Sunday, March 31, 2013

green lady

A while back I saw something in the news about a middle school where the administrators supposedly told the kids to call their Easter dance something else, because Easter is a Christian holiday and the school and religion are spoze to be the twain that never meet, & etc.

I have no idea if it was true or not, and it might have been from one of those stupid emails that get forwarded around u no the ones. Maybe some body got hoaxed by the Onion.

Whatever the case, what I find ironic in all this flapdoodle, plus in the fact that Easter is the ultimate Christian holy day, that it's the only holiday whose name remains an echo of paganism, and our pagan ancestors. In fact, Eostre was a beautiful Teutonic dawn goddess and great mother, the green lady, or in Latin, Primavera.

Furthermore, our method of determining the date of Easter is rooted in paganism, and as you'll recall, uses the full moon as a calendar marker. And since the moon waxes full on various dates, so then does the date of Easter which derives from it.

Eostre's totem animal is the fertile bunny, and her talisman the egg.

By some strange coincidence, there are 52 cards in a playing card pack as well, and four suits of 13 cards each, just as the four seasons are roughly 13 weeks each.

When Eostre was the ruler of springtime instead of Jesus there were 13 months, not 12. This is why, in Walter Scott's version of Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood and his men sang "How many months be there in the year? There be 13 I say..." And it works out, too, because 13 months X 4 weeks = 52 weeks.

But trying to compose a string theory based on cartomancy invariably butts up against the wall of hard numbers, because no matter how you add them up, 52 x 7 always makes 364, not 365.25. Once again, the crystal spheres and elaborate concordances of occultists take a beating. However, it's enough for some of us to know that the structure of a playing card deck is similar and corresponds in several ways to the structure of a calendar year.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

queens, a pair

As the earth warms and all the life living on and in her quickens in spring, our pace of life also picks up.

This is not the first time I've seen a similar configuration; this past September we drew a line of two queens enclosing a trump. However, that was a reading for a couple, and that line wasn't for me.

The queen of spades, whom I expanded on a little, recently, will pass from my life entirely (at least for a time) before long, in fact is already departing. "Goodbye to cares that bind me," as the song says.

I've also written at some length on trump #X, our old friend and enemy, rota fortuna. And even as we're lookin at this, the wheel is in motion.

It never stops completely, but sometimes goes faster, like now.

Then comes the queen of diamonds, a concerned person who likes to help, and has or controls much dinero.

I like having a lot of queens in my cards, and usually do. With today's addition of Diamond Lil, I've seen all four at least once each this past year.

Click on the picture for a larger view; photo: "Queens, a Pair" and images on cards ©2001, 2013 by Dave B, a.k.a. catboxer.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

they shall look upon him whom they pierced

The jack of hearts, or knight of cups in the commonly-configured tarot deck, is one of the most dramatic cards in the pack, and one of the two or three most disturbing concepts among the suited cards.

Among readers who use a standard playing-card deck, this jack signals the need for personal sacrifice of some kind, and is sometimes called "The Christ card," or "card of spiritual sacrifice."

Like the crucifixion story, this image contains resonances with very early pre-civilized human psychology, including the instincts which  prompted our Neolithic ancestors to practice  human sacrifice.

The symbols in the frame, drawn from Mexican crucifixion iconography, echo this instinct as well as the passion story: the crown of thorns, hammer and tongs, the ladder and nails are there along with the sacred, still-living heart, the lily, and the Chi-Rho symbol of the early church, shown in obverse and reverse. The death's head and spilled wine, symbolizing the sacrificed blood, complete the symbolic content of this picture, along with the uncut loaf which contains the message of the prophecy found in John 19:33 "Not a bone of his body shall be broken."

The body language of the jack himself betrays no visible injury, but his expression communicates inner anguish: "They shall look upon him whom they pierced" (John 19:37 and Zechariah 12:10).

Sacrifice takes many forms in our lives, from the relatively mild  abstentions of Lent to self-flagellation or mutilation in hopes that such sacrifice will speed redemption. This urge to "give something to God" in exchange for something the sacrificer desires is basic instinct, and the idea of sacrifice, small or huge, might be moderate or extreme, but remains deeply potent, even in our debased and degraded modern post-industrial-age lives.

