Friday, November 30, 2012

why 74?

People sometimes ask me why my deck of tarot cards has 74 cards instead of the usual 78. I decided I wanted my work to have two definite characteristics, and achieving them involved some consideration.

 First of all, I wanted my cards to have the look and characteristics of two distinct entities, thus 22 picture cards are grafted onto a modified 52-card playing card deck. This was the process by which tarot was originally created in Italy over 500 years ago, and if the usual suited tarot cards are different from the suited cards in my deck, they were, just the same, the playing card deck with which 15th-century Italians were familiar.

 The originators of tarot added, besides the 22 picture cards (21 trumps + the fool) four cards to the suited portion of the pack (the queens), yielding four court cards in each suit, and 14-card suits. To our modern eyes, the tarot knight seems the interloper, but the Egyptian decks which were the forerunners and provided the template for European playing cards, were 52-card affairs with three courts in each suit -- the king and two male deputies.

The other characteristic I wanted in my tarot deck was to incorporate the playing-card pack the whole world uses today, the "international" deck with its 13-card suits. Its French-originated suit signs are really no different from the ones in a standard tarot deck, because hearts = cups, clubs = sticks, diamonds = coins, and spades = swords. And 13, a mysterious and  prime number, works better than 14 for a suit of cards. There are four suits and four seasons, as well as four elements in the ancient concept of the physical universe. There are 13 weeks in a season and 52 weeks in a year. There's a certain mystical fascination with the number 13 in the lore of the early days of the US, and of course, the sinister association of the number with death, and its significance in the myth of the Last Supper.

 There is a traditional line of thought that says the tarot deck was created out of whole cloth, as a seamless entity. This is easily disproved, since the importation of playing cards preceded the invention of the trumps, and the former, modified by the addition noted above, were clearly grafted onto the latter. A person could read with either part of the deck -- with the trumps alone or with the playing cards alone -- and in fact readers have employed both techniques at various times and places. Personally, I prefer the results of reading with the combined deck.

Photo and images on cards ©1968, 2001, 2012 by Catboxer a.k.a. Dave B.


Monday, November 26, 2012

the breakup card

The five hearts is the breakup card; that's for sure. At least I've never known it to be anything else.

 When it showed in September I recalled the last time, in March of 2003, when it appeared in the same place -- top line, center of a nine-card "magic square," the sum of the future's spot -- as in the September recently passed.

 In that earlier appearance, I wrote at the time that it looked like my wife and I would be breaking up at some point in the not-too-distant future, even though at that time the relationship appeared strong, almost bulletproof. But it wasn't, and dissolved over a period of months in 2006 and 2007.

Trying to figure out where I am right now with this manifestation        of the old "cinco de corazones." Are we through with that thing and done with it, or is there more to come?

 The thing about the suited cards, or Minor Arcana as some people like to call them, is their blunt and crystal-clear meanings, as opposed to the trumps, which are large and vague enough to lend themselves to endless re-interpretation.

 I've considered attempting to read in the traditional Gypsy style, with a playing-card pack. That would produce an extremely blunt reading indeed.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

going into winter

There was no reading in October.

November's first interesting feature is that all three cards in the bottom row, indicating the recently unfolding past, were in September's spread.

The two trumps this month's fall in the upper left corner, as if the momentum of the reading is leaning toward the future and the feminine side.

Last month m'lady had eight hearts in the center (present) position in her (left-side) file; this month it's moved to the bottom, and its former spot is occupied by five clubs, signifying major changes in one's outlook, goals, and point-of-view.

The top of the file is the trump VIII - fortitude, usually called "strength" today. Its meaning is exactly what the name suggests.

The hub of this spread is three hearts: indecision and confusion in matters of love.

The right-side file, or male side of the reading, begins with the ace of spades, which was at the center of September's read. Four diamonds signifies stability in financial matters, but at a very modest level; restraint and discipline in money matters is necessary. At the top, six hearts is some karmic debt pertaining to love.

The center card at the top is the III trump, the empress, whose pregnancy promises a time of creativity in material pursuits.

Click on the photograph for a larger view.

See also, the September reading, posted immediately below.

Photograph and images on cards ©2001, 2012 by Dave B, a.k.a. catboxer.