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Analysis of Rigor in the Bricolage: Tarot Card Reading

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Paradis, V. J. (2013). Did Joe Lyons Kincheloe Discover the Golden Chalice for Knowledge Production? The Application of Critical Complex Epistemology and the Multidimensional Critical Complex Bricolage. (Doctoral Dissertation)

An Analysis of Rigor in the Bricolage: Tarot Card Reading

As discussed previously in the literature review, I had found only one study that set out from the start to employ Kincheloe’s bricolage, and the study was actually completed before Kincheloe came out with his advanced conceptualization and later works which clarified the process further. I will not critically review this study because Kathleen Berry (2011) has already evaluated the study, Zenon Fedory’s (2005) analysis of the New Brunswick Arts curriculum. Berry attributed the shortcomings in employing the full critical bricolage (omitting the philosophical bricolage) and the linear approach of the study to the consequence of university expectations being between “moments” for research. Fedory is to be commended for taking a huge leap in research so soon after Kincheloe and Berry (2004) had presented the process.

In relation to the philosophical bricolage, Levy (2012) touches on the propensity of researchers to overlook this dimension. Less emphasis on philosophy in research may relate to the low priority it’s given in the education curriculum. Today there is a call for more philosophy courses which will aid future bricolage research (e.g., Kincheloe, posthumously, & Hewitt, eds., 2011). In relation to the education curriculum, philosophy may never be covered as rigorously as it could or should be, but that should not stop bricoleurs from venturing into their own critical complex philosophical research.  It would be relatively easy for Fedory (2005), for example, to take his study or any strand from the study to the next level, incorporating the philosophical bricolage and additional insights, perspectives, and interpretations. As Berry and Kincheloe (2004) have maintained, we can drop and pick up bricolage research at any point, which is a powerful and very useful feature of the process.


Tarot Card Reading: What’s Missing?

One of the important bricolage processes recommended by Kincheloe (2005a) is the analysis of what is absent. It is a technique that should be used often because it is comprised of basic and important epistemological questions such as: Who wrote this? What is their positioning? Why are they presenting the perspective this way? Who benefits from this perspective? Who loses? Who funded the research? Why? What has been left out and why? One of the benefits of using many different perspectives is that what one hides, another reveals. We quickly come to understand why certain things have been left out in various presentations and with practice we can develop the skill of guessing the likely positioning of authors, based on their hidden assumptions, even if they have carefully omitted their positioning.

Examining what’s missing is also useful for comparing bricolage studies with Kincheloe’s recommendations for rigorous research. By evaluating what’s missing and why, it is easier to determine where studies fail to meet the mark as well as what can bring them up to the level of research that Kincheloe was aiming for. This process is also useful for developing the beginnings of flexible evaluation processes, although that is not my aim with this study. Chapter 5 provides additional insight, however, for evaluating bricolage studies based on an evaluation of this current study. I will use this approach of asking what’s missing as well as other methods to analyze Semetsky’s (2011) study of Tarot card reading as presented in her book, Re-symbolization of the Self: Human Development and Tarot Hermeneutic.    

Semetsky’s (2011) study was selected for analysis for several reasons. First, she asserts that Tarot card reading is representative of Kincheloe’s “bricolage mode of the production of knowledge and exceptional new rigor” (p. 158) and aside from Fedory’s (2005) study, it was the only study I found which makes the claim to represent Kincheloe’s conceptualization of bricolage. There was one other study conducted by Helms, Irby, Lara-Alecio, & Guerrero-Valecillos (2009) that cited Kincheloe’s work and had a small bricolage element to it based on the reductionistic quilt-making metaphor and I have eliminated it because it used a “postmodern ethic” and was a “controlled and structured English as a second language intervention” (Abstract). Thus, it was essentially a quantitative, positivistic research study. I am aware that I’m eliminating Project ELLA, a $6,646,076 project funded by the Institute of Education Sciences (2009). Kincheloe (2001b) has noted, and I agree that “economic considerations do not dictate all decisions concerning consumption” and that “educators cannot ignore the social and moral context of economic affairs” (p. 666).

A second reason for selecting Semetsky’s (2011) study is because it represents on some level Kincheloe’s fourth dimension research in that Tarot card readers purportedly connect with some higher source of knowledge or have contact with some other realm or dimension. I will caution, however, that Kincheloe’s fourth dimension research can take shape in a multitude of ways far more expansive and complex than accessing “collective unconscious,” whatever collective unconscious might be. Third, even though the study does not represent Kincheloe’s rigorous multidimensional critical complex bricolage because of omitted elements, as will be shown, it would be interesting and productive to take this study to the next level and use the full dimensionality Kincheloe specifies. The idea of “Re-symbolization of the Self” appeals to me—with the caveat that we recognize that human consciousness is evolving, that we are multidimensional beings, that we pursue diversity and difference, and that we do not rely entirely on old symbolism. And, finally, a fourth reason I have selected this study is because I have had personal experiences receiving Tarot card readings from which I can draw.

From my personal experience in relation to this study, Tarot card reading is just one potential bricolage “tool” but the problem is that due to complexity, researchers need to move away from established tools that are used for pre-specified purposes in pre-defined ways. The move is away from the mechanization of the research process and toward striving for new and “elastic” processes. As Kincheloe (2004d) explains, “As with all aspects of the bricolage, no description is fixed and final and all features of the bricolage come with an elastic clause (p. 74). While there is elasticity in how the cards are interpreted and how that interpretation is applied, there is also “pre-determination” due to the established meanings of the cards and their symbols and the narrow pre-defined archetypes. In the readings I have had by a spiritual counselor, it’s clear that she had dropped many of the negative interpretations the cards hold, thankfully, such as the tower of destruction and the devil cards that Semetsky describes in her study. Thus, there seems to be potentially greater flexibility in how the cards are interpreted than indicated in the study. These decisions rest with the card readers; whereas, in contrast, the multidimensional critical complex bricolage is a move toward a “do it yourself” empowering approach that rests with the clients or, in this case, the participants of the research. In this study, the clients were not active in these choices. How would results change if they were asked to choose the cards they wanted included?

Kincheloe cautions us about the “cult of the expert.” This applies to Tarot card reading in general because the New Age spiritual movement breeds new “experts” of all varieties every day, including Tarot card readers. It’s disconcerting to see so many attempts to mold other people’s consciousnesses with deceptive information (e.g., channeled messages, advertisements, web info-commercials, blogs) that instill fears and play on hopes so that these experts can then cure psychic problems or social issues with their services that come with a high price tag, of course. This can be observed on many different New Age online social networking sites and specialized websites through their soft marketing campaigns. I have dropped untold sums, myself, for the service of an expert Tarot card reader when I was struggling over Kincheloe’s death and seeking consolation and greater understanding. These services tend to appeal to people during their most vulnerable times, thus, they need to be held to the highest of ethics. The thought of introducing Tarot cards into education, particularly to children, at this current historical juncture and without a full critical complex analysis is disconcerting from my personal and subjective perspective. And a full critical analysis had not been accomplished by this study.

