Re: Bags and Boxes for the Absurd

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

Crewel Twists

Dear Judy—


The most amazing thing about books is how many ideas they contain and how they open the mind for dreaming. I think it must be important to have a backlog of dreams. I blame this on my mom, who had (and still has) books on how to make and do just about anything. I used to think that this was in case we kids wanted to do it, but the truth is, the books are the result of an endless curiosity about and admiration of how things are done. I fall into the same trap and have some wonderful books by delightful artists about paper maché, book-binding, botanical illustration, macrame, pencil drawing, sewing useful things, and sewing beautiful things, leatherwork, jewelry making, and so on.


I used to do a bit of embroidery in my early 20s, possibly because embroidery canvas is everywhere you look and the supplies take up very little space and stitches are fun to master. However, because I didn’t live anywhere in particular, I never read books on embroidery. Instead, I carried around a pamphlet filled with descriptions of different embroidery stitches and their various uses. I would make a simple design and embroider it. Then I would invariably give it away. I remember seeing a magazine article about a woman and her embroidered curtains and just thinking of doing one tiny part of the work she had done overwhelmed me so much I could not read the article in fear that it, too, would be endlessly laborious.


My mother brings home piles of pillowcases with tatted edges and key-hole lace, cross-stitched finger napkins, crocheted antimacassars— exquisite thread-work. “Just look at this!” she says for each one and names a price— fifty cents, a dollar a pile, a dime and then— “How could I pass that up?” The lives of hundreds of women are stitched in hope chests reclaimed by my mother, hope eternal. And now I have a very slight fear of looking too closely at handiwork in case I fall into it like some nightmare and am forced to dream each stitch, one at a time. But just today I saw a woman with a lovely embroidered yoke on her shirt. Of course I wanted to run my fingers across the stitches and flip it over to see the back. Instead I merely forgot the woman’s name. But not the stitches.


In sum: I’m certain the Absurd would be honored to be housed in a bag of Jacobean embroidery. Who would not?


On another note, tho, I bought back the deck that the complainer returned to Amazon. I loose a bit of money on a return sale, but that’s the way it is. I’d been wondering at her card and chanced a guess at it. It was the 9 of Blades. I was correct. Most of the decks end up with Major Arcana, I think, due to one printing mistake or another. I’ve always wondered whether I should include unfavorable or dull cards or cards I dislike when putting in a numbered deck-marking card. But then I think, you know, I can’t control these things. Open-minded people can take a negative card and search as hard as they can to find positivity in it. People who are closed to new ideas generally see flat-out negativity. I had a hard time with the Nine of Blades until I decided to call it “the card of the prodigal dreamer.” I don’t think that’s right, but I like the way it sounds. We have much to learn from our nightmares. When they are plentiful, they have much to teach us. If we study them long enough, they enable us to better reach our dreams. Eyes closed, the dreamer catches the falling sword by the blade. Does he awake unharmed?


Peace & Love,

Jessica Rose



9 of blades

Nine of Swords — The Enchanted Tarot

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Amy Zerner Monte FarberArtist: Amy Zerner
Text: Monte Farber


“In the night, a sleeping figure lies trapped in a dark, nightmare world existing on the edge of sleep. Strange demons, repressed hurts and childhood fears range freely. […] This is a lonesome place, far from help and comfort. Shadows of pain, suffering and depression overwhelm the sleeper until she becomes a victim of her own thoughts and, like a martyr, repeatedly impales herself on their hurtful points. […] The only way she can escape from these nightmares… is to open her eyes and awaken to what is really bothering her. She must confront it in broad daylight…. The alternative is torment.”


This is a good description. I like the Nine of Swords. I do.


From childhood through college, I suffered terrifying nightmares. Oftentimes, the dream itself was abstract: something akin to the task of counting backwards from infinity. It was represented by the perpetual division of an infinitely large form that filled my field of view. I would divide until my field of view was clear but for a tiny speck of what I had begun with. At this point I had to look closer, and the tiny speck would once more be infinitely large. I could do nothing until the task of infinite division was completed. When finally I passed the point of dream paralysis, I was completely hysterical and totally incapable of speech.


As I matured, the dreams became more conceptual and less abstract. I would dial a friend again and again, but the buttons would swim around and fall off the telephone. Panic. I needed to turn on the light, but the string came off in my hand. Over and over. Panic. Helplessness. Terror. I could not breathe.


Eventually I learned to face my nightmares. I learned there are things I cannot do in dreams. For example, I cannot dial a phone: numbers use the other side of the brain. I appreciate dream terror for what it teaches me about reality and waking life. I know there are things I cannot wrap my conscious brain around, but if I fail to learn from my mistakes and injuries, I go mad. I will not run down that same dark hall.

I like the Nine of Swords. I do, I do.

Nine of Arrows — The Wildwood Tarot

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Will WorthingtonArtist: Will Worthington

Authors: Mark Ryan & John Matthews


The authors place arrows in the element of air, thus making this card correspond to the Nine of Swords in the Marseille Tarot.


The book written for this deck lends itself to personal-insight readings more than readings about others. If I want personal insight about my relationship with another person, that is one thing. If I want to gain insight for another person, that is impossible. I am not a psychic and cannot see into the other person whatsoever, even if I feel perfectly capable of offering options on what someone might do in a given situation. No matter how much advice we give each other, change must always come from within. It takes insight to turn knowledge into wisdom. I do not believe in wielders of psychic magic, able to find all answers in the cards. I do believe there are many ways of gaining insight. Although another person may help you gain insight, there is no one who can give you insight but yourself.


I bring up this point because I don’t think this card would be useful for the person for whom I pulled it. Sometimes people don’t even want insight. Sometimes too much insight is too much and it needs to wait. Sometimes people want escape. Sometimes escape is necessary. Insight can come later.


That said, I will go on with the authors’ interpretation of this card. “The spiritual warrior dedicates their arrows of inspiration by playing the bow as an instrument of summoning. The inner oath helps keep one on a balanced footing by dedicating skills to a greater good.”


In a few words, this card asks us to heed the calling of the spiritual warrior and defend the soil to leave a living (as opposed to sterile) legacy for our children. It suggests a daily ritual as a reminder-oath to conserve and protect the environment. Some people dedicate their lives to such a calling, some their lifestyles, and some a few minutes a day at most. We can all do more; it is a matter of dedication and desire.


The Nine of Blades is often called the nightmare card. I have spent much time seeking wisdom through my overpowering nightmares and thus choose to call the Nine of Blades the card of the prodigal dreamer. The keyword on this card is “dedication.” It takes great dedication to turn a nightmare into a dream. What is the strength of your dedication? Are you still fool enough to see this nightmare as a dream?