Alchemical Thoughts

31 Days of Tarot Challenge 2018: Days 17, 18, 19, 20

Posted on: January 20, 2018

Again, these answers are mostly short for me, so I am combining days. I also fell a little behind after Day 16, so I am catching up today. The prompts are as follows:

Day 17: Draw, paint, or sketch your favorite Tarot card (talk a little bit about this card while you are drawing).

Day 18: Share one of the new things you learned about the Tarot in the last year.

Day 19: Share which Tarot deck gives you the “heebie jeebies.”

Day 20: Share one Tarot myth you used to believe (and why you stopped believing it).

 

Initially, I was going to skip Day 17 since I have not really practiced drawing much of anything since high school days. Back then, I was

Sketch of Justice card image

This is a very quick and rough sketch for the Justice-XI card in Tarot. At least I managed to get the scales to balance.

pretty good as I even took drawing and painting classes, but I have not kept up with it. So what can I say? I feel a bit self-conscious about it. Yet I decided to do a quick sketch, and I mean a very quick sketch of a card that is a favorite: Justice. I find Justice, which for me is usually the 11th card (my decks tend to draw on Rider Waite Smith and similar traditions), to be reassuring and something I aspire to: justice, fairness. When I think of Justice, I also think of an old Bible verse that was ingrained in me when I was in a La Salle Catholic school as a youth. The verse is Daniel 12: 3: “But they that are learned shall shine as the brightness of the firmament: and they that instruct many to justice, as stars for all eternity.” The part about leading or showing justice to others was the motto of the Christian Brothers who ran the school, and it is something that even now, as a heathen, still stays with me to this day. In some small way, I am an instruction librarian and teacher because I strive and aspire to teach many to justice. And who knows, maybe someday I may take up drawing again.

Day 18. New things I have learned about Tarot.

  • Well, I learned that there is a big Tarot community out there, and I also learned that like many large communities, not everyone gets along or agrees on things. Having differences is OK. People who get a little too dogmatic and are more “my way or the high way” I tend to avoid. I have found some groups in Facebook. Some not so useful, but recently I came across one that seems friendly, accessible, and most people in it are not full of themselves, so we will see how it goes. It does amaze me that some people in Tarot and divination get a little learning under their belts, and they get seriously full of themselves. Those are the folks I avoid.
  • I have also learned to experiment here and there where I can. My time tends to be limited, and I have learned to make peace with that and do Tarot and oracle when I can, even if it is in small ways. As I often say, do what you can with what little you may have.
  • I knew this, but it has been reinforced in the past year, and that is that I do not really like “pip-only” decks. I can appreciate the art on some of them, but for the most part, they are decks I do not and will not add to my personal collection. Only reason I have two Marseilles decks is that they were gifts from special people, so those naturally stay. Other two “pip-only decks I have are the Victorian Steampunk, which I admit I got for the steampunk theme to go with the other two steampunk themed decks I have, and the Oceanic Tarot, which is one of two decks I got without looking it up first because it looked nice on the outside. I will not be making that mistake ever again, and odds are good the Oceanic Tarot will not stay in my collection, but I have not decided yet. That deck just feels like it had potential, then the author just gave up after completing the Major Arcana. On a side note, the other deck I ever got without prior research is The Hobbit Tarot, which I hate (more on that below). That one is definitely going out of the house as soon as I get a moment to take care of that. What the hell U.S. Games was smoking when they made The Hobbit Tarot is beyond me as the images have nothing to do with Tarot at all. The Victorian Steampunk I like enough to keep, and I know I will likely work with it down the road. So I guess exceptions are possible. I will tell you this: Marchetti’s Tarot Decoratif, his take on Marseilles blended with RWS is one I definitely would add to my collection, but that is more because I am a fan of Marchetti’s work. As for traditional Marseilles, to me, you have seen one, you have seen them all. People have told me, “oh, but different colors, symbols, blah blah.” Slight new shading or brighter colors are not things that make a difference in seeing the same images over and over. Then again, traditional RWS does not do much for me either. Seeing ten different versions of the same RWS deck which means just they colored it brighter or lighter does not do it for me, but I am digressing here. And in the end, this is just personal preference. Bottom line let me cite the Rivera Tarot Corollary to Ranganathan: “Every deck its reader/collector, and every reader/collector their deck.”
  • Going a bit with the above, I did resolve to learn Marseilles style down the road. So I have acquired a book or two on the topic. For me, this would be going back to the beginning, as I started my Tarot journey with a Marseilles deck. I just learned early on it was not working, which is another lesson I have learned over time. Do what works for you the best you can.

Day 19. A deck that gave me the “heebie jeebies” first time I saw it was the Dark Grimoire Tarot. I still want to get it, but it did give me the creeps when I first saw it, especially once I saw its Hanged Man card, which is literally a man in the process of hanging himself. However, as some have suggested, the man could be reaching to undo that noose at the last minute. The card is dark, but it also offers many possibilities when you ponder it. This is a Lovecraftian deck, which is meant to be dark and even a bit horrifying, but it is still one that can draw you in, thus I hope to add it to my collection, and I also hope once I do to begin re-reading H.P. Lovecraft’s works, which I have not done in a while.

Day 20. I did not really have myths about Tarot before I came to Tarot. But the one thing I suppose that stuck with me before I unlearned it was that you had to be gifted, mystical, or psychic somehow to read cards. I did not necessarily think it was some gypsy woman stereotype, but I would imagine it did have to be more like some old granny who had a lot of old wisdom and could see things. It would be like the heathen or pagan version of the old Catholic ladies that were friends with my grandmother (and we are talking pre-Vatican II old Catholic ladies, i.e. seriously hardcore), who instead of rosaries and veils had Tarot cards (not even oracle cards. I did not know those existed pretty much until I got into Tarot). This Tarot lady would sort of have a pagan and “hippie” herbalist kind of look who read cards at her home which smelled of cigars and incense, and if she has a pet, it was likely a cat. In fact, the image in my mind is not far off from what I knew and know about some santeras (clerics of Santeria, not makers of saints and religious icons which in Spanish are also called santeros or santeras), like this one. And it would have to be a woman. I had no idea until I got into Tarot that guys would be into it let alone that there are some guys out there really good at it. Over time I have learned that with effort and practice, anyone can learn to read Tarot and oracle cards. I am not sure about the intuition thing yet, but I can tell you that I feel mine has woken up a bit since I took up Tarot.

 

You can find the original prompts by Ethony here.

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