Working my way through stacks of saved magazines and newspaper clippings, I reached a 1997 copy of Yoga Journal. It fell open to a centerfold that seemed for a moment like the very essence of serenity.
I had never heard of Charles Belyea, and despite the fact that I know quite a bit about Asian philosophical and religious traditions in general, my knowledge of Taoism was superficial at best.
But my interest was captured when I flipped to the next pair of pages. For whatever reason, my eyes fell on the lower right-hand corner, and this passage immediately stood out:
Recently I wrote several stories about meditation. And while looking through some related materials collected over the years, I found a few unexpected resonances with Tarot practice . . . .
For example, this passage from American Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck:
Attention is the cutting, burning sword, and our practice is to use that sword as much as we can. None of us is very willing to use it; but when we do — even for a few minutes — some cutting and burning takes place.
All practice aims to increase our ability to be attentive, not just in…
For this episode of Tarot Notes, I wanted to share two stories about the Tarot as creative inspiration.
I. From a dream to a theory
Tarot attracts a surprisingly wide range of enthusiasts — including the noted historian and social theorist Theodore Roszak.
Roszak began his career with The Making of a Counter Culture (1969), an influential study that shaped our understanding of more than one generation. He went on to write such provocative books as Where the Wasteland Ends (1972) and Person/Planet: The Creative Disintegration of Industrial Society (1979). …
In the spring of 1987, Tarot theorist Guido Gillabel created 22 major arcana designs — inspired by the archetypal symbolism of birth and rebirth. The designs were executed in minimalist (almost diagrammatic) ink drawings, and produced in a limited edition of 99 decks.
Here are The Fool and The Empress from Gillabel’s original Cosmic Egg Tarot, which measures 2.5”x 2.5”.
Perspectives on Tarot has changed a lot recently: new title, new reading format, evolving content approach. So here’s an up-to-date overview, for readers just arriving, and readers catching up.
So far, it’s just me — Cynthia Giles. This link leads to my own website, where you can find out more about non-Tarot, non-Medium aspects of my career.
A fair amount of the content here has been adapted from my books, but there are also many new stories. And I’m planning to introduce additional voices to Perspectives on Tarot, through guest posts and interviews. …
The Esoteric Tarot: Backgrounds left off at a consequential moment in Tarot history. The ambitious origin story created by Antoine Court de Gebelin in 1775 had set the stage for a complete transformation of the Tarot.
Almost overnight, the Tarot cards were swept out of the Renaissance, into the Enlightenment — and beyond.
Court de Gebelin himself was a man of serious ideas and good repute, who numbered among his friends the American polymath Ben Franklin. And although his ideas about the Tarot were based on some false assumptions, they were significant. …
As it turns out, Tarot never really goes out of fashion as a topic. But Tarot stories have been surfacing more often in mainstream publications, I think, since 2017 — possibly because generating an endless stream of content has become such a necessity for marketers and publishers.
So Tarot turns up in the “bigs” (like Cosmo and NYT) as well as digital mags like Aeon, and content collections like Mental Floss and NBC’s Think.
I haven’t performed a detailed analysis, but my general impression is that mainstream Tarot stories fall into two general categories. One comprises semi-serious accounts, often coupled…
In 2011, the UK’s Focal Point gallery put together an exhibition titled “Outrageous Fortune: Artists Remake the Tarot.” And curator Andrew Hunt’s idea for organizing the show was as complex as a Tarot reading . . . .
I’m looking around for big ideas about Tarot and its relationship to the wider world. There’s a lot of territory to search! So I’ve tried to organize/describe the field of inquiry.
More on that at the end of this story. But first I want to share insights from two readers who responded to previous stories — and expand a bit on the questions they raised.
I wrote this short reflection in 2005, and shared it here on Medium last year.
The Trouble with Tarot
The trouble is . . . Tarot morphs into whatever someone wants it to be. It’s…