Semetsky’s (2011) study falls short of the rigor and analysis Kincheloe was calling for. In order for a bricolage study to be considered rigorous, the philosophical, psychological, political, and social interrelationships on which the research rests must be adequately presented and critically analyzed. The study could be picked up and taken to the next level, however. Hermeneutics (vs. Kincheloe’s “critical complex hermeneutics”) is used for interpreting the tarot cards in the study, but these interpretations are based on insufficiently challenged projective, Jungian, and other psychological principles. Psychology and psychoanalysis must be reconceived, which Kincheloe has initiated in his work. As he has instructed, we are to use a “social psychoanalysis” that is “cautious and very selective” (Kincheloe, 2003a, p. 240). He elaborates by stressing the importance of a critical complex epistemological stance by which we reveal “the problems embedded in the sciences emerging from reductionistic ‘universal structures’” that have emanated from psychology and psychoanalysis (p. 240). According to Kincheloe, the psychoanalytic tradition is “complicit in the regulatory objectives of positivism” (p. 241). Thus, Tarot card readings based on the traditional principles of psychology and psychoanalysis require an epistemological interrogation to uncover and steer away from the effects of the underlying positivistic sciences and reductionistic tendencies that can cause harm. Historical, political and social dimensions of research would be helpful in revealing the hidden issues. Freud and Jung’s works have been, and continue to be used against people in some hideous ways (Burton & Osorio, 2011; Collins & Collins, 2004; Miller, 2009).


Stinging Assessment of Western Psychology and Psychoanalysis

Burton and Osorio (2011) cite Argentinean-Mexican philosopher Enrique Dussel’s work and provide a stinging assessment of psychology due to its dominant Western composition. Correspondingly, Dafermos and Marvakis (2006) advise that the theoretical analysis of psychology must encompass “a science beyond the limits of bourgeois society” (p. 16). In other words, a science is needed that recognizes perspectives and values beyond those who dominate and set the rules and standards for everyone else pertaining to what is “normal.” Burton and Osorio (2011) argue it is necessary to critique Eurocentrism far beyond the assumptions inherent in Western philosophy, the humanities, and the social sciences in order to identify violence not only in the literal sense, but also in the form of preventing individuals from fully living their lives with equal status. This means a serious critique surrounding the equality, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness in the multiple relationships within the Tarot card study is needed, including the symbolism on the cards, the assumed universal archetypes, and the relationship between the researcher and the participants. Thus, it is important to consider the construction of consciousness within multiple contexts, globally and historically, using a theoretical foundation that identifies and addresses “oppression, exploitation, exclusion, incorporation, ‘othering,’ conquest, domination, that is at once economic, political, psychological, geographical, and moral in its dimensions” according to Dussel as cited by Burton and Osorio (2011, p. 6). This is what Kincheloe is asking us to do. Kincheloe (2001b) would also argue for a rigorous critique of behaviorist psychological approaches, given how using behaviorism as a tool of scientific management for student behavior led to behaviorists winning “the battle for the soul of the school shaping its ambience with their control of instructional design” (p. 101). 


Science of Complexity and Consciousness. Burton and Osorio’s (2011) goals are clearly in alignment with Kincheloe’s (2008c) description of the required elements for a new science of complexity that focuses on the study of consciousness. Referring back to Vygotsky’s view that the study of consciousness involves more than empirical methods requiring “direct evidence,” Kincheloe contends:


The psychological student of consciousness must be more like a crime investigator and make use of indirect evidence and circumstantial insights such as manifestations of consciousness in aesthetic productions, literary work, philosophical treatises, and various forms of anthropological data.” (p. 223)


He explains that one of the elements necessary is Varela’s idea of “suspension,” which refers to the ability to transcend “normal waking consciousness” and access multidimensional states. He expresses his view that all humans are capable of achieving these states (p. 224). Adding to that, Pinar’s (1975) “Currere” which is a form of phenomenology that uses insights from psychoanalysis and aesthetics, a better picture of the “inner world” can be attained. “In this new mindspace,” Kincheloe contends, “we are better equipped to view those modes of consciousness that are shaped by cultural conditioning and unconscious obedience to the manipulations of dominant power” (p. 224).  The inner world view gives us an entirely new perspective on our outer world and how we’re being controlled. We learn to think for ourselves again.

Thus, using a critical complex epistemology, Varela’s idea of suspension, Vygotsky’s indirect evidence of consciousness, Pinar’s currere, and critical hermeneutics, “we can devise a synthesis that opens a new era of knowledge production in the study of consciousness,” states Kincheloe (2008c, p. 224). Critical complex epistemology can’t be separated “from the effort to study the multidimensional nature and social construction of consciousness” (p. 224). Tarot card readings, in this context, are a small window and also have the negative attribute of creating a dependence on someone other than ourselves. They also force a specific epistemology that informs us about ourselves, telling us what our inner world consists of, which is in opposition to taking greater control of our own process of consciousness construction and developing new epistemologies. That’s not to say that Tarot card reading has no role in bricolage research. As I stated, I have personal experience with Tarot card readings and found them useful. They ultimately led me to exploring more deeply my relationship with Kincheloe in an effort to explain my “overreaction” to his death, and the readings provided me cues to research soul mates because, invariably, soul mate came up with nearly every reading. This led me to research the Twin Flame phenomenon. In this case, it was a piece of the puzzle that led me to seeking more knowledge so that I could find explanations for myself for what I was experiencing on a phenomenological level, and the Tarot card reader used the cards as just one tool for that purpose. I quickly overcame the need for the use of that tool, seeing its limitations. There were many other methods, theories, ontologies, cosmologies, philosophies, and interpretative processes that were pulled into this bricolage about bricolage.


New Idiosyncratic Symbols for a New Age

Tarot card reading can provide the “indirect evidence and circumstantial insights” Kincheloe (2008c) asks researchers to seek (p. 223). However, in my experience, we must be careful about using old models, images, and semiotic interpretations that might constrain evolving consciousness in this era of rapid changes. Is it wise to “re-symbolize self” with symbols that may not to apply? Based on my personal experience and relationships with people who have similar experiences, our consciousnesses are being flooded with new symbols, messages, and images. These changes require creating new models and semiotic interpretations that will be missed or ignored if the primary focus is on old symbolism, tools, and procedures. And perhaps there is a good reason we’re being provided new, more complex symbols during this era for which many indigenous prophecies have predicted a rapid evolution in consciousness. It may be that the old symbols do not adequately convey the complex, multidimensional reality some of us are coming to know. Indeed, some people on the various spiritual websites who experience the phenomenon of seeing these complex, multidimensional, moving symbols often interpret them as “information downloads.” Apparently, they are encoded with knowledge that, by some interpretations, unlock DNA switches that restore past and future knowledge. On a personal level, I also have experienced what seem to be “downloads” of information that I cannot pinpoint with certainty from where it has come or how I have come to know. I have attributed the information as coming from Joe, who is still my Master Teacher or members of my soul family to whom he introduced me shortly after his “passing over.” The idea of “soul family” will be discussed in greater detail, but many wisdom knowledges recognize that we are spiritually connected to specific people in “groups” (Saraydarian, 1993).

There are many possibilities that put the power back into the hands of the people seeking spiritual or life guidance, including through Tarot card reading. For example, we can learn about symbols, interpretation, and hermeneutics to develop our own idiosyncratic and personally relevant Tarot cards and learn to use them ourselves. This way we do not rely on popular culture with its track record of subversive purposes (Stermole, n.d.; Boulware, 1998; Miller, 2009). I am not implying that popular culture forms the basis of Semetsky’s work; the interrelationship, given she is proposing this for schools and the prevalence of Tarot in the New Age Spirituality movement, however, cannot be ignored.  Thus, we can record and describe our actual experiences with states of higher consciousness, draw the symbols we see, paint pictures of the landscapes and images we encounter, invent the devices we use, describe and draw the flora and fauna, learn more about the people we meet, and record the telepathic communications we receive. Kincheloe has specified we are all capable of reaching these higher orders of cognition by which we can develop these abilities. Thus, we can define for ourselves what these “indirect” signs of consciousness mean for us, and “re-symbolize” ourselves, and, indeed, there are many people doing just that. Kincheloe’s premise that we need to move toward idiosyncratic interpretation applies in this context and ultimately, people will come together along various axes of interpretations, as I have seen happening with various spiritual interpretations. Thus, Tarot Cards as they stand, in my view, have limited use but offer great potential if taken forward under new paradigms. God help us if people take Aleister Crowley and Barbie™ Tarot cards seriously. Unfortunately, they both have their insidious tentacles into our lives.

