Monday, March 05, 2012

40 Days of Lent: Day Thirteen

I spent much of yesterday with tarot cards spread across my living room floor in various patterns as I read along in The Way of Tarot by Alexjandro Jodorowsky and Marianne Costa. The authors are quite good at putting the cards into various grids and patterns which makes it easier for the beginner (the fool) to get a grasp of the cards, getting all the way through to the end and thus understanding The World of tarot without getting bogged down in esoteric symbology and obscure references. One problem however, is that the book is written using the Marseilles tarot, a very different deck than what I have (a modified Rider Waite).

The card on the left is from the Marseilles deck while the one on the right is from the Rider Waite.

It's the difference between medieval woodcuts and the Pre-Raphaelites. The Rider Waite deck features characters and scenes for it's minor arcana. For example, the II of Swords shows a blindfolded woman holding two swords, pointing them in different directions. The Marseilles deck shows two swords and some flowers, more geometric than illustrative. So some of the interpretations of the cards don't quite mesh with the images.

I've had the deck of cards since 2004. I bought it in New Orleans (of course!) when I decided to get the Hanged Man tattooed on my arm. So why am I finally devoting time to it now? Not sure, really. As I write more and more I feel a need to exercise the visual and intuitive parts of my brain. Sometimes you can surprise yourself. As Pee Wee Herman puts it, "your mind plays tricks on you. You play tricks back." Speaking of Pee Wee, here's a good example. On Day Ten of the 40 Days of Lent, I posted four pictures because, quite frankly, I was pressed for time and wanted to post something before the day's end (just like today). I chose four photographs with the only thing they had in common being that I liked them and hadn't posted them before.

Yesterday, after spending the afternoon looking at images and seeing different interpretations, I looked at the four photographs again and realized I had posted visions of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, along with an otherworldly gatekeeper. He could be St. Peter in Christianity, Papa Legba in Voodoo, even Charon the ferryman on the river Styx. There's something in the way that Jambi peers out of the door, surveying those who'd want to get past. The graffiti mural of Hell is most obvious; I even mentioned it in the description. The next picture could be Purgatory. It's gated to keep souls in and certainly better than Hell though still dominated by a looming dark shape, the negative energy that keeps you there. The final picture could be of Heaven, a silver city in the clouds surrounding a beautiful colorful peaceful garden.

Apart from the graffiti mural, you probably wouldn't make such associations with the individual pictures. As a group I can't see them any other way now, which makes their random selection that much more entertaining or intriguing.

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