The World — Tarot of the Absurd

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012


Fool World Tarot


How the Fool had a Grand Misunderstanding, Became Unblinded, and Learned to See the World


Initially, I wanted to illustrate the World through lack of illustration, the point being that the world is endless, its boundaries are indefinable, its existence is inescapable. Ultimately I decided not only would it be a very boring picture, it would be doomed to misinterpretation by people who take it to mean that I believe the world does not exist.


Nonetheless, the card remained illustrated through lack of illustration due to a lazy muse for many years. Then, many years after reading some general directions on playing the game of tarot, my muse struck (ouch!) via poor memory and misunderstanding the rules of the game.


A brief explanation of tarot gaming, via Ronald Decker, Thierry Depaulis, & Michael Dumett. A Wicked Pack of Cards: The origins of the occult tarot.


“All Tarot games are trick-taking games, in which the cards we have been calling ‘trumps’ indeed play the role of permanent trumps. A player who has the lead to the first trick… may play any card of his choice to the table. Subsequent players… must follow suit if they can, that is, play a card of the same suit as that led, or, if they cannot follow suit, must play a trump; they must play a trump if a trump was led. Only one who cannot follow suit and has no more trumps in his hand is free to play any card he likes. If a trick contains no trump card, it is won by the highest-ranking card of the suit led; otherwise, it is won by the highest trump played to it. The Fool or Matto does not count as a trump; it cannot win a trick, but by playing it the player is released from the obligation to follow suit or to play a trump. It is not normally captured with the trick to which it was played; the player from whose hand it was played takes it back and adds it to the cards he has won in tricks… The object of the game is not merely to win tricks, but to win points on the cards taken in tricks: different cards have different point-values, although all have some value. (The Fool has a high value.) These are only the basic principles…”


My misunderstanding was multi-fold:


Jessica Shanahan


Thus, via my Grand Misunderstanding, the Fool, when played, takes the World, but adds no value to it. “Brilliant,” I thought, “the Fool takes the World!”


Blinded, nothing makes sense. Unblinded, things fall into place and the Fool becomes one with the World and its situation. When the Fool gains vision, he sees that he is not the center of the World. Indeed, the World (as opposed to the Earth) has no center: it is an infinite unity that extends in all directions and encompasses all there is.


The World signifies completion, achievement and fulfillment. The Fool, unblinded, is able to see the system for what it is and understand his place within that system. Knowledge of the World implies a deeper understanding of one’s effect upon one’s environs and the environment, and the effect of one’s environs on one’s self. The World indicates a feeling of unity and wholeness. As things fall into place, and the Fool becomes ‘one’ with his situation. The Fool, no longer fooled, becomes an embodiment of the World.


Thus, the Fool takes the World.


Despite the fact that I misunderstood the rules, they are perfectly viable rules provided all players play by rule #1: players must agree upon the rules before commencement of the game.


The dog gains his bone and the Fool, unblinded, gains the World.




Il Mondo — Tarocchi dei Celti “Jacovitti”

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Benito jacovittiArtist: Benito Jacovitti

[This card was not drawn at random.]


I’ve been following this thread on the Aeclectic Tarot website called “Where are the bitchy women of tarot?


People post pictures from different decks depicting women who, in one way or another, appear to be a bit bitchy. There are many ways to define bitch. Wikipedia does a good job under “bitch (insult)


Different people have different reactions to the word depending on their history with it. I have different reactions to the word, depending on the situation and how it’s said. If it’s said with spit and spite, I want to bite. If it’s said sweetly by someone I like, I might laugh or find it endearing. [I am not certain this has ever happened, but I remain open-minded.] Or I could refer to myself as a bitch because— la!— it happens.


Referring to dogs, the term bitch is an old one. In writing, it was first applied to women about 1330 and then with increasing frequency. It meant to refer to a woman who was acting like a female dog in heat. Now it is used more liberally, generally to refer to a woman who has control over a situation in one way or another. Women in power are referred to as bitches by people who don’t like them and as strong women by people who do like them.


