What can change the nature of a man?


I was thinking about what the next question could be, and I wanted to use a character from my favourite videogame, Planescape: Torment. I was looking for a nice spread for the Nameless One, but, well… the game is built around a question that’s perfect for the tarot. Why not asking that?

So, knowing full well that Ravel, the character who asks the question in the game, will never be satisfied with any answer I could give, here it is: What can change the nature of a man?

I decided to use one of my favourite spreads for this question, the one I first learned. It is found in Wirth’s book. I like it because it is very rational. It compares and contrasts the cards in a very logic process that helps through the reading. For a mind like mine, which is not very intuitive, it’s simply great (although as a child I found it terribly difficult). Of course, I used Wirth’s cards as well :).

I won’t explain the details of how the cards are drawn, because I don’t think it actually matters – the important thing is being consistent. I followed Wirth’s method and I drew:


The positions are as follows:

Card 1 – The Wheel of Fortune – is affirmative, it’s in favour of the question or of the situation.
Card 2 – Strength – is negative, it is against the question or the situation.
Card 3 – The Chariot – is the “Judge“, it weighs the pros and cons and suggests clarifying the decision.
Card 4 – The World – is the sentence, the ultimate word of the spread, so to speak.
Card 5 – Death – is the synthesis, the most important thing.
I suggest this post by Mary K. Greer about the spread.

As Wirth puts it, The Wheel of Fortune puts itself in service of Death while Strength opposes it. But what does it mean here?
Death IS change. It is an inevitable, natural, change, that we can fight but that is in our nature: fighting it, we can only delay the inevitable and suffer greatly. After all, everyone dies. Everyone changes. But if this change is inherent in our nature, doesn’t it mean that… it’s not a change *of* our natures? Our nature requires us to change, and what we are before the change is still the same nature of what we are *after* the change.
Let’s examine the other cards. The Wheel of Fortune is, surprise!, another kind of change! With Death, it’s one of the four cards of Change (the third being The Tower and the fourth Judgement). But what are the differences here? I see the Wheel as external changes, which we have little or no control over. Cyclical changes, too, which re-occur with time. Sometimes we have a good month, sometimes a very bad one. Sometimes we are lucky, sometimes we are so unlucky that we want to die. Death is more of an internal change, that maybe we cannot control, but that is about us in a very intimate way. It is a change of ourselves.

It’s worth to notice the two change cards missing from the spread. One is Judgement, which is the one card that implies an act of will. This is the right moment to stop smoking – if I put myself to it. This is Judgement. This kind of active effort is missing here. So, it seems that we cannot change our nature by will.
I am not surprised that the other one, the Tower, is missing, because I feel it represents the most “external change”. The Tower implies a change in our structures, not in ourselves, and it invites us to see ourselves outsides of the structures which have defined us until now. I would say it is a call to see our true natures, not something that *changes* our true natures.

Anyways. The Wheel of Fortunes agrees with Death. External changes help internal changes, maybe? Or cause them? It seems like that.
Strength, instead, opposes Death. This, I found strange at first, but reflecting on it, I can see why. Strength is what gives us an edge is facing the changes of the Wheel. Knowing our innermost selves, our passions, and being able to channel them at our will is considered one of the greatest challenges of life. So, it seems logical to say that, if we already are strong (in the sense implied by the Strength card) we will not need to change to face and adapt to the Wheel.
But the Chariot puts it all in perspective. I see him as the “minor version” of Strength. He puts out a strong façade, being protected by his armour from the deep recesses of himself. His hold on the dualities in his nature is fragile: it can become too strong, making him too strict and “armoured” against his deeper self; or it can break, letting the dualities run amok and driving the chariot to disaster.
He also reminds me of Oedipus. He was the only one who could answer the riddle of the Sphinx, showing that he knew the Man. But he didn’t actually knew his nature and when faced with the truth he encountered tragedy. But did his natures change, or was simply revealed?

Not knowing our true natures, facing with ignorance our daily luck and striving to become stronger is what make the change, what unifies our inner dualities. We have arrived at the World, when the true nature is revealed. The World and the Fool are the end and the start of the journey, but they are not inherently different. In fact, as soon as we reach the World, we are back to the Fool again. We unveil ourselves and we keep unveiling it (again with the cycles of the Wheel combined with the inevitability and intimacy of the changes of Death). The Fool is our true nature, like the Chariot is our true nature, like the Strength is our true nature, like the World is our true nature.

The change is constant, but there is no actual change, because everything we are and will be was in our nature from the start.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s