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Do you know the ontological argument for the existence of Superman? It goes like this - you are imperfect (come on, admit it) and you have the quality of existence. Superman is perfect. Since you are imperfect and have the quality of existence, Superman must exist because he is better than you.

Of course Superman does exist in fiction and that's the corollary or rebuttal of the argument - that non-existence is the sine-qua-non of perfection. Nothing is perfect that physically exists. Or, if you like, carried forward - what is real is not what is best.

There you are - the best argument for the life of the mind, the inward looking eye and the contemplative dream. What's best isn't real and what's real isn't best.

This is what the 4 of Pens is all about - retreating from the mundane and becoming absorbed in the beatific and sublime.


Captured - as it were, by the perfection of a fiction, of an idea. Compelling, it's compelling just to think of it - the Deity as a concept is something that has absorbed people since they've been people. To me this relates very closely to the 4 of Cups - a figure immersed in a dream, on the one hand you have a spiritual fulfillment that arises in spite of the world's efforts, in the other you have a person withdrawing from and forgetting the world - which goes on, quite indifferent.


The distinction - between those withdrawing is that the one is ignoring what is good in the world, the other is turning away from what is bad. Simple enough, maybe a fine distinction. But consider - there is perfection in thought that doesn't exist in the material realm. Platonism for you. The world is just shadows of a better idea. It's sensible to be captured by the idea. In the 4 of Cups he's captured by the world, ignoring the spiritual, or fulfilled already, turns to the material.

The 4 of Pens connotes not only an abandonment of earthly cares - but a rejection of the validity of them,


A trance of the nobler world - this situation likewise implies a final sleep - the translation of the mortal to the spiritual through that eventual magician called death. Sure, you're going to get there from here. And when the heart stops and the brain dies the mind goes on. Maybe. In fiction it might and fiction, unlike the mundane world, has the quality of being capable of perfection.


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Do this. Think about what I'm going to tell you - do that.

There's an idea, it comes to you, you like it, you like it a lot. You take it into you and try to make it into something. You look at the few sentences you've strung together and think to yourself that you want it to become something. A book, many books, a system, a plan, your plan for your future, anything, something. You have this in you now and you're going to carry it through. Carry it through. Carry it through.

What does that even mean? I mean practically. What is the day to day that you face now, that you've taken this idea into yourself, now that you've submitted to its dominion in your life? Will your relationships suffer? Will you lose interest in your job? In your family? How far will you take your efforts? Who are you, when the idea comes to consume you? When you're held in its grip and in its thrall? Can you have an idea stronger than you? Or can you have an idea that's weaker than you?

So we're back to asking - what is an idea? Is the idea god? I had a vision, where the idea, all of them, together, they are the consciousness of the world and people, we - us - we're the teeth, we digest matter that feeds the idea, the idea is all things, everything the Reason.


What is love to you when the idea is in you? Does it matter? Is it an old idea? One that's tired, one that's been used before, to poor effect yet? Will you absorb it or abandon it for something... new? For your own idea.

We digest the thoughts we have to contribute to the larger thoughts. We are the organs of language, we are the method by which thought perceives.

It is by the works of human hands that thought grows. We are the hands of ideas.


Do we believe in things or know them? Is the difference between these the difference between happiness and sorrow? Or between different species of intellectual amalgams - the ghost-minds in the sky that we contribute to, as the biome, the ecology of the idea. We are preyed upon by language, we are the servants of these larger things - built up through the centuries, timeless, immortal. What are we, once the idea enters us? We are the vessels of ideas. We transmit knowledge, we transmute language into reality, into language into reality. We are the teeth and jaws of thought, the stomach of thinking.

As the 3 of cups is the first stable form, and the 3 of phones is the first stable form - those suits being built up upon relationships and work, the 3 of pens is the stable form. It is the stability that comes of knowing or accepting the state of solitude, exclusion, loss. It is the state of abandoning the doubts that come (and they come, I'll tell you) when you're deep in the work, deep in the idea. You lose sight of the world, and then regain it, in turns, and find yourself doubting - were you right to spend so much of your life? Waste so much of your effort? Can you communicate the idea? The idea is in you, the idea is the guide for who you are, what you do. What are you if the idea is fraud?

So forsake doubt, attention, affection. These are all attacks, hostile to the thing within you, the great, pure and real idea, the matter that you wish to bear, to give birth to. Any other notion, any division of your attention, that is a distraction - deadly to the germinating thought.

3 of Pens

The 3 of pens, of Swords- it's a card for heartbreak - it connotes the solidity, the stability that comes of abandoning attachments, of refusing the external in favor of the internal. The heart is dead, long live the mind.

