A kind correspondent (I haven’t sought his permission to quote, so I’ll just call him KC) wrote to ask me my opinion on the ‘RTCM’ – the ‘Retrospective Three Coin Method’ developed by Carol Anthony and Hanna Moog, which is meant as a way to confirm or deny your interpretation by casting three coins to get a definite or tentative yes or no response.
I had to pause and think about my answer, because although I’ve read their description of the method, I’ve never been at all interested in trying it. (KC had tried it and found it inaccurate, even though it seemed to make sense in theory.) Why not?
Also, I’m reminded of a question addressed by all the contributors to Into the Flow of Change (link to follow) – ‘How can I trust the message?’ In other words, how can you know you’re not covering over the truth with what you want to hear (or what you dread hearing) and just making stuff up? We had a mix of responses from our tarot reader, dream interpreter, tracker of synchronicities and Yijing diviner: some challenged the value of ‘objectivity’, some suggested practical tests to apply to your answer. Funnily enough, no-one suggested tossing coins to be sure… which probably doesn’t greatly surprise you… but then again, why not?
In my own experience, there isn’t really a moment in a reading when this kind of practice would fit. Sometimes I understand at once; sometimes I don’t. When I understand, all the ‘verification’ I need arises internally; there’s an inner resonance, a clear assent. And when I don’t… well, I don’t. It’s almost never the case that I have an idea of what it might be saying and need to check. I either know, or I just don’t have much of an idea at all, and need to wait. To ‘turn the symbols in my heart’, as Stephen Karcher would say, and attend to them, and see what arises.
I said ‘almost never’: the few exceptions tend to come when I’m reading for someone else. The most important thing here is for the querent to experience that inner resonance – but the more I can understand, the better.
If I need more insight for a client, and if waiting and pondering isn’t enough, I’ll cast a supplementary reading. For example, if the first reading seems to be advising a particular course of action, I might ask, ‘What difference would it make if she did that?’ As I’m looking for a more complete understanding of a complex situation, to be able to reflect the whole picture back to the querent, I need to work with whole readings; there’s still not much call for yes/no.
And also… I wonder if this way of seeking confirmation might not be counterproductive for the kind of reading I do?
KC wants to get accurate answers to factual questions, so he needs yes/no answers. Either x is true or it isn’t – the objective answer is ‘out there’. (I’ve sent KC some links to more information on traditional methods of prediction.) But I don’t often use readings that way – and locating the authority ‘out there’ when your readings are mostly about yourself and how you move in the world feels discordant.
It seems to me that if you’re hurrying to get external validation for your insight, you might miss out altogether on the inner experience of a reading. You might never learn what it feels like – the way a reading gradually settles in and shapes your thinking, or how an image can connect and resonate until your understanding chimes like a bell…
If you enjoy this kind of reflection, you’ll appreciate this exploration of ‘yes/no’ answers and the RTCM from the I Ching Community last year.