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.


Worldbridger said...

I couldn't help sense that Charles Williams was in some way involved in your vision ...

Robert Moss said...

Not this one. Though I like many of Charles Williams' novels, and have often recommended them, "The Greater Trumps" is my least favorite - but does have a couple of good things, including its depiction of the absolutely central importance of the Fool, with the suggestion that the Fool may contain the whole game of the worlds.

Raymond said...

My first encounter with Brugh Joy, his 12 day foundation, he introduced The Voyager Tarot. From our personally gifted decks, we were to carefully peruse the cards and select our our favorite and least favorite cards. My least was the Fool/Child. I have been struggling and joyfully dancing with him ever since. My favorite was Two of Worlds, Reflection with a photo collage of snowy mountain scenes and the moon in the sky. 10 months later I met the love of my life, and moved to Alaska very soon to begin another Fool/Child journey that still unfolds.

Robert Moss said...

The Voyager deck has never appealed to me. The images seem rather sterile, and tend to repel entry into a space of deepening vision, rather than facilitate it. I like the decks - both old and new - which provide gateway imagery, as does the oldest of the generally available decks, the Rider-Waite, from which the image of the Fool here is borrowed.

Don said...

The tarot interests me, Robert. There were times when I, too, dreamed of the tarot. One was a tough time. I left my career as a forest ecologist so that my family and I could live near good schools for my children, and where my children could have companions. I decided to become a school teacher. I read the tarot asking the outcome. The outcome was The Fool. I read the cards several times over the following weeks. The outcome was always The Fool. I had a few dreams on the tarot, and in those dreams The Fool was prominent. I had no problem getting certified to teach school. But I was not a good teacher. I was a fool! Well, I was warned.

I read the Rider-Waite Tarot. Then over time I changed to the Hanson-Roberts Tarot. Then to the Aquarian Tarot. Over the last several years I have worn out a deck of the Robin Wood Tarot and bought another. The Robin Wood Tarot is, in some ways, much like the Rider-Waite. I think Robin Wood uses her insights and intuitions very well. And she is a good artist.

You mentioned that the 22 Major Arcana represent archetypes. I think the four suits of the Minor Arcana also represent archetypes. Your last paragraph suggested that.

Years ago I decided to create my own deck. I never did finish the deck. But the dreams I had at the time were fascinating. I dreamed each design and what it meant. Unfortunately I have no records of those dreams.

More recently I set about to make a deck of cards of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. There is archetypal energy there, too. I used photos for that effort. I ran out of people who would pose. But again I had archetypal dreams.

Thank you for posting about the tarot and about related archetypes.


Justin Patrick Moore said...

One of the synchronicity games I play is called "The Litter Oracle". In the city, I'll often find a stray playing card when walking to the bus stop or back, etc, or on other jaunts when with my wife or a friend.
Whenever I find a stray playing card I interpret it as if it were the equivalent in tarot:
Diamonds = Disks
Hearts = Cups
Clubs = Wands
Spades = Swords
Of course this schematic leaves out the twenty-two Major Arcana -unless of course you happen to find the Wild Card. This card is often depicted with a Jester on it. Whether or not the Jester is the Fool or the Magician is a question you can get lost in. And those are some of the best questions.
Incidentally, I don't do as many Tarot spreads as I used to, maybe a few a year at most. The Litter Oracle provides me with plenty of cards to contemplate. I do however use the cards for meditation, and to invoke specific energies or forces.

I am very curious about the Rube Goldberg/Israel Regardie machine, and would like to hear the account of it from your first dream, if you are willing to share.

Robert Moss said...

Don - In a reading, as you now know, The Fool of Tarot can speak of the Holy Idiot, whose wisdom is not of this world, or of the one who is simply a blithering idiot - and so much more...

I find the term Greater Trumps more user-friendly and evocative, in many ways, than "archetypes", and often use it in discussions that range far beyond the Tarot deck. In relation to Tarot, however, I use it only for the major arcana. Working the numbers in the minor arcana, I pay attention (inter alia) to the elemental qualities of the suits; to their connections with the four functions identified in Jung's early model of the psyche (intuition/feeling/thinking/sensation); and above all to the rhythms of the numbers as they move through the sequence of manifestation.

Robert Moss said...

Justin - I like your Litter Oracle, and read cards that turn up in the street or the park in a similar way. Often these cards come from decks of a quite different kind, which makes the game even more interesting since it now engaged both spontaneous intuition or association and sometime the quest to identify a previously unknown game.

All I'll say about my previous dream for now is that it involved my discovery of an intriguing old house on a canal in a European city whose contents revealed the interests of an eccentric and eclectic scholar. One room contained a fantastical machine preserved under glass. Antiquated, but in perfect working order. The designer's signature was on the base: "I. Regardie." When I reentered this dream, I discovered the house was my own.