Believe it or not, my name is not actually Jack Wands. It’s a shocking revelation, I know.
The name Jack is a pseudonym that I’ve used pretty much since I learned what a pseudonym was. Every time I’m in Starbucks and they want to write my name on a cup, I give the name Jack.* However, I’ve never actually been clever enough to come up with a complementary surname (or maybe I’ve just never had a pressing need to). So really, I’m just Jack. At one point, on an online Tarot forum, someone referred to me as Mr. Wands, and you’re welcome to do the same, if you like. Or you can call me Jack Pseudonym. Or Jack Mononym. I lived in France for a few years, so if you really felt like it, you could call me Jacques des Batons, although that sounds silly even to my ear. But really, anything goes.
So who am I? Well, in another life, I’m many things: a runner, a Second Degree Gardnerian, and a massive Shakespeare nerd.** In autumn 2017, I’m starting a Ph.D in philosophy, so I guess I can call myself a professional philosopher. Before that, I was a social scientist. But here, on this site, I am a Tarot reader first and foremost. I’ve been reading Tarot for almost a decade. I used to be a member of the American Tarot Association, and I may rejoin that fine institution at some point in the future, but my budget is inordinately tight at the moment and I couldn’t justify to myself the $25 membership fee. Ah, the glamorous life of a graduate student.
My approach to Tarot is a bit different from other readers you may have come across. Frankly, this isn’t surprising; if you ask ten different Tarot readers what they think Tarot is and how it works, you’re liable to get twelve different answers. Personally, I don’t think that Tarot has any kind of supernatural power. I don’t use it to predict the future, to gain knowledge of other people’s actions or motivations, or (in more general terms) to provide me with any knowledge that I don’t already have.
So then what good is it?
I use Tarot as an introspective tool, a way for me to reflect on, poke at, and reassess my personal choices and beliefs. There are seventy-eight cards, and to each is ascribed a particular thematic meaning. When I read Tarot, I ask questions like “Why did I do this?” or “How can I avoid making this mistake again?” And then I look at the themes represented by the cards that come up, and I consider how those themes fit into my life. Personally, I don’t necessarily believe that there’s some magical force that makes the “right” cards come up to represent my situation, but regardless of which cards do turn up, there’s going to be something there for me to think about. Tarot for me is food for thought, and the value of it is not objectively in the cards themselves but in the process of interpreting them and applying them to my life.
Of course, that’s not to say that this is the right or only way to read Tarot. It’s just how I do it. But this utterly naturalistic perspective–stripping Tarot of its supernatural and magical trappings–is what works for me, and that perspective influences everything I write on the subject. Hopefully, there’ll be something of value here for you, whether you’re a seasoned Tarotist or a hardened skeptic.
I can also be found on Twitter, if you’re into that sort of thing, at @jack_of_wands.
There you have it, dear reader. A short introduction to who I am and how I relate to the Tarot. Welcome to my bloggy little corner of the internet. Enter freely. Go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring.
*Although there was a brief phase about the time the second Twilight movie came out that I went in to the same Starbucks every day and gave the name of a different character from the saga each time. I was Edward, Jacob, Carlisle, and Emmett. And then I ran out of major male characters, so the next day I was Bella, and then Alice, Rosalie, and so on. I have a strange sense of humor.
**I have plans in the works to name my future children after Shakespearean characters. Something not-too-weird, but recognizably Shakespeare. Lysander is a good one. So is Portia. When I’m in a particularly black mood I imagine giving them names like Goneril and Antipholus, and then letting them loose in a middle school and seeing what happens.