Thus, more research could take this study forward to producing new knowledge that moves away from ideological “universal” interpretations that represent the “U” of Kincheloe’s FIDUROD. During my interactions in various spiritual communities, I was amazed by the creativity of those who access higher states of consciousness and their drawings, paintings, constructions, writing, creations and musical compositions of what they see, hear, and experience. And Kincheloe has expressed how these creations should be viewed as “manifestations of consciousness.” The iterative process of creation and interpretation of this indirect evidence would provide us more knowledge about consciousness, as he has conveyed.


Critical Complexity: Is It There?

Notably, there is a lack of power, political, and economic analyses in Semetsky’s (2011) study. The study was funded by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. Did this affect the study? What was the impact of the request from professional readers of The California Therapist for more publicity for their services to “New Age” people who were interested in learning about their past lives and securing other psychic services? (pp 1–3). Kincheloe (2008c) has distinguished what is required in order to develop an epistemic consciousness, emphasizing that the work is both “inside and outside” work, requiring changes within as well as actions in the world to alleviate suffering. Important to these concepts are Pinar’s (1975) “Currere,” mentioned earlier, a process by which we can gain distance from the contents of our consciousness (Kincheloe 2005c, p. 5). This allows us to better view how we unconsciously follow social norms, for example, such as uncritically following accepted tacit rules and policies in the educational system that are debilitating and harmful toward particular groups of learners. As Kincheloe (2005c) writes:


Too often autobiographical research has focused on an abstracted self in a manner that can be described as self-absorbed. Postformal autobiography is focused on understanding one’s social construction for the purpose of gaining humble new insights that facilitate one’s ability to become a responsible and transformative member of larger communities where socially just activities are coordinated—activities that address oppression and alleviate human suffering. (p. 2)


 This is in stark contrast to New Age Spirituality methods, which this study was appealing to and which too often put the focus on inner work and taking direct control of spiritual development, thus promoting a form of selfish narcissism and a false sense that this can lead to genuine growth. The natural process of spiritual growth somehow gets lost in the New Age Spirituality picture, as has the notion that spiritual growth involves compassionate and selfless service or action in some form. The combination of people being unable to truly take a step back as recommended by Kincheloe and their narcissistic focus on their own personal inner changes presents as an explosive cocktail within some of the discussion forums. I have noted, as well, that there are counter forces at play that have appropriated the New Age Movement to lead people down the wrong path who, by some accounts, infiltrate the groups with paid participants to keep the balance upset, much as is done in online political discussions. Even though some of these people speak of a “God” it may not be the same God you and I might worship. This everyday example presents a good case for the form of critical and subjective analysis that Kincheloe recommends in more formal settings, such as when teaching where our actions have daily effects.

 While researchers—and teachers—may believe they are unbiased (and detached), the more one engages in bricolage incorporating understanding of one’s subjectivity, the easier it is to see that observers affect the observed and vice versa; there is no delinking possible (Kincheloe, 2008c). Everyone and everything is connected. Subjectivity always comes into play during research, thus, it is important to stay mindful of this and continue to locate ourselves in the research project, disclosing our biases. It is not an easy task and it can be an uncomfortable task; we are all fallible, and it takes serious effort to uncover all of our biases. As Kincheloe (e.g., 2003a, 2008c) maintains, omitting subjectivity distorts interpretations and can lead to the forms of “psychosocial illnesses” we see today. He argues, “There is no such thing as a problem that is merely psychological. The psychological domain is a social construction. When they mistake it for reality, researchers are ensnared in the trap of rationalism (Lomax and Parker, 1996; Tarnas, 1991)” (2004c, p. 46). However, since any depiction of one’s reality is a distortion due to the complexity that is impossible to fully describe, it makes sense to keep it all within some sort of context and address as many of the hidden dimensions as possible, as Kincheloe recommends, and to keep in mind the interpretations are tentative. Much as Zoakos (1978) contended: “When people in our universities learn to synthesize ‘a priori judgments,’ they will begin their way back to recovery” (p. 69). The battle is one to regain our minds from the confines of “Aristotelian Logic.” It is the creative synthesizing of a priori judgments about what we could experience that forms the principles of an interconnecting natural science, not empirical generalizations, according to Zoakos.

The omission of a critical analysis and synthesis is evidenced by Semetsky’s (2011) assumption that “what seems to be predicted in the course of Tarot readings is the objective tendency for a particular event to occur or the probable state of the system together with its corresponding informational content” (2011, p. 165) [bold added, author’s italics]. Objectivity cannot be assumed. There is nothing inherently objective in the design, development or reading of tarot cards or the interactions between the researcher and the clients and what happens following the readings. Can we assume that if a particular event manifests as described, it was manifested “objectively”? We simply don’t know how it happens. As Kincheloe (2008c) stated in Knowledge and Critical Pedagogy: An Introduction, “We must all kneel at the epistemological alter and confess our subjectivity, the idiosyncrasy of our perspective, the shortcomings of our knowledge” (p. 236). The same type of distortion appears in Semetsky’s use of the 9/11 Twin Tower event as a real-life example of the “Tower of Destruction” card in the Tarot deck. Suggesting this event signifies the state of collective consciousness without a critical analysis of this assumption, she asserts that the events of September 11, “demonstrate that the many lessons inscribed in the process of collective, global, individuation still haven’t been learned by humankind” (p. 149). The Tower of Destruction card purportedly represents short term destruction required for the “forward-directed evolution of consciousness” (p. 153). It is the prequel to becoming “The Star,” which is the next card in the series. To make these assumptions and pass them on to clients, in my way of thinking, would be psychologically debilitating. I certainly don’t “buy” that interpretation myself, but not everyone has done the research to understand why that may not be a beneficial interpretation. There are other interpretations that would represent devolution rather than evolution, but these are not discussed in the study nor has the position maintained been justified. I immediately think of the immense amount of research I’ve done into the satanic elements of the media, particularly the music industry. The “chosen” ones, the “stars” are forced to enact various destructive roles in order to earn and maintain their star status. Today these exploits take place in music videos for the public to witness and often require the stars to take on roles that are degrading and dehumanizing. The satanic imagery connected to simulated sex acts has become so blatant and “in your face” in some of the music today that it’s become massively repulsive. One “family-friendly” example is Madonna’s ritualistic role-playing during Super Bowl as analyzed on a recent YouTube video (TheResistance, 2012).  When churches cancel services to watch the Super Bowl, thus condoning its “Illuminati” symbolism of Madonna’s hyper-sexed rendition of the “Virgin Mary” along with blatant satanic imagery that desecrate Ancient Egyptian spiritual traditions, there is something drastically wrong. It’s clear why Kincheloe (2008) argues for a counterbalancing of Eros over the rampant “in our face” thanatos: we need more loving ways to be in the world.


