Nockwood a framework for almost everything.
I’ve always talked about the discovery of the Nockwood cards as an exploration of human behavior. The archetypes were designed to provide a framework for understanding and discussing behaviors of both brands and individuals. They are incredibly useful for this, but since their inception they’ve evolved to be much more. As I’ve uncovered layers and layers of meaning and significance, I now believe they provide a framework for knowing and navigating almost everything. A huge claim, but read on and I’ll hopefully explain why I think that is the case.
(If you want to learn more about these layers you can see the discussions here:The most popular and most comprehensive discussions of broader meaning are these two posts: “Musings on meaning” and “What does it all mean”).
Revisiting ancient wisdoms.
The journey into human behaviors keeps dragging me back to ancient wisdoms that have been overlooked or ignored in recent times. These include the wisdoms of the Alchemists, Gnostics and aboriginal and native American cultures.
These ancient wisdoms saw philosophy and science as closely aligned. They understood that there was a complexity of dimensions that are all interdependent of each other. They understood the world as both material and spiritual, physical and metaphysical, not either or, but a vibrant, nuanced interplay between powers, forces (known and unknown), beings (life forms, both vegetable and animal) and materials with many varied qualities (active and inert).
Philosophy and science are one.
In our modern arrogance, and with our material, rationalistic obsessions, we considered these ancient beliefs to be naive, some religious hangover, or blindness, that prevented them from separating their Gods from their scientific investigations….but maybe, they were smarter than we give them credit for. Maybe their view of reality, their view of the nature of their environment, the nature of themselves and other beings, which was developed over millennia, had more truth to it than our objective and rational one.
Reality requires subjectivity, relativity and beliefs.
The more our science reveals about our material world (Check out ‘Dancing Wu Li dancers’; Tao of Physics; Niels Bohr; Bertrand Russell;Carl Jung; Subjectivity in quantum physics etc.) the more I’ve come to appreciate how subjective our reality truly is. Quantum physics cannot explain the material world without subjectivity. Time and causality are relative, not absolute.
Also, the more we learn about our brain function and consciousness (Anil Seth; Sackler Center for Consciousness Science etc.) the more it is clear that our ‘beliefs’ have powerful impacts on our perceptions, and therefore our thinking, our behaviors and ultimately our experiences. If consciousness, as Anil Seth asserts, is a series of ‘best guesses’ that our mind makes to determine what is real, then not only are philosophy and science intimately connected but we also have an opportunity to change our reality by simply affecting the subjective guesses our mind makes to determine that ‘reality’.
In short, science tells us, that if we can learn to change our beliefs (those subjective and relative expectations of the world around us) ...at will, then we can materially impact our experience of reality…at will.
Guidance from our own being.
The connection here, with the Nockwood cards, is that the cards have proven themselves very valuable as a tool for guidance. Guidance for brands who wish to move beyond a model of branding that is based on image and perceptions only. This old world concept of ‘brand’ allows for the possibility that a brand’s image can be manipulated to be different from the brand reality. In our new, interconnected world, this is no longer the case. Brand perceptions and brand realities need to be aligned.
Brands aren't the only ones who need a unifying principle
Brand managers can’t just manage their brand’s image they have to manage the both the tangible products and services of the brand and the intangible beliefs and values of the organization. These tangible and intangible brand characteristics can’t exist only in marketing communications, they have to be mirrored the behaviors and actions of the entire organization, informing the culture and operating systems that have a direct effect on the experiences of the brand’s customers. What Carl Jung and Alchemists might call this divine symmetry, Unus Mundus — or unifying principle — the concept of the world in God’s mind before he put it into actual reality.
But the usefulness of the Nockwood cards goes beyond just the identification of unifying principles for brand perceptions and brand realities. The six suits have also proven themselves very valuable for guiding people in their lives and in their decision making. They help people overcome their tendency to think of things along narrow and familiar pathways. The provoke and prompt alternative considerations that might not have been considered without the provocation of a ‘reading’. In previous writings I called this “Guidance from your own being” a combination of tapping into intuitions and the serendipitous laying out of cards with specific symbolic meanings, into a ‘spread’ that gives these ‘meaning filled’ cards a narrative context. (Confused: try reading this post: Guidance ).
Nockwood suits = human natures.
It’s this power of the Nockwood cards to facilitate inner reflection, to consider alternative outward actions and behaviors and the meditations on future potentialities/future realities that people find so valuable, that bring me back to these ancient wisdoms. In many ways the six suits of Nockwood that I uncovered are not simply human motivations of behavior, they are fundamental human ‘natures’ and all of these ancient wisdoms believed that knowledge and understanding of all of nature, all of the universe, could be achieved from within.
Stop searching, the answer is within us.
The Gnostics believed that the essential part of spiritual knowledge was born of personal knowledge. That revelation comes not from a separated divinity, but from knowing human nature and human destiny. Monoimus (a Gnostic from the 1st and 2nd century) is quoted as saying:
“Abandon the search for God and the creation and other maters of a similar sort. Look for him by taking yourself as a starting point. Learn who it is within you who makes everything his own and says, “My God, my mind, my thoughts, my soul, my body.” Learn the sources of sorry, joy, love, hate. Learn how it happens that one watches without willing, rests without willing, becomes angry without willing, loves without willing. If you carefully investigate these matters you will find Him in yourself.”
Similarly, in the early Christian texts, before the canonization of the new testament and the shift towards an ecclesiastical ‘authority’, such symmetry of materiality and divinity were common place (and in line with my conclusions that Nockwood offer ‘guidance from your own being’). It is stated in the Gospel of Thomas that Jesus Christ said:
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.”
Gospel of Thomas.
Human nature is nature's nature
So, as I use the Nockwood cards to understand and strengthen my understanding of my own nature, so I come to understand all human nature better. The suits of the cards are the 6 primary characteristics of human nature and in considering, reflecting on them, reacting to them and gaining guidance from them, I have been able to forge better, stronger paths and achieve desired outcomes more consistently and predictably.
Our natures cannot be separated from our destiny
In understanding human nature better, for human nature is part of all nature, I have also come to understand nature’s nature too, or at least the nature of it as i’m able to perceive and comprehend it. It’s interconnectedness, its ever expanding and infinite diversity, it’s creativity, it’s cycles, it’s subjectivity and objectivity. It’s combination of understood and unknown forces and energies. In understanding natures nature, so I come to understand, or at least achieve some restricted view of, my own future potentialities (my destiny), the destiny of others and, by deduction, nature’s destiny itself. These destinies must be the product of our natures. Surely, it is as foolish to believe that these things can be separated as it is to believe that brand perceptions can be separated from brand realities.