I had another episode recently. Must. Have. This. Deck. Bad for the pocketbook, and for the self-image as a spiritually free being (does anyone believe this about me anyway, besides me?). I’m fascinated by the whole internal sitcom of desiring–of being swept away by the buzz of others’opinions, of going farther along a path (read: deeper and deeper down a hole) that I meant to start, but never decided the endpoint of. A wise man of my acquaintance said, You can’t get enough of what you don’t really want. What am I doing with all these cards anyway?
I usually do like the decks I acquire, even after the fever passes. Maybe I need a bit of hypnosis to overcome my genetic frugality. I’d never permit myself such luxuries if I were “myself”–whoever that is.
Why am I telling you all this? Maybe you are like me: I’ve noticed I am attracted to different cards with different parts of myself–the one who loves beauty, the one who loves mystery, the intellectual, the historian, the artist. There’s also another part of me that I see more rarely, and that I don’t pretend to understand. The one with no self-image, no descriptor. The one who looks out of my eyes when I’m not “being someone.” Could this be the “real” me? It’s possible.
This is the self that decided, with a minimum of vacillating, that L’Oracle de la Triade’s images were compelling. Maybe even that they could speak to/for this image-less self, the deeper self–the Self, if I may be so bold. A tall order for some pieces of card, it’s true. But the colors, the symbols, the calligraphic flourishes, the lack of cute fairies or sentimentality, all evoked something in me that most oracle decks decidedly don’t.
I’m one of those provincial Americans, and this deck is new to me. Apparently it is quite popular in France, and I’ll soon be brushing up my French so as to join–or at least lurk–in the ongoing conversation about these cards. Dominicke Duplaa created the deck when he was quite young. One could say he was at that liminal time between child and adult when the door starts to close of its own, and only a few manage to keep it propped open. (Rimbaud was one who did, and Jeanne D’Arc, and Egon Schiele. Galois did–political firebrand, brilliant mathematician, dead of duel wounds by age 20. All burning like sparklers, bright and brief.) Fascinated by symbolism, mythology, magic, archetypes, Duplaa created images whose every element has meaning, drawn from an array of traditions. Each card is full of surprises, like when I stumble on a word I recognize in the ornate yet delicate multi-language calligraphy that appears frequently throughout the deck. In an interview, he says: “This deck is full of trapdoors and hidden corners; it’s a bit like some three-dimensional chessboard.” Agreed.
The cards are a mirror, says Duplaa. Illusion. Nadir. Love. Success. Light. Doubt. Birth. Science. Prayer. Soul. They are a feast for the eyes, with rich colors and ever-inventive images steeped in symbol. Each card is remarkably distinct, though graceful lines of calligraphy weave through them. Despite the array of symbols from different traditions, the effect is of spare harmony rather than overwhelming pastiche. This is a multi-faceted mirror–or a single reflection of a multi-faceted self.
Why name it “Triad”? Duplaa claims three-ness is in the structure of the deck itself. Hmm. There are 57 cards, 3 times 19. Of course, 19 is prime, not divisible by 3. But 1+9 = 10 and 1+0=1, to do some quick esoteric number-crunching. So 3 times 1, which is 3. I’m sure there are many other ways in which a triad manifests in this deck, but I’ve yet to discover them. I’m on my own thus far–Duplaa has written a large book about the cards and their underlying symbology, but did I mention I’m not fluent (yet) in French?
And it’s just as well. That no-name self does not need to be replaced just yet with the scholar, the need-to-know-it-all who would love to gobble up Duplaa’s allusions and meanings, forgetting entirely the call of the cards themselves. So I’m content to note my private discoveries: seven the number of rays issuing from the skull in Death; the word “Father” as one of four (the other three not readable by me) in Choice.
The extremely brief Little White Book advises that “the reader’s sensitivity and perception of the deck” are the main requirements for using the deck successfully, and it gives a few spreads. I chose the “Reading in Triangle”: 3 cards in a triangle, laid counter-clockwise from the top, then a fourth “synthesis” card in the center of the triangle. In this order, the cards represent: (i) forces in action; (ii) upcoming events or advised behavior; (iii) possible outcome; (iv) “a clearer idea of the unfolding.”
I have a break from my work, and as usual I have far more on my wish-to-do list than one summer could possibly accommodate. But something is shifting as well, a feeling that I need to focus on what’s truly important–whatever that is. I’m feeling scattered and in need of direction. So my question to the oracle was this:
How can I get the most out of my summer break?
- Doubt is spot-on. I have doubts about all these cherished activities on my list. I’ve been caught up in them, looking forward to this chance to immerse myself fully. But now that the time has come, to my surprise some of these goals seem a bit hollow. Is this what I really want to spend my precious time on?
- So true I must laugh. After a lifetime of refusing to Choose, trying to do a bit of everything, here’s a pointed reminder of what I’m finally realizing. Better to polish one plate, lovingly, than to keep so many spinning in the air. I’ve broken some along the way, with that approach. Choose. It’s the only way to incarnate fully, and there’s but a limited time to do that.
- A radical change, a passing. Death is the “possible outcome” of narrowing the field. And there may be a more literal meaning here too, as our sweet dog may not be with us beyond the summer. Memento mori.
- Papyrus: The stated meanings include writing, paper and books, but also evolution and involution. Literally, I can choose to focus on my writing. It’s up to me if I also choose to surrender deeply enough to evolve. But where there’s no evolution, involution sets in. The summer is more important than I realized–or it can be, if I let it.
You have doubts about all your imagined aims? Good! Then choose. Transform, let go (and honor your canine friend). It’s time to evolve. Oh, and keep writing.
Cards: L’Oracle de la Triade, Dominicke Duplaa (Gange ed., 1999)
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