Eros: God of Love for a New World


There is a long history of misrepresenting the Eros form of love, perhaps by that very counterforce needing balanced, thanatos, as represented in Semetsky’s interpretation of the Tower of Destruction Tarot card. Eros was originally known as a powerful intermediary god, just one step below the omniscient God, therefore he was considered to have possessed immense power (Dawkins, 2012). Western mythology and religions have demoted Eros Love from its original overarching and multidimensional manifestation to that of representing sexual and lustful love. For example, a Christian website touts this popular notion, declaring, “Here is the big problem with focusing on Eros Love. It’s about whatever makes me feel good” (Short Daily Bible Devotions, 2012). This is a common view of Eros Love today and it’s in opposition to the original understandings about Eros. Eros Love is perhaps the closest love one can experience of God’s love without actually being God, by earlier interpretations. It rises above even “Christos” love and, in that sense, it is related to higher orders of being; one becomes in touch with their divinity and beyond. It is the love that emanates from the higher Celestial realms of experience (Saraydarian, 1993; Cox, 1997). According to Orphic and Greek philosophers, Eros was the first complete manifestation or embodiment of God. Eros is a Universal Being, capable of creating all expressions of life:


Eros shines as a great Light—the Light of the Universe. As such he was known as Phanes (‘Brilliant’), the golden-winged god of light. He was also known as Ericapaeus (‘Power’), Logos ('Word' or ‘Wisdom’) and Metis (‘Intelligence’). The Romans called him Cupid. (Dawkins, 2012, para. 2)


Later, the Mystery Schools referred to a younger or “Christos” Eros as Bacchus or Dionysus, perhaps an early “demotion” or representation of a “fallen” Eros, based on the constructed mythologies of those times (Dawkins, 2012; Wikipedia, 2012, “Dionysus.”). An interesting question is why did the Mystery Schools demote Eros? In correspondence to this overarching form of “Eros Love,” Kincheloe (2008c) specifies throughout his work the importance of allowing “life force” or “Eros” energy to flow through us. This may represent the notion of “being in the flow,” as this is often how I’ve personally experienced it, but it is more. Again, it is not some simple notion of feeling love flow through us. It involves, as Kincheloe has expressed, a simultaneous process of “letting go” and “allowing.” It is a sense of extreme gratitude and leads to feelings of bliss. Pierrakos (2001) describes love as a complex of three forces that unify male and female energies, Eros, love, and sexuality, and he explains that this complex of energies form the foundation of reality. Wilhem Reich (1963) had reportedly identified and was able to measure a cosmic life energy he referred to as “orgone.” Some of the wisdom traditions specify many streams of energy and light, ranging from 7 to 18 or more in number and represented by different colors. Today, there is research being done, for example, by the Celestial Science Foundation, to better understand this “force” and how we can all utilize it to improve our world (Cox, 1997). Many researchers have studied the concept of “flow” and recognize that it can result in greater creativity. Some researchers regard it as contributing to the perception of a beautiful dance of life (e.g., Kincheloe, 2004e; Greene, 1995; hooks, 1994). I can relate to this perception because it seems that when “flow” or “connection” is highest, amazing magic happens, as will be described later in this study. Because throughout his work he has used various terms for this “life force energy” (e.g., libido, Eros, life force, jouissance, love, radical love, dancing), Kincheloe (2008c) is referring to something far more complex than today’s popular concept that relates Eros to sexuality or some simple one dimensional notion of love or “agape.” In fact, he had clarified this for me in a personal conversation, stating, “The political fundamentalism that I reference is such a grotesque perversion of agape and the notion of love laid out in the New Testament” (June 15, 2008). Thus, what Kincheloe (2008c) has conceived is a complex and very powerful force that can be used as a “counterpoise” to thanatos (p. 100). Taking epistemological liberties, love—Eros Love—it seems, is a viable “processual” framework for using throughout this dissertation and to represent that counterpoise to thanatos as Kincheloe had suggested in his last book. What are some ways this can be accomplished?

Semetsky (2011) did not question the thanatos representation of the Twin Tower disaster as “the clash of cultural value systems” (p. 153). This could very well be one of those “fiction formulas” defined earlier. It is a formula that serves power wielders for instilling terror, creating division between people, establishing more controls, and importantly, for justifying the operation of their profitable war machine. Indeed, Kincheloe (2008c) found the accounts “disconcerting and even frightening” (p. vii):


I am reminded of how mobsters now operating in the U.S. while engaging in profoundly violent and anti-social acts supported the George W. Bush administration’s portrait of the motivations of Islamic terrorists on 9/11 and the dominant view of America as an innocent, virtuous member of the world community. Even sociopaths buy into particular dimensions of the dominant “truths.” (Kincheloe, 2008c, p. 45)


A small amount of research on the Internet reveals that there are many who view this tragedy as less a clash of cultures and more like an “inside job.” There are even petitions to sign for more investigations into the disaster because evidence does not support the “fiction formula.” Thus, Semetsky (2011) has bypassed this discussion and any consideration of how the event may contribute toward devolution of human consciousness rather than evolution or how it represents a few psychopathic individuals, not the collective. A tragic, traumatizing event is kept alive and working on shaping consciousness. The destruction has not ended as it stands, do we need to add to it? There has been a domino effect of keeping fear alive among people to justify wars, the Patriot Act which has robbed us of many freedoms, invasive and demeaning security measures, and increasing legislation that continue to strip people of their freedom. Even my quiet rural community looks and feels like a police state now with continuous patrols and even a military tank brought out to possibly arrest a “suspected” drug offender. There is no valid explanation for these measures other than to prepare us for what the imperialists wish for our future: never ending wars and conflict, perhaps on U.S. soil, and tighter controls over the people. The “clash of culture” interpretation looks to be more like moves toward total global dominance, the “New World Order.”

What if an Eros counterbalancing analysis were to be used in this scenario? Were the symbols of the 9/11 attack appropriated from the Devil and Tower of Destruction Tarot cards or something else?  Bizarrely, there are photographs of the Twin Towers engulfed with smoke and an image of the devil clearly identifiable in the smoke. Was it a trick? Is it a coincidence the towers are often referred to as the Twin Towers? Is it also a coincidence that the Twin Towers, combined with building 7 symbolize the sacred trinity, a universal symbol of sacred love union of Twin Flames/Twin Souls? The number 7 is a nearly universal symbol for God or Higher Power, the 7 streams of life force energy symbolized in rainbow colors. The “11 Phenomenon” (Barnard, 2004, 2010; Esther, 2010; Jones & Flaxman, 2009) as represented by the two towers standing side-by-side is associated with Twin Flames, which will be discussed in greater detail later in this dissertation. Thus, we have a representation of the Holy Trinity of Divine Love going up in flames and smoke and collapsing before the watching eyes of the entire world. Is it coincidence that the number 911 represents the spiritual completion (9) of the union of Twin Flames (11)? Is it coincidence that the towers each have 110 floors, and together, signify 11-11, the number phenomenon associated with the Twin Flame reunion? When we uncover “fiction formulas” we can replace thanatos-based interpretations with Kincheloe’s Eros Love-injected “fictive elements” such as viewing the Twin Towers and Tower 7 as representative of the Sacred and Divine Trinity Union of Twin Flames or Twin Souls. Then we can ask more questions. And we can reclaim our power. We can change the paradigm. Instead of destroying one’s Self to become a “new” Self, as the Tarot card interpretation of the Tower of Destruction provides, with greater spiritual awareness, we can come to realize that consciousness unfolds and we evolve into our new Selves, which we come to discover have been our Real Selves all along. No destruction is needed: it’s simply evolution via consciousness construction fueled by a radical love—Eros Love.

