The Tarot of Shop

Cover art from the Muzoracle package

Interpreting a Casting

Details and Examples

Ascent and Descent: Direction in a Casting. Direction -- be it ascending or descending -- is the first thing that appears in a casting. If we're working with a full-layout, the Musician's Die determines it; if we're working with a one-up, the Solfege Die points either up or down.

In the Muzoracle, descending currents speak of that which is “coming down,” of the things that happen to us and around us. Ascending currents speak of intentional processes, of that which we make happen, or try to. A casting’s direction is a broad stroke, a watercolor wash over our story as a whole. If our casting is descending, it’s speaking in a general way of what’s going on around us; if it’s ascending, it’s speaking in a general way of something we’re trying to accomplish. A descending full-layout with a lot of ascending chromatic points might indicate a “pushing against the flow”; an ascending casting with a lot of descending chromatic points might indicate an effort meeting resistance.

Looking up Cards and Dice. Each position in a casting is defined by two elements: its card and its scalepoint. To find the meanings of individual cards, use the Card Index. To find the meanings of individual scalepoints, use the Dice Index, or open the scalepoint pop-up window available on each card page.

Interpreting Suit Cards. Each of the individual Suit Cards is defined by two attributes: its Suit and its Harmony or Musician. The Suit of Strings, for example, refers to “the Realm of Feeling,” while the Harmony of the Major Third refers to “Ease”; thus, in the Card Index, we find under the Major Third of Strings “Ease in the Realm of Feeling.” Now, there’s a whole lot more detail about what the Suit of Strings means in the Basics pages, and a lot more about Major Thirds there as well; in the card pages, however, each Suit Card is further defined only by its keywords.

In looking at the Major Third of Strings page, we see that the Major Third, along with meaning “ease,” also can indicate resolution, relief, release, improvement, or blind optimism. In addition to “feeling,” we see that Strings can also indicate emotion, intuition, memory, or the heart. In divining a meaning for this card in the context of a casting, we can mix and match these keywords: under the umbrella of “Ease in the Realm of Feeling” we might find “relief in the realm of the heart,” for example, or “improvement in the realm of intuition.” The fact is that both the Major Third and the Suit of Strings have their own vibe, but neither is singularly describable; each contains many shades. The keywords serve as an entrance to the gestalt of a card; we combine them in such a way that the card finds a place in our story.

Interpreting Compositionals. In addition to the 55 Suit Cards, there are 34 Compositional Cards to draw from. These black-and-white cards describe elements and concepts found in compositions or used by composers. Divining the meaning of a position that contains a Compositional is pretty much the same process as divining a position that contains a Suit Card. Like the Suit Cards, the Compositionals have associated keywords, and can be found in the Card Index.

Figuring in Scalepoints. The scalepoint on the face of the Solfege Die adds another layer of meaning to a position: it rather adds the when. Musical scales take place over time, and the scalepoints on the Solfege Dice refer to points in a process. When a card is drawn above or below a die, we say the card occurs “at the point” indicated by the die’s face.

The scalepoints have different meanings depending on which end of the card they lie. These differences are explained in detail in the Dice Index, and are explained in brief -- by keyword -- in the scalepoint pop-up window available on each card page.

Looking at Cards and Dice together. Now, let’s look at a card and a scalepoint together. If our Major Third of Strings is drawn above the scalepoint of fa, using the Major Third of Strings page and its scalepoint pop-up window we find “Ease in the Realm of Feeling at the point of Revelation.” As we can see, "Revelation," like “Ease” and “Feeling," has keywords, too: shock and true nature. So, in finally divining the meaning of this position, we pull keywords from three areas: the Suit, the Harmony, and the scalepoint. If the card in our position was a Musician instead of a Harmony card, we'd pull keywords from the Suit, the Musician, and the scalepoint; if the card was a Compositional, we'd pull from the Compositional's keywords.

All of this might sound a bit complicated, but it really isn’t. When divining the meaning of a position, try softening your gaze. Take in all the keywords, let them jumble -- allow something to form. Let go of bodily tension -- don’t over-think. Gently return to the question from time to time -- let the ideas bubble up. As other positions come into play and an overall picture begins to emerge, what you come up with for this position might change -- that’s okay. Perhaps the best you can come up with at the moment is a bit vague; give it time. Divination is about a light touch; pushing, judging, and hurrying don’t work. Relax, enjoy the creative process -- you are making art.

Interpreting the Axis. The axis position of a casting -- it's two-card cross -- is its chief emphasis; it is the point around which the rest of the casting revolves. An axis functions similarly to a cross in traditional Tarot: the two cards within it may be in opposition to or in support of one another, but in any case have irrevocably met, and together form a single notion that we must divine.

Interpreting the Casting as a Whole. One might think that once the meanings of the individual positions are ascertained, one simply sticks them together to form an overall interpretation of a casting. In practice, things aren’t so linear. As the meaning of each position begins to take form, it informs and influences the other positions; often, one position becomes clear first, and others start to morph around it. Slowly -- and once in a while rather suddenly -- an overall picture begins to emerge, a story begins to take shape. Divining the meaning of a casting as a whole is much like divining the meaning of a single position: we soften our gaze, we return to the question …

… and we let the querent speak. As readers, we are first and foremost translators. A casting is the querent’s story -- we’re just helping with the language. Many times in the course of a casting, I’ve had very distinct ideas regarding the meaning of a position or the casting as a whole, and the querent piped in with something seemingly off the wall -- that brought the whole thing together. The querent’s input should be encouraged. Our job as readers is not to impress; we want to help the querent find something that belongs to them. If we’re reading for ourselves, this rule of thumb can help us remember that the oracle doesn’t have the last word -- we do.