Sunday, December 11th, 2011

Five of Wands β€” Bruegel Tarot

Artist: Guido Zibordi Marchesi


Interpretation: “Ambition. Those who rise too high often fall (It’s easier for those who rise too much to fall).”


I learned fives as cards of conflict. While working on my own deck, I have illustrated the cards in mostly random order, depending on which card I am able to embody next. The first card I illustrated was the star, back near the end of the last millennium when I thought I was doing a majors only deck and knew nothing much about tarot. The fives are some of the last cards I have illustrated. The fact that I had such issues illustrating fives shows I have problems with conflict.


I am my own fiercest competitor, my harshest judge, the first one to notice when I have climbed too high and fallen. The battle of the five of wands weaves itself in and out my mind and my environs. It is a clownish battle. The one who cares most about the result is my self. None of this is fun. My conflict is not fun. I wanted to illustrate the fun cards first.


The cards in this deck are strewn with symbols that are truly occult, from the Latin word occultus: clandestine, hidden, secret. They are occult because the artist chose not to publish a book pointing out the meaning of all the hidden symbols in his work. Curses upon him! This leaves it up to us, the readers, to divine what his symbols mean.


Ultimately, symbols in a work of art take on the meaning that the we, the viewers, give them. If we are unable to relate to anything in an image (or a story or a poem or a life), we pass it by. If some one tells us, “Look at thisβ€” look at thisβ€”” we are more likely to stop and look and relate and say, “I see!”


Dare I askβ€” Am I the woman in the green dress: about to step on a rake and smack my head? Have I fallen off a mountain? Am I climbing a tree with a cudgel too large in pursuit of an animal that has already fled?


In the end, we are all peasants, common people wielding the tools of our trade in argument. If any of our weapons should break, we will be unable to work. What are we arguing about? Is anyone listening to anyone else? Are we even listening to our selves?

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