Return of the Daily Notes #1
Beginning with--Tarot and the tides of war, revisited . . . .
First, a welcome note to newcomers—I hope you’ll take this quick tour.
Second, yet another overdue hello to regular readers. It’s been an unusually long gap between posts, but to make up for it, I’ll be sending a week’s worth of three-minute Daily Notes.
Usually the Daily Notes have been about new ideas or serendipitous discoveries. This time, though, I’m going to share some items that have accumulated in my files.
So I can tell you what’s in store for this first week of May . . .
Today: Tarot and the Tides of War
Monday: A Tour of Lost Tarot Weblogs
Tuesday: Tarot and the Quest for Love
Wednesday: The “Why” of Serious Tarot
Thursday: “The Fool’s Kitchen” and a Mother’s Day Menu
Friday: A Counterculture Tarot
I hope you’ll find something that informs or intrigues.
Tarot and the Tides of War
If you’re wondering where I found such a perfect image to go with this section—credit serendipity, along wtih the proprietor of a new-to-me website, Mantis Tarot.
And if you missed the last newsletter, please have a look now. I talked about the relationship between Tarot history and two long, deadly European conflicts.
Quick recap: The early trumps—Visconti decks, etc.—appeared around the end of the Hundred Years War (1337–1453), and the classic Marseilles designs around the end of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648).
Now we skip ahead to the 20th century . . . and it works out that our iconic Waite-Smith deck was created at the very time Europe was organizing for the First World War. The W-S was completed in 1910, and WWI began “for real” four years later—but the earliest battles leading up to the main conflict took place in 1909, in the Balkans. And it was increasingly clear over the next five years that a much larger war was all but inevitable.
WWI was perhaps the most terrible episode in the whole history of warfare. Millions were killed on the front lines by shelling, gas, diseases. A whole generation of artists and poets was wiped out, while those who went to war and survived were forever changed.
Just 20 years elapsed between the end of the First World War (1918) and the beginning of the Second (1938). During that time, which encompassed the Great Depression, three new “esoteric” decks were published: Knapp-Hall, BOTA, and Church of Light.
Finally, between 1938 and the end of WWII (1945), Aleister Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris created the Thoth Tarot. So—when you think about it this way—the second most influential deck of the 20th century was being worked out in England at the very time that country was being blitzed by the Germans. And not far away, millions of Jews were being exterminated.
I’m not sure what to make of all that, but there does seem to be a pattern of connection between intense, widespread conflict and increased Tarot energy.
Let me know if you have any ideas . . . .
And one day this week, I’ll share some brief thoughts on what happened to Tarot in all those other centuries. Once you pull the “war” thread, a lot of surprising connections appear.
Chanting the Trumps
By chanting, I just mean repeating several times, not intoning rhythmically. Although you could do the intoning thing if it suits you!
What I’m thinking of—and I never, ever thought of it until 6:48 this morning—is simply taking a mental trip through the trumps in order. No need to visualize, just recall the sequence, and hear yourself say the names out loud.
I’ve created a brief, eclectic, and adaptable routine for myself, as described in Simple Meditation, a four-minute guide to starting or refreshing a personal practice. The first few minutes follow a fixed sequence, but the last few are open for whatever comes to mind.
And this morning, the trumps came to mind. I decided to try reciting them—and realized it would take some attentive practice to make that a consistent element. I’ll let you know about my progress.
It also occurred to me that the 21 trumps neatly span three weeks, so I resolved to spend a minute or so thinking about the trump that fits each day’s number. This morning, May 1, my object of brief focus was The Magician.
I’m thinking that I’ll always be The Fool, greeting a new puzzle piece each day. So I may say a bit more about Zen koans later on.
This note is a bit over three minutes, but there was the whole introduction part, so I’m giving myself credit for sufficient brevity. See you tomorrow.
And as always—many thanks for reading. C