News + Letter 7.15
Catching up after quite a while . . .
The “News” Part
I’ve just added a third/final installment of “The Esoteric Tarot.” It’s subtitled “Transition,” and (because it was so long) I published it in two parts. Meet Eliphas Lévi and Paul Christian in Part 1.
To go alongside—there’s a new overview piece, offering some basic information on Kabbalah and Tarot: The Tree of Life.
And if you’d like to review (or start) the history series from 1400 to 1900, I’ve created a quick reference guide with links to all eight parts
I’ve also added two new essays: “The Future Factor” and “Fortune/Telling.” Both are adapted from my second book—and they will begin to develop a foundation for one of the topics I’m most eager to talk about in coming weeks: the divinatory aspects of Tarot.
In addition, I’ve rewritten the Substack “What Is?” page for Tarot | An Exploration Project. It’s more accurate now—and reflects a decision I’m just about to explain in this newsletter.
The “Letter” Part
Now for the obvious question: Where have I been for so long?
Actually, most of you may have forgotten I was missing, but I’m going to explain anyway.
The answer is both simple and complicated. On the simple side, it’s a matter of time. I still have to make a living—and there’s a practical limit to how much effort I can spend on writing for free, to a pretty small audience.
Updating/revising the text from my books takes a surprising amount of time, while new writing and research takes even more. Not complaining! I love thinking and writing about Tarot. But that doesn’t solve the practical problem.
Any way you look at it, my particular “brand” of writing about Tarot isn’t ever going to draw in large audiences. I do think there are more people out there who would like it, but (here’s part of the complication) building a niche audience can take up as much time as actually writing.
So I’ve been musing on whether to continue at all.
I can’t say there’s been much progress on logical decision-making over the last couple of months—I just kept musing. But for whatever reason, I woke up yesterday morning with a plan. And it’s falling right into place so far.
The first part of the plan was to add some material here on Substack, update the site a bit, and send out a catch-up newsletter.
Second—I’ve decided to invest some time in actively trying to grow an audience here. Over the coming month, I’ll do everything I can think of in terms of outreach. And if there’s a somewhat positive trend, I’ll take the next step: adding a paid option for newsletter subscribers.
That approach would allow me to pull into one platform several things I’ve been wanting to do:
Write a weekly free newsletter
Share my method of working with Tarot, through an online course
Find new homes for many of my books and decks
Create a digital archive for some of the materials I’ve collected over the years
Paid subscribers will receive a new ebook I’ve been working on, along with access to my Quintessence course in Tarot studies. They will also have the opportunity to win books and decks, and download materials from my informal “archive.”
I’ve been very uncomfortable with the idea of charging people to read a somewhat offbeat Tarot newsletter. But now I’m thinking about it differently. I can see several ways to add value with a paid subscription—not only for myself, but for readers.
In the next newsletter issue, I’ll offer more details. But I want to close this one with another tease . . . .
I haven’t been entirely idle for the last little while. In fact I constructed a suite of five in-depth Tarot surveys that I’m hoping will aid in my scheme to expand our collective understanding of Tarot. I’ll provide a link to the first survey in next week’s newsletter.
I’ll also tell you next time about a recent presentation from Yale’s rare book collection, the Beinecke Library. It wasn’t about Tarot, but it was about the mysterious Voynich manuscript—which I learned has been carbon-dated to the very same time period as our earliest known Tarot decks.
I’ve got some screenshots, and a few speculations, so keep an eye on your Inbox.
Warmest regards, Cynthia
PS: I’ll start off my outreach campaign by inviting you to share this newsletter with anyone else you think might be interested. Thanks in advance!