Kissing Cousins

. . . there are just some things that ought not to be done


The Rider-Waite-Smith deck, when it was released in 1909, caused a paradigm shift in the world of tarot. Now, the minor number cards are illustrated with evocative pictures that gave one a leg-up on the meanings of the cards. and, these meanings could become very subjective and not just memorized phrases from a book, written by someone else, with someone else's prejudices. you can now, just make it all up to fit the circumstances of the reading, and that is mighty okay, 'cause you know, the darkest secret of the occult and of tarot is that several someone's over several distant periods of time made all this crap up. you can too.

however, creativity did not end in 1909. Pamela colman smith drew up some fast and dirty pictures to illustrate the meanings of the cards that arth waite fed to her. they are not the only way to illustsrate those meanings. let me repeat this louder and larger.

they are not the only way to illustrate those meanings of those cards.

Creativity did not die in 1909. there are plenty of capable artists out there who can interpret, or reintepret the meanings of the cards in new and viable ways. The final word was not written with smith and waite and the rws deck. i really like the deck. but, it is not the final word on anything. it is only one perspective, one view of "how things are." one of my main concerns in life is "where is tarot going in the 21st century?" I am always amazes and enthused when someone comes up with a new vision, a new version of the "same old thing." it stretches and challenges me, and though i may piss and whine about it, i do like to be streched and challenged. sometimes i even like to be really pissed off by a deck. it provokes a reaction, and that is a rare and beautiful thing. life nowadays can seem too safe, too easy, too sure, too scripted. and we all know that it is not. the images of the tarot have been around for a few hundred years now and still have something to say. even nowadays. even with the often fakey medievalism, which only has the virtue of being fairly timeless and accessible.

many decks take the imagery of the rws and translate that into another culture. this genuinely annoys me. what has an emperor have to do with native american culture? what does the number ten have to do with chinese culture really? what does a three of swords meaning heartbreak have to do with celtic culture? oftentimes these decks just merely take the characters and dress them up in new ways and give them new tchotchkes to play with and don't get into what really matters in that particular culture.

the following is my take on some of those decks and my commentary on them. some places i give a tentative timeline of versions of a deck. many of these i like for one reason or another, rational or not. i am very subject to emotional attachment to an old dear friend who just may be a bit derivative. but. . . .

i love to hear from people who are rethinking, redesigning the paradigm. i love to see new images that actually make me think, even after i have initially reacted, positively or negatively. i can give a whole rant on how i hatedhated the lord of the rings movies because they screwed with my vision of those books i've been reading for so many years. but, i have to admit, after getting into the director's et al heads through the commentaries, i have a respect and fondness for them, because they did what they had to do with what they had to work with. they were and are honest movies. they are not the movies i would have done, but they were honest. and i love to see honest tarot decks.

you can feed me any line of reasoning, rational or not, and i will accept it if you make it all hang together and interrelate - make the whole system work. we take a great leap out of normalcy when we enter the divinatory universe and the rules out there are rather limber. stay consistant. don't let your artistic reach exceed your grasp (i despise the motherpeace deck for that reason). actually sit down and think about tarot. have some fun along the way. feel free to email me an comments.

a general survey of catty comments and comparisons (typing madly on this one - be patient)

the aquarian deck - tentative timelines and commentary

the morgan greer deck - tentative timelines and commentary

the robin wood deck - commentary