The Lamest Card Trick In The World
[And that's saying a lot!]
Tarot cards lie somewhere between a novel party trick and an accurate tool for determining the past, present, and future. So let’s look at how Tarot cards can be faked, and how that stacks up against the supposed real deal.
Use magical pasteboards to determine one’s past, preset, and future.
If you can get your hands on an actually deck of Tarot cards for free- go ahead and use that. If not, substitute a pack of regular playing cards. The two decks have a lot in common- 4 suits, similiar numbers of cards per suit (13 vs 14), even a Joker/Fool card. In fact, Tarot cards were originally created for card games.
Sit your participate down across from you and let them shuffle the cards. As they do, instruct them to put their mind at ease and to focus only on the question they want answered. When completed, have them cut the cards, and deal out seven cards across the table from wherever they cut to.
Now you are going to do the lamest card trick in the world- do your best to connect whatever the cards are on the table to whatever is, or you think might, be going on in your subject’s life. If you are using a normal pack of cards and you see alot of diamonds- you might say that that they are doing well financially at the moment. If they refute this, adjust your statement and say that they should expect a great deal of wealth in the future. Remember, the future in unfalsifiable- tomorrow is always a day away, so they can never prove you wrong! Ask them if certain numbers mean anything to them. Ask them what question they were asking and then just make whatever is on the table fit. It’s not hard- remember, you are the only one who can read the cards!
The key is to keep everything positive. Even if the death card (or ace of spades) comes up, either let them connect the card with a recent death in their life- or explain that the death card merely means a “rebirth”- that they will be going through a lifestyle change or something. Stick to positive statements about the future, and you can’t lose!
The technical term for the secrets behind Tarot card reading are phishing and equivoque. Phishing is the act of asking many questions or tossing out lots of pieces of information until the subject agrees/responds to one of them. Then the reader/magician goes with that and adjusts everything to appeal to that angle.
Equivoque is a really cool field of magic. It is often called “jazz magic” because the magician literally makes up the trick as he goes along. If he happens to deals out a flush- that’s the trick. If two spectators happen to cut to aces- that’s the trick! If the spectator happens to select to cards which add up to his age- that’s the trick! Such techniques rely upon a quick mind, strong improvisational abilities, careful wording, and a general vagueness about what exactly is supposed to happen next.
Tarot card readers use the same techniques- they just aren’t nearly as good at them. The best equivoque magicians use other methods (stacked decks, sleight of hand, glimpses, etc) to really make the trick seem magical and impossible. Tarot card readers don’t do that- they just deal out the cards face up and make up something. A good magician would be able to state the desired effect BEFORE turning over the cards- even though he literally just happened upon such an effect. That is why Tarot card reading is lamest trick ever, where as equivoque is a powerful technique for creating magic.
The rules of Tarot card reading are as vague as equivoque. There is no official number of cards in a Tarot deck, no offical procedure for how the cards should be selected, no determined number of cards which should be used, and each card doesn’t even have an agreed upon meaning. In fact, the novice Tarot card reader is specifically instructed to change the meanings of the cards towards whatever feels right and fits the situation!
So Ask Yourself
If any hack with some spooky looking playing cards and a quick wit can appear to determine the past/present/future just as accurately as any official Tarot card reader, should we accept Tarot cards as a legitimate tool of fortunetelling.
I’ve seen (and can do) some pretty incredible stuff with a pack of playing cards. I’ve seen audience members mysteriously separate a pack into reds and blacks without knowing how they did it. I’ve seen a pack of cards cut itself, without anybody touching it, to reveal a previously thought of card. And I’ve seen someone deal out a handful of cards and tell me what they thought the cards meant about my life- in the most general terms imaginable.
Seriously, Tarot card reading is the worst card trick in the world.