The Sunday Newsletter . . .
And yes--it's 02/20/2022!
So (needless to say) the magic of 02/22/2022 is on the near horizon. Better still, it will fall on a Tuesday, and that means Time Capsule.
Sneak preview: I’ve got some excellent calendar lore to share, as a celebration.
But in the meantime, there are some Exploration Project news items. As follows . . .
Adding: The Commentary Column
At the end of last Tuesday’s Time Capsule, I promised a Thursday follow-up. Which I spent too much time writing, and at the end, decided not to send.
Mainly because the finished post seemed a little too personal, in the sense of being organized around my own experiences and opinions. I started wondering if I’ve gone a little overboard in that direction—neglecting some other areas of “exploration.”
At the same time, I thought the post had some worthwhile insights. So I decided to create a new newsletter category, just for my thoughts about the state of Tarot. I’m not going to send these as emails, but I’ll let you know in the newsletter whenever a “Commentary” post is added to the EP site.
And here’s one already! It’s the leftover piece from last Thursday.
That post did end on a bright note, though, and I don’t want anyone to miss it. While fact-checking something, I came across Carrie Paris’s Relative Tarot. I’d forgotten how much I admire her work—and I didn’t know about this extraordinary deck, which was first published in 2019, and picked up by Weiser for wider distribution in 2021. It’s a blend of vintage photographs and Tarot symbolism, capturing a sense of our human interconnections over time.
This deck makes exactly the kind of conceptual leap I’m always hoping to find in today’s Tarot. For more, read Benebel Wenn’s characteristically detailed review.
Subtracting: The Zero List
A small number of folks who joined the EP mailing list last year have never opened a single newsletter. And some other folks seem to have opened a few, then stopped. They haven’t “unsubscribed,” so they remain part of my Substack statistics.
This is not a big deal. However, I’m looking at ways to make EP better this year, and I’d rather have a more accurate view of the audience.
So I’m removing “subscribers” who fall into the categories just mentioned. If you are reading this, you probably won’t be on the remove list! But I have imperfect visibility into how data is processed by Substack, so it’s possible that someone who does want to continue receiving the newsletter will be removed.
Therefore: If you don’t receive the Tuesday Time Capsule, let me know. My contact information is in the right-hand column of the EP homepage.
Multiplying: Subscription Options
Happily, the majority of people on the EP list regularly (or at least frequently) open the newsletters. And that brings me to a story.
At some point in the last month or so, I came across this newsletter: The Daily Respite.
Every morning, seven days a week, Clara Parkes sends a one-minute read, often including a photograph or brief video, and always featuring a short, meaningful quotation. Her newsletter is the only piece of optional email I open without fail.
And with great appreciation.
Clara Parkes defined a straightforward purpose for her newsletter: Offer readers a peaceful, restorative moment. No strings attached—completely free.
At the very bottom of each post, there is an invitation to become a paid subscriber. That’s all, just a quiet option, with no “extra content” or “subscriber perks.” In other word, she has not created a paywall.
Digression: After putting high-quality stories on Medium for nearly two years, I came away with the sense that their paywall approach invited a huge number of “content creators” to simply try their luck—one of several reasons the visibility of more serious writers was progressively diluted.
I’ve got yards of rant material regarding Medium, but I’ll get back to the point. I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of dividing EP into paid/unpaid silos, choosing instead to make my deep-dive series Tarot | In Four Dimensions paid only, and keep EP completely free.
Substack newsletters (I’ve recommended several) can deliver a lot of value—value that certain audiences are more than glad to pay for. And every publisher has to decide in context what kind of value exchange works best for both writer and readers.
From that perspective, I’ve thought a lot about the Clara Parkes model, and decided it would make sense for EP. All the content remains free, but I’m adding a paid option for anyone who wants to support the newsletter with a small monthly commitment.
If that appeals, just click.
Dividing: Francis Bacon on Divination
Divination hath been anciently and fitly divided into artificial and natural; whereof artificial is when the mind maketh a prediction by argument, concluding upon signs and tokens: natural is when the mind hath a presention by an internal power, without the inducement of a sign. ("The Advancement of Learning," 1605)
The archaic word “presention” means “the perception of something before it exists or happens.”
In case you haven’t thought about Francis Bacon lately—I hadn’t—here’s a refresher. He was a statesman (Lord High Chancellor of England, 1617-1621) and philosopher, widely described as the father of empiricism. In fact, what we call today the “scientific method” (essentially, proving or disproving a hypothesis through experimentation) was for a long time referred to as the “Baconian method.”
I knew of Bacon as a leading figure in the development of rationalism, so I certainly never thought about whether he had an interest in divination! But as it turns out, he described scientific inquiry as a form of “natural divination”—meaning for him, divination “shorn of superstition.”
From A. P. Langman (in “The Future Now: Chance, Time and Natural Divination in the Thought of Francis Bacon”) I learned that Bacon saw scientific investigation as a way of speeding up the process of discovery, and that by gathering/applying knowledge of the present and past, one might “divine” aspects of the future. He even argued that knowing the likely direction of events could enable scientists to change the future.
Which is all in surprising harmony with my thinking about Tarot divination, at least in certain respects.
Although I have no idea whether anyone but me is fascinated by the interconnections of history, science, divination, and Tarot, I’m thinking I might as well share what I come across! So I’ve decided to provide a further connection between EP and 4D by putting some relevant reference materials into the (free) 4D Library.
Sir Arthur Eddington’s discussion of shuffling is already there, and I’ll post more soon on Francis Bacon’s “natural divination.” I’ll also be adding excerpts from a number of Tarot-related academic papers that have been lingering in my files.
As always, many thanks for opening/reading today’s newsletter.
See you Tuesday. C
PS: I loved the latest newsletter from Caroline Cala Donofrio’s Between a Rock and a Card Place.