Sunday, 21 June 2015

Strength | Summer Solstice | Blog Hop

Welcome to the Midsummer Blog hop! If you've happened here by chance, then you are in for a treat if you follow the links below to all the other blog hoppers who are providing a chain that runs from 0 The Fool through to XXI The World.

My card of choice is Strength.

Most decks published today show Strength as Major Arcana VIII, however this wasn't always the case. In older Marseille-style decks Justice is found at position VIII.

So why the switch? Well, Back in the early 1900s, The Golden Dawn's 
A E Waite (the creator of the Rider Waite Smith Tarot) was keen to add astrological references to the Major Arcana.  But if Strength (Leo), kept her position at Major XI, then pesky Justice (Libra) would disrupt their plan to show all the Astrological trumps in their correct order. 

And Lo! The switch was made!  Righting some ancient Tarot wrong, no doubt :)

Aleister Crowley, another but more notorious member of the Golden Dawn, stuck resolutely to the traditional numbering for his Thoth deck. But changed the names of the cards - Strength became Lust.  Contrary ol' coot!

Does this order-switching matter? Probably not really, because back in the day, the old decks didn't have numbered Major Arcana cards. 

Why were numbers added? I fondly imagine that the various City States of Italy – each more powerful and vainglorious than the next – ended up with different cards in different orders.  It's easy to imagine courtly gents in tights arguing heatedly about whether Temperance scored more points than Justice in their card game.  That's the sort of argument that can get you run through with a rapier....

But I digress, what I REALLY wanted to share with you is the evolution of the image:

Visconti Sforza - 1451
Hercules giving the Ebil Nemean lion a jolly good thrashing.
Pretty danged violent to our contemporary eyes, isn't it? 
The Sola Busca Tarot - 1491
A completely different viewpoint from a completely unique deck.
 This is Tulio, meditating on the night

Don't mix up card VIII which shows a child being dismembered over a fire by Nero - that's Justice, not Strength!

This is a deck crammed with alchemical symbolism :)
Tarot del Mantegna - 1470(ll Meneghello version)

A woman holds a club and wears a lion's mask.
There is also a lion behind her and a broken column.
The broken column is traditionally the symbol for Forteza.

BTW - this deck doesn't actually have anything to do with Mantegna :)

The Rider Waite Smith - 1909
The combination of lion, woman and physicality that we strongly associate with this card makes an appearance.

Tarot Sophistique - 2014
A contemporary version of a Marseille Tarot image 
Woman and Lion
we can see the nascent leminscate of the RWS in the circle of her hat.
Strength earned her place in the Tarot deck by dint of being one of the four Cardinal Virtues: Fortitude.

The other virtues are Prudence (The High Priestess), Temperance and Justice (represented by, erm, Temperance and Justice).

I like the virtue of Fortitude being part of the Tarot deck.  But Fortitude and Strength have slightly differing meanings:

Fortitude means courage in pain or adversary.

Strength means:

a) the quality or state of being physically strong
b) the capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure

The subtle difference is that Fortitude brings a moral strength, a valour (indeed a Virtue!) to the heart of the card, which Strength alone does not.

And there endeth the Lesson on Strength!

Hope you're ready to hop onwards to the next card?

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Page of Swords | The Tarot of Mr Punch | Doug Thornsjo

Sometimes you see a project and it's just such a perfect storm that you wonder why it was never done before! That's how I felt when Doug Thornsjo (Tarot of the Zirkus Magis, Tarot Lombardi Dannegiatto etc) began sharing images from his Tarot of Mr Punch: The rambunctious personality of Mr Punch will make a great 'no punches pulled' *groan - sorry, that was awful!* tarot deck.

I asked Doug if he could answer some questions about his new deck and woohoo!!!! HE SAID YES!!

Me: So, tell me how you got interested in creating Tarot decks?

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Queen and Kings of of Tarot! | TABI Conference | 25 July | Birmingham, UK

 This is me (well my HEAD at any rate), cunningly photoshopped onto a slender body, and a throne that comprises entirely of court cards - isn't it clever?

Caroline Blackler did all the high tech jiggery-pokery for this.

And you might wonder just WHY I have included it here on m'blog.

Well ...... pull your chair a bit closer to the screen because I want to whisper something in your ear ..... But not THAT close .... edge back just a smigeon *drops voice to conspiratorial whisper*

I'm one of the Tarot workshop Queens at TABI's 2015 Tarot Conference in sunny Birmingham!

Yes, on Saturday 25 July at Conference Aston, I kick off the whole day's Tarot mischief with a session on techniques for reading reversed Court cards.

From there we go straight into our next session - Tarot and Love - with the lovely author Queen Jane Struthers.

From there we break for lunch (and lunch is included in the day attendee ticket price, folks!)

And then we dive headlong into our next session, all about the Lenormand Oracle with Lenny expert, King Andy Boroshevengra.  If you're coming along and you are a bit panicked about not having a Lenormand deck, worry not - there will be enough to go around!

A 30 minute coffee-injection break and then our final session for the day, my fellow Italian Tarot Tour traveller Queen Caitlin Matthews explains how to get to grips with those pesky unillustrated pips of the Marseille deck.

I *know*!! It's going to be a splendid day of Tarot shenanigans!

And TABI has a few places still available - so if you can get to sunny Brum on the last Saturday in July, I'd absolutely LOVE to see you there! Or even if you can come down the night before, there's a package available that includes overnight accommodation, a group dinner, the quiz AND attendance at the Conference.

Monday, 25 May 2015

The Visconti Sforza Tarot

Academia Carrara, Bergamo
Milan was just as shimmeringly hot and magnificent as it was when we arrived a fortnight earlier.  My God, how had two weeks passed so quickly?! We rendez-voused (is that even a word?!) together outside the jaw-droppingly OUTSTANDING Cathedral (these Italians, they never knowingly-under statue anything).

It was time for our close encounter with the Visconti Sforza!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

The Sola Busca (or Giordano in the Giardino)

Earwigging on academic chit chat
Giordano Berti and Caitlin Matthews
©someone on the tour

Another reason that I was desperate to take part in the Tarot Tour of Italy was the thought of perhaps linking up with Giordano Berti.  This gregarious author, historian and deck creator has been a charming facebook friend for AGES and we have bonded over our mutual love of toasted hazelnuts from Cavanzana :)

One of his many talents is as custodian* of the most marvellous Wolfgang Mayer 78-card Sola Busca Tarot.  If you have been keeping up with my posts on the Tarot Tour of Italy (*looks wounded* You haven't?!) you will know that on Day One I basically died and went to heaven after seeing the Sola Busca Tarot in the FLESH.

I already own a Lo Scarabeo copy, which is fine .... but I really, REALLY wanted a full copy with BIG cards and CLARITY.  Truthfully, I wanted to steal the original from the Brera!  The Mayer deck is the very next best thing, I promise you...

Queen of Cups - Polisena
depicted her slightly larger than card life-size

So, before I departed for Italy, I purchased a copy of the Mayer Sola Busca from Giordano (copies still available folks!) and arranged to pick it up from him in person in Italy!

Would this be tricky to organise?!