If a woman throws a dish at you and yells at you, you might call her a bitch. If a man throws a dish at you and yells at you, might call him an asshole. Throwing things and yelling is a nasty way to wield power.


If you are a man with a very large ego and a woman totally slaughters you at tennis, you might call her a bitch, but not to her face. If you are a woman and a man totally and unapologeticly slaughters you at tennis, you might call him an asshole, but, again, not to his face. Such is the world of poor sportsmanship and insults. [I only say tennis because women wear those sexy little skirts; I suck at the game.]


If you are a man and find a woman really sexy and you want to fuck her yet she avoids you while continuing to turn you on, you might call her a bitch. If you are a woman and you find a man really sexy so you fuck him and then he ignores you, you might call him an asshole. After women succumb to the advances of men, the balance of power changes. Desirable women have power over men. It’s a hormone thing. In this phase, women are bitches. Women become less desirable to men immediately after sex. Again, a hormone thing. In this phase, men are assholes. Yes, men are totally ruled by hormones, just like women.


So, what makes a woman a bitch?


In fourth grade, I was at my friend Becky’s house where she was showing off her new COLOR computer monitor. I really couldn’t see the advantages of a color monitor seeing as how the printers were all in black & white, but whatever. She was the boss. She was showing me a drawing program. It was boring, but I watched as she tediously made a white line drawing of a dog on a fucia background. Let it be known that in fourth grade, I was programing with Logo turtle graphics. Becky didn’t know this and she didn’t care. She was smarter because she said she was smarter. She saw me as less intelligent because I refused to argue with her. [I was already living by my mother’s maxim, “If I’m going to argue, I want to argue with someone who is more intelligent than I am.”] Becky’s primitive computer skills bored me. My mind wandered.


I think our argument began when I brought up my newly-acquired knowledge that a female dog is called a bitch. Becky turned to me and said, “Don’t you dare say that!” I was rather confused. I was certain a female dog was called a bitch because I’d read it in a book about dogs. “But a female dog is a bitch,” I said. “Take that back right now or I’ll punch you in the face!” said Becky. Confused and speechless, I stood there dumb. Becky punched me in the face. I walked home.


I think Becky was a bitch.

The World — Dragon Tarot

Thursday, January 26th, 2012
Artist: Peter Pracownik

Designer: Terry Donaldson


Here I am back at the Dragon Tarot, where a slender dragon wraps it wings protectively around the world. The dragons in this deck seem to have all hatched from the same clutch of eggs. If I was going to draw a dragon tarot— which I won’t but if I did— one of my main goals would be to give the dragons all their own personality and unique features. After all, dragons are people, too. But I digress.


My mother is here visiting. We do typical mother-daughter activities such as walking the frozen wetlands of the nearby nature preserve and constructing built-in shelving so baby-to-be has some place to store its (her?) dozens of onesies. I know the shelving project will not be completed before she leaves: I will need to finish the drywall and painting. I have other unfinished drywall projects around the house. My best excuse for not finishing the other projects is that it is impossible to carry home an intact 8×4-foot sheet of drywall on top of a Toyota Corolla. Afraid of impending lethargy, I say to the deck— Tell me to finish the drywall! —Motivation comes easier with a foreman.


The deck hands me the World: a card of integration, completion, accomplishment, and travel— quite a powerful card for a seemingly simple request. Nonetheless. To integrate is defined as to combine one thing with another— such as to combine drywall with mud and tape— so that they become seamlessly whole. To complete is to finish a project. To accomplish something is to stand back and look at it with pride and say, “Well! That’s done.” To travel is to move on to the next thing. Despite how annoying I find the task of spackling, I don’t think my request was deserving of the World, which indicates there will be praise and celebration for my successful achievements. I won’t complain. I just have to do what the World has obligingly ordered me to do— ASAP.