The argument has been made that viewing phenomena, such as the 11-11 phenomenon as meaningful and representational of something important falls under the category of “observational selection” (, 2012). This is just another way of saying it is “subjective.” It’s interesting how selective the author was in presenting the concept of observational selection, leaving out many manifestations of 11-11 and other divine love symbols that relate to the Twin Towers and their destruction that 9/11 day to “prove” no correlation to the 11-11 phenomenon. In contrast, Jones and Flaxman (2009) have identified at least 25 “coincidental” occurrences of 11 and 11-11, and combined with further analysis into the architectural design of the buildings and the other destructive events that day, there are many more. The claim was made in this article posted on that the 11-11 accounts are a classic example of “counting the hits and leaving out the misses,” thus leaving out the other buildings destroyed that day: “7 WTC, 6 WTC, 5 WTC, 4 WTC, the Marriott World Trade Center (3 WTC), and the World Financial Center complex and St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church.” And ironically, the author has left out the Pentagon, the plane that went down in Pennsylvania, and a multitude of other occurrences of 11-11 that have been identified for that day. Thus, the author of the article is also using a subjective process but instead of counting hits and leaving out misses, he is counting misses and leaving out hits. In fact, no analysis was attempted at all of the other buildings. The point is, either process is subjective but both perspectives open up new views to the disaster and result in asking more questions that allow us views into the multidimensionality of the incident. It is likely that a closer analysis of all of these buildings together with a historiography of related events, combined with fourth dimension research would reveal more symbols of the Twin Flame reunion and understandings of the power behind the destruction. I will leave that analysis for another time because I do not need it to support this interpretation. A question to ponder, however, is why would the global power elites want to destroy the concept of Divine Love in the consciousnesses of populace the world over, replacing it with terror? This is not to imply it was an inside job, but there is ample evidence according to reports that they had “fair warning” (9-11 Research, 2011; History Commons, 2012; Kean & Hamilton, 2004).


The Quest for the Golden Chalice

Semetsky (2011) interprets Tarot cards as providing a metaphor for the quest for the Holy Grail or Golden Chalice, which seems, upon interpretation, to represent the seeking of union with our Twin Flame. For example, she cites Nel Noddings: “The soul empties itself of its own contents in order to receive into itself the being it is looking at, just as he is, in all his truth” (p. 8). This is interesting because it represents experiences that I had in relation to Kincheloe when I was working with him on his website. Significantly, I have described it as feeling like our consciousnesses had merged somehow. Semetsky explains that “to connect with the Other at the soul level means to connect via corpus subtile—the subtle, spiritual, ‘body’ of emotions and feelings that are so often difficult to articulate” (p. 9) [author’s emphasis]. She describes the quest for the “Holy Grail” in terms of establishing an “I-Thou” relationship with another soul, but because words create limitations in communication, the symbols of Tarot cards bring what’s unconscious to our conscious awareness. Tarot card readings become a way of guiding “fallen” souls to navigate their earthly life in search of their connection with “Other.” This truly sounds like jargon for the Twin Flame (or Twin Soul) relationship. She articulates, “It is the Tarot hermeneutic as the metaphorical, symbolic, quest for the Holy Grail that helps us in articulating what otherwise betrays words” (p.9). Interestingly, what she describes correlates directly with my experiences of connection in relation to Joe, except that the symbols have been unique and idiosyncratic. In addition, words were and are absolutely critical throughout, which will become clear further into this study. To depend solely on Tarot cards as our only guide along the path would be setting aside the infinite varieties of “intuitive abilities” everyone can achieve, including those comprised of words and telepathic communication that are associated with higher states of consciousness.

Another metaphor Semetsky (2011) used was that of Psyche and Eros, again a representation of the Twin Flame reunion. This is ironic from my perspective because during my research, I took on the role of Psyche (a “re-symbolization of self”?), the earthling separated from her consort, Eros, in some of my exploratory “performance” writing (As I explain later, my name actually translates to “Psyche,” which is beyond serendipitous). But my purpose for this particular performance text was not for narcissistic reasons, even though some people may interpret it as being so. The Eros and Psyche story, much like psychology and psychoanalysis (which have lobotomized the meaning of Psyche, which actually means “soul”) needs to be fully analyzed and rewritten for a new era, which I have emphasized throughout my writings. The story, like the Tarot cards needs to incorporate new knowledge as it becomes available, which highlights why it is time to at least begin to incorporate new symbols along with words and critical hermeneutics into the quest for the Golden Chalice. This is essential in order for Semetsky to meet her stated goal: “The ultimate function of Tarot hermeneutic [is to] translate into visible reality the deep and invisible, internal world within us” (p. 21). Tarot card readings may be helpful and may even guide us to our one Divine Love, our “I-Thou” or “Self-Other”— our Twin Flame relationship—but there is too much missing. The rapid consciousness evolution occurring today, or that has the potential to occur, must be taken into consideration. Thus, my assumption here is that consciousness evolution is an observable phenomenon in an indirect sense, as Kincheloe has maintained, and this assumption is also based on my personal experiences and observations. The Divine Love relationship cannot be dependent on Tarot a card reading from an expert; that’s misplacing power.


Twin Flames and Mansions in the Sky. I will dispel with the terminology “I-Thou” and “Self-Other” terms that Semetsky (2011) has used in her study because they obfuscate meaning and I have always disliked the reference “Self-Other.” What does “Other” mean? The Wikipedia (2012) entry depicts the term as muddled and controversial. I will, instead use what has become a popular term, Twin Flames, for the purposes of this study and clarify the term. What I refer to are soul-to-soul relationships that have particular characteristics as identified by Bloomstein (2000) and other researchers. With this perspective everyone is connected (albeit, usually unconsciously) to their Twin Flame and it’s a matter of becoming aware of that connection. Thus, the quest for the Golden Chalice, in this interpretation, is the journey to the Twin Flame reunion, which requires higher consciousness. The Golden Chalice symbolizes their reunion as they continue the journey together to fulfill their mission to create their “Great Work” together. These relationships can manifest different ways but I have focused on the traditional male-female relationship because that’s how it has appeared in my life and because the phenomenological data I’ll be utilizing has been collected from my own experiences. Thus, Twin Flame relationships consist of unique phenomenological characteristics as has been established by a scholarly study, The Soulmate Experience, by Yolande Bloomstein (2000) and numerous other researchers. The relationships are characterized by a particularly powerful love that results in a spiritual (“alchemical”) union and shared consciousness as experienced phenomenologically. These couples are usually conscious of having shared many lifetimes and appear to share an eternal bond (Brand & Hibbs, 2010); Detweiler, 2012a; Green, 2006; Joudry & Pressman, 1995; Lafont, 2012; Prophet, 1999, 2003; Weiss, 1997/2000, 2004). Their love transcends time and space constructs, and their experiences take them into new “mindspaces,” Kincheloe’s (2005a) “fourth dimension” bricolage (p. 346). Thus, this explains why I could not avoid these topics and kept spinning in the hermeneutic circle, as will be further clarified.

