Entropy, Schrödinger’s Cat, Probability & Tarot

Entropy, Schrödinger’s Cat, Probability & Tarot

I came across a particular question online and I’m sure many other who study tarot have asked the same question, “If you do two readings on the same question, why do you get two different outcomes?” 

It made me think, how can I answer this completely? 

It’s a good question; after all if tarot can “predict the future”, then why are the outcomes different? 

Now, I don’t have a bachelor degree in Physics (or Metaphysics for that matter), but I’ll give it my best attempt at explaining from my (logic) point of view.

Shuffling the cards and laying them out may seem like random. You could also classify this as entropy, “[…] a measure of unpredictability of information content.” (Click here for more good details on Entropy – Information Content and another blog post “Entropy is Not Disorder” on Science 2.0 – although the second explains the theory of entropy, it also clears up some misconceptions.)

Entropy is commonly viewed as a measure of chaos and disorder (to paraphrase), yet we humans are always trying to make sense out of chaos.

We like things to be in order and we like to find meaning in things that come out of “synchronicity (coined by Carl Jung.)

For example, as you shuffle the cards, occasionally one or two “jump” out of the deck or a card gets dropped on the floor, then the cards are reassembled, cut into three piles, reassembled then dealt into a spread. 

You read those cards in the designated positions and combined. But, if you shuffle those same cards just in the same way and then deal them, you may get a completely different set of cards or you may get a few of the same ones, but not in the same positions.

It becomes a “lack of predictability, gradual decline into chaos.” [Oxford Dictionary]. You may become more confused from that reading than you were from the first reading, because the second reading may completely contradict your first reading!

That’s why many readers will refuse to read on the same subject twice in a short period of time unless underlying circumstances have changed.

The Tarot Cat at TarotPugs is certainly alive – especially when a can of cat food is opened.

So, what does Schrödinger’s Cat have to do with tarot?

Let’s say you did two spreads on the same question and now you have two different outcomes. Is one right and the other wrong? 

Are both of the wrong? 

Are both of them right? 

This is where the theory of Schrödinger’s Cat comes in.

It’s a paradox – as simple as that. 

If your question was “Should I […]?” and you did two spreads for that question and you got two different cards (keep in mind the law of total probability for the likelihood of getting the same card again), then it’s really a paradox of “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t” (if you’re pessimistic) or “you can’t go wrong either way” (if you’re optimistic).

Reading more than once on the same question in such a short amount of time leaves you open to even more confusion than there needs to be and even by doing enough readings on the same subject.

Keeping in mind conditional probability that you’ll eventually get a card or outcome you like, but will it be true?

Think of the different outcomes as probabilities.

Pug in a box, not the cat this time.

With Schrödinger’s Cat, that cat in the box could be:

a) alive,
b) dead or
c) conceivably both alive and dead.

You won’t know unless you open the box.

With the outcome of the cards in a spread, you won’t know until you’ve come to that finale. 

We can think of the different possible outcomes as probabilities.

Anything’s possible and everything’s possible when it comes to the future. 

Anything can happen from this second to the next. 

The reading is like giving different options and probabilities. You can think of it as alternate universes and dimensions, if you’d like.

If you go by that theory, there may be even endless possibilities in those just like there is in this universe.

Some people want to know what is going to happen and when – most of us hate waiting in suspense for news or an outcome. 

Many of us only want to know what’s going to happen if it’s good news and rather not hear the bad news or know that it’s coming.

With tarot, we might not get what we’re expecting or hoping for.

To quote Doc Emmett L. Brown from Back to the Future Part III, It means your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one, both of you. (Love the trilogy.)

Although this is just a quick post to wet your feet into the theories behind tarot (and physics) and why two different outcomes can come up for the same question, if you’re interested in the sciences of physics, math or even the metaphysics, certainly take a look at the links I put in this post for more info as starters.

Although tarot will always have its mysteries, so too will the universe.



Card images from Radiant Rider Waite Tarot (c)2003 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. All right reserved.
Stock image from Shutterstock.

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