A Sunday Preview (8.1)
A few notes about Volume 3 of my unintended trilogy
By way of background . . . .
I actually outlined a third “The Tarot” book more than a decade ago—and wrote quite a bit of planned content. Since then I’ve tinkered with the idea many times. But there are so many Tarot books, and some of them are very good. What would justify adding another one to the list?
I tried answering that question two years ago, for a page on my website:
My vision has evolved a bit since then, but the core concept remains the same: Since the Tarot is distinguished from other divination systems by its rich visual qualities and highly flexible structure, I’ve tried to produce the same qualities in book form.
Symbols and Synergies takes a fundamentally visual approach. It’s not just text with illustrations, but something more along the lines of graphically enhanced content. And the ebook format makes it possible to include lots of color, as well as allowing readers more choice in how they interact with the material.
Basically, the book is presented in two-page spreads, which alternate or intersperse several different kinds of material. Here’s a high-level look:
Essential information about each Major Arcana card is presented in a two-page spread, arranged consistently for easy reference. Text sections include a historical perspective on the card's imagery, a synopsis of divinatory principles, a survey of archetypal themes, and brief notes on mythic associations, cultural illuminations, and traditional correspondences. Images from each of four influential decks demonstrate the evolution of visual symbolism in the Tarot.
Here’s what all that looks like:
Another kind of page-spread explores structures of the deck, its internal relationships, and some of its connections to other knowledge-systems. I’ve presented the material on each of these pages through a combination of text and information graphics.
For example, the page-spread below follows The Fool and The Magician. It focuses on the relationship between those two cards, and on the transition that connects the first pair of trumps with the second pair. It also begins a running theme that highlights the “math” of Tarot:
Next, there are page-spreads for High Priestess and Empress, and then a commentary that connects/contrasts those two trumps, looks ahead to their masculine counterparts, and introduces a Jungian perspective:
This integrative process continues through the Major Arcana, and (I hope) illuminates some of its intricate patterning.
After that, the Minor Arcana section takes a different approach, focusing on the four suits and their elemental associations, along with symbolic foundations of the court cards, and the numerical qualities of the pips.
Those are the conceptual basics—and now for some practicalities.
As you’ve probably figured out, the new “book” is meant to be “read” at full-size, on a large screen. My goal was to create a somewhat immersive experience—and I think that does happen! I’m planning to create a sample in PDF format, and will make it available on SlideShare soon. But in the meantime, I think you can get an idea of the visual approach from what I’m sharing here.
I’ve been challenged to describe/explain the book, but perhaps the above will give some sense of what I have in mind. On one hand, I want Symbols and Synergies to be a handy reference, suitable for getting a quick introduction or refresher—not only for individual cards, but for the deck as a whole.
At the same time, I’d like it to be a catalyst for thinking about Tarot in new ways. Not because the content is radically new, but because it’s presented in a way that invites reflection and encourages exploration.
That said (back to practicalities) I realize not everyone will find the light-on-dark pages comfortable to read. So I’m planning an edition that uses white backgrounds throughout. I love the high-color look of this version, though, so that’s what I’m sharing today.
The book is not meant to be long. There are some introductory pages, and a sort of “reader’s guide” to the approach. For example:
And there will be some suggested resources at the end, along with a suite of link-sequences for exploring the pages in different ways.
That’s the general plan, as of now.
I’d originally outlined the book with a second half, presenting my approach to divination with Tarot. It looked like this at a table-of-contents level:
But I couldn’t make the two parts fit together comfortably, and decided it would be better to create a new course, combining what I’d written for Part 2 with material from classes I’ve taught in the past. That’s still a work in progress—but I’ll share some details next week on “Preview Sunday.”
In the meantime, I’ll welcome comments or questions concerning the above. And I’ll be in your Inbox tomorrow with “Daily Notes #3.” It’s quite interesting!
Warmest regards, Cynthia