The purpose of last week's essay (Two-Raw Sugars and Kira at Bashi) was multi-fold.
Suppose I walked out to buy a carton of milk. A year later, it’s my picture on the carton of milk. Have you seen me? No trace. Car and driver – vanished.
Poof. Gone. But there are always two sides to every story…
I wake up, and it’s obvious that I’m not in Kansas. My attendant is gentle, and it becomes quickly apparent that our structure and form is an anomaly. It also becomes apparent that even though it was yesterday that I was buying the milk — and indeed it was — I am… on the other side of the universe. However, I do have my trusty tarot deck.
In the future, as man moves out into the blackness between the stars, constellations vanish with perspective. They’re relative to a point of view. Retrograde motion is fine in a geocentric model, but we soon discover it’s an optical illusion because of a geocentric model in a heliocentric reality. Astrological houses vanish.
But a ‘Cosmic Truth’ should remain true, no matter where in the cosmos you may find yourself. Tarot works. Mathematics still work. But astrology will not work out in the black. Palmistry probably won’t either.
The entire human concept of time goes out the window when you no longer have 60 minute hours and 24 hour days. When weeks, months, and years no longer exist. 365 rotational divisions of an orbit of some 3rd rock from a specific flaming ball of gas become meaningless if you are no longer on that rock.
Calendar numerology gets wonky when you realize the calendar is not the same as ‘time’.
What sign was Mr. Spock born under? How about River Tam?
I do not believe that we are alone in the universe. What kind of understanding will be required when we finally meet?
My entire magical practice has been shaped by this viewpoint. I reduce it all to: what may I use to communicate, should I be beamed up into a craft whilst on my way to buy a carton of milk?
So let’s look at my working decks, my carry decks. I always ask myself, “Would River Tam use this deck? Could Spock communicate with the images?”
The “Darmok” episode of ST-TNG illustrated basic communication issues between two advanced species. How would we align our metaphors to create understanding?
Tarot consists of illustrated metaphor. Once you begin to complicate the illustrations, we move further away from the clear and the understandable, and into something that, albeit pretty, may complicate basic and essential communication.
Which brings to mind questions such as: What card means “understanding”, and why? What card means “cooperation?”
Yes, the pictures are pretty – but are they useful?
Let’s just look at some basics.
I discarded the minors, for simplicity sake. Then I had to take each Tamarian phrase meaning and attempt to align it with a card concept.
Here is the list Tamarian phrases, and the best corresponding Tarot card.
1. "Kira at Bashi" means to tell a story (Magician).
2. "Kiteo, his eyes closed" This was difficult. It means a refusal to understand. Conscious choosing to keep your eyes closed. In many decks the High Priestess has her face covered. We cannot see her eyes. And remember – I tossed out gender right off the get-go. Image first – gender never.
3. "Sokath, his eyes uncovered, or opened" means understanding and/or realization. Ignore the gender once again, and we find ourselves with the kindness of the Empress.
4. "Zima at Anzo - Zima and Bakor" means danger or hostility arising from miscommunication or misunderstanding. Danger? Seems to me that the Emperor, if crossed, can be very dangerous.
5. "Kadir beneath Mo Moteh" means a failure to communicate or understand. I feel the Hierophant is perhaps the least understood card, so…
6. "Rai and Jiri at Lungha. Rai of Lowani. Lowani under two moons. Jiri of Ubaya. Ubaya of crossroads, at Lungha. Lungha, her sky gray" a greeting between two different cultures or races. The Lovers seems a good choice. And yes, there is also — as Troi stated — “Juliet, on the balcony”
7. "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra" means cooperation. The only major displaying cooperation is the Chariot.
8. "Uzani, his army with fists open" means to lure the enemy towards you by spreading your forces. I like the open arms of Justice, with the sword.
9. "Darmok on the ocean" translates to loneliness and isolation. So it worked well with the Hermit.
10. "Temba, at rest" means when a gift being offered is declined. So rather than looking at the turning of the wheel, what if the wheel is not turning, and we’re stuck at the bottom? Wheel of Fortune.
11. "Uzani, his army with fists closed.” Strength - to close rank and attack after luring the enemy.
12. "Kailash, when it rises" means a necessary loss or sacrifice. The Hanged man was obvious.
13. "Zinda, his face black, his eyes red" equates to anger or conflict. It can also indicate pain or discomfort, and the possible indication of inability to survive (either self, or other party). Thus, Death.
14. "The river Temarc in winter” means to be quiet, or silence. Quietude and Temperance work together.
15. "The beast at Tanagra" means a problem to be overcome. To me, the Devil was the obvious culprit there.
16. "Shaka, when the walls fell" means failure. Obviously, the Tower.
17. "Kiazi's children, their faces wet" means do not cry. I equated the tears with the water. No crying may equate with hope. So, the Star.
18. "Chenza at court, the court of silence." Difficult one. It means not listening. Well, The Moon is a dark card, and not listening leads one into danger…so it felt right.
19. "Picard and Dathon at El-Adrel" - successful first contact between two alien cultures, who worked toward a common goal (The Sun).
20. "Darmok and Jalad on the ocean" – a new friendship and understanding gained through a shared challenge. Multiple entities, success, new understanding equates to Judgment.
21. "Temba, his arms wide or open" signifies a gift. The World seemed obvious at this point’
22. "Mirab, with sails unfurled" signifying departure, engines to full, fleeing “Run away” sounds a lot like the Fool.
It’s good fun to sit down and envision the tarot as something different than what we assume it is, to put it into a different frame, and see what we come up with.
And yeah – it all boils down to language. How do we speak about Tarot, to sitters and strangers? How will you describe it to alien races – once we travel, out into the black…