A Sunday Newsletter (Day 37, 2022)
Updates and insights . . . .
I’m happy to be typing normally again! Well—almost normally.
An explanation follows, but first I want to go on a quick visual adventure, back to the late 15th century.
We have astrologer and cultural observer Frederick Woodruff to thank for discovering this brief but fascinating article, in The Public Domain Review:
I think of the Sola Busca imagery in somewhat the same way I think of the Voynich Manuscript. What could whoever created it have had in mind? And what did viewers at the time make of it?
Kevin Dann’s PDR article is illustrated with all the majors and a selection of minors, in large, high-quality representations. If (like me) you haven’t spent much time thinking about this influential deck, here’s a perfect introduction.
Best laid plans!
As destiny would have it, 2/2/22 was not the day I launched Tarot | In Four Dimensions. It was instead the day a Foolish accident dislocated my right thumb.
At the time, my hilltop neighborhood was encased in ice, with a festive frosting of sleet. But I’m a bit of a prepper, so I had on hand a finger-care first aid kit—with an icing sleeve and a compression splint, shaped to fit a digit or thumb. This happy fact enabled me to treat promptly and speed recovery.
All the same, I had several days to think about the role of the thumb. One reason humans made an evolutionary leap was the development of opposable thumbs . . . and when even one thumb stops opposing, you quickly realize what it would be like to have paws or claws instead of hands.
But this experience also highlighted the role adaptability plays in our success as a species. I found a way to do most things I needed to do—in some cases pretty quickly, but in other cases only after some trial and error. The challenge lies in recognizing and reversing habits that have become so deeply unconscious we’ve forgotten all about them.
Since I’d been planning to work on the new series this past week, Tarot kept coming to mind as I navigated my tiny, temporary disability. And here are some results:
As soon as I thought about “what happened,” I could see an image our familiar Waite-Smith Fool, lost in thought as he approaches the cliff. Personally, I think the dog is trying to point this out, since pets often have better common sense than we do.
Then, when I went to the first-aid closet, I wondered which of the major Tarot characters would be most likely to have a finger-care kit in stock. I’m thinking Empress—but you could make a case for the Star lady, who couldn’t afford to be one-handed for long.
And as I was reflecting on adaptation, my mind went straight to The Magician. For good reasons or otherwise, he would be the one most likely to conjure a creative way of getting something done.
On a more serious note—
My “injury” was really just a minor inconvenience, and I decided to write about it in part because it changed my writing goals for a few days. But more importantly, it reminded me of a story topic that’s been on my EP list ever since I came across the blog Unlocking Words, a self-described “mismash of writing, tarot, disability and more.” The author offers candid discussions of life with chronic illness, along with some insightful writing about nature, animal spirits, and Tarot.
Looking further, I searched for “Tarot disability” and found some perspectives I had never thought about. Like this post from Ginger & Rosemary:
I’ve been trying to find a tarot or oracle deck with disability representation.
Preferably one where as many of the cards depict various disabilities or potentially symptoms of invisible disabilities. So far I’ve seen a few decks where two cards may have a disabled person on them; usually a prosthetic leg or a wheel chair.
But I’m looking for more than just a couple of characters; I’m talking . . . canes, walkers and fainting spells, diabetes arm patches and medications, surgical scars and amputations and hearing aids. . . . Wrist and ankle supports. Depictions of anxiety and depression and other mental health issues. I want physio sessions with parallel bars. I need big monstrous Powerchairs and manual wheelchairs depicted as thrones. Back braces and leg splints and crutches . . . .
That made me think about the extent to which we identify—or don’t—with the imagery on a chosen Tarot deck. I’ll write more about that at some point, and do a little more research on disability and Tarot. One thing I’ve realized already, from all this thinking about hands, is that shuffling presents difficulty for some people. So I want to take a look at various mechanisms for inviting destiny into our deck of cards.
I was all set to say that Tarot | In Four Dimensions is ready for visitors. But I’ve run into some technical issues with Substack, so I’m going to do a little reconfiguring. Update on Tuesday.
As always, thanks for reading!
Warmest regards, Cynthia