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

Two of Blades — Tarot of the Absurd

Friday, August 16th, 2013


The Two of Blades is a simple image depicting two balanced forces. Balanced forces may be opposites, or they may be partners. They may work together, or they may oppose each other. Balanced forces working in conjunction with one another may accomplish great things. Balanced forces at odds with one another go no where. It is important to notice the aim of your force in relation to surrounding energies.


I equally want to sleep and want to get things accomplished while my baby naps. (Hooray!) In the middle of these balanced forces, I get tiny crumbs of action accomplished that never seem to amount to anything and I am chronically low on sleep. Horrid compromise! How can I change it so that all my energy works toward the same goal?


Clarify my goals

Have fewer goals

Outline the steps needed to attain my goals

Organize my time better

Don’t have any fun (wot???)


Seven of Swords — Deviant Moon Tarot

Thursday, March 28th, 2013
7 Swords Deviant Moon Tarot

Illustrated by Patrick Valenzia

Martin and I are attempting to put a 2nd bathroom in the house. I’m looking on Craigslist and other places for fixtures, because they’re wicked expensive. There was this one ad for a new-in-box faucet that seemed like a really good deal (normally $130 and he was selling it for $55 but okay he’ll let it go for $40). The dude and I wrote a couple letters. I gave him my number because I was going to go check it out. Then he kept calling! He wouldn’t stop calling! He and his fiancée live above some convenience store in Burlington and they’re both unemployed. She’s the one who posted the ad. He had this really high voice. After about the seventh call I wanted to say, “Look, actually I’m not interested.” It was beginning to be weird. But I was in Burlington and he agreed to meet me in a convenient location. So I met him, this very wide dude with the high squeeky voice and fiancée who was trying to look like she didn’t know him, hanging out on the street corner facing the other direction, and he handed me the Home Depot bag with the faucet. Well, the faucet had a box, that’s all I can say for it, and the box looked nice. I don’t know where he got the thing. I don’t think it was at Home Depot, tho that’s what he said. I think he just ripped it out of his apartment. The screen was missing (damn stoners! they get it every time…) and the chrome was all fingerprint greasy and corroded and a bunch of other parts were missing. I told him I wasn’t interested and apologized profusely. He asked why why why and lowered the price and I backed off because I felt so bad for him and I said, “It just doesn’t look new.”
Note to self: avoid purchasing things on street corners.

Four of Blades — Tarot of the Absurd

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

4 of blades tarot of the absurd 


Rash action oft’ builds to swift retribution;

meditation can lead to a peaceful a solution.



Standing too long in mute contemplation

leads one from inaction to putrid stagnation.



A case of gunpowder-filled lead ammunition

is shot at the ghost of a thought. No fruition.

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?

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.

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.

Eight of Blades — Tarot of the Absurd

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

sticks rock and a hard placeUpright: isolation, restriction, limited awareness


Reversed: change of mind, new point-of-view, freedom


The man in the Eight of Blades feels trapped in isolation. This is understandable. He is up against a brick wall with swords pointed at him from every direction. His movement is restricted, his hands restrained. He is powerless. In such a situation, it is easy to feel victimized. The only solution— the only way to escape the situation— is to find one small light in the dungeon. This is the meaning of self-empowerment.


Perhaps the ropes are not tied so tightly as he thinks. Perhaps he can work his hands free and, with the freedom of his hands, remove the blades from his body one by one.


When we perceive our situation, we gain perceptive on it only from our past experiences. This is what makes us self-aware. Babies, born without self-awareness, become aware bit-by-bit. They experience all sensations for the first time: hunger, heat, cold, tummy-ache. They become aware of body parts: hands, mouth, feet, genitalia. After the initial excitement of awareness, we expect things to remain as they are. Our hands remain our hands. Our face remains our face. This frees us, in that it allows us to move on and become aware of other things: it is very difficult to notice anything else (It’s raining out. OR Something is burning on the stove!) if we are constantly excited by the existence of our own body. However, the expectation that things will remain as they are also becomes the ties that bind us tightest: we expect and even desire that things remain the same.


(The devil we know is safer than the devil we don’t know.)


When we feel that we are bound inescapably, we need to re-learn our self in order to gain freedom. What are my hands? What can they do? What can I do for myself? We need to be as eager to do things for ourselves as a child learning to walk, to feed itself and to get dressed. We have to be just as willing to look silly. We have to be just as proud of every achievement. We need to re-train our eyes to see any possibility that exists. We need to re-train our minds. Only then do choices become apparent. Only then does the possibility of freedom reveal itself.

Strength — Three of Swords — Seven of Coins — Russian Tarot of St. Petersburgh

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Artist: Yuri Shakov


Last night, in an attempt at sleep, I read the entirety of Wang’s An Introduction to the Golden Dawn Tarot. Unfortunately, I found it riveting. I want to try moving towards multiple card readings. I would like to try to remember the stories behind how one card relates to the other. I draw three cards— past, present, future.


The past is Strength. Not that Strength is past, but that physical Strength was the most obvious manifestation of my very-independent Self. That Self has past in the direction of the Three of Swords. The body and one’s apparent independence are ultimately impossible to hold onto. It is best to become less attached to them before necessary. This decreases heartache and increases freedom. The Three of Swords leads onward to the Seven of Coins. Having a child is always the Seven of Coins. I imagine the investment is perpetual, tho one hopes to put less effort into it over time. And I imagine harvest thus:


—hunting for ripe blackberries at the beginning of the season—

among the brambles
not quite out of reach
one sun-kissed drupe
placed upon the tongue
evokes a wash of purple
dripping from the sky
melting over thorns
a be-here-now
of sunlight

in the mouth

Three of Blades — Tarot of the Absurd

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Artist: Jessica Rose Shanahan


[Annotation: I was having a terrible time figuring out what this card meant, and thus I could not illustrate it. Then one day, walking through the public library, I saw a woman with a tattoo on her neck: three swords piercing a heart! Delightful! After speaking with her, I wrote the following.]


The opposite of heartache
still is freedom.
It is the hand of the heart
that holds the blade.
And tho this heartache
is a necessary part of living,
it is also but a sign of holding on.
Release the blade.
Release the blade
and see what comes of love.
Release the blade and watch
the wings of your own heart
emerge like those of butterflies—
wings trapped within
some thin, translucent shell—
Release— and feel
the wings of your own heart
begin to beat—
Release and find—
It is holding on that brings
the only necessary hurt
of living.