Seven of Blades — Tarot of the Absurd

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Psst, wanna buy a blade? The Seven of Blades is a card of deception, betrayal and stealth.  This fence sells tasseled daggers from his sturdy overcoat.  What is he hiding? Not much, it seems—


Don’t think I’ll tell you how I cheat.

A smile hides secrets that I keep.

Don’t think I’ll tell you where I sneak.

Daylight makes good cover for a thief.


Don’t think I’ll tell you what I took.

I walked in, spoke, and then walked out on foot.

Don’t think I’ll tell you I’m a crook.

See for yourself. Why do you not look?

Six of Sticks — Tarot of the Absurd

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

six of wands tarotThe Six of Wands is the card of victory and public recognition. These two people balance proud. They wear V for victory on their varsity sweaters. The winner’s laurel crowns their heads.


Victory is a success or a winning that leaves one happy or satisfied. It is, in effect, the sense of accomplishment. Thus, victory is an emotion, for our emotions are our feeling-senses. Q: “How do you feel?” A: “Victorious!”


A success or a winning that does not give a sense of accomplishment is not a victory. The public can recognize our acts and cry “victory,” but if we fail to acknowledge our own successes and let ourselves be happy with them, then in essence we never truly allow ourselves to be victorious no matter what the public may cry.


*   *   *


In my twenties I filled copious journals writing under the premise, “I write, therefore I exist.” My goal was to write myself into history. Pre-history is defined by the period of time before the written record, and history is written by the victors. I wrote to avoid becoming a prehistoric looser.


Of course, these days it takes quite a bit of effort to be prehistoric. We are recorded from our birth certificates to our death certificates. We are recorded through utility bills, traffic tickets and insurance payments. We are recorded on attendance sheets, police records, and tax payments. Tho public records, none of this will give us public recognition. Public recognition takes personality.


I did not want mere the existence granted by public records. I wanted to stand out: I wanted to be outstanding. No. I wanted to be outstanding, but I did NOT want to stand out. Okay, I wanted to stand out, but I did not want to STICK out. The problem was, I stuck out. I was used to sticking out. In grade school, I stuck out when the goal of every child is to fit in. I stuck out with all sorts of rough edges that fit no where. I stuck out in how I spoke and what I said and how I thought and what I wrote. I stuck out in how I moved and what I wore. I did not fit in: I stuck out. Exceptionally. And no matter how well I did at what I did— and I did do well at what I did— nothing felt like victory.


Victory began in the midst of an epic tour-de-USA bicycle ride when I sat atop the highest pass in the Sierra Nevada mountains: the east entrance to Yosemite. “I will always be discontent,” I decided. It seemed to be where I was headed. I made it my purpose. Elated with my decision, I descended into the valley at 35mph, no handed, arms out like eagle wings pulling a trailer on my bicycle. It was fun.


Soon, every time I found my self discontent, I was able to think, “This is what I want.” I became content with my discontent. The knowledge that I was where I needed to be made me happy. Eventually, happiness allowed me to recognize my own accomplishments. Eventually, acknowledgement of personal successes let me feel victorious.


Now my successes are all much smaller than they used to be. I allow myself a great sense of victory for each one (Yes! The kitchen is clean! The baby is sleeping! VICTORY!) and it all evens out. Secure in my existence, I hardly write anything anymore.

Six of Coins — Tarot of the Absurd

Friday, October 19th, 2012

six of pentacles meaning

Generosity, charity, sharing. Accepting handouts.


Relatively fresh out of college, where I survived by studying hard, running fast and having virtually no social life (unless you consider brief midnight visits with the vending machine social), I set out to Alaska to plant trees. I set out to Alaska to plant trees because planting trees sounded adventuresome and romantic, and other than my need for adventure and romance, I was entirely devoid of direction. Despite having graduated with high honors, a double major, and the scholar-athlete of the year award, I was ignorant of most things and relatively immature.


