A Newly Discovered Tarot Deck by Leonora Carrington

Carrington Tarot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A stunning tarot deck created by Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington, was recently discovered and may prove to be one of the most beautiful decks I have seen.

Carrington’s tarot cards are populated by her characteristically fey figures, often androgynes or human-animal hybrids, set against backdrops in deep, full hues: cobalt, lapis, mulberry, gold. She drew upon archetypal decks including gilded examples from 15th century Italy, the Tarot of Marseilles beloved by many Surrealists, and the popular Rider-Waite deck from 1909. The book puzzles over the artist’s additions and omissions in relation to these predecessors, using biographical cues and a knowledge of visual symbolism to “read” her cards — not so unlike a tarot card reader. In Carrington’s Chariot card, two female creatures who normally face away from one another face toward one another, bound by a heart; the authors suggest that choices like this one reflect the artist’s belief in feminized collaboration, which was tied up with her contributions to the feminist movement and her love of goddess lore alike.

The book’s analysis of drawings and paintings spanning Carrington’s career elucidates that tarot iconography was likewise an animating force in her artwork. Some references are overt, as in her 1995 drawing of people at a table with tarot cards. Others are more coded: two self-portraits from 1949 and 1973 riff on the Hermit card, which traditionally depicts a lone figure with a lantern to denote — among other things, tarot cards being endlessly interpretable — the frequently isolating work of introspection. In one self-portrait, Carrington paints herself as a poncho draped over a coat rack; in the other, her lantern contains a parrot instead of a flame. A sense of play and imagination, a fundamental openness to alternative ways of being, was always Carrington’s guiding light.

The Tarot of Leonora Carrington (Fulgur Press, 2021), by Susan Aberth and Tere Arcq, is now available.

 

 


Another Tarot Deck

Tarot-gradstudent

 

Hyperallergic reports that there is a new set of Major Arcana cards known as the Academic Tarot.

This isn’t just any tarot deck. The 22 Major Arcana are reinterpreted for academics and public scholars living during the pandemic amidst spiritual havoc. The Fool becomes the Grad Student. The Magician becomes the President. The High Priestess becomes the Archivist.

The VFC came to be during the COVID-19 pandemic, in the midst of the long-overdue national reckoning led by the Black Lives Matter movement. Its 22 members are experts in literature, culture, digital humanities, and beyond, hailing from all corners of the US. Co-founders Dr. Hannah-Alpert Abrams and Dr. Brian DeGrazia wanted to make an intentional space for any individual on a college or university campus facing the COVID-19 crisis to help “trace the contours of things that define our shared human condition,” DeGrazia told Hyperallergic.

The Visionary Futures Collective, also known as the VFC, is fighting for what higher education needs most: a bringing together of thinkers who “believe in the transformational power and vital importance of the humanities.” And it is doing so in unexpected ways, including its most recent project, “Academic Tarot: The Major Arcana.”

This isn’t just any tarot deck. The 22 Major Arcana are reinterpreted for academics and public scholars living during the pandemic amidst spiritual havoc. The Fool becomes the Grad Student. The Magician becomes the President. The High Priestess becomes the Archivist.

The VFC came to be during the COVID-19 pandemic, in the midst of the long-overdue national reckoning led by the Black Lives Matter movement. Its 22 members are experts in literature, culture, digital humanities, and beyond, hailing from all corners of the US. Co-founders Dr. Hannah-Alpert Abrams and Dr. Brian DeGrazia wanted to make an intentional space for any individual on a college or university campus facing the COVID-19 crisis to help “trace the contours of things that define our shared human condition,” DeGrazia told Hyperallergic.

The “Academic Tarot” is a project of the VFC’s Academic Psychic Friends Network, which circulates a biweekly newsletter about the state of affairs in higher ed. It includes data visualizations sourced from an open access COVID-19 response tracker; student-reported stories on how the pandemic is impacting their work; and “feelings surveys” that report on campus workers’ emotional responses to re-openings. Key word: feelings — the VFC’s starting point, rather than an after-thought, making the VFC’s ethos a pathos. The organization prioritizes the feelings of individuals who teach others how to interpret “being” in text, in art, and now, in themselves. It puts the human back in the humanities.


5 Lessons to Help You Read Tarot Cards

TarotI have been reading the tarot for many years and have developed some preparation habits that I have found to be useful and helping with my accuracy.

Here are five rules I have established for my readings:

1. Prepare the Tarot Deck - When I prepare to read someone's tarot card I first handle the deck myself, shuffling a couple of times. Then, when the client arrives, the deck is "washed" from previous readings and is ready for them to put their own energies into the deck. Note - if this is a virtual reading, I would continue to shuffle the deck in their virtual presence and ask them to mentally shuffle the cards along with me.

2. Choose the Best Spread for the Question - I use several different spreads and once I understand what type of answers the client is seeking, I choose the spread that is most appropriate. For yes/no questions there is a six card spread that I prefer. For future goals and opportunities, I tend to use a fan-shaped spread and for open ended questions we pull five cards.

3. Don't "Wish" the Cards - So many times we want the happiest answers for our client, rather than what we might see from the cards. There is benefit to finding the good from the bad but no benefit not reporting bad news. But find ways to find good advice from bad cards - obstacles that can be overcome or at least obvious and possibly avoidable. Nothing in tarot is absolute. We make our own destinies. Don't panic the client but don't be afraid of offering warnings if you see it.

