I love Tarot cards – I love the different perspectives the cards can bring to issues in life & the way different images on different decks can throw up new insights and considerations. I’ve used Tarot quite a lot to help me understand difficult situations. I don’t use them for fortune telling. I use them more as a life coaching tool – something that helps me understand in a different way whatever maybe troubling me. In doing so I usually find it frees my mind to think about what could help the situation & how I could unintentionally be making things worse.
One of the best writers on Tarot from this perspective is Rachel Pollack - particularly her 78 Degrees of Wisdom. Mary Greer too is a favourite of mine.
For awhile I’ve been thinking about writing about each of the Major Arcana cards from a WoW perspective, i.e. what might the High Priestess card look like in the WoW world? What situation in WoW is best symbolised by the Tower?
I’m going to start today with card 1 in the Tarot – the Magician. Now – important note- there’s actually a card zero in Tarot- the Fool. But for me, in this context, the Fool is us – the WoW player. Actually, to be more precise, the Fool is us just before we become the new player (or before we enter game with our brand new alt). It’s us at the point where we are just thinking about venturing into LFR or signing up for Flex. The Fool stands outside the real journey – knowing nothing, fearing everything, but about to take that leap. We level up in WoW by gaining experience. The Fool “levels up” by journeying through the lessons of the Tarot, the lessons of life. So I will talk about the WoW Fool throughout these posts – it is the Fool who experiences it all. But the Fool at point zero is potential only, and in and of himself at that point there is nothing to say. But at the end of the series, when I look back at the Fool & the journey he/she has experienced, we will then see the richness of that potential, that perfect moment when we dare to ask ”Will I?”
So today I start with the Magician – Card 1 (if you want to see some images of the Magician click here).
In traditional Magician cards we see a man standing behind a table with the tools of the elements laid out before him (Cup=Water, Wand=Fire, Sword=Air, Pentacle = Earth). One of his hands is stretched up to the heavens, the other points to the ground. As he wills, so it shall be. Your dreams can be made manifest if they are combined with effort, focus and will – so says the Magician. As a WoW player what does this mean? You earn your tools (weapons, armor, 16 plots on your farm & a handful of helpers), through hard work (well – it can be grindy - let’s face it). You learn your rotation, apply your gems & enchants, level up & there you have it. Power through effort (or heirlooms & guild boosts …whatever). It’s the Magician in action. Success. You can have it all if you like – as the Stereophonics told us (from Wales too – just saying) .
But what is this ”all” and are you sure you like it? The Magician can be an encouraging card if you draw it in real life. It can help you remember that you can achieve great things with the right focus, intention and action. But the Magician also gives a warning.
You see just because you can do something doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. And just because you have the power doesn’t mean you know how to wield it properly. Spiderman’s uncle wasn’t just a boring killjoy (although in the main he was) – great power does bring with it great responsibility. And yet often in WoW the people who have that “power” have no comprehension of responsibility. They only understand entitlement – a very different thing.
The negative side of the Magician is egotism. It’s the discovery of power & the unrestrained use of it to get what we want. Deep down we all know that what we want in life might not be what we need. But at certain points in our life we lose sight of that – we believe we know best. We believe in our power – our power alone. I know I have fallen into that trap & it led to the worst period of my life ever – a period of time for which I still have so many regrets. We get carried away with the headiness of newly discovered power - in whatever capacity we encounter it. We become the Magician - but when this is all we become it can cause all sorts of problems.
One of the examples of the Magician in WoW is Queen Azshara. She believed herself infallible – her wisdom, her insight, her power. She thought she was right & that the world she wanted to create was the right one. As she willed it, so it shall be. Sargeras first and then the Old Gods exploited this – there will always be people who feed our delusion for their own ends. When we wrongly believe ourselves all-powerful we render ourselves absolutely powerless. It’s the way of the world and a hard lesson to learn. And usually it is the people around us who pay the price. Azshara changed Azeroth & the Highbourne – forever. Unrestained power cannot but change the world.
And what of the “powerful”players in WoW. Where do they ”hurt” others? It’s easy to be dismissive – to say it’s only a game. But when real people are involved it’s never just a game. Not really. And it’s not the wipes that hurt (although the repair bills do). What hurts usually are the words. It’s no mystery why there is a shortage of Tanks in game - it’s a tough job because of the people that play & the things they say. The people who have the power – who know how to do everything & condemn those who don’t – they can destroy the world around them. Guilds collapse, raids wipe, people unsub. Knowing everything doesn’t mean you understand anything. Often it means you understand nothing at all.
The positive WoW side of the Magician are the people in game who use their powers for the good – the person who gives helpful advice & guidance in LFR, the player who helps someone out just because they can (and not just because it’s another way of wielding power & authority – step up to the mike intrusive inspects & advice). Some wonderful examples of the positive side of this card can be found in the WoW Insider column Random Acts of Uberness – such a heart warming read - tales of people applying their will and effort to work good magic in people’s lives. The Magician at its finest.
The first card of the Tarot can be an exciting one. It tells us all is possible. And we feel this way ourselves once we start levelling up, getting our gear, becoming more powerful (actually I feel this way the moment I go into the character creation screen – I think it’s my favourite part of WoW!). But if we lack judgement, moderation, perspective and kindness – this power will never be for the good.
It can be truly devastating when we have to face the results of unrestrained egotistical behaviour in real life. In game egotists never have to face this. They log off & walk away. And this means they remain the Magician forever- wielding their power without restraint. They never progress. Tanks who level through dungeons by running off without a care for the healer and dpsers who pull whatever they like are bad players at end game. Nothing changes. Everything remains me, me, me. Their power & what they can do. Never what they should do. Never what they ought to do.
But not the Fool. Thankfully. He moves on in the Tarot story. He receives his power from the Magician but does not immediately rush to use it. He stops. Not to go AFK – he’s no slacker. He stops to think. What sort of player do I want to be? What sort of person will I be? This is Will plus Action plus Thought. The Magician & something more. And that something more is the High Priestess – Card 2 in the Tarot. She reminds us of who we really are & she helps us think about how we should present ourselves to the world. The Azeroth world & the real world – one world, one Self. And I’ll talk more about this in the next post.