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I told you before all about feelings, and then I told you about doing - now it's time to talk about thinking.

Ace of pens

Before the totemic symbol for thinking was the sword - it was a symbol for more than thinking but thinking is the elemental essence of what the swords are about. Here's some of what it's all about (and I'm going to get into it, and into some elaborate thinking-type thoughts here as well so get accustomed to it for the next 10 entries) The swords are about division - an in the antique sense they indicate the division between moments - where decisions happen, where thinking occurs. They also have the power of division between sense and nonsense and significantly between things that are and things that are not. Duality is essential in the suit of the swords because they divide the real and the unreal - by thought.

There's a practical element to this as well - the swords divide the physical from the spiritual - in a very pragmatic, murderous way. Everyone's soul is eventually excised, they're made from whole being to a soul and a corpse - the sword is violence as well. Danger and - significantly, professionalism.

That's a weird relationship that's lost now - we live in the world of guns and I've seen Tarot where the sword was substituted with a gun - but the gun... the gun undermines and is plainly in opposition to the principles behind the sword. A sword - you don't just have one and then have the ability to go around killing guys - that's the gun. The sword needs skill, training and a big investment by the society that arms you and then trains you in the first place. The sword requires skill and it requires training - it signifies membership in a professional caste of killers - people for whom killing is part of their professional capacity. It's not done lightly. Well, it wasn't.


Now we have the pens. There still is a professional class, they still have matters of life and death in their oeuvre, they still have to make decisions and they still are symbolized by something that divides the real and the unreal - in this case The Pen.

See, a pen divides the purely mental from the physical - it's the transcendental bridge between what is thought and what actually is. Because you can write down your thoughts - you can make physically manifest your ideas, your thoughts, your grocery list. Things are recorded, memory becomes irrefutable fact - we live and die by things written by professional men who are tasked with making decisions and signing. Sign your name - something ephemeral, meaningful sure, but spoken and heard on the wind, a sound unlike any other - and you sign, your mark, unlike any other. You turn something from being theoretical to actual. A bill becomes a law, a pad of paper becomes a prescription, a semester of work becomes another grade, a strategy becomes an order.

You get the idea - from a martial ruling class to a technocrat ruling class the transition is from the sword to the pen.


But, briefly, back to duality. Maybe the soul is an archaic idea, maybe it doesn't have a place here - maybe. It doesn't mean that there's not a difference between the substantial, experiential world and the dreamworld of pure consciousness, of reason and dreams. The Pen has the effect of dividing these as well - and combining them. In some respects The Pen is a kind of psychopomp - through physical exertion it generates non-physical ideas. In antiquity it was argued that God must by necessity exist because it was theorized to be perfect, and being perfect it must have the qualities that imperfect things have as well as whatever qualities make it perfect. So since imperfect things exist, the theoretical perfect thing must by needs exist! Since existence is a quality possessed by imperfect things, a perfect thing must have that quality as well. Without getting into too many confusing logical arguments we can extrapolate backward and look at just one confusing logical argument:

So if we consider that we exist and are receptacles for things that do not exist - memories, fantasies, dreams - then it means that the physical by needs contains all perfect iterations of itself. And really - if we conceive of fantasies and dreams as having physical characteristics - and these characteristics are superior to our own then they tell the truth on us - that the physical is the sublime and the imagined is the mundane. Superman. Superman is the manifestation of human wishes and greatness, it is an idea - that became real through the exercise of that noblest of human creations - The Pen.


Anyhow- these sharpies are my favorite pens ever so they will probably figure prominently in the suit.

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When I had a car I remember hating it.  There are all those lights and buzzers and indicators all just waiting to go off and beg for your attention.  A car is a weird possession that is needier and more demanding than even the most dependent person.  A car is a thing you can have that constantly makes you feel like you've fucked up your life.  "I need gas!  I need service!  I need oil!  I need non-trivial weekly expenditures!"  Which is to say - fuck a car, I don't want one.

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A phone - now, that's the thing right?  It's demanding but you just have to give it some attention here and there, "plug me in!"  It says.  "Lift me over your head!"  It asks.  Now - it's still pretty stupid, overall, it does nonsensical things like chirp endlessly and flash and warn and advise that it's battery is low, it has no signal.  Dumb old phone, you'd have so much more batteries if you'd calm down about telling me you have no batteries.

So anyway this is the 7 of Phones.  It's not about the fragility of devices - that's free bonus wisdom for you.

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 Nope, 7 of Phones is about surviving.  You're out in the woods, you've got no signal, just the one bar (of 7 here) and you're getting all kinds of indications that you have fucked up at life.  You've missed all these calls, your battery is dead, nothing is right!  But you're still alive.  You've succeded (in point of fact) where it seemed like you wouldn't.