4. Use a Tarot Deck that Doesn't Editorialize - By this I mean that I prefer Tarot decks like the Spanish or the Swiss which have very standard designs rather than dramatic pictures such as the highly popular Rider deck. Some of the cards in the Riders Deck have dramatically bad pictures such as the Ten of Swords which may or may not be the interpretation you see. It can make clients nervous to see a body with swords stuck in its back as a card in their reading.

5. Decide What You Will and Will Not Read Into - and tell the client why. I never read medical questions such as Do I have (a certain illness)? My response to that is, if you are that worried, please see a good doctor.

 


Psychics and the Pandemic

Excerpted from the New York Times, this article describes how psychics are moving to more online readings and the rising popularity of consulting psychics during this stressful time.

PsychicWhat, if Anything, Can Psychics Tell Us About All of This?

Demand for their services has illuminated another kind of health crisis.

A few weeks before the U.S. presidential election, Zulema Hormaeche, a tarot reader in Los Angeles, chose a card to reflect the state of the nation. It was the one that depicts a tall building struck by lightning, with flames bursting from the top and occupants leaping to their deaths. “The Tower,” she said, “is the end of a system as we know it, the end of an era as we know it.”

Ms. Hormaeche has an intimate understanding of the ways this year upended people’s lives and sapped their optimism. She has peered into a huge number of homes during virtual consultations. Her clients tell her they are eating and drinking more, and that they feel desperately lonely. And sometimes they mention even more troubling details. One client, she said, described a dream in which she harmed her children.“All of us are feeling the fear of everybody,” Ms. Hormaeche said, and that fear, coupled with uncertainty about when it might abate, has caused demand for spiritual guidance to soar. According to data from Yelp, interest in businesses in the somewhat niche “Supernatural Readings” category more than doubled in April. Keen, an online marketplace for psychics, has reported a steep rise in customers.

These consultations function almost as armchair counseling sessions: clients can open up and have their thoughts reflected back at them through a nonscientific — even mystical — lens. And while there is good reason to doubt the material of psychic readings (the mystical realm being inherently unknowable, or at least, endlessly interpretable), these consultations provide comfort for some.

 

The Surrealist Artist Leonora Carrington Created Tarot Card Paintings

Hierophant-920x1024In a case of art meets new age, artist Leonora Carrington created a series of tarot card paintings.

As reported in Artnet news -

Tere Arcq didn’t expect anything like what she found during a 2017 visit to a collector while she was doing research for the 2018 show “Leonora Carrington: Magical Tales” at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City.

She knew that Carrington, the English-born painter who lived in Mexico and was part of the Surrealist group, was interested in all things occult. She knew she had done paintings based on imagery from tarot cards. But she did not know that Carrington had done a whole suite of small paintings based on the Major Arcana, the 22 trump cards in the standard 78-card pack.

 

“I was speechless,” Arcq said in a phone conversation. “It was an epiphany.”

She describes it as the greatest surprise of her research for the show, and one of the greatest achievements of the exhibition overall.

These paintings are now the subject of a new book, The Tarot of Leonora Carrington, published by Fulgur Press. A limited edition including the deck in facsimile with an essay on tarot by expert Rachel Pollack, an introduction by the artist’s son, Gabriel Weisz Carrington, and essays by Arcq and art historian Susan Aberth, priced up to $400, sold out within days. A limited edition of the deck alone also went quickly (but will be reissued and available from Fulgur Press direct in January or February). A trade edition of the book will be available in February, priced at $50.

Carrington took the Surrealist world by storm when, at just 19 years old, she fled the confinement of a wealthy English family for the freewheeling scene in Paris. André Breton took up her cause, and her work went on view in the Surrealist group’s exhibitions and publications. She left Europe for Mexico during the Second World War, where she befriended cultural figures including the filmmaker Luis Buñuel. Now firmly part of the art-historical canon, Carrington saw her work exhibited in museums worldwide before she died in 2011 at age 94. Interest has only grown since.

The Tarot of Leonora Carrington, published by Fulgur Press.

The Tarot of Leonora Carrington, published by Fulgur Press.

For Aberth, the discovery of the deck sheds new light on Carrington’s body of work.

 

“Once we saw the tarot, we immediately knew that this was very important to the iconography,” she said in a phone interview. “For many years, people thought her work was playful, a bit like fairy tales. But it’s a very serious study of esoteric principles—primary among them the tarot.” She describes a famous 1938 portrait of her then-lover, the artist Max Ernst, as being “exactly like” the Hermit from the tarot deck.

Many versions of the tarot deck exist, but, by Arcq’s lights, Carrington’s is unique. She primarily drew inspiration from the well-known Rider-Waite set, as well as the Marseilles tarot. But her use of gold and silver leaf, mostly when the imagery shows the sun or the moon, reaches back to conventions of older sets, and her inspirations were diverse: the figure of the High Priestess, Arcq says, looks to Egyptian renditions of the goddess Isis.

The new book scratches several itches, including an overdue interest in women artists who were overshadowed by their male peers, and a new enthusiasm for artists with a taste for the occult (such as Hilma af Klint and Agnes Pelton).

But while the occult may be hot right now, Aberth points out that for Carrington, it wasn’t just a means of fortune-telling, but rather a guiding principle on a much higher plane.

“For a certain portion of the population, one of tarot’s appeals is divination,” she says. “Like in all divination practices, there is the element of chance unfolding a higher truth. But Carrington was way beyond divination. She studied tarot very seriously as a means to journey upon a higher realization path. It has a psychological as well as a spiritual element. It’s a guide for greater self-knowledge.”