On a visit to the USA and Canada 25 years back, my sister gifted me with a deck of Tarot cards with a starter kit containing a book and a black cloth with gold print indicating where cards could be spread. Was excited. Started reading the book for information on how to use the cards to divine. It was taken up out of curiosity and as a hobby later and given up much later!
In Southern India we are familiar with ‘cards’ which depict Hindu Gods or Christian Gods to read out the future by these street side astrologers operating out of street kerbs . A set of cards, a caged parrot or parrots and a cloth is all they need to get into business for the day. This type of jyothidam/josiyam (astrology) is called ‘Kili Josiyam. Kili in Tamil means a bird especially a parrot. A very popular diety, the Madurai Meenakshi Amman holds a parrot in one of her hands.
When any client approaches, they invoke a prayer, open the cage door and out walks the trained parrot who keeps picking a card and puts it away until a subtle signal by a sleight of hand makes it stop at a card. That card is opened by the astrologer, interpreted and future predicted. Its not the parrot who picks a card, it merely obeys the command of its owner either through a hand or leg gesture or sound gesture! The bird is given a reward of steamed rice or a fruit or peanut and sent into the cage until the next client comes calling.
My familiarity with the Kili Jyothidars doing the rounds triggered an interest in self-learning how to read a deck of Tarot cards. Only difference was Kili cards were Hindu or Christian God oriented mythology based and Tarot was very much Greek mythology with numbers and images (similar to the playing cards with which we play rummy, etc bearing 1 to 10 then jack, queen, king, joker and ace).
It was interesting and absorbing to read the mythology and the legend behind the 72 Tarot cards consisting of the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana for the first time. Most Hindus are familiar with mythology like Ramayana and Mahabharata from childhood and i was no exception to this. Already being familiar with numerology and western zodiacs early on due to an interest in the occult did help a bit more.
Ultimately these are different tools to either know a person’s characteristics as done through western zodiacs or predict events/future through Tarot cards. I was more interested into getting to the bottom of how the science or logic of predicting events through the Tarot or any other means was possible. This was in the year 1991.
To be continued…
Link below depicts how the Kili Jyothidar shows his left hand palm until he feels it’s enough and signals the bird to stop with a particular card with turning his hand. The initial 3 or 4 minutes will suffice to show how Kili Josiyam is used to predict. He uses Christian Gods like Christ, Mother Mary to predict future.
Below: Different types of training the parrots to obey signals from their owners. These have Hindu Gods for the same purpose.
Below: From the Greek mythology – Tarot cards followed mostly by the Westeners.