Click on the image for a larger view. Photo and tarot card "The Jack of Hearts" © 2001, 2013 by Dave B, a.k.a. catboxer.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

xvi the tower

The tower is in your mind. It's the stronghold where we keep all our most unshakable, essential, and precious illusions.

When the tower is struck by lightning, it leads to great disillusionment, in the most literal sense. And quality of life really goes to hell for a while.

I don't know anyone who isn't reminded of the events of September 11, 2001 by any of the numerous modern versions of this image.

This trump during its long history has  not always been a tower. In fact, none of the other 21 picture cards has had  as many different images and names as this one. 

It's been called "the Fire," "the Arrow," "the Lightning," "the House of the Devil," "the House of the Damned," "the House of God," and "the House."

The infamous and legendary "Wicked Pack of Cards" book reports that in some early texts it was called "Hell," and say this was probably its original meaning, "although it possibly may rather have represented purgatory" ("Wicked Pack," p. 46).

Its presentation has included, besides the lightning-struck tower, an undisturbed tower with no human figures present, a burning building with corpses on the ground in front of it, a hell mouth spouting flames, into which a devil is pulling a man or woman, and a young man being struck by lightning.

Of all the images of trump, my fave is by the early Marseilles-deck artist and tradesman, Jacques Vieville. It was very early, and the only Marseilles deck I know of that doesn't always follow the "standard" designs. It also does not have the names of the trumps printed at the bottoms of the cards, a practice begun by the Marseilles tradition.

Vieville's card shows a young veck  walking through a lightning, fire, or hail storm toward a tree under where  sheep are sheltering.

Possibly, the meaning of this trump, like its succession of images, has evolved over time, was characterized by a lack of clarity early on, has been a source of confusion, and alone among the trumps was not clearly conceptualized by its originators.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

march madness

I did an uncharacteristic mid-month reading for myself, as I felt in need of guidance.

I've been spending time lately at the intersection of politics and morality -- a bad corner where a lot of wrecks happen.

As it turns out, the reading mostly concerns itself with money matters, and the oracle might be warning me to think about things closer to home than the Middle-East wars. Is that narcissism? I don't think so, because if I can't take care of myself, someone else will have to.

10 Diamonds tells me that the time of prosperity, having more money than is needed, is slipping away, and the end of a way of getting money is on the horizon. That's the scary card, that 9. The queen of clubs in the middle (I've seen her before, most recently last June) is telling me I need to read and study more, but I'm not sure on what subject.

What I'm getting is not a clear, specific instruction, but "Calm down, compose your mind, and pay attention to your personal situation, which is not  all that stable."

Probably good advice.

I'll have more to say later, along with another picture. I can't get my camera to cooperate this morning, so I took this crude shot with my cell phone so as to have something to show.

Click on the image for a larger view. Photo and images on cards ©2013, 2001 by Dave B., a.k.a. catboxer.

Friday, March 01, 2013

red shoe dude

What a coincidence that just as I draw the cards for March, the real-life Pope is leaving. Unfortunately, he won't be taking his red shoes with him, which is a shame because red leather shoes would have to be a babe magnet. I don't much like this pope fellow, the real one or the one in my mind. He's got his good points -- he's a scholar and his opinion in his field of specialization carries some weight. But he's also an obvious case of arrested emotional development, captured by Diego Velazquez stunningly in his 1650 portrait of Pope Innocent X. My own pope is a crude rendition of Velazquez's famous oil.


 Old Not-So-Innocent looks at the viewer with hostility and paranoia, as one would expect from someone threatened by plots from all sides. In this draw, he is fading from view. The Pope was once venerated, but I'm getting that he mostly no longer is. That means the meaning of this card has changed over time. I can't help seeing the Pope in a negative light.

Now I realize, of course, that in our brave new age, the fifth trump is generally called the high priest or hierophant or el queso grande or some other veschsh to try to uncouple this image from its Roman Catholic origins. Personally, I prefer the original names because the concepts behind them are simple and logical.

Ten clubs is unambiguous. It's a heavy scholarship card, and indicates someone reaping the rewards of years of hard work. If all it means is that I can write what I want, the way I want, that's fine by me.

Six spades, that one I'm familiar with. It's a "reaping" type card also. It shows up from time to time to remind me that I smoked for 50 years; it's the card of karmic results playing out in one's work and health.

Photo and images on cards ©2001, 2013 by Dave B a.k.a. catboxer