Saturday, June 19, 2010
The Tarot Fool Comes to Connecticut
Sometimes we can't miss the play of the Greater Trumps that Jung called archetypes but for many centuries before him have been depicted on 22 cards in a deck of 78, and have a way of spilling out of the deck and into the world.
I sit in the library room in the dark for ten minutes to center myself and get clarity. I find myself looking at the scene outside the house from behind closed eyelids. It is all quite simple and realistic: the drive, the parked cars, the barns, the snow on the slope leading up to the road, under the night sky. Then I see a male figure coming long the drive. He looks rather like a tramp. This would not be surprising; all sorts of people wander through the wilderness preserve around this restored colonial manse and may camp out there in all seasons.
But when I look at the walker more closely, I see that he is dressed in soft deerskins. On his feet are long, soft-soled moccasin boots. His hat is shaped a little like a fawn-colored “Robin Hood” hat. He has a tobacco pouch, and a larger leather bag slung from a pole over his shoulder. I realize I am looking at the Tarot Fool, turned woodsman. The more closely I examine him, the larger and less foolish he seems. I know there is treasure in his bag. It seems to contain gold figures, perhaps the living patterns of the world.
I notice that a huge moving truck has come up the drive behind the Fool. The first thing they unload is a complicated machine protected by a glass hood with a gold lion couchant on top. The machine is gleaming silver, antique but impeccably clean and in perfect working order. I recognize it. I have seen a similar machine on a table in the House on the Canal in a big dream of long before. That machine was signed by “Israel Regardie”, who made public some of the papers of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. I understand that, now as before, I am looking at something constructed by the magicians of this great esoteric order.
I test its workings. For divination, what is required is to feed in a “ticket” at one end of the machine. The question is then processed by being shot and bounced back and forth through many Rube Goldberg-like procedures. When the “ticket” is at last spat out through a slot at the other end, one side contains a closely printed message that includes Hebrew letters, astrological signs, tags from ancient languages, and Masonic codes. However, the real answer is not to be found in the printed message. The true answer is to be sought on the “blank” reverse side. When the card is turned over, the “blank” side becomes a mirror that shows the images projected onto it by godlike beings who have now been drawn in close, possibly because they are entertained by the game with the machine. The archetypes behind the Tarot trumps are now moving in the field.
A beautifully carved box of pale wood, with silk lining, is brought from the truck. Inside is a cream-colored quilt or rug with “ribs” of old gold. The designs are distinctly Persian. Here a cycle of moving energies recalling the Tarot – but with many different images – is depicted in a sequence of rectangular panels.
I look inside the truck. There are stage sets inside. I recognize some of the Trumps moving back and forth. I had a brief interview with a Green Empress who reminds me that the Cave of Earth, a destination for shamanic journeying to which I am planning to lead people this weekend, is her domain.
I see a medieval Death, who looks like a rotting corpse under his black hooded robe. Mastering my fear and disgust,I embrace him. As soon as I do this, he turns into a young and radiant being. This looks good – until I realize that in this moment, I have become the rotting corpse. Fear returns, but I will myself to take my distance and look again. Now I have become young and radiant. My Death now looks on me with kindly and shining eyes. Perhaps they are my own. I remember how Octavio Paz sang that when he encountered Death, he wanted Death to be wearing his own face.
I become aware of a great stir of movement around me. I see that the four great families of the Tarot suits are gathering. The Disk people are distinctly indigenous, Native American and African. The Swords are men in armor from the European past, swinging and clanging metal – Grail knights, Teutonic knights, Highlanders with great killing irons, Romans and Vikings. The people of the cups are Mer-people. The Wands are a tribe of great cats, some in red liveries like the hunting cheetahs of the Nizam of Hyderabad I brought home from a model soldier shop.
Comment: This was a spontaneous vision at the end of an evening session at Great Hollow, a wonderful retreat center in a wilderness preserve near New Fairfield, Connecticut, where I am teaching a one-day playshop on "Writing as a State of Conscious Dreaming" in July. We turned the vision into dream theater the next day, with a company of twenty-two players (a good number for Tarot) from my workshop. The players who impersonated the Rube Goldberg/Israel Regardie Expresso Machine were hilarious. At the time I was also leading a series of classes titled Tarot for Dreamers, in which one of our assignments was to produce our personal Tarot cards. My treatment of the numbers cards was influenced by my Tarot vision.