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Tarot Hermeneutics

Exploring How We Create Meaning with Tarot

Inna Semetsky

Of all the tarot writers who work in parallel or tandem with my own hermeneutical studies of tarot, Inna Semetsky's writings represent the most sustained theoretical approach to tarot hermeneutics that I am aware of. She has graciously allowed me to post copies of her open source articles through this website as a mirror of her own.

Her published books:

Forthcoming book: Re-Symbolizing the Self: Human Development and Tarot Hermeneutic by Inna Semetsky (Sense Publishers, The Netherlands) This ground-breaking book brings depth of meaning and intellectual scholarship to the field of human development while also lifting the human spirit by offering new dimensions of self-formation through the ancient medium of Tarot. It should be of great interest to health and human service professionals. --JEAN WATSON, Distinguished Professor, University of Colorado Denver College of Nursing; author of “Nursing. The Philosophy and Science of Caring” and “Caring science as sacred science”. 

Semetsky’s book is a timely antidote for our current crises in education. Drawing on her empirical research with Tarot and her deep knowledge of Jungian psychology, she offers an approach to education that stirs the depths of the Self as it deepens mind into soul.  Her Tarot hermeneutic opens a path toward a revolutionary pedagogy that, in its commitment to the complexity, fullness and fluidity of human subjectivity, recovers the ethical and therapeutic dimensions of education.  A bold book, a daring achievement, a spark of illumination! -- ROBERT. D. ROMANYSHYN, Senior Core Faculty, Pacifica Graduate Institute; Affiliate Member of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts; author of “The Wounded Researcher: Research with Soul in Mind” and “Ways of the Heart: Essays toward an Imaginal Psychology”.  

This text elucidates the potential of Tarot well beyond its popular usage.  It demonstrates how Tarot can become a pedagogical and counseling tool for enriching human experiences and the whole of culture with wisdom, integrity, meaning, and spirituality. A must to read! --MARY K. GREER, author of “Tarot for Your Self: A Workbook for Personal Transformation”. 

Bringing together popular and academic cultures, Inna Semetsky presents Tarot as a system of transformative hermeneutics for adult self-education and cultural pedagogy. Her research is a decisive and intelligent step ahead from the reductive stereotype of Tarot as fortune-telling.  The fifteen life stories at the heart of the book exemplify the author’s commitment to the alternative modes of education and counseling that transcend individual, cultural or language barriers.
Assembling a rich array of sources, from Hermeticism to Jungian depth psychology, philosophies of Noddings, Buber, and Deleuze, and science of self-organization, this book opens a new path to personal and social revitalization. It should be widely read across disciplinary divides by scholars, students, and professionals alike. --PHILIP WEXLER, Professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; author of "Symbolic Movement: Critique and Spirituality in Sociology of Education” and “Holy Sparks: Social Theory, Education and Religion”.

 Semiotics Education Experience by Inna Semetsky (Sense Publishers, The Netherlands)"Semiotics Education Experience" is a collection of fifteen essays edited by Inna Semetsky that explores semiotic approaches to education: semiotics of teaching, learning, and curriculum; educational theory and philosophies of Dewey, Peirce, and Deleuze; education as political semiosis; logic and mathematics; visual signs; semiotics and complexity; semiotics and ethics of the self. This is a landmark collection of cross-disciplinary chapters by international scholars that mark out the appeal and significance of a semiotic approach to education. As Marcel Danesi reminds us in the Foreword, Vygotsky construed learning theory as the science of signs. Semetsky's collection should be widely read by students and scholars in education, philosophy, futures studies, cultural studies, and related disciplines. It deserves the widest dissemination. --Michael A Peters, Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Editor, Educational Philosophy & Theory and Policy Futures in Education
"With her latest collection, Inna Semetsky has once again deftly organized a series of nuanced reflections on semiotics and pedagogical issues that touch upon vital philosophical, political, communicational, visual and interdisciplinary matters of enduring relevance." -- Gary Genosko, Editor, The Semiotic Review of Books and Canada Research Chair, Lakehead University.

Deleuze, Education and Becoming by Inna Semetsky (Sense Publishers, The Netherlands) This wonderful, highly readable book breaks new ground in revealing commonalities between Deleuze's nomadic method of inquiry and the pragmatic method of John Dewey. It should be of great interest to both philosophers and educators. --NEL NODDINGS, Stanford University, author of Happiness And Education
...few have placed the thinking of Dewey into effective dialogue with other forms of philosophy. This is particularly the case regarding contemporary European philosophy. Inna Semetsky's exciting new book bridges this gap for the first time by putting the brilliant poststructuralist work of Gilles Deleuze into critical and creative dialogue with that of Dewey. . The publication of this work announces the appearance of a remarkable line of thinking that scholars around the world will soon come to appreciate. --JIM GARRISON, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, author of Dewey and Eros.
In this subtle and graceful study, Inna Semetsky brings together cultural and philosophical traditions long in need of connection. This is a significant and powerful work that is sure to invigorate discussions of educational theory for years to come. --RONALD BOGUE, University of Georgia, author of Deleuze's Wake: Tribute and Tributaries.

