Happy Pi Day! (3.14.2023)
+ Some list follow-ups . . . .
Welcome new subscribers! I hope you’ll browse around the EP archives on your own, and/or take one of the guided tours.
Redux . . .
I’m still so happy with my original “Pi Day” post that I’ve decided to repeat it every year—but as you’ll see, there’s been a big change since 2021:
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 depiction 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 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 a spread, I would notice how The Empress presides over a string of powerful men . . . .
Now: As of this Pi Day, 2023, the number of digits calculated for pi has grown to 100 trillion! That’s three times more, accomplished in less than three years.
Next: We’ll fast-forward for a few additions to the most recent “Page 1” post.
A Little More about The Book of Paradox
Here are a couple of items I didn’t include in the previous story because they are only tangentially related to Tarot. However—they offer some unexpected contexts, so:
First. In 2003, a preliminary version of Frank Frazetta’s paperback cover design sold at auction for $2,472. The tiny pencil and watercolor sketch measures 2.5" x 3"—not much larger than a business card!
Heritage auction notes: “ It's packed with all the essential design and color indications which were later realized as his famous painting, "Paradox", published in 1975, as the cover to "The Book of Paradox", written by Louise Cooper.
Second. At the very same time (1973) she was creating a cover for the hardback edition of Cooper’s book (and designing the 22 trumps that illustrate each chapter), Barbara Nessim was producing one of her best-known artworks: a series of drawings titled “WomanGirl.”
Each one depicts a willowy female nude wearing ballet shoes. For example:
Actually—Nessim was near the center of several social currents in the early 1970s. For a while she was involved with British glam rock star Marc Bolan, and recalls one day when they attended a lecture by Indian spiritual master Krishnamurthi, who spoke about the transformation of consciousness. During the same period, Nessim’s close friend Gloria Steinem was launching Ms., the iconic feminist magazine.
I can’t help wondering how these influences played into her designs for The Book of Paradox . . . .
Or how—if at all—that brush with Tarot affected her.
The Emily Auger Treasure-trove
I also wanted to expand on the mention of Emily Auger, whose scholarship has added immeasurably to the cultural phenomenology of Tarot. Several of her impressive books are available in digital versions, so they are searchable and affordable!
You can find these on Kobo:
And this one on Google Play Store:
For more information about Auger and her work, visit her website.
I’ll be moving on to page two of “The List” this week. Thanks for reading! C