You're the little phone that could.  Somehow, you've got the juice to make that one last call, that one final contact - and that's all that is needed to make it.  To win.

The 7 of Wands - which I repudiate/recapitulate here is likewise fairly stark.  A simple image -  a guy with a stick has beaten up six other guys with sticks who appear off screen.  It's a simple image, and it means a lot.  Top Dog right, you're at the peak, the pinnacle of the pile.  By doing.  See that's always near with the phones - doing.  So you've done, you've made it, you beat all the others and you're low on gas, limping home, making that one last call that will make all the difference.  You are still alive, still in the game.

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In this respect the 7 of Phones is identical to the 7 of Wands - just restating it in a contemporary way.  Competition is important here, but more than that is winning the competition, or at least advancing to the next round.  You may be depleted, you may be crippled by the effort, but the victory is far from Pyrrhic - you've succeeded where you might have failed.  

Now - to me, this one means a few special things - notable and real.  First of all - you see how it's just a frame with a christmas-tree of lights there all going off.  That's not just lazy painting - that's got some meaning.  Out in the woods, all on your own, there's a fragility - you are ephemeral, haphazardly struggling against what is out there.  Here I've toned down the competitive angle, mainly because I've dealt with that elsewhere, and go for the man v. nature aspect.  Man v. himself.  Race against time that whole thing.  Because here, and really this is the thing - you've got to the top of your game, succeeded, as has been said throughout the phones - and who is there to lose it all for you but you?  

So that. 

Now me?  I've been scarce this month, no doubt - and it could have been on me to not ever paint another one of these and not win at my own game by letting myself just lose it all.  That could have been.  But really, it was never in the cards, so to speak,  because all along I've been secretly winning the other thing you can do with your life, which is to write books.  So I wanted to mention to you that I beat NaNoWriMo four days ahead, the middle-draft is printed and en-route to my own house to be carried around and marked up nice for final-drafting.  That's the way to do it, when you write books I think.  All this month, putting down the 89,000 words of this book I tell you I felt fragile like I was near to dying - because you know - you're about to make a book, a real true solid thing that has mass and is carried in your hands and feels satisfactory and right in your mitts - and you can fuck all that up and let it go- you could straight up lose. 

So that's the 7 of Phones for you - you've won but that's just the start of things - there's always someone or something or most of all, your own damned self getting ready to let it all go for lack of sense and seeing how fragile a win really is.

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Who's Calling?  It's me the Phones!  Uh, or something not dumb.

My Own Tarot 002It's weird, you know - that you can get calls - someone might call you.  I think, I wanna say I was about 7?  The first time someone called me?  Back then we had a directory for the school - so kids could just look each other up and call.  Cause, right, who changed phone-numbers?  The 80's...  Anyhow-  I think it was...  Lisa?  A girl Lisa wanted to call and talk to me about stuff.  I guess?  Sometimes girls want to talk on the phone.  For real - that's probably the biggest hole in my abilities re- romance.  I hate calling on the phone, and I don't like being called on the phone- it turns out that way.

I guess in the end I can't stop thinking that I'm just talking to a machine.  I know there's another person and all - not, like - solopsistic - they're all secretly robots and it's a simulation - not like that - more like.  I am here and talking and I am talking into a machine and that is like talking to a dog or the air.  It is a thing of a crazyperson.

My Own Tarot 008
Remember those blue-tooth head things?  Sometimes people still have them, I hate those things because they make it harder to distinguish between who is crazy and who is not.  Knowing who is crazy is an important skill in the world and I'm okay at it.  Except that maybe talking on the phone is a thing for crazy people.

So...  With all that said-  I still did make the Phones my symbol - replacing the Rod in the more traditional tarot.  But for real - what is crazier - a dude talking to himself or a dude walking around with some quantity of rods?  I mean, unless you are a rod-deliveryman you basically have no good reason to be carrying around rods.  Maybe a fisherman could get away with it.  Wands are likewise a personal affectation that will not get you many phone numbers if you brandish them in quantities greater than... I dunno, probably zero.  Zero Wands is the optimal number of wands to be carrying around.  And let's not even get into clubs.  You shouldn't be carrying around a club, not even that collapsible kind that sometimes would-be tough guys have.  Really you shouldn't carry things that the police are only going to have to wrestle you for.

