Winding down my website’s tenth anniversary summer celebration. Even here in sunny Santa Barbara, where weather rarely happens, I can feel a subtle shift in the air as we head toward autumn. To finish up the series, here’s a grab bag of articles that don’t fit into any category.
The poems in this important anthology take us on a ride from black jack tables to the Last Supper. Many poems gently evoke the essence of a card, like lingering incense. Others delight us with new insights, like Tony Barnstone’s paired poems on the same card upright and reversed; or Amy Schrader’s poems on court cards. The Devil has been transformed by Lore Bernier (I am restrained by a lack of restraint) and Amanda Chiado (He was the kid who only ate the icing). On these pages we hear the voice of a rather smug Temperance angel, a tricksterish Fool and a foolish Fool, and Judas as the Hanged Man. Read more
Tarot was the last thing I expected to see in the latest issue of Frogpond, the journal of the Haiku Society of America.
If you’d like to write haiku but feel constrained by its extreme compression, try haibun. Haibun consists of a few sentences or short paragraphs of prose with a haiku inserted somewhere. The haiku resonates with the prose but isn’t a literal illustration.
Here’s a tarot haibun by Alexis Rotella. Read more
The author of several poetry books based on historic tarot decks now offers us poetic meditations on all 78 cards of the Tarot de Marseille.
Each card is given a double-page spread. On the left-hand page we see a black-and-white reproduction of the 1701 Dodal deck restored by Jean-Claude Flornoy. On the opposite page there’s a very compressed and evocative meditation on the card. Read more
This two-volume book considers tarot from every possible angle: popular culture, occult theory, academic history, literary analysis and artistic commentary. I hope my brief summary of the articles will inspire you to purchase this major contribution to tarot studies.
Volume I offers a good foundation in tarot history.
The late Sir Michael Dummett surveys tarot from its 15th-century beginnings as a card game, to its appropriation by French occultists in the late 18th century.
Robert Place delves deeply into the iconography of the earliest hand-painted decks and discusses the trump sequence as a neoplatonic ascent of the soul. He also describes the first set of trump cards we know of, by the Duke of Milan’s astrologer Marziano de Tortona, which Place is currently re-creating. (Examples can be seen on his facebook page.) Read more
Opening these evocative books of poetry based on the 15th-century Visconti Sforza and Sola Busca decks releases a gentle magic into the air. The tarot figures speak for themselves in these elegant, imagistic poems, opening up surprising revelations about each card. Energy hums between the poems and color photos of their cards on the facing page.
All Love Goes Before Me: Poems on the Sola Busca Tarot
Tarot historian Giordano Berti sets the mood in his preface by invoking the muses and a lineage of alchemist-poets, while telling us the poems are “access portals to another dimension.” In the introduction, Il Meneghello’s art director, Dr. Cristina Dorsini, conjures up the special magic of this deck. Read more