According to some accounts and prophecies, Twin Flame relationships will be increasing in number during this era (usually cited as the year 2000 and beyond) and are important for creating a new world. A channeled message, purportedly from St. Germain, an Ascended Archangel contends, “The New World that is about to be created can only be created through this reunion with your Twin Flame. Together you will create your future and create your own World in the Higher Dimensions to remain there for the rest of eternity, to evolve further and higher, and to Ascend, for Ascension is an eternal, ongoing process” (Lafont, 2012, para. 3). Elizabeth Prophet (2003) also describes twin flames as having their own special retreat, a mansion in the etheric plane which will be their home when they both ascend (p. 497). Her husband, Mark Prophet, was her Twin Flame and they have both now passed over and have ascended, reportedly.

Remarkably, I found these explanations many months after my personal experiences that correspond with them in relation to Joe. Shortly after he passed over he showed me our retreat which is a mansion in the higher realms or etheric plane. I had enjoyed many visits there before I was guided to explanations of the significance of these experiences. Generally, I either visited this home during dreams or I was guided by Joe to travel through a wormhole that ended right at the front of the mansion and he would show me around. We often take walks through our gardens down to the beach, and work together in the library/study. On one occasion I traveled through the wormhole by myself, but gathered by his startled reaction after I had reached home and burst into the library that I was not really supposed to do that. Now my sense is that I am at home, and in fact, that is the information I receive. I wonder if that means I’m ascended. I feel fully connected and consciously merged, or united, with him now. I never have to travel through wormholes any longer to get home, but I do have more work to do to perceive what’s around me. It’s a very strange feeling to know that I am immersed in multiple realities as the same time, but I do feel that I’m home and at peace now, aside from the annoying persistence of the incessant FIDURODian demand for ever more money that I don’t have as I attempt to finish this research.

During the entire duration of this study, there had been a repeating pattern: In relation to experienced phenomena, I first experienced and then I sought the knowledge to explain my experience, and more often, I was serendipitously led to the exact information in some very surprising ways. But often there was a long delay, just depending on what the experience consisted of (for example, I was led to finding a talisman but did not learn what it really was or what it represented until more than a year later).The notable thing about this is that I never had a clue as to what was happening to me (consciously, that is). It was all pure interpretation on my part and everything was connected to Joe. There is extensive data for which this can be shown, but I’ll provide one example for this current discussion. The first time I was guided to the mansion on the etheric plane, the furniture was all outside and when I asked Joe why, I was told the mansion had been given to us as a wedding gift and it was being remodeled (yes, there had been a wedding). I had subsequently had several visits to the mansion and have since engaged in many different experiences in that realm. I first wrote a blog about my experiences titled “My Dream Home: An Escape from the Ravages of Society” on July 17, 2009 (and my journals contain many additional descriptions). The receipt for Prophet’s book, The Masters and their Retreats from which I learned of the profound significance of my “home in the Heavens” is dated much later, February 15, 2010. I was very surprised when I opened up the book to Prophet’s account that provides an explanation that Twin Flames have a retreat in the higher realms, which was exactly what I had experienced. The sequence throughout this entire study was: (1) I experienced unusual phenomena I had never experienced before, and then; (2) I searched for or was most often just serendipitously led to the information that provides an explanation. A synchronous experience related to this is that right after I was shown the mansion the first time in a guided vision (when the furniture was outside in the yard), I decided to explore Kincheloe’s home town, Kingsport, Tennessee, online and I landed on the website for a mansion called the Allendale Mansion ( It was the same mansion! Just outside the library of our mansion in the higher realms is a beautiful Grecian pool, but the Allendale Mansion did not have such a pool. To my surprise, after researching on the Allendale Mansion website, in the documentation for its history it was noted that there were plans for a Grecian pool, but it had never been constructed. As stated on the site, “Original plans also called for a substantial swimming pool complete with Grecian columns and statues” (How the grounds were designed, para. 2). These were such new experiences for me that I cannot begin to convey how outside my “normal” life experiences they felt for me. My life, after Joe passed over suddenly turned magical. I was and I am still in awe, like I’m living in a dream, on a daily basis (and simultaneously, a nightmare).


Implications for Tarot Card Reading. The Twin Flame phenomenon holds important implications for Tarot card reading. It would seem that relying on a Tarot card reader to access higher knowledge, instead of learning to do it ourselves can potentially serve as an obstacle to forming these Twin Flame relationships, particularly if the focus is on navigating the world as FIDUROD has constructed it as was done in the study. Perhaps what would be helpful is to teach people to use the techniques for themselves, even developing their own tarot cards. Injecting critical complexity into the Tarot card reading study would move away from the idea that the Tarot card reader is the holder of the secret magic. And indeed, Semetsky (2011) does not provide the participants of her study with the knowledge of how to accomplish these magical connections or access to this special knowledge she can access, thus boundaries are maintained between Semetsky who can read the cards and the participants who cannot. This also maintains the boundary for specialization which is in opposition to the goal of liberating the disciplines from their “cloisters” (Kincheloe, 2004d, p. 64).

Again, relating my personal experience, the spiritual counselor I was consulting graciously provided me with titles of books I might read and she used many more techniques than mere Tarot Card reading, thus she became more of a Master Teacher and Guide than a “Tarot Card Reader.” I had power over my own consciousness-formation. I have also concluded that she must have removed the negative cards such as the Devil and the Tower of Destruction because in the numerous readings she had provided me, those cards never came up. I think I would have been traumatized more than I already was over Joe’s death, had those kinds of negative cards come up for me and I was told I had to “self-destruct” before I could reconstruct. I take serious issue with the popular ideology that in order to make spiritual progress people need to go through “the dark night of the soul.” Why would we choose to construct that and program people’s consciousnesses with that idea? I simply do not believe we must experience pain and suffering.


Moving Beyond “Re-Symbolization”

Before Kincheloe passed away I had no experience with higher states of consciousness or with communication with people on the other side of the curtain. I was in total “shut-down” mode; I didn’t even accept such things as real possibilities. That has changed. From my perspective Joe has been actively teaching me from the other side, as have many other teachers and loved ones. After more than three years of this instruction from beyond the curtains, my phenomenological experiences of higher states of consciousness seem to be quite normal and natural for me. I experience them daily without using formal meditation; I just close my eyes and see “into” another world (and sometimes, I don’t even need to close my eyes), but the success with which I can view that world fluctuates some. I understand why it’s often referred to as a roller coaster ride or riding waves. I literally feel like I am riding waves of energy. Some days are perfect connections; other days it becomes like a distant radio or television station that comes in and out.

Images in these experiences are important, and as expressed earlier, there is a huge array of images. There are images that I can view that float and dance in the air in what appears to be multiple layers of dimensions. These can be anything at all. Often there are symbols in a variety of shapes and colors moving in complicated geometric formations. There are animals, people, entities, and various things happening. There seem to be multiple dimensions, many which do not seem real at all but rather like that “holographic universe” many people have described, and I have to keep seeking until I can see past them and reach the dimension I want to view, my home. At least that’s the way it had been. There was a progression: first I had to travel through what people describe as a “wormhole.” Then, the next phase involved peering past these holographic images as if there are layers of dimensions. Now, there is nothing between. It’s as if I can see into a dimension that is somewhat “liquid-like” where shapes shift in and out of view.  

