I was reading, with great pleasure, Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey & Peter F. Neumeyer (2011), a delicious collection of erudite correspondence and magical envelopes, and came across Edward Gorey’s take on the tarot, in a letter written on New Year’s Day, 1969:
“As you know, I have always, if desultorily and spasmodically, been interested in what is loosely the occult, and believe in it to a certain degree as indicative of the nature of things and the relations between them, if not too much in the specific kind of fortune-telling. I mean if someone tells me I am going to get a letter from a short blonde girl residing 423 miles in a southwesterly direction which is going to contain a request for one of my old bowties I am going to be very dubious, but things like the I Ching, the tarot, palmistry, astrology, whatever, do seem to me so many similar ways of by-passing the cause-and-effect, rational world in which we normally try to function, and by means of their various stylizations and symbols of the whole reality to show you things and clarify them which otherwise you might have much more trouble finding out.”
So, I did a quick search on Edward Gorey and the tarot and, miracle of miracles, found that in 1995 he issued his own version, The Fantod Pack, 20 cards with Gorey art and a booklet by “Madame Groeda Weyrd” which gives instructions on how to read the deck and what each card might symbolize. The deck has since been reissued, in 2007, and is available today. If you enjoy Gorey or the tarot, buy it. It’s wonderful through and through.
The Tarot Illuminati is being published by Lo Scarabeo some time in 2013 and is available for pre-order at Amazon.com. The artwork, which is lush and startling, is by Erik C. Dunne. The card shown here is The Hermit, who reminds many of Diogenes carrying a lantern in search of an honest man, although I imagine the Greek philosopher never sported a fab robe like this one. This artist is having fun.
The merry wind,
The rolling sea,
The blazing sun,
The seagulls free.
Thus sailed he.
Illustration and poem by Pamela Colman Smith from A Broad Sheet, No. 4, April 1902, reprinted in The Artwork & Times of Pamela Colman Smith: Artist of the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck (2009) by Stuart R. Kaplan.
The Original Dog Tarot by Heidi Schulman is a 30-card tarot deck (and book) with the Major Barkana wonderfully illustrated by Marty Blake; loving dogs, tarot cards and the artist’s work, I had to have it. And I do.
Looking up at Sirius, the Dog Star, how perfect. Do visit Marty Blake’s website to see more of her work.
“Women would rather believe what the cards say than what men tell them.”
Black and White
Three postcards by Belgian artist Paul Hagemans (1884-1959)
“With light step, as if earth and its trammels had little power to restrain him, a young man in gorgeous vestments pauses at the brink of a precipice among the great heights of the world; he surveys the blue distance before him — its expanse of sky rather than the prospect below. His act of eager walking is still indicated, although he is stationary at the given moment; his dog is still bounding. The edge which opens on the depth has no terror; it is as if angels were waiting to uphold him, if it came about that he leaped from the height… He is the spirit in search of experience.”
– Arthur Edward Waite in The Pictorial Key to the Tarot (1910), card designed by Pamela Colman Smith.
One of my interests is the Tarot, and I especially enjoy Tarot decks, with 78 works of art in each pack. I also enjoy literary references to the Tarot, and even entire books built around it, such as Italo Calvino’s The Castle of Crossed Destinies and Charles Williams’ The Greater Trumps. But for all my reading, I came upon something today that was totally new to me, in an issue of Real Simple magazine from 2008, this advertisement for Always Dri-Liners which feature unique visible side barriers for whatever the day may bring.
This was a Tarot card I had never seen before, and I have to wonder about the rest of the deck.