Nomadic Education by Inna Semetsky (Sense Publishers, The Netherlands) This comprehensive and thoughtful volume is the first book to investigate, assess and apply a philosophy of education drawn from the great French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. It contains powerful and beautiful essays by some of the most influential Deleuze and Guattari commentators (the chapters by Bogue, Colebrook, May and Semetsky, and Genosko are particularly rewarding).
The book provides very useful situations within the philosophy of education and some interesting experimental developments of Deleuze's work, notably in terms of new technologies and original methods. This is then an indispensable work on Deleuze and education. It covers the historical background and begins shaping debates for future research in this exciting and growing area. --Professor James Williams, Professor of European Philosophy, School of Humanities, University of Dundee, author of Gilles Deleuze's Difference and Repetition: A Critical Introduction and Guide and The Transversal Thought of Gilles Deleuze: Encounters and Influences
Deleuze always said that education was an erotic, voluptuous experience, perhaps the most important experience we can have. This collection captures that excitement and challenges what we think about how Deleuze should be taught and just as importantly what he taught. --Ian Buchanan, Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory, Cardiff University, author of Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus and founding editor of Deleuze Studies.
Here are thirteen encounters with Deleuze’s work that not only testify of the creativity and newness of Deleuze’s own writing but that, by taking these ideas into the field of education, raise new questions, signal new problems, and provide genuinely new ways of educational thinking and being. A rich source of inspiration for anyone who believes that education should not be about the reproduction of what already exists but should be committed to what is to become. --Gert Biesta, University of Stirling, author of Beyond Learning: Democratic Education for a Human Future; co-editor of Derrida & Education.

Her Open Source Articles

Her articles demand some attention but are well worth the effort. These are reproduced here for stability but derive from a her site.

Inna Semetsky 2010 “Silent Discourse: the language of signs and “becoming-woman”’. SubStance #121  Vol. 39, no. 1, 2010, pp. 87-102.

Recent article: Information and Signs: The Language of Images by Inna Semetsky [Entropy 2010, 12, 528-553; doi:10.3390/e12030528 www.mdpi.com/journal/entropy

Tarot (dis)contents: past/present/future by Inna Semesky [http://newsletter.tarotstudies.org/2009/03/tarot-dis-contents/]

Inna Semetsky, Memories of the Past, Memories of the Future: Semiotics and the Tarot

Inna Semetsky, The Phenomenology of Tarot, or: The Further Adventures of a Postmodern Fool

Inna Semetsky,  Semanalysis in the Age of Abjection, Applied Semiotics/Semiotiques Appliquee #17:24-46

Inna Semetsky, Signs in action: Tarot as a self-organized system: Cybernetics & Human Knowing, Volume 8, Numbers 1-2, 2001 , pp. 111-132(22) 

Abstract: From a semiotic viewpoint, Tarot has been described as a mere artifact with pictorial cards being signifiers in a symbolic sense. This paper reconceptualizes the process-structure of Tarot by placing it in a three-fold framework that merges semiotics with systems-theoretical and cybernetic perspectives. Charles Sanders Peirce's triadic logic embedded in the action of signs, or semiosis in mind and nature, serves as a point of departure. By addressing Tarot from the position of general systems theory it is possible to describe Tarot dynamics by means of a sort of indexical connection to its signified. The latter, albeit functioning in a symbolic sense as an archetypal field of Jungian collective unconscious, is nevertheless capable of producing real effects at the level of human emotions, cognitions and habitual behaviors. The interpretation of symbols as the Peircean category of Thirdness creates, by virtue of mediation, a feedback loop, that is it generates conditions of possibility for self-organization. The previously unconscious, that is as yet out of conscious awareness, contents of one's mind become available to human knowing. The process of reading and interpretation contributes to, in a pragmatic sense, the creation of meanings for mental representations, the former inferred from the symbolism embedded in Tarot pictures. As such, Tarot as a self-organized system has the potential to provide epistemic access to the Peircean virtual Real, affirming, in a way, some contemporary debates of cognitive science.

The Magician’s Autopoietic Action, or Eros Contained and Uncontained

Not by breadth alone: Imagining a Self-Organised Classroom

What evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow!

The Age of Abjection: Kristeva’s Semanalysis for the Real World

An Unconscious Subject of Deleuze and Guattari

See Inna Semetsky's Website: Innasense.org