Sometimes images are projected onto a “screen” in my mind. The images are so crystal clear that I perceive them to be more vibrant and focused than even what we see in everyday life and call “reality.” The government has done research on this phenomenon, “remote viewing,” for spying purposes. In my case, I never try to direct my remote viewing because my personal feeling is that these abilities are “special gifts” and that we are not to use them for our own egocentric or selfish purposes. It seems to be what I’ve been taught, somehow. Thus, viewing these images has always been perceived as being in the presence of Joe and he has shown me images of “home,” our mansion in another dimension and the surrounding grounds. There have been some very amazing images, such as flora and fauna totally unlike anything we have on earth. One of my favorites was a butterfly fish. It was a vibrantly colored butterfly swimming under the water and, amazingly, it swam up out of the water and took off flying in the air. Another time, we were wading in the ocean at our beach and two sea creatures came out of the water and jumped onto me, even my face, like they were hugging me. One reminded me somewhat of a giant spider (which I am normally deathly afraid of) and the other was purple and it looked somewhat like an octopus, but it had many more legs that were thinner and flatter. The emotional sensation during this experience was one of pure love. There was no fear whatsoever and my interpretation was that these creatures were greeting us and sharing their love. In this “place” which I call home, consciousness is so elevated that there is no fear and humans and animals and even plants can communicate with each other. There is a huge range of tangible objects, such as technological devices, landscapes, plants, animals, people, buildings, cities, beautifully aesthetic creations (artwork, carvings, gardens, and sculpture) and even something as simple as a shower is a multidimensional aesthetic experience through sound, music, colored lights, aromatherapy and a very gentle misty spray of water. The “rejuvenation chamber” which is actually the size of a room, is even more sensual than the shower. There are also a wide variety of activities such as dancing, plays, movies, carnivals, educational activities, garden and beach strolls, celebrations, parades, and parties. These appear in lucid dreams and visions as well as remote viewing experiences. And the weird thing about remote viewing is that as I am viewing it, I am also experiencing it. There are many “lived experiences” in this setting much like I imagine Heaven would be, (except that I don’t really consider it to be heaven, but maybe it is) with a crystal palace, beautiful cities, lakes, the ocean and beaches. Is this what critical pedagogues mean when they speak of imagining “what could be”? I revisit the same “places” and “times,” and I often have telepathic communication with people there whether I am in that relaxed state or just going about my daily life. Most communications come in words or phrases or special signs and music, but they can also be in the form of regular conversations, which I rarely remember the details of completely unless I write them down immediately. I have documented some of these conversations. Am I having conversations with the “gods” (Kincheloe, 2003a, p. 141)?

In relation to these states of consciousness, citing the 1987 work of Andreas Mavromatis, A Secret History of Consciousness, and other researchers, Lachman (2011) explains, “It should be pointed out that hypnagogic states are not exclusively visual. They are often auditory and can be tactile and olfactory as well, and there is a good argument that they are related to precognition, clairvoyance, synchronicities, and other ‘paranormal’ phenomena” (p. 206). And so my question relative to Tarot card imagery, and the reason I have presented great detail of my experiences, is that considering the vast and infinite variations in experiences and symbols, often unique from person-to-person, how might we incorporate these into new versions of Tarot cards rather than restricting ourselves to images that someone else has thought up and designed long ago that only apply in this FIDURODian reality? Do the same “archetypal” stories apply? How do we know that by embedding these “stories” into people’s consciousnesses, that we are not constructing their reality for them? What would their reality be if they were free to construct their own consciousness? Thus based from a perspective of my own phenomenological experiences, which will be described in greater detail, and based on my research into many different esoteric and spiritual “traditions,” if the goal is the “Re-Symbolization of the Self” with Tarot card readings, it is a goal that will squeeze down consciousness into a smaller pre-determined box than I feel comfortable thinking about. I don’t envision how this can be helpful for expanding consciousnesses. I have not thrown the Tarot card baby out with the bathwater as I have found value in personal readings, but they do not compare with the full multidimensional critical complex bricolage (for which tarot cards may play a role) and the power it has for helping us find our own unique paths for transformation and liberation.  Just as I was finishing this up, I came across this recommendation (apparently, a “channeled” message):


Work With Inner Symbols, Dwal Khul, The Tibetan. Aug 20. 2,012.

When you see a spiritual symbol within, try to tune into the energy of it, later on, in order to renter [re-enter] that vibrational condition, reality, experience. The symbol itself is a form of living vibration that the energy has taken. Thus it is the same vibrational experience within the vibration light of the symbol, as in the experience itself to which it refers. And this relates to energies Your being is working with.

yours in christ and buddhi,
I Am , Djiwal Khul, The Tibetan


Thus, Semetsky’s (2011) contention that “we can bring about a revolution . . . in the societal value system if we step into our own symbolic process of evolution and transform the potentiality into our very reality by virtue of the lived-through meanings embodied in Tarot hermeneutic as our ultimate cultural pedagogy” (p. 153) is a thought that I find immensely frightening unless we reconfigure Tarot cards to truly represent “our own symbolic process of evolution” whereby we perhaps design our own unique Tarot cards with new embedded meanings.  I do not believe “the Tarot is almost a ‘super-theory’ of personality,” (p. 49) given the complexity of experiences and ongoing evolution of my own consciousness I’ve witnessed during the course of this research, as well as I’ve seen experienced by other people. I have more research to do in order to better understand the multitude of symbols I’ve seen and what they mean to me and I will be looking in many directions. For me, however, Tarot card readings do not hold the answer. For me, the multidimensional critical complex bricolage requires visiting multiple dimensions and using many methodologies and processes to weave together a deeper understanding of my Self of the past, present and future in relationship with the people I have come to know as my soul family. For me, it extends even beyond this if I am to take actions to change the world from “what is” to “what could be.” This is complexity is far beyond what Tarot cards can handle.


Scientific Study of Archetypes

Given the Tarot hermeneutic is based on a limited number of archetypes a discussion of this concept is warranted here. Jung had initially proposed an eternal archetypal self, which became the subject of immense disagreement with mainstream psychologists. Could he have been right all along? Do we each have a biological archetypal self? There is increasing interest in the phenomenon of consciousness evolution and “Becoming [one’s] Conscious Self” (Miller, 2009) and how archetypes play a role in this. Jung had regarded archetypes as biological entities subject to empirical study as does Stevens (2003). However, was it mistaken to then assume that there are limited numbers of archetypes? Was that an oversimplification—a reductionistic perspective—given what is now known about complexity, chaos, and infinite possibilities? Are there infinite archetypes—our real and idiosyncratic Selves? Some African cultures’ spiritual beliefs recognize thousands upon thousands of gods and goddesses (everything has a god or goddess associated with it) and how do we account for this unless perhaps they are based on numerous and idiosyncratic, even individual archetypes? Maybe the gods and goddesses are real. And perhaps Eros and Psyche would object to having their “Beings” de-sacralized, de-spirited, and lobotomized under the guise of understanding humans through “universal” Eros and Psyche archetypes. Psychoanalysis, psychology, and popular culture have demoted “Psyche” from her status as “soul” with the way the word is tossed around. And as Kincheloe (2006b) puts it: “I simply don’t believe the divinity wants a lobotomized fold” (p. 113). Complexity, as Kincheloe might say, throws a huge monkey wrench into psychoanalysis and the concept of archetypes.