I learned the basics of migrant labor amidst the cruel chaos of breaking up with my boyfriend in a relatively public arena. I learned the taste of water straight from a mountain stream. I learned how to cook over a fire and why it was that the pot called the kettle black (the kettle was black! but so was the pot…). I learned the feeling of dressing in cold wet dirty socks first thing in the morning to work in the rain. I learned the power of skinny-dipping unbashfully. And, having for the first time in my life met generous people, I learned how to take advantage of other people’s generosity. Eventually I learned the rudiments of generosity myself. I can’t say I was quick.


Sunshine was the most generous person at camp. She is the sort who, finding herself with the daunting task of some epic journey, might take along a totally unprepared companion and share everything she owns rather than face the journey on her own. I was the sort of person who, finding myself slightly over-prepared, would take on the journey on my own rather than face the task of caring for someone else. Strangely, we found ourselves friends. I spouted lots of book-smart things and she demonstrated generosity.


One time, relatively early on in the summer, Sunshine went to the store to buy a chair and came back with two tiny folding chairs. I did not go to the store to buy a chair because I was perfectly comfortable sitting on the ground and thought I’d better save my money. Sunshine set both chairs up near the fire.

“Why did you buy two chairs?” asked Jon.

“One for me, and one for a friend,” said Sunshine.

“One for a friend,” snickered Jon.

One for a friend! I thought it was brilliant! Sunshine prepared for friends, and friends came. I prepared for solitude, and solitude came. Sunshine spent the rest of the summer showing me generosity. I spent the summer adoring her. Underprepared, we went into the wilderness together. The experience has made us friends forever.

Ten of Coins — Tarot of the Absurd

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

feedback farm alaskaFamily. Security, wealth, and accomplishment. Sustainability: meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.


Wealth can loosely be defined as a stockpile of resources. Income, on the other hand, is resource flow. The resources that determine wealth are relative. They differ between societies and among different groups of a single society. It is therefore impossible to come up with a definition of wealth that we can all agree on.


Popular culture looks at property holdings, investments and bank accounts as a measure of wealth. Wealth is generally defined as a personal accumulation of resources that both allows us to live with less stress and gives us a better shot at regenerating healthy progeny. Wealth is limited to certain individuals, at the expense of others.


By this measure, environmental assets are not counted as a part of wealth. Thus, the economic contribution of the public commons is not seen to exist until it ceases to exist, at which point those who exploited it to obtain personal wealth complain of an income drop and those who used it for subsistence are destitute. Such is the tragedy of the commons


A more holistic measure of wealth would be one’s dedication to sustainable natural resource management and the greater good of future generations: planetary wealth. This is the only definition that allows everyone living on the planet to be wealthy without poverty, if only we could just all get along. (In Utopia, everyone is wealthy.)


Any definition of wealth that allows rampant depletion of natural resources for individual empowerment fails in the long run, as it allows one’s offspring to live in an environment of depleted wealth, thereby offering them a smaller chance at success. Family is integral to the definition of the Ten of Coins. For those following this course of action who have no offspring, I have not one decent argument against unmitigated selfishness. I can only offer up a curse— may you have a lousy after-life.



“I once met a billionaire at a cocktail party (one of the grocery Lords Sainsbury) and was dying to ask if he thought he was rich, but I was young and too shy. I’ve never met anyone else who thought he or she was rich, presumably because they spend most of their time at cocktail parties with people who are richer. (Example: Lord Egremont’s brother, who used to steal toilet paper when he stayed at Petworth, one of the great houses of England, but Lord Egremont’s family would go through his luggage and steal it back.) So [wealth] is not a particularly useful term in political discourse, except to define those people who can afford, through lobbying and lawyers, to pay less than their fair share of taxes.”

— James Papp of New York, reader of the New York Times



What is the difference between wealth and income?


What is the wealth of the top 1%?


Who are the 99%?


Where do I fall on the income curve?

Five of Coins — Tarot of the Absurd

Saturday, October 13th, 2012


five of pentacles

Isolation. Insecurity. Worry. Financial loss. Poverty.


Perhaps I was a bit cynical when I drew this card and, to be honest, I’m not sure how much I like it. Maybe I was mean…


Some people have the attitude that if you’re poor or you can’t get a job, it’s your own fault. You don’t work hard enough. You’re not smart enough. You made dumb investments. You never invested. You squandered your money. You need a better education. You work for a non-profit. You don’t use the latest technology. You make your own luck and you, looser, you don’t know how. You’re poor and it’s not my fault so I’m going to pretend you don’t exist even if you live next door.


