Friday, 3 April 2009
A Wicked Pack of Cards
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Some years ago, when I was very deep into Archetypal Psychology, Alchemy and Jung, I came up with the idea of creating a personal tarot deck. The images would have been drawn from my own dreams, and there would therefore have been a potentially unlimited number. The idea was that I could thereby get in touch directly with the Unconscious using the cards, saving myself the incovenience of having to go to sleep. (For every deeply mysterious and profound dream one has, I find, there are always three about tramping round Tescos looking for custard, or getting on a bus being driven by a badger.)
I sat down and made a list of the images that would populate the cards. Some were drawn from the ordinary Major Arcana - Death, The Hermit, The Moon and The Star were obvious ones to keep. But others were odder, and I would be woken in the night suddenly desperately conscious that there needed to be a card called The Lark-Tamer (a green-hued young man surrounded by singing birds), or The Blind Mouth, The Madwoman, The River, The Creeping Thing, and so on. Some were drawn from literature (who could forget Milton's thunderous 'Blind mouths' bit in Lycidas?); one was called The Small Creature with Dark and Fiery Thoughts, which is from Susanna Clarke, and The Fiery Cat came straight from the medieval Irish Voyage of Máel Dúin's Curragh. But some simply emerged from my dreams - The Revenant; The Leaping Bull, &c. From John Crowley's wonderful novel Little, Big came The Bundle and The Fisherman.
Anyway, I have decided the time is right to revive the project. It fell by the wayside in part because there was no way I could find time to design 50+ cards and paint them. Instead, I've decided to use images drawn from elsewhere and to collage and photoshop them suitably if necessary. This revelation hit me when I looked at Janet Kaplan's Remedios Varo: Unexpected Journeys, and saw that certain of Varo's longer, thinner paintings already were cards for my personal tarot, in some mysterious fashion.
And the best thing about these future cards? Well, should any reader be moved to have a go at this idea as well, do bear in mind that they will only work for you. You won't be able to give anyone else a reading with them, because they will form your own intimate inner arcana, a private constellation of secret meanings.
Above are the ones I've managed so far. They are actually all the same size, I'm just not very good with computers. You'll see Projection, Discovery, The Hanged Man, Aged Fraud, The Tyrant and The Tamer of Larks. The come Fire in Snow, Harmony Born of Opposition, The Rose of the World, Greed, Order, The Bride, Prudence, The Tower, The Hermaphrodite, The Sea, The Devil, The Vestal Virgin, The Fisherman and The Descent, then The Muse, Death, Prayer, and The Madwoman (wasn't that a band?), followed by The Empress, The Minotaur and The Wise Man. Then come The Singer, The Magician, The Sanctuary, The Tree of Life, Memory, Riches and Dream, and then The Small Creature With Dark and Fiery Thoughts, The Sun and The Moon. Finally we have Hope, Fear and the Black Sun.