Sunday, May 17, 2015

Some Assembly Required

This past winter I embarked upon a little project requiring only a screwdriver.

There were a LOT of pieces in the box. 

REALLY a lot. Many more than seemed necessary for one measly chest of drawers.
The fact that I could fit into the empty box should have raised a red flag.

My trusty screwdriver and I began. I think a house could be built more simply. I got some of the frame together but the tiny drawers were another thing entirely. The holes for the screws seemed uncooperative. It would surely be a year before I finished it, and in the meantime no one could walk through or sit in the living room.
Would it end up looking like the picture on the box? Doubtful. Would it be functional? Probably not.

I needed help from an expert, one with experience and better tools. I hired one. He spent the first half hour disassembling the upside-down and backwards things I had done.
Was all this trouble, time, and expense worth it? YES! This beautiful and slightly quirky piece of furniture holds a LOT of decks!

Tarot decks, like chests of drawers, are receptacles. They hold ideas and inspirations at the ready until we come to open them up. However, there are some which require more than a casual glance before they can be put to work. A quick flick through the deck's instructions doesn't quite cut it. Here are three that definitely need (for me, at least) some help from their creators and some effort on my part to reach their full potential as working decks.

The New Orleans Voodoo Tarot
As the author, Louis Martinié, writes in the introduction to his companion volume, "This book does not present the understanding of Voodoo: what it does do is give one understanding."
New Orleans and its unique blend of culture, food, ambience, atmosphere, and architecture, is high on my bucket list. The mysterious world of Voodoo, blended with New Orleans - yes!
276 pages
The images are somewhat dark, as you would expect. The suits and court cards have been renamed.
The Majors are similar to RWS-based decks, and readable (in a shallow fashion) without much research. The Minors, however, are a different story, and I'm curious to find out who these characters are!
Here are examples from Fire, Water, Air, and Earth, with tiny elemental drawings identifying the suits.

The Shining Tribe Tarot
Rachel Pollack's drawings are crammed with imagery from tribal traditions around the world. I'm not familiar enough with most of them to understand this deck without her book by my side...yet. Most of the cards have an optimism and lightness about them that lift my mind and spirit.
331 pages

The suits are renamed Trees, Rivers, Birds, and Stones. The Courts (Vision cards) are Place, Knower, Gift, and Speaker. There's a simplicity about these drawings that links them, and thus us, to the wisdom of the ancients. I find that reassuring.

(Rachel is in need of our help right now. Find out more.)

The Mary-El Tarot
This is by the most sophisticated deck of the three artistically, and it took Marie more than ten years to complete. Each painting is a gorgeous work of art in its own right. For me, it's also the least intuitive as a tarot deck; I'm glued to her book when I try to read with the cards. Perhaps I need to just let go and let my mind fly wild!
192 pages

This deck, subtitled Landscapes of the Abyss, sticks with the traditional suits and card titles. Some cards are a bit scary, and none are what I would label light or humorous. All are thought-provoking.

Lots of interesting reading ahead!