A Solstice Newsletter (12.21)
Full of surprises . . .
In fact, there have been so many surprises in the last couple of weeks that I had to take a giant step back and focus on how best to share them. Which led me into a serious contemplation of future publishing plans.
So I’m starting off with an explanation/preview of the next few weeks. But before that—I want to welcome new readers! Here’s a quick guide to the range of content (both newsletters and standalone stories) already available on the Exploration Project site.
For the past two years, I’ve been writing a book that is not about Tarot—except in the sense that almost any subject can be viewed through a Tarot lens.
The book exists because I got curious about something, and found myself on an ever-expanding quest. Whenever I thought I’d gone as far as possible, some new fact or connection pushed me further. But every journey must eventually reach a destination, even if that’s just a practical decision about where to stop.
So I’ve been determined to finish The Constance Project by the end of this year. And I’m just about there.
I don’t really know how to describe the book, except to say that it’s a work of narrative nonfiction, and if you decide to read it, you’ll meet some remarkable people. I’ll be sharing the first few chapters as a serial on my own website, beginning in January.
That information is relevant to the Exploration Project mainly because it means I can shift some time/energy back to Tarot—so on February 2, I’ll be starting a separate Substack publication, focused on my Tarot methodology.
In the meantime, I’ve laid out a strategy for EP, as follows . . . .
In the Serendipity basket, I’ve collected several discoveries that came about after one astute EP reader noted a mention of “Martinism” in the last newsletter, and asked how I understood the term.
I guarantee you this reader knows more about most things Tarot than I do! But I wanted to give a good answer, so I looked back at History, Mystery, and Lore to see what I’d said on the subject there.
Turns out, I needed to look a lot further. And in the process, I came across a half dozen items worth sharing. Some are what I would call “Tarot-adjacent”—but all are fascinating.
So I’m going to resume the Daily Notes for the rest of this year.
12/22: Some thoughts on Martinism (and its relation to Tarot)
12/23: An exhibition of esoteric art in Russia
12/24: A holiday gift from Oxford University Press
12/27: A surreal web of connections that links Aleister Crowley with science fiction icon Robert Heinlein
12/28: “Fortune-telling fever” in post-Mao China
12/29: The strangely true story of how Tarot became a centerpiece of director Guillermo del Toro’s brand new film
3: Lost and Found
I think I’ve mentioned once or twice that some of my Tarot notes and memorabilia went missing when I moved last. Well, quite unexpectedly—just a few days ago—I came across the whole trove.
It’s a lot more than I had remembered, and it’s a mixture of treasures and (possibly) trash. But I’ll be sharing some of what I find as I go through it all.
So. To celebrate the New Year, I’m adding a new EP feature: The Time Capsule.
I can tell you in advance that the most exciting find (based on a quick rummage) is the original questionnaire I created while gathering material for my second book. It turns out that I saved every returned form—and looking at them now, I’m overwhelmed by the care and effort people put into telling their Tarot stories.
Some of the respondents are people you won’t have heard of—but others were key creators of “revolutionary Tarot” in the 1970s and 1980s. Including: Angeles Arrien, Mary K. Greer, Gary Ross, Tracey Hoover, Brian Williams, Carol Herzer, Guido Gillabel, Ed Buryn, Susun Weed—the list goes on.
I’m thinking seriously of compiling them all into an ebook. We’ll see. But in the meantime, I’ll be publishing some excerpts. Like this reminiscence, from the brilliant Brian Williams, creator of both the luminous Renaissance Tarot and the irresistibly witty PoMo Tarot:
I discovered the cards early, at age ten or eleven, in counter-culture head shops in Santa Cruz. The Tarot suggested to me both the aborning Age of Aquarius and a long-gone era of European mystery. I had already begun a life-long fascination with older, foreign cultures (Japan, India, ancient Greece and Rome, medieval and Renaissance Europe), and the cards seemed to embody an essence of old Europe. Without realizing it, I had embarked on a deeply felt journey into world art, religion, history, and mythology.
I created my first Tarot designs at about age fourteen. In college I began to create the etching and drawings which would become Renaissance Tarot. This deck, a love letter addressed to the art and ethos of Renaissance Europe, especially that of sixteenth-century Italy, took about seven years of work to produce, and resulted in a series of more than one hundred and fifty human figures.
Brian goes on to express opinions about many aspects of Tarot, including his hope that “Tarot can be a small part in a revolution to save the species and save the planet.”
In addition to the binder full of questionnaire responses—many of them several pages long—I found a complete edition of Jim Wanless’s original “Star Tree” Tarot course; the most stunning Tarot calendar ever produced; memorabilia from the first World Tarot Congress; “vintage” U. S. Games catalogs; and much, much more.
I hope you’ll look forward to surprises from the Time Capsule, starting on 12/30.
As always, thanks for reading. And for one more look ahead: on January 1, I’ll be sharing my 2022 Tarot resolutions.
Warmest regards, Cynthia