(The wild deuces of the Rider Waite traditional deck from http://facade.com/tarot/)
Tarot cards are a little set of symbols that have brought big fun to my life. Their origin is a bit hazy, and the controversy surrounding them is plain crazy, but they are undoubtedly one of the premiere sources for distilled archetypes of the human condition. Today I will give you a short introduction in 13 chunks.
1. Tarot uses numbers as symbols. The twos I used for the opening illustration for example? Well, what does a two feel like to you? A relationship? A difficult decision? A matched pair? Every number is charged with a parallel meaning, and every individual can figure it out in a personal way.
2. Swords are thoughts. We think, therefore we are. Our mental faculties often get the better of us. The swords of Tarot focus on the immaterial, cold, calculating processes of the brain.
3. Wands are impulses. We are willful creatures. We want. We have urges. We enforce our power over others. We dominate the world around us. The wands bring our hammer down.
4. Disks are physical. We are born of the Earth, and we return to the Earth, and in between we play with stuff. Material blessings and curses are represented by disks.
5. Cups are feelings. We get swept away by emotion. The cup is full, the cup is empty, and our heart washes back and forth along with it.
6. As a basic set of symbols, Tarot can be customized. One of my favorite decks is the William Blake Tarot, by Ed Buryn. Ed is the coolest of people, he used to live here in Miami, and he translated the traditional suits like this: Swords = Science. Wands = Poetry. Disks = Painting. Cups = Music.
7. There are some exquisite decks out there. We adore the artistic interpretation involved in an original version of the Tarot, and every year there are whole new sets of eye candy to wallow in while we randomize the symbols into timeless truths.
8. Tarot is copyright free. I like this one a whole lot. Whoever invented Tarot did it before the age of greed. And it turned into the 52 card deck of playing cards we use for Poker and Crazy Eights, which is also copyright free. Lovely.
9. Someday I will create my own version. It may not happen soon, or it may be my next project, but I will complete the exercise. Maybe a superhero version, maybe modern movies, maybe pure metaphysical symbolism. When it grabs me and sweeps me away, it will be done.
10. Tarot creates a new profound poetry every time we spread the cards. We don’t use it to tell the future or to uncover secrets. We use it for customized interpretations of our place in the Universe. It is a set of symbols that combines to speak. Like everything else in life, you can hear it as a wonderful song or as incohesive noise.
11. Tarot gives people an excuse to believe in magick. You fake it until you make it. And then it is as real as anything else.
12. Tarot trains the brain to see symbolism in every phenomenon. I love living like that. Imagine what it would be like to receive enlightened wisdom from a random rock on the side of the road. There is deep meaning all around us, since all meaning comes from within.
13. Tarot gave me something to Thirteen! The number 13 card of the Major Arcana in Tarot is about fresh starts. Since it is the last entry on today’s list, I guess I better go figure out what I can start up brand new for the first time. If it is something I can share with you, I will use it for next week’s Thursday Thirteen. See you then.
That’s the 14, sometimes called Art. Create your own translation from one dimension to another, number it to thirteen, post it on Thursday, and link it here: http://thursdaythirteen.com/