The Hermit β€” Tarocchi dei Celti “Jacovitti”

Sunday, May 20th, 2012

The Hermit turns away from a consumerist, materialistic society to seek answers that arise in quiet solitude. He teaches us to honor timeless inner wisdom. The Hermit understands the myriad of paths that people choose andΒ  helps us with compassionate detachment.


I draw one last card from this deck before I send it away to its new home. The Hermit. Why do I let this deck go so easily? Perhaps because I do not realize its value. Perhaps because I realize value is not intrinsic to an object, but rather given to it by others. Perhaps because it makes me uncomfortable. Perhaps because I know it will be adored in its new home. Most likely I let it go because I am afraid of becoming like my mother in her vast house full of curiosities and wonders. For example, there is a room built specially to house reels and skeins of yarn whose twisted fibers will never touch one of the dozens of knitting machines that lounge about the house, each one purchased in state of disrepair and fixed to perfect working order. They are for sale, if only some one would ask.


Last weekend I asked to borrow my mother’s button collection. I haven’t looked through it in years. I remember three large tins of buttons. They arrived with my sister last weekend, eleven tins of fasteners, each tin averaging 5”x8”x8” in size. One tin contains old coat buttons, hundreds of buttons in muted hues of grays and browns. Another contains white buttons, no mother-of-pearl. Another contains mother-of-pearl buttons only. Another contains antique cards of buttons once sold at 27Β’ each. There are buttons to be covered, wooden buttons, woven leather buttons, sequined buttons, glass buttons, silver buttons, and more. Any button, any button. Thousands of buttonsβ€” myriads.


I am in the process of having my tarot deck printed. It is a long process because I am learning about papers and bleed and color and layout and nursing all at the same time. The local printer does not have a tuck box die, so I am going to design a card sleeve and then make a box decorated with ribbon and an antique buttonβ€” hence the buttonsβ€” if I ever have two hands free.


There is always an idea. There is always material to carry out the project. There is often not enough time. Even less often is there enough will. The house is full of possibilities. A room of yarn. A room of fabrics. Dozens of sewing and knitting machines, fixed to perfect working order. Paints. Papers. Inks. Rooms full of books. Where is my mother amongst this? It is springtime. She is in the garden, weeding, building fences, moving rocks, planting seeds. Everything in the house can burn, as far as she is concerned. These curious items are nothing. The earth is everything.


The Hermit turns away from a consumerist, materialistic society to seek answers that arise in quiet solitude. He teaches us to honor timeless inner wisdom. The Hermit understands the myriad of paths that people choose andΒ  helps us with compassionate detachment.

The Hermit β€” Tarot of the Absurd

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

[I have been in NY City for a few days. I had a wonderful time. I am now re-united with my computer and scanner.]


Artist: Jessica Shanahan


I love this image. You can click on it to make it bigger and see each individual hair in the Hermit’s beard.


This is how I make my pictures:


I spend anywhere from a few days to a few years trying to figure out what a card means to me.


I rack my brain for ideas on how to represent the meaning of the card using lovely curved lines and zero colors and two dimensions.


I draw a sketch in pencil on a piece of scrap paper. Again, this can take a very long time.


I scan the sketch into my computer and import it in Adobe Illustrator to use as a template for a vector graphics illustration.


I place points on the apexes of curves and pull vectors that approximate my hand-drawn curves. This takes one day or many, depending on the complexity of the image and how many times I edit it before it approaches completion.


Because one of my goals is to have as few points as possible, I go through a prolonged period of removing points that I have placed. I use no pre-formed β€œshapes” (squares, circles, stars, etc.) and, with few exceptions (see the hanged man), I do not cut&paste or re-use any of the images I have drawn. I am obsessive. However, my images are drawn by a human (me) and I want them to look that way. Another goal of mine is to reproduce the feeling of pen&ink.


Each image goes through a lengthy editing periodβ€” from a few days (rarely) to a few years (way too often)β€” before I say β€œenough!” and call it done. Many of the pictures have changed substantially since I began the deck. My style has become more refined and detailed. That is what happens when a project takes so long.


Because the pictures are drawn in vector graphics, the originals can be blown up infinitely large without losing definition. There are no pixels. Often times, when I am drawing an eyeball, it will take up my entire computer screen. That is how close I work.


The purpose of this blog is to gain a better understanding of the cards
that I might better be able to explain the images in my deck
and someday write a little book.

The Hermit β€” Kitty Kahane Tarot

Thursday, December 15th, 2011
Artist: Kitty Kahane

Booklet: Lilo Schwartz
Interpretation: “Follow your Star. // Be true to yourself and follow your own way. You alone know where your star is leading you, therefore do not let yourself be distracted by outside influences and well-meaning counsel…”
The hermit seems to have left the house in his bathrobe. Perhaps it is supposed to be an overcoat, but it looks fuzzy. So does his chin. May be he just got up out of bed, threw on a robe and went for a hike. Either way, no one is looking. He’s got a start to light his way and a little birdie on his shoulder.
The hermit is the old-man-self. Incorporating more of the past into one’s self allows us to understand what may come of the future. Knowing what may come of the future allows us to see where we are going, to allow time itself to become starlight that shows some roots and rocks in an otherwise shadowy path.
I am shy. I like the hermit. I have dreams that I keep hidden in fear of failure, or in fear that others will think them too strange. Perhaps sometimes my star’s a bit dim, because I should have learned by now that the few people I allow to my hermitage do not judge me nearly so harshly as I judge myself.
I spend hours alone, reading or doing yoga or wandering around outside and thinking, just looking. I like to see how one thing connects to anotherβ€” becomes anotherβ€” is fully and completely inseparate from another. Eventually, nothing that I want to be important seems important at all, and I feel helpless in the face of what is truly important. Whatever that is. At this point, it’s time I call a friend on the phone and talk pure silliness that certainly means nothing but is nonetheless quite crucial.
I am the hermit right now in Quebec. Martin is speaking French on the phone. His son refuses to accept that English might be a language of civilized people and suddenly insists he understands none of it: he doesn’t want it spoken in the house. Outside it is raining or snowing something awfully wet. Down the street is a bike path that leads in one direction or the other but veers little and never forks. There are people on the path sometimes. If they spoke to me, I would not understand them. In the sprawling local suburbs there is one box-shaped store after another selling things that we are foolish enough to think might make us happy. A star is a very large, very heavy thing to carry. I want to go home so I can put the star on its shelf for a while and sleep in my own bed.