Monday, December 12th, 2011

Page of Cups β€” Tarot of the Absurd

Jessica Rose ShanahanArtist: Jessica Rose Shanahan


Interpretation: A dreamy youth or youthful dreaming. The surfacing and realization of emotions. Artful expression. Inspiration from the realm of the unconscious and the spirit. The beginning of a creative project or venture.


I think my dreams have always flown like books in the form of butterfliesβ€” or butterflies in the form of books. I am ever the youthful dreamer. The main purpose of this blog is to extract a storm of words from my brain in order that I might have enough material to write a book within a year and a half. Then I just have to edit everything and publish it somehow. So simple to say! So easy to dream! So challenging to doβ€”


When I began this deck over a decade ago, I was using the tarot pack as form and framework for an illustration project for myself.Β  I saw the deck as a mythic tradition, similar to faerie tale or fable. For each card, I would use a certain number of traditional symbols to illustrate a given meaning. It was a dream, and the more I learned of the reality of the tarot deckβ€” or the lack thereofβ€” the more difficult my task became.


Even the simplest of things are inconsistent: the four suits are called by different names and people interpret the cards in ways that make sense to them. The mythology of tarot makes divination integral with multiple forms of divination and magic: the zodiac, kabbalah, the elements, alchemy, the divine name, etc. It has been said to come from the Gypsies via Egypt. It has been said to be a lot of things. Beautifully so, with just a little tweaking here and there, it can align with any system one chooses to align it with. Verifiable history, on the other hand, is another matter. Truth is often the destroyer of dreams.


I am currently reading A Wicked Pack of Cards by R. Decker, T. Depaulis & M. Dummett. It is an excellent account of the history of tarot as a playing pack and how it came to be transformed into a popular method of divination. Although some people prefer to know only some mythology and are satisfied to call it truth, I prefer to see how mythology interweaves with history and realize that neither is complete without the other. I believe that learning names and dates of history does not destroy the tarot as a tool of divinationβ€” though some may have no interest in such stuffβ€” either one or the other.


I am the dreamer of my own mythology. I do not see differing mythologies as systems that must necessarily be in conflict. Hindu Mythology, Greek Mythology, Judeo-Christian Mythology, Zodiac Mythology, Egyptian Mythology and Evolutionary Mythology can all live in peace with one another, if we choose to be peaceful people. There is no need to wage wars. We just need to agree that every truth is also a mythology, and each mythology a truth. What a beautiful dream that would be!


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