Creativity and the occult

Maybe I shouldn't start with a word like 'occult'. I pride myself on embracing the scientific method. Do I believe in the occult? No, although sometimes, when I put on clean pair of white pants and drink a cup of coffee I suspect something. To be honest, I think that the second law of thermodynamics and its entropy henchman does a better job than the occult in 'splaining the staining.

But I have a confession to make. Over thirty-five years ago I cut out a 22 card deck of tarot cards from a magazine and had great fun with it. It led me venturing into I Ching, Runes oracles and even astrology charts on my PC. Today, on my iPad I have all four in my games sections.

Games section, you read it right. Although it's all pure bunkum, they make for great entertainment value. Like Monopoly, Risk, or Candy Crush if you must.
With a single deck of cards you can entertain folks all night long and get quite a valuable reputation as a weird nutcase at the same time. And you will always end up with a few believers, who, without hesitation, will ominously state to you that they've always known there is 'more'. Alas, there isn't, but the nice thought has even crossed my mind from time to time.

Thirty-five years back I had to scavenge the country for only one deck of Tarot cards. Only a few years later occult junk would become hip, with plenty of choice, but for once in my life I had been ahead of the fad. Some commendation.

What does creativity have to do with Tarot or I Ching or any oracle game? Surprisingly a lot. If you lay out a spread of cards, each card has so many meanings and interpretations that you must find ways to compile and connect all those meaning into an intelligible story. And because of the multiple interpretations, you always will be able to find a 'reading' that has something to do with the initial question.

That's not occult, that's statistics, but don't tell anyone near me. We all know the principle, reading a horoscope with ten random statements about the coming week. If five will come true, you'll forget the other five that didn't. Statistics prevail and a horoscope is born. We call that "confirmation bias" (or "cherry picking" if you must).

Although we can't predict the future or find real life things happening by reading cards or throwing coins, we can use the principle the oracle reader applies in a fun and creative way.You can either use such an oracle for yourself or in a group. Exactly because of the vagueness and multiple interpretations it can be used as a method to unblock the creative mind and force it to find new combinations.

I tend to compare these games to creating the well accepted mind map. With each oracle method you have to combine multiple cards, stones or lines in new ways. You can make heads or tails of the I Ching coins or Tarot cards? You might as well find ways to make heads or tails of your current situation.
You can compare it to a familiar mind mapping method. Place a random word in the middle and come up with as many associations as you can in the shortest possible time. Sometimes it leads to nothing, very often it leads to extremely interesting and honest observations - about yourself, the problem or the way you decide to solve it.

For mind mapping as for oracles, the same rules apply. You might input reality, but the results won't show you the future. They only gives you insights and new ideas. The best way to use these tools is to ask questions like 'what should I do' instead of 'what will happen'. In the end, the first question is important, the second always idiotic - if you expect a verifiable and realistic answer.

No, I don't promote the use of astrology in the board room to predict the Q2 results of your company. If you got the message right, that is.
What's the word of the day? Gamification. As so often, when a team becomes stuck in a rut, a game can help to break the barrier in a fun way. On an individual and collective level. In any environment.

Skeptics fight a war to the death with predict-the-future charlatans. And right so, because all claims they make are anti-scientific nonsense. They deny the most basic scientific facts. Sad message for them and their followers: you can deny the facts, but it won't change reality.
People making you believe they can give you outside knowledge about what you feel and what will happen are at best gullible and at worst criminals.
But in the just quest to debunk quackery like fortune-telling their opponents might inadvertently deny a few valuable tools their right to achieve something else: reclaiming creativity and get new inspiration.

Not by consulting the gods in your morning toast or the tree spirit in the neighbor's garden, but by connecting unrelated tidbits to playfully form new creative ideas and fresh insights.
And you know what? Your insights might come true - if you start applying them in real life, or they might never materialize - if you discard them.

Alas, the future isn't an unchangeable factor. If that were the case, there would be no obstacle to remember it now, just like the past, and we wouldn't need cards or coins.
Yes, remember, you read that correct. Remembering the future. No basic law of physics forbids it. Really.

But that's another -scientific- discussion.