A Sunday Newsletter (3.13.22)
Very brief . . .
I did not have time last week to find something in the Time Capsule. So I’ve gathered a few things to share from my current notes.
While working on a recent story, I looked over the Tarot Heritage list of resources for purchasing replicas of historic decks, and other collectibles. Some of the links are no longer active, but here are a few examples that do work:
And if you are interested in starting or expanding your own collection, be sure and read Sherryl E. Smith’s excellent overview, Building a Collection of Historic Tarot Decks.
Last year I wrote about the noted sociologist Erving Goffman’s interest in gambling. The same newsletter has excerpts from Gertrude Moakley’s preface to Papus’s Tarot of the Bohemians, along with the unexpected story of a plot to assassinate Hitler with magic. So if you didn’t catch all that previously, have a look now.
Since then, I’ve come across a quote in which Goffman defines “game routines” as
a field for fateful dramatic action, a plane of being, an engine of meaning, a world in itself different from all other worlds.
For me, that is a perfect description of Tarot divination—or at least, what it can be.
At some point, I wrote this in my notes:
Four ways to be “serious” about Tarot:
1. Connect Tarot (carefully, and constructively) to current events and issues
2. Continue research on Tarot history and iconography, illuminating its relationships with a variety of symbol systems, and clarifying past associations
3. Reimagine esoteric/occult perspectives on Tarot, incorporating new ideas and collective experiences
4. Explore aspects of Tarot in the light of science and mathematics
I’m not sure whether I meant that as a mission statement (what I wanted to do in EP) or as a set of suggestions. Or both. But thought I’d share.
Just below that list was a link to this nicely done summary of The Hermit in Tarot—written in the context of the history of hermits. Here’s the beginning:
Tomorrow is “Pi Day”! Since many newer EP readers will not have seen my Pi Day post from last year, I’ve decided to reprint it now:
Yes—that’s Pi spelled out in Tarot: 3.14159.
More precisely, it’s Empress [coin] Magician Emperor Magician Hierophant Hermit, in a recolored version of Claude Burdel’s 1751 Marseilles-type deck.
Since Pi (an irrational number) has now been calculated to more than 31 trillion digits, I could go on with this for a really long time. But actually, only a dozen or so digits are needed for most purposes.
In addition to being the ratio of the circumference of any circle and the diameter of that circle, Pi turns up in a whole array of important mathematical and scientific calculations. So it is indisputably one of the most fundamental things we “know” about the universe.
And it really does have a Tarot connection, of sorts.
Although here in America we celebrate Pi Day on March 14 (3.14), in many other parts of the world, Pi Day is July 22. That’s because in writing out dates we put the month before the day, while others put the day before the month—making their Pi Day 22/7.
Magically enough, 22 divided by 7 is a slightly more precise approximation of Pi than the frequently used 3.14.
And of course the number 22 turns up in other interesting places as well. Beyond the fact (coincidental or otherwise) that the Tarot trumps and the letters of the Hebrew alphabet both count 22, there’s also the fascinating reality that a complete solar magnetic cycle of our Sun is 22 years, composed of two 11-year periods.
I’ve been intrigued by the numbers 22 and 11 ever since I first became involved with Tarot. More about that someday—but in order to keep the promise of brevity, I’ll just end by saying that if the “Pi trumps” shown above appeared together in an actual spread, I would notice how The Empress presides over a string of powerful men . . . .
Since writing that post, I’ve come across a nifty gadget that will find the first occurrence of your birthday (or any date) in the long tail of Pi. Here’s today:
As always, thanks for reading. And happy Pi Day!
Warm regards, Cynthia