The List Continues (1.30.2023)
Two total surprises--to me, anyway . . .
In the last post, I introduced a recently re-found list titled “Tarot—things to look for.” The latest publication date on the list is 1985, so I probably made it in the late 1980s.
Some items on the list are just books that were hard to find then, but easy now. For example, Manley P. Hall’s Secrets Teachings of All Ages. Or Antero Alli’s Angel Tech. (Here’s an EP post about the latter item.)
Ideally, I could just check those off and move on to more obscure items. But serendipity keeps intervening. For example—when I went to check on the current availability of Hall’s magnum opus, I came across a Medium post by Mitch Horowitz.
On the first point, no worries! If you don’t have enough room for the lavishly illustrated 9 1/4" x 13 1/4" original edition (and you can’t afford $1,995 for a signed copy of same), you can just read the text on any of several online sites.
On the second point . . . you’ll need to free up 16 minutes (give or take) for Horowitz’s expansive account of Manley P. Hall’s influence on Ronald Reagan, esoteric influences in American history, and related items.
Horowitz has become a highly regarded historian of esoteric ideas and personalities—covering a range of topics that really is impressive, in a style that’s both accessible and intelligent. Not only that, he was formerly a vice president at Penguin Random House, and editor-in-chief of Tarcher/Penguin (an imprint dedicated to metaphysical topics).
I’ve known a little about Mitch Horowitz for a while, but never took time to query his opinions about Tarot til now. And it turns out he’s an enthusiast.
You can read about his theory of Tarot here, and even watch a video of Mitch doing a short reading at the Rhine Research Center. Suggestion: stop the video at about 1:45, after the three-card spread has been revealed, and consider how you would interpret them . . .
I’ve only had a quick read of this piece, but I came away with some thoughts about it. I’ll keep them for later, though, since this was a serendipitous loop—not one of the “list” items I set out to write about.
Those would be:
Corwin, Arthur. The Tarot and the Tapestry of Myth. 1975. (ck in BiP)
Davis, D. S. A Death in the Life. (fic)
The Corwin story turned out to be much more unusual (and elusive) than I expected—so I’m still in the stage of following clues. More soon, I hope.
But Dorothy Salisbury Davis’s novel was easy to find. It’s the first in a series of four “Julie Taylor” mysteries, which trace the adventures of a part-time actress and aspiring writer who almost accidentally becomes a Tarot reader.
Julie is at a difficult point in her life—unhappy in her life, and not getting much out of conventional psychotherapy. After receiving an eerily accurate reading from “Madame Tozares” (it’s very well portrayed), she learns a little about Tarot and on impulse, sets up in a storefront as “Friend Julie, Reader and Advisor.”
Here’s how she describes her first experience of reading for strangers:
Without Julie’s quite knowing when it happened, the cards themselves seemed to take over, and simply from her little knowledge of their basic symbolism, she found herself spilling out a stream of consciousness that held the seeker enthralled. It was an experience like none Julie had ever had before. A trip. A trance could hardly have been a less conscious effort.
That makes absolutely perfect sense to me.
I couldn’t find any information about Davis’s own relationship with the Tarot—but I can tell you that she was a very successful mystery writer, whose female protagonists have a sharp edge that was not common at the time. In fact, the fourth and final book in the Julie series is quite dark.
By then, the storylines have moved far away from Tarot. But her earlier experiences as “Friend Julie” provide a continuing influence.
Though A Death in the Life is more serious than sensational, you wouldn’t guess that from the original cover, which is definitely emblematic of popular ideas about Tarot at the time . . . .
Since DSD’s mystery novels were not really of the “cozy” sort (that’s a fairly self-explanatory sub-genre term), I’m not sure what algorithm might have brought me notice of this delightful deck—but that’s very often the case!
So for this turn of the Wheel, we have the Yarn Tarot: For Crocheters, Knitters, Spinners, and Weavers, illustrated by Katie Ponder.
The suit of Swords is represented by knitting needles, Wands by crochet hooks, Cups by spinning spindles. And Pentacles are woven pieces of cloth.
A very stylized design—but to my eye, each card expresses a genuine spirit of Tarot iconography. See a quick flip-through here:
And by the way—we’re still on Page 1 of “the list.”
Stay tuned! C