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Notebook: Page 2
From Bali to Wonderland, by way of Serendipity . . . .
For today’s notebook page, I’m blending the two usual categories: “Tarot Everywhere” and “Tarot Timestream.” This journey was so long and twisty that it takes up both!
When I wake up my computer in the morning, Windows displays a splash screen that I have to look at in order to enter my PIN. I say “have to” because their idea of scenery is very different from mine!
There’s an option to Like/Dislike the displayed scene—and at first I thought I could train it by saying NO to pictures that contain animals or automobiles, and YES to waterfalls and mountain paths.
Since the image doesn’t stay up for very long, this isn’t a big deal. And after a while, I decided to regard the day’s splash as a test, or a sign, or something along those lines. Not sure how that’s working. But a few days ago, the splash screen depicted remains of an ancient Balinese temple on the shores of Lake Tamblingan.
This isn’t exactly the picture (I grabbed this one from Instagram) but it captures the qualities that interested me.
The name of the temple is Pura Dalem Tamblingan. Pura means “temple,” and dalem signifies “death” or “ending.” Here’s what I learned from Asian Historical Architecture:
As with all Dalem temples, the local villagers use Pura Dalem Tamblingan for funerary rites, and it is dedicated to Siwa (Shiva) in his destructive element. The temple faces west—toward the setting sun—in keeping with its significance as a place representing the end of life. Its principal architecture is a single nine-story meru tower, thatched with sugar palm, around which are a variety of smaller shrines and sacred spaces such as a natural linga-yoni rock pairing. According to a local guide and caretaker, the temple may date back to as early as the 10th century, but the present structures are of more recent origin.
My first Tarot-related thought was: If I imagined a Tarot of Temples, I would choose the Pura Dalem Tamblingan for Death.
From Bliss to Wonderland
Naturally, I looked for a Tarot deck based on Balinese-style art, and found that Jean Redman had begun such a project, but apparently it was never completed.
In these searches, I start off with the broadest possible set of terms—in this case, just “Bali Tarot.” Such an unconstrained approach leaves a lot of room for Serendipity, so my next stop turned out to be the Bliss Sanctuary for Women, a Balinese retreat with a resident Tarot reader.
I didn’t recognize the deck he uses, which seems to have sort of a crystal or web-like design. Google Lens couldn’t find a match—but picked up on the hand element, and took me to a YouTube video that shows only the reader’s hands, and the cards . . . .
There’s the Bliss/Erlanga video on the right, and Moon and Light Tarot on the left.
At this point, I tuned out the reading itself, and just watched her impressive shuffling skills. The shuffling process is an important element in my own approach to reading—though I could never match her dexterity!
I’m still not sure exactly how each card moves from the meld to the table in her method. But it’s really worth a watch.
As the video goes on, we see the deck she’s using.
Obviously something to do with Alice in Wonderland—but that narrows the field to a dozen or more decks. This one turns out to be Tarot in Wonderland, by Barbara Moore and Eugene Smith.
If you’d like to know more about the deck, Moore has written an introduction, focusing on her creative process.
The Amazon Effect
But we’re not quite at the end of what Serendipity charted for this journey. As I was tracking down this particular “Wonderland” deck, Amazon’s “You might also like” feature presented me with:
And I did like it!
Some days I wonder whether those Amazon algorithms might not be secret agents of Serendipity. When you think about it, where’s the connection between Wonderland Tarot and Matzner’s book?
But anyway: Andy Matzner—a therapist who recently transitioned, and now practices as Dreya Blume—explains:
I love the tarot! For going on twenty years I have been enraptured by these 78 cards. I feel privileged to be able to use the tarot as a therapeutic tool, as it typically cuts straight to the heart of the matter, giving my clients the information they need to move forward with their lives.
So that’s where I ended up, after a whirlwind tour from Balinese temples, through the looking glass, and into the contemporary world of personal transformation.
Tarot really is everywhere—and it can take you there too.
I’ll be wrapping up this August preview with a book chapter on Thursday. See you then. C