Daily Notes #9
Tarot creativity? There's a lot of it out there . . .
When I realized that today’s topic is Tarot and creativity, I was overwhelmed in moments. With so many aspects, and so many examples—where to begin?
Fortunately, I have a built-in starting place, courtesy of the Ten Doors:
From this vantage, you will see Tarot as an imaginative environment that inspires or enhances thinking, writing, playing, and making. | Along the creativity path, you may find Tarot reflected or enacted in theater, music, craft, poetry, cooking, storytelling, invention, and much more.
But that doesn’t solve the overwhelm problem.
So—I’m dividing the challenge into three parts:
Making: any activity that produces an ownable product
Performing: any activity that produces an ephemeral product
Writing: any activity that expresses ideas in textual and/or graphic form
And for the sake of staying under three minutes, I decided to highlight some examples from the Exploration Project archives, with a few notes on topics yet to come.
The most obvious example of Making is the creation of decks. And a key point here is that the allure of deck-making just never seems to fade!
On any day when I do Tarot research, I come across a deck I haven’t seen. Some of them delight me, like Fiona Marchbank’s “Bird Tarot.”
Others don’t fit my personal tastes, but I can see how much work/thought/talent they represent. And some—like Suzanne Treister’s Hexen 2.0—are so conceptual that you can’t just like or dislike them aesthetically. You have to study them.
I’d love to think more about why Tarot has such a persistent appeal, for artists of so many different backgrounds, styles, and goals. Future topic!
Of course there are also many decks created primarily for commercial purposes, and those occupy a place where creativity crosses exploitation. (Another future topic.)
Important to note that decks are not the only “made” things related to Tarot—there are also wearables (clothing, jewelry) and usables (boxes/bags for decks, reading cloths, so on). I think this category used to be bigger and more active, but that’s just an informal opinion. There’s still plenty to shop for on Etsy—it’s just that you have to use very specific search terms (“tarot bags and pouches” for example) or your results will mostly be about readings and decks.
Then we have Performing. The only theatrical example I’ve written about so far was Aura CuriAtlas’s interactive Tarot performance, but I know of others and will mention in future. Meanwhile, though, I’ve decided that art exhibitions should count as performance, since (in most cases) you can only see the objects for a limited period of time, not buy/keep them. Example—Outrageous Fortune: Artists Remake the Tarot.
Now for Writing. So many books!! And blogs. So much to read that I wonder how people choose, or make time. But here’s the question. How much of what’s written is in fact “creative”? And (here again) how much is primarily commercial . . .
There are very few good literary works with a genuine Tarot component. In fact I was stuck on this part until I came across a terrific listicle: Well-Suited: 10 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books Inspired by the Tarot. Rush over and read it.
However—there’s much to be discussed about poetry and Tarot. A first installment was Jack Spicer’s planned Tarot book, and I have several more in mind. I also know of some serious prose writers who had/have an interest in Tarot, even if they didn’t write about it explicitly. Will name names soon.
Lucky for the three-minute rule, tomorrow’s Daily Note is about social Tarot—including Tarot online and in social media—so I can slightly postpone the topic of Tarot “content” and its relationship to creative writing.
Thanks for reading! C