(All quotes and memories are inexact; it's been a long time. But the impressions remain, and I shall try to be true to the spirit, if not the letter, of events.)
Click on picture for larger picture.
Reen Brust (sitting), Dave Messer, Kara Dalkey in Wisconsin in the summer of 1979.
The not-so-occasional party would be held at the Courts of Chaos in Circle Pines, and I was privileged to be at a few of them. Not many years after the above picture was taken, before the twins were born, Reen and I were the last ones up after a long day of various forms of revelry. I was giving her a massage In the living room. It was late, and other people were scattered about the building, asleep. We didn't need to be silent, but our conversation was quiet.
Reen asked what I was doing besides just rubbing, and I struggled to put unspoken kinesthetic insight into words.
Energy is a vector: it has direction and force. My style of massage works by tracing tense muscles along their vectors. What I refer to as Diagnostic Shiatzu. Starting with the obvious knots, I follow the lines of tension and/or energy. When the vectors are blocked, I try to open channels. Often, this involves finding and manipulating the node-points known as acupressure points (I don't do acupuncture). Sometimes, the node-point(s) that need unblocking are hard to find. Knowing (or discovering) where the lines are and how seemingly unrelated node-points connect is what makes me a good masseur. Massaging just to relieve muscle tension is one thing; balancing the body's energy is much trickier and involves a great deal of artistry.
I can, under most circumstances, feel tension, and trace energy through the body. (Frankly, I find it hard to fathom when people can't.) Lines of energy, and their intersecting points, have been known for thousands of years. (I am but an egg.) Most tension flows through a few major node-points, mapped out in acupuncture charts. Different styles of acupuncture use different maps, but they all connect everything to everything else, just using different pathways.
Finding points that seem blocked is a way of finding other areas that are out of balance, and possibly you'll find the base area of imbalance. Tracing lines of energy can connect seemingly unrelated points and increase that energy. In either case, I can help the massage recipient to better understand their own situation. Ideally, I function more as a teacher than masseur.
Finding vectors and node-points is not only a help to the massage recipient, it's what makes it fun for me.
"That's how Tarot works!" exclaims Reen, suddenly more awake.
I knew Reen was serious about Tarot. I was not. I believed Tarot was two steps down from the Kabbala and a half step up from a horoscope, with the people-reading skill of the practitioner being more important than whatever cards turn up.
Ah, but Reen was very serious about Tarot. She pulled out several Tarot decks and gave me readings all night. It was the first time I understood how Tarot worked. I still don't believe the mystical properties, in roughly the same way I don't believe that acupressure has an occult aspect. But for the first time I got to see, up close, how a True Believer works the symbols and images. Life is a vector, says she using my terminology, and time-tested symbols are the node-points.
In the semi-mystical world of Tarot, one never buys a Tarot deck, one must earn it. If you have a deck you should give it to a person who does a better reading, and is therefore presumed to have a better connection. (Iirc, the cycle begins with a gift.)
Diagnostic Shiatzu is engineering, following muscles and tendons. Most human actions have a fulcrum in one of the node-points, and tension in one area may be the result of imbalance in another area. Movement creates an energy vector, which can clash with another energy vector. A good masseur uses many clues, physical and experiential, to restore balance and relieve pain.
The art of a Tarot Deck should be representative enough so that the reading should be apparent, on the surface level, by the art alone. A well-designed Tarot deck contains the node-points of human experience, what Jung called archetypes. A good Reader uses many clues, from the cards themselves to their experience with people, to suss out the worries and hopes of the subject.
Human experience can be mapped many different ways. An evil Tarot deck (as some say) may still be well designed, but uses as node points the worst and basest aspects of human existence. A humorous Tarot deck may still be non-traditional, but will work if its node-points are powerful. Cat Tarot taps into a slightly different set of node-points to determine your vector.
By this time, others were waking up and we were winding down. I tried my hand at a few readings (!) and Reen said I did okay. We drifted off to our separate resting places, leaving the Tarot decks for others.
Reen wasn't the only Tarot aficionado in our crowd, but she sparked several people, including me, to at least have fun with the humorous decks and pay closer attention to the readings of others. I'm still convinced a good reading has more to do with the reader than the cards, but Reen taught me how the cards are used as a tool. A Tarot deck is full of node-points, and a reading can describe a vector. The wiggle room for interpretation is along the lines of the vector, which is the artistry.
Having put non-verbal thoughts into words helped me when I started teaching massage. The connection between the physical vector and the metaphysical vector helped me see where vectors and node-points were in other areas. Since then, I've given thousands of massages but only a few Tarot readings. And lately, I'm even too impatient for more than a quick one-card reading from others.
To my knowledge, Reen continued to give and occasionally get Tarot readings all her life.
on the front porch of the Courts of Chaos in Mpls