened.
Once the experiment is set up and started, the cat could come out of it alive or not. But why not both or neither? Why are those possibilities excluded when so much of life is on a spectrum like electromagnetic energy? Why are other possibilities excluded when so little of life is a strict dichotomy? Disappearing Cat or Zombie Cat could happen…it’s possible. As I understand the BBC Horizon Series’ program “Parallel Universes” (hosted by Dr. Michio Kaku, based on his book “Parallel Worlds”) anything and everything is possible. Some things are, however, very very unlikely within the laws of physics of our particular universe. Multiple universes is one possible explanation of it all. The cat is both…it just does it in different universes. It can’t be both dead and alive in the same universe.
Why not? I ask the computer screen every time I see the Minute Physics video about multiple universes. Why not a zombie cat that is both or a disappearing cat that is neither?
When the moment of discovery is still in the future, the possibility and attendant levels of probability exists for all outcomes. In the mysterious and undetermined future, all conditions exist, even our wildly unlikely disappearing or undead pet. Can you predict which way THAT is headed using nothing but your brain and handful of Tarot cards? If you “predict” the more likely dead vs alive construct, is that psychic or science? If you predict Zombie Cat, is that quackery or was the intuitive vision simply dialed into a different part of a far flung multiverse?
Zombie Cat may well exist out there. We don’t know because multiverses, as the video says, is unproven. No-cat and Zombie Cat might be out there, but they just don’t make the jump from possible to probable to IS, at least not in this world. All potentials exists until the possibility becomes “entangled” with our reality and the moment becomes NOW instead of future, and then slips instantly into the past. Now and Past are fully collapsed probability waves. They exist. Ska-doosh! It’s a done deal with nothing to predict. The future on the other hand, that’s a different animal than any of our imaginary cats.
Now, just to make things really interesting, let’s introduce Zombie Cat to Alice the Vampire.
In the movie Twilight, the psychic vampire Alice could see the future insofar as people have decided what they want to do. If someone changes their mind or changes their actions, then her vision changes. She can predict but with uncertainty. Her predictions are predicated on the course people are on, not any one fixed outcome. Alice the vampire’s visions and Zombie Cat’s existence are a matter of probability, not “accurate prediction.” And so it is with Tarot and psychic readings.
Let’s say our imaginary cat has human-like intelligence and has a choice rather than being a victim of circumstance as in the classic thought experiment. What if there was something the cat could think or do or meow that make or some action it could take that could detach the vial from its molecular decay trigger? Now how do you make predictions under that set of conditions?
Imagine your psychic vision was of a dead cat which had a 50% mathematical probability in the experiment. What if the cat heard you make that “psychic prediction” and disconnected the trigger when it otherwise wouldn’t have acted that way? Was the the initial prediction wrong?
Will you get that job? I dunno. Did you apply for it? Update your resume? Schedule an interview? Check the classifieds for other options? Has the person doing the hiring made any decisions or taken any actions that have connected the possibility to reality?
A reading can’t predict a specific outcome, but it can give you advice and it can help you make decisions that nudge the probabilities in your favor such as be flexible (4 of swords), emphasize your skills and experience (The Emperor) or show you’d be a hard working team player (3 of coins). A good advice reading is like the psychic yelling at the cat in the thought experiment box to disconnect the trigger and improve its chances of survival.
When will you get married? I dunno. But in the meantime you can do social things that make you happy (3 of cups) be clear in your mind about the kind of person and marriage you really want (The Lovers) and engage with the life you have now as happily as you can (10 of pentacles)
The future is just as wibbly-wobbly as the Doctor told us. But Tarot can give you ideas about how to bring love and happiness of all types into your life. Intuition can help you make the best possible choices along the way, not predict what lies at the end of the road.
If you do nothing, take no advice, make no choices, then it is all just a coin toss. You might wind up with anything from a happy cat right up to a Zombie Cat. But who knows? Maybe a friendly Tarot-reading Zombie Cat might not be such a bad thing.
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