Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Doctor Who and the Tarot

“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.” -The Doctor

Venturing into new realms of geekiness, I realized there is actually some truth to this. For those of you not in the know, the Doctor is the title character in the long-running British TV series Doctor Who. He is the last member of a race known as Time Lords, who, as the name suggests, have the ability to travel both through time and space. This being the case, it's entirely possible to rewrite your own history, to some extent. However, we discover in the course of the show that certain things in time need to happen for the stability of the universe as a whole. 
Now what does this have to do with Tarot cards? At first, it would seem next to nothing. But actually, we find that the knowledge of our position in time gives us also some degree of control and decision- we can change the path we're on. But before we can do that, first we must understand the mechanism of time, and the mechanisms of action and reaction. 
First, let's look at relativity- what we find is that time is not a fixed concept- it changes relative to the observer. Yet even being relative, there are constants- Albert Einstein proposes the speed of light as a constant- that is, nothing can move faster than the speed of light. So we have two concepts here- first, that things can be relative. Second, that even within this relativity there are constants. Extrapolating from this, we can see that in our own lives there are constants, as well as relative factors. Going back to the good Doctor, we see that though things can be different from each point of observation, and subsequently, that they are somewhat flexible, there are also constants. Without these constants, how could we "know" anything? Everything would be relative, without an objective standard. In one episode, we find that the Doctor's traveling companion, Rose, has an opportunity to prevent her father from dying in a car accident. She travels back to the time and place of his death and prevents him from being hit by the car that kills him. But by doing this, she learns the hard way that there are certain things in our timelines that need to happen. In this case, her father's death was one of them. The implications here are first, that we are never powerless. The Tarot does not predict the future as much as it does illuminate what's going on, and allows us to see behind the proverbial curtain. It does not point to things that are inevitable, though these also exist. We can't alter time and space too much, as these things exist for a reason- to hold the universe in a state of relative (there's that word again!) stability. Don't mess with the laws of physics, in other words. These same laws give our world structure and organization- and also allow us to act with purpose and to change our own situation.
The concept of karma comes into play here, as does Newton's third law of motion. Actually, the two are functionally one and the same- for every action, a reaction exists. Newton figured that every action has consequences, and this is true as well. This is also why Rose's prevention of her father's death had such unforeseen consequences. The Doctor warns Rose that there are certain things that need to happen. Though we ourselves lack the ability to travel through time, thus altering our own pasts, we find that regardless the same principle applies- for every action, a reaction exists. We're stuck in our nice neat linear conception of time- action leads to reaction, and so on down the line. But even in the Doctor's view of time, the same principle holds- every action has a reaction, and when one part of the time line is altered, it has consequences.
So getting back to the Tarot- we can see the consequences of potential actions- what could be. From this we can determine the best course of action, what we should do, in other words. The simple fact is, we have the power to change the present. In this present, we set the stage for what's to come. Unlike our time-traveling protagonist, we don't have the ability to go back and change those decisions. We're limited to the present- and it's here that we can exercise influence. There are consequences for every action- this is true. But don't think of these things entirely in the negative, as reactions, consequences, whatever word you might choose, can be positive as well. 

So to sum up, we find these two factors at work- first, that there are indeed inevitabilities- things that we can't prevent from happening, coming from our past actions- these things have been set in motion. Yet at the same time, what we choose to do in the present, and how we choose to react and set our own course is up to us. 

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