Who is someone else to tell you what’s wrong with your life? Your actions are indeed your responsibility, but whose fault is injustice and malchance? You’re overeducated. Companies are only hiring people who already have jobs. You have no connections. You’re brilliant, but socially inept. Your boss fired you because you were pregnant. Your work was bulldozed. The government funds large corporate entities, enabling them to sell their goods at a price that would otherwise be a loss while you, small businessperson, are left trying to sell your goods for what they’re worth and nobody buys. Your talents have become obsolete. You are too old. You are disabled. There are not enough jobs. There are too many people.


I tried to illustrate a way out for this troubled couple: if they would just stop looking in their empty purses, pick up their shovels and work, they’d be fine. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sometimes we dig and dig and dig and after all that work, all we have is a hole. Sometimes, the only way to keep this hole from becoming a deep pit of despair is faith. I have illustrated foolishness, but I have failed to illustrate faith.

Ace of Blades — Tarot of the Absurd

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Ace of Blades Tarot of the Absurd

From the brow of the Ace of Blades

the Seed of Intellect sprouts a Brilliant Idea.

One sharp New Concept grows from the Mind—

ambitious, determined, fresh and powerful.

Each impulse shoots roots into the Earth.

Each impulse shoots, shoots into the Air!

Well grounded, well nourished, illuminated and favored

the Brilliant Idea may fly.


 Warning: not all ideas that fly are angels.

The Sun — Tarot of the Absurd

Thursday, October 4th, 2012


I floated buoyant through the air

loosed to freedom— free of care—

I sang— singing— cloud-wing winging—

free— but to my freedom clinging—

when— AT ONCE!— I knew all truth of being—

love is free— and faith is freeing.

The Empress — Tarot of the Absurd

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Marija GimbutasIn the spring of 1995, I was gently nudged towards the path of feminism by my then-boyfriend, a man who would be affectionately known as My Favorite Former Lover for years to come. He was a god in bed, and with his artist’s touch he sculpted women into goddesses. I was in college majoring in writing and biology— a double major due more to indecision than ambition— and one of my classes was ANT 280: Human Evolution. Our assignment was broad: pick a topic in human evolution and write about it. A biologist by nature, left to my own devices I would have probably found something nice and dry to write about, such as the correlation between spinal curvature and cranial capacity between years X and Y. As it was, newly introduced to the concepts of neo-paganism and sexy-feminism, I chose to write about neolithic society and religion in southeastern Europe.


My paper was based largely on the work of the archaeologist Marija Gimbutas. Through her research, Gimbutas concluded that long-term, stable, woman-centered egalitarian societies were prevalent across neolithic Europe. Gimbutas earned a mixed reception by other scholars, who often considered her to be eccentric. However, her research and writings made her a keystone of the matriarchal studies movement and the Goddess movement. In short, I was searching for historical basis for my boyfriend’s religious belief. 


Archaeology, like statistics, can easily slip into showing people what they want to see. Although the information gathered is unbiased, few people enjoy reading raw statistics and findings of archaeological digs without a good story attached. And archaeologists— like statisticians— like any good teller of a tale— lie.


Although goddess worship is largely a construct of women’s need for self-empowerment, this is not wrong. All worship leads to empowerment. Worship of one’s own god(s)— and I use the term without regards to sex— is a unifying and empowering act across society. One of the first things any successful conquerer does is suppress the religion of the subjugated realm. This squelches the people’s identity. In search of identity, the subjugated incorporate something of their conquerer’s beliefs.


Rebellion begins when one realizes the beliefs of the ruling party are unjust to one’s own needs. Feminism is a rebellion against the heavy hand of a patriarchal society. In order to empower ourselves, women need to see power in the ruling party. Neo-pagan goddess worship is often liberating for women who feel oppressed by the status-quo.


So, why is the Empress fat?


