August 3, 2020
Serendipity leads me from Led Zeppelin to W.B. Yeats . . .
During the past year, I’ve jotted down notes for possible EP stories—and though all these scribbles must have made sense at the time, some of them are not so obvious now. For example, a snippet that just contains this title:
Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll, by Peter Bebergel—2014.
It turns out this was a book I looked at for a different project, and thought it might have some Tarot relevance, so I put it in a note. After a quick scan, I can tell you it only mentions Tarot superficially, except for a brief discussion of the Hermit image used as an interior illustration in the design of Led Zeppelin’s untitled fourth album.
I’d forgotten most of what I once knew about the influence of occult/esoteric ideas in the history of rock, so it was interesting to quickly revisit the topic. If you’ve forgotten too (or never knew), Bebergel’s book provides a serviceable introduction. And if you just want to refresh on the Led Zep story, here’s an accurate account.
But now to the serendipity factor. Searching on Bebergel’s name, I came across his short essay in The New Yorker, titled “Making the Tarot Literary Again.” It combines a fly-by summary of Tarot with an overview of Jessa Crispin’s 2016 book The Creative Tarot: A Modern Guide to an Inspired Life.
Something else I’d forgotten about! But I did include Crispin’s book in Ten Doors, Ten Books, as a distinctive commentary on the use of Tarot as a creative space.
The final prize of this serendipity ramble was a reminder of poet/scholar Kathleen Raines’ classic essay “Yeats, the Tarot, and the Golden Dawn.” It appeared in The Sewanee Review in 1969—barely two years before Led Zeppelin IV was released . . .
Read or reread Raines’ essay for free on Jstor. It’s not short (37 pages!), and won’t interest everyone, but I recommend having a look at least.
See you tomorrow. C