I have been bored today. Here’s what I ended up doing to amuse myself: A conceptual Tarot map of the world according to the suits of the Minor Arcana. Enjoy!
Another contribution from Claire W. Our best wishes to Claire on her trip to China.
Let the water lap around my feet.
My blood has stilled its path,
and leaves my flesh dessicate.
I can only enjoy
the punch and pound of the waves –
external, like the sunlight,
like the whip of the wind.
Inside a birdwing pulse barely registers
and my skin is pale,
my lips are pale,
bonebleached and as white as the sand.
Let it rain.
Let the sky beat upon the sea,
as if impassioned,
as if the rhythms of the world were woven into patterns,
as complex as lace.
Make for me a heartbeat like a storm,
stir up my blood as if torrential rain were pouring through my veins,
or as if the waves were cresting in my bones.
Touch me. Oh god, I feel as if I’m quivering!
I know how still I am,
how silent my breath,
how cold the brittle fingers of my right hand.
Thanks to Claire W. for sending me this poem of hers. I hope you enjoy reading it as well.
The snake sloughs off old age
– his skin, gleaming like a jewelled cloth
slips into the silver stream.
Ornate. Eyes, teeth and flickering tongue
make him an elegant trickster, a rich-clad thief.
No need of petty thefts –
his frauds are greater
(though his sibilant tongue will whisper a conman’s words).
Beware – he will drink deep of your immortality,
will drain the dregs of death,
each coil its own eternity.
And as he slinks in the dewy grass,
you will walk the straight path, the slow path
(all magic herbs now lost, all sorceries unlearnt,
the gifts of ancient gods squandered like common coins).
There is no need for his red venom.
The poison has set in.
Even the trees are treacherous now – the lakes, the streams,
This isn’t a story about me. It’s about a boy, Sam, I knew at school. He was pretty quiet which is why I never really got to know him sooner. I do remember the stuffed dinosaur key-ring attached to his bag though.
The first time I noticed something was amiss was during class. Out of the blue the teacher asked him a maths question. He laughed, held his dinosaur to his ear, nodded as if listening to something, then gave an answer. We all laughed at this farce, but soon fell silent as we realised there was a problem. The teacher, a chubby chap by the name of Mr. Carter had turned to the board, frantically writing. Uncertain, the class whispered and fidgeted. A minute later he finished, paused a moment, then turned to Sam saying “Yes, that’s right.” He started to ask something else, but Sam was saved by the bell and ensuing diaspora. Most likely the others forgot this curious event. I didn’t.
I’ve been reading Terry Pratchett’s ‘Unseen Academicals’ recently, and recalled this particular excerpt where the daunting Patrician – getting a litle tipsy – recounts a personal childhood experience:
The Patrician took a sip of his beer. ‘I have told this to a few people, gentlemen, and I suspect never will again, but one day when I was a young boy on holiday in Uberwald I was walking along the bank of a stream when I saw a mother otter with her cubs. A very endearing sight, I’m sure you will agree, and even as I watched, the mother otter dived into the water and came up with a plump salmon, which she subdued and dragged on to a half-submerged log. As she ate it, while of course it was still alive, the body split and I remember to this day the sweet pinkness of its roes as they spilled out, much to the delight of the baby otters who scrambled over themselves to feed on the delicacy. One of nature’s wonders, gentlemen: mother and children dining upon mother and children. And that’s when I first learned about evil. It is built into the very nature of the universe. Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, I told myself, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior.’
This mini-tale called to mind a personal experience when gorge-walking with a group of youths somewhere in Devon. The party came across a sheltered rock pool between turbulant waterfalls, in which we were greeted by a lone duckling. It chirped without fear and swam right up to us. As we passed through the pool it followed us with uncertain paddling and bobbing, the ripples of our passing threatening to drown it at any moment. Then, after we had traversed the pool, and helped one another to clamber up the next obstacle, it watched us leave, spinning in circles and attempting to follow. Of course the water kept throwing it back each time it tried, in vain, to come with us. We stood atop the waterfall, catching our breath, and discussed the situation. The duckling had likely become separated from its mother and been swept downstream to this place where it was effectively trapped. We could not help it for fear of our human scent rendering it alien to its own kind anyway. All in all it was a particularly heartbreaking moment and when asked what was likely to happen to it I was pretty frank about its minimal chance of survival.
As we pass through life our roles change, sometimes we are gods holding powers of life and death in our hands, and sometimes we are victims of forces that threaten to devour us. Some feel trapped in roles they feel compelled to play, through love, fear, notions of duty and myriad other reasons that twist and twine into bonds. I wonder, if those bonds were severed, what kind of god would you make? In whose image would you attempt to craft the world, and according to what principles? The Patrician speaks of becoming the moral superior of a supreme being, but given the status quo I do not feel that is remotely difficult. The difficulty may rest in retaining your notions of morality as you become a god. Power transfigures the best of us, and the result may be scarcely recognisable…
I have added Google +1 buttons to my site so it’s now even easier to show appreciation for the bits you prefer, helping me to tailor my future efforts.
Once upon a time there was a young boy. He was strange, and therefore not particularly popular. Aside from being quiet he had a habit of dancing a lot at odd times. It was a very queer dance, hard to describe: His arms moved like waves, his body twisted, turned and swayed. The dancing had started when he was very young, to the amusement of older relatives and friends, and he never seemed to grow out of it. When asked why he did it, he returned the question, ‘Why don’t you?’
Finally! All 22 cards of the Major Arcana have been covered. I intend to move onto the Minor Arcana soon and hope you find the discussion useful and share any of your own insights.
Another story? What naughty mer-children you are! Well, so long as you are ready for sleep, I suppose there is a little time. Listen closely, for this is the tale of the Mermaid’s Lament…