The Empress is representative of femininity and female fertility. She is beauty and the beauty of nature. She is creation and procreation. She is those things women hold solely in our domain, and thus the Empress is pregnant. This is goddess worship: worship of the female. Worship of women as we are as beautiful. Worship without the need to revert us into wiry, hairless adolescents. Worship of women’s bodies as powerful vehicles perfectly fit for birth, the act of which life itself depends on. The Empress is the most powerful women. She is powerful without needing to emulate the powerful aspects of men. In order to empower ourselves, women must be able to find the things that make us uniquely powerful— and to worship them.

Page of Blades — Tarot of the Absurd

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Tarot of the Absurd Page of Blades[I illustrated the Pages in my deck as girls to equal out the balance of power between the sexes among the courts a bit. Ultimately, Pages are youth and the Knights are teenagers and the Kings and Queens are grown-ups. The Pages have crowns due to my own ignorance. What was I thinking?]


The Page of Blades is a sly girl with a mind that moves like lightning. A budding communications expert, she is an avid learner and an excellent student. The Page of Blades is full of questions and ideas, and she does not mean to keep them to herself. The books are not just there for show. Someday, in the future, they may be written by her own hand. 


The Page of Blades has a bundle of energy and is extremely curious— sometimes to a fault. If she were a cat she’d be on her ninth life and still creeping fences, jumping through broken windows and getting her whiskers caught in the mousetrap. But, to coin a proverb, a mind sharp with wisdom is often honed on the strop of curiosity. Her tongue and mind and blade are sharp, and the are used for carving. The tongue carves words into questions, warnings and advice, making friends or enemies as the case may be. The mind carves input from the senses into observations and ideas. And the blade begins to carve these new ideas into something real. In the young hands of the artisan of the blade, a concept becomes a plan becomes a fact.


But like all pages, the Page of Blades oft moves a bit quick, and if she does not pay close attention to what she does, she might carve off a bit of stuff she meant to keep. A tongue too quick to spout questions and advice might annoy and offend. A mind with ideas not thoroughly thought out but followed nonetheless might run into more obstacles than open paths. And a blade too quick to strike is oft not well aimed.

Wheel of Fortune — Tarot of the Absurd

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Blind Fortune“What is fortune?” I ask the Web of Answers.


“The Fortune Society’s mission is to support successful reentry from prison and promote alternatives to incarceration, thus strengthening the fabric of our communities.”


Fortune is freedom; freedom is fortune. Only—


“A Buddha is someone who finds freedom in good fortune and bad.”



Fortune is the ability to learn repercussions of poor actions in a constructive manner. Holding people in jails teaches people how to live in jail. Allowing people to do nothing with their lives teaches them how to do nothing with their lives.


“Fortune cannot aid those who do nothing.”



Fortune is the ability to be integrated into— to become one with the whole of— one’s society and community. Fortune is to feel accepted. However, most often in our society, fortune is thought of as monetary wealth; with money, we are instantly accepted in one way or another. Where and when goes fortune goes luck.


“No one is truly free, they are a slave to wealth, fortune, the law, or other people restraining them from acting according to their will.” 



“Fortune” can be read as luck, fate, destiny, karma, serendipity, chance, or accident. These are words that we have attached to circumstances where success or failure is brought on by something other than our own direct action. The action may be imperceptible; the origin of the action may be unknown. Maybe, maybe. So, if success or failure is brought on by something other than our own action and we are slave to the turns of fortunes wheel that keeps us from acting according to our own will, are freedom and fortune mutually exclusive?


“We do not know what is really good or bad fortune.” 

—Jean-Jacques Rousseau 



Blind, Fortune doles out gifts and punishments with no regard to person. Though Fortune cannot see what Fortune does, this does not stop the wheel from rolling! The result is seeming randomness.


“Fortune rules the affairs of men at random and, blind, she hands out her gifts.”



We are Fortune; we are the Wheel, and we are ultimately blind in to actions. No matter how much we try to see the world around us, no matter how aware we try to be of how we treat our environs, we are ultimately blind. Despite this, we are not freed from the responsibility of our actions. Blinded, we hand stars to others, blind. Thus we are bound to the Wheel of Fortune, and thus the wheel rolls on.