Stevens (2003) has opened up greater possibilities of “being human” and understanding archetypes by integrating psychology, ethology (the study of animal behavior), and biology. He presents a more enriched scientific study of human behavior and archetypes, however, more research is needed using the multidimensional critical complex bricolage in order to move away from flawed Darwinism, as well as reductionistic psychology, with their “Masonic doctrine” and “racialist agenda” (Collins & Collins, 2004, p. 73)—as well as to bring in a greater variety of interdisciplinary and ontological perspectives. With enough different views and, again, with phenomenological data, researchers may be able to gain greater understanding of the true complexity of the phenomena involved in self-realization. If archetypes are biological entities as Stevens (2003) proposes, and as Jung had initially proposed, then we each should be able to identify, study, and define our own Self for ourselves, instead of being labeled, for example, as archetypically-based “worker types,” a dehumanizing use of this knowledge by the corporate sector (Houran, 2007).

As can be seen, there are many venues to explore and synthesize for research objects/subjects, if synthesizing is beneficial. Often merely getting alternative perspectives is enough, according to Kincheloe, which is what I have discovered in doing this research. For example, in the case of considering eternal archetypes for each individual, the view from Ageless Wisdom Knowledges is that “each body of a human being has one permanent atom which is the archetype for the construction and constitution of that vehicle in each incarnation” (Saraydarian, p. 404) [emphasis added]. This helps explain why certain aspects of the personality and appearance remain similar (experientially) throughout various lifetimes and again supports the contention that perhaps archetypes are biological entities. In my memories of previous and future lifetimes, I have found this similarity to be so. Personality and appearance from lifetime-to-lifetime cannot be identical, of course, because there is always the interplay between biology and environment, nature and nurture (Ridley, 2003). However, this concept of one permanent atom would, indeed, imply that we each have our own unique archetype and further, that we remain the same self throughout incarnations. What is the cost to our “being,” our individuality, if we limit options to a few over-simplified archetypes? If nature is capable of creating infinite variations of snowflakes, why would there not be infinite “archetypes” for the creation of human beings? Green (2006) also makes this point. Of course I am subjectively assuming we have past and future lives. For whatever reasons, it is what I remember; it is how I experience it phenomenologically and how I interpret various life experiences of the past, present, and future with all emotions intact. I have been quite astounded, myself, at the power of the emotions from lifetimes separated from the present by thousands of years and the work (with Joe’s help, in my interpretation) in remembering and transmuting those emotions. It seems I have “lost him” a few times before, which had magnified tremendously the pain I felt this time.


Intermission: Staying on the Great Path

More research needs to be undertaken regarding the symbols used for Tarot Cards and their history. What is the history of these symbols? Who designed them? For what reasons? What is left out of the “story?” What are alternative meanings of the symbols? How are they “universal” or are they? Semetsky (2011) has stated the symbols are based on Western Hermetic traditions, but clearly, people are not taught that philosophy during the readings nor has the study itself reached back into its origins from Ancient Egypt for greater insight. Semetsky (2012), in a later article about her study, simply throws up her hands despite Kincheloe’s emphasis on critical historical, political, religious, social, and psychological analyses, stating, “For the purpose of my research it matters little who, where and when gave birth to Tarot pictures because the essence of their importance for us is that a very real and transforming human emotion must have brought them to birth” (p. 34). These images can be researched. In fact, she might even start at where Adam McLean (2012) has assembled “over 2500 sections providing tens of thousands of pages of text, over 3000 images, over 300 complete alchemical texts, extensive bibliographical material on the printed books and manuscripts, numerous articles, introductory and general reference material on alchemy” (Home, para. 1). Because no definitive answer can be provided is not an adequate rationale for not presenting various perspectives about the historical context of these cards and considering that context in their application in today’s world. Indeed, bricoleurs are never after definitive answers, but rather perspectives that shed more understanding and that can help us make smarter decisions about the actions we take and the recommendations we make, especially when our actions influence consciousnesses of other human beings. In less than 20 minutes of research, I was able to track down the originator of the Devil card. It is represented as Baphomet, alleged to be the worshipped deity of the Knights Templar. It was reportedly designed by Eliphas Lévi in 1854 for his book, Dogmas and Rituals of High Magic.  He also was said to have been the first to have inverted the pentagram, associating it with evil as depicted on this image. It is believed by some writers that the name, Baphomet is an Old French corruption of the Islam prophet, Muhammed (, 2012; Snuffin, 2009;, 2012; Wikipedia (2012), “Baphomet”). What are the ramifications that this image is not a universal concept? Lévi had turned against the Church and was a member of the Knights Templar. Was there an agenda behind associating these concepts with the “dark” occult? Was there an agenda behind naming this image as a corruption of an important Islam prophet? If the Devil card (Baphomet) has this rather shady historical background, what about the rest of the cards? Based on this card alone, the images do not seem to be universal or ancient. Is the Devil card during a reading pulled from the collective unconscious or is the subconscious being programmed in a subliminal manner by the Devil card? Why would teachers wish to use these cards in a classroom or for counseling children? Why would we wish to choose this particular “archetypal story” over some other perhaps more divine and beautiful story? Why do we have to believe there should be evil and destruction in the world and as a precursor to evolving? For some reason I’m hearing Pink Floyd singing, “Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!”

In summary, Tarot cards and the research about them have failed to adequately recognize that we are idiosyncratic multidimensional beings with potentially infinite experiential possibilities. Dr. Weiss (2004), who practices regression and progression therapy, explains that “the future seems to be a flexible destination. There exists a multitude of possible futures and probable futures across a vast statistical spectrum” (p. 214). It appears that while there is a range of probabilities, they are not necessarily infinite, depending upon choices we make along the path in relationship with others. Individuals can make choices in relationship to knowledge of their inner world and outer world. However, if we use reductionistic Western-based tools of questionable origin, we will not be able to see the full range of our opportunities or the true diversity and novelty awaiting us. We will either continue to navigate blindly or succumb to being told how to navigate in ways that may be detrimental to our well being. “Quite literally,” Weiss (2004) contends, “the future is now, and even on this planet we can shape our ‘nows’ by our actions” and this means it’s important to prepare for (i.e., construct) our own immortality (p. 214) [author’s emphasis]. We are literally shaping our future “heaven.” Based on my personal experiences during this research which occurred before reading Weiss’s work, I relate to this interpretation. The examples and discussion throughout this dissertation will illuminate this. My overall experiences seem to have given me a peek into my own immortal future, injecting me with a passionate desire to do what’s necessary now to create that future, thus, doing as Kincheloe recommends, taking actions that counter the prevailing thanatos on earth with Eros in the “now,” creating a future based on a powerful Eros Love. I have seen that place and time.

Just to be clear, my intention was not to discredit Tarot card reading, the research, or the researcher. I found the research interesting and informative. I have found Tarot card readings personally helpful for making better decisions along certain points of my path, but my spiritual advisor who used Tarot was selective in what she presented and used multiple means in the process of helping me understand my experiences. Even still there were drawbacks and limitations using the process, and this analysis has made me more aware of what those are. I have highlighted a few ways Semetsky’s study may be taken to the level of rigor Kincheloe calls for using my personal, wide range of phenomenological experiences as points of reference. I have provided examples of Level 3 questions and demonstrated the need for more research in several areas pertaining to the study. It would definitely be a very interesting topic to research further using the full power of the multidimensional critical complex bricolage. I believe it will be important to continue to differentiate the profession from the growing popular culture trends in which Tarot card reading continues to lose credibility, and Kincheloe’s bricolage can potentially help achieve that goal.


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“As a child I wanted so desperately for magic to be real. I would work for hours collecting what I hoped were just the right combination of ingredients to make some type of magic potion that would provide me with special powers….I found such magic in words viewed in a postformal matrix and I observe and practice that magic everyday.” (Kincheloe, 2006, Reading, Writing, Thinking, p. 13)
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