Category Archives: 22 Tarot trumps

The Reading

Manhattan in February. It’s pleasantly gray, misting off and on. I had scheduled just three hours between LaGuardia airport and my destination when I impulsively made a crazy overture that was crazily accepted. But now the rain has whittled those three hours down to barely more than one. Messages back and forth in the taxi, then at last–I arrive! I’m at the cafe we agreed on, one just a few blocks from my journey’s end. We have exactly one hour before I need to move on to the main purpose of my trip. One stolen hour for this delightful addition to my itinerary–to look at cards on a rainy late-afternoon with my teacher Enrique. Continue reading


Fool’s Gold


ship of fools 2

Albrecht Durer, title page from Sebastian Brant’s Narranschiff, 1494

Some 15 years ago, Brian Williams created a Tarot based on humanist Sebastian Brant’s illustrated tome of moral commentary, the Narranschiff, or Ship of Fools. It was inevitable that my interest in the Ship of Fools Tarot would be reignited. Brant’s 15th century work is not only fascinating in its own right, but it was undoubtedly an influence on Jost Amman, whose 16th century deck of 52 playing cards has become a bit of an idee fixe for me of late. Continue reading

The Tarot of Chinoiserie

Foudraz title

Tarocchi Orientali Foudraz 1845

Chinoiserie: the imitation or evocation of Chinese motifs and techniques in Western art, furniture, and architecture, especially in the 18th century.

chicanery:  deception by artful subterfuge or sophistry : trickery Continue reading

Who Are You, Monsieur Diable?


The Devil’s in the details.

 Give the Devil his due.

A deliberate mistake in the weaving, so as not to tempt the Devil.

Speak of the devil–and he appears.

The devil you know is better than the one you don’t.

You handsome devil, you!

The Devil is not without a lot of cultural baggage, and not a nicely-matched luggage set either. Continue reading

A Piteousness of Hanged Men

hanged men

If you are looking to read Tarot cards by actually seeing them, rather than by an overlay of imposed or associative meanings, you could find no finer card to practice on than the Hanged Man, Le Pendu. Continue reading

Who Is My Brother?

A few weeks ago, a friend suggested we set a special intention for the victims of a horrific act of violence.  (Which one, you ask? The list grows daily. Real people died in each one.)

I thought my friend had a good idea; I was on-board with it. But before I could follow through, I heard about another violent tragedy. Somehow it was able to shock me even though I was already reeling. The death toll in the second circumstance was even higher than the first. (Which means what, exactly? If every life is an infinity, is 100 times infinity more than 50 times infinity?)

Suddenly it felt odd to honor one set of victims in light of this news about the others.  Yet in smearing the particular into the generic–“we’ll pray for everybody, all at once”–I started to lose focus. Too many faces to visualize, too many names to read. I started to feel the overwhelm that has hit many of us lately. New shocks are coming too fast, I can’t/don’t wish to numb them out but something inside has broken loose and I’m feeling adrift. Continue reading