My Own Tarot 006

I mean, unless you should.  It could be that that is who you are and, I won't say - 'No Judgement' because I will judge you - not in a judgmental way, exactly, but in a discerning way.  In the way that I don't just yell and get upset about the guy doing karate moves on the corner (there is such a guy) but rather-  never speak or look directly at him.  Not that he's got a very nice phone though - he's more of a cups, more of a swords kind of guy.  You know how I know?  Cause the Phones are not just activity, not just doing - they're symbolic of something else.  Something simultaneously miraculous and prosaic.

Rather like the cellular phone.  You see 'em around, heck you might manage their use and function as part of your day to day - because they are part of the day to day - common.  They're a common thing that makes the world turn and bend - they're pretty much miraculous.  A company that makes them is, as of this writing, the biggest corporation in the world.  Who knew right?  They're a non-trivial portion of the wealth of all nations.  Crazy.  Just as I imagine stick-gathering was a fundamental chore for the laboring classes of medieval times.  True story - gather wood or die freezing - that's just the nature of things.

Which is to say that the phones mark a kind of middle-of-the-road.  A kind of baseline human condition, the lowest common denominator.  Kind of.  It's a little trickier than thinking of them like say - opinions and assholes.  It isn't quite something everyone has.  That's not what the Phones/wands/clubs/rods are about.  No - this is more about your assimilation into the broader popular culture.  Being caught up with the phones means you're more in the mode - you know the popular culture, you know the cool bands, the nice clothes, the popular political opinion, the tolerable political ideology.

My Own Tarot 003

These are 3rd estate things.  They're for the people that make the world work - and in our world the best and newest is the way of things.  If I were painting this all in the 60's I'd probably have the wands be cars - in the 90's maybe computers (maybe).  But a tool that's contemporary and that's a statement about personality.  Well - to an extent.  You know there are i-people and android-people and wall-phone people right?  It's this idea that there are these kinds of people - when really, there's an unseen class of people who don't have any of those.  Like the millionaires in the 60's with drivers and the executives in the 80's with receptionists.  They're not of the mode - they're above/beyond.  It's a working-man's tool.  And so-  the phone.

The Phone is also - activity - and that's what I've been having - activity - I'm active!  Doing-Making!  Full activity is the thing of the phones- fire and happening.  So don't imagine for a second that I've been slack.


Really - I should mention it was a long languid summer of breaks before I got the Cups all done - and here I got the first 3 Phones in a weekend.  Maybe have the next three by the end of this weekend!  Maybe.  

And here's the rundown:

The Phones start out - kind of telling a story.

You start with the 2 - you're up and at 'em - you're out the door (or I am) at the crack-of-doomy-dawn you're ready, you're capable. You've got calls coming in already - maybe you even have to check your mail and the weather on your personal phone - you've got things happening. There's a man or a woman that you know who gives out different numbers for different reasons - that's someone who's got Things Going On. That's the 2 of Phones.

Then you're on your way - You're in the world and you're really - in-the-world, in the loop, you can see what it is and where you are going in it. The world is a golden paradise for you - because you're ready, and part of the world - it's a welcoming place that's just waiting for you. So - waiting, and ready-goodness. It's the next stop of the day - the Bus Stop.

And after that? Well you've got things to do, you're the golden one - bright prospects, when you talk - people listen, eyes dilate, blood in the cheeks - you're the golden one- on the shining path - you've heeded the call and now you're encircled by the shekina glory! The magic ring of jesus-fire - if you will. Fire.
It's all to do with fire - movement, and a signal. Like the bars on the phone - you're in a good spot, good reception for the Gnosis - you're on the shining path. In a way. It's still earthly, but it's a rising, transcendent earthliness.

You are, in a word - Effective.
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Ace of Phones 002

So now you can see I'm leaving some things behind. As in the past, as in history. I'm leaving behind the Stick, the wand, the staff, the club. I'm sure you know that the suits in a deck of cards represent the different social classes in the premodern period right? Espada - swords for the knights, the rulers, diamonds - the coins, for the merchants, cups for the church and clubs for the peasants. Why Clubs? In the ancient past people beat crops out of the ground using sticks. True story.

You don't buy it? Well, I'm only exaggerating. They beat everything out of the world, peasants, farmers, serfs. They had sticks, not metal tools, not implements as you'd know them, sticks. Robbers? Vikings? Early frost? They had sticks for that. Staves, wands, whatever - sticks. I'm telling you, for the longest time some variety of sticks was all people had. Heck, that's what they used to make and to carry fire for goodness sakes, stick houses, sticks for fences, sticks for every damned thing.

Nowadays we don't do shit with sticks. The club is a symbol of I dunno - baseball. Who gets things done with a stick nowadays?

Ace of Phones 001

Nowadays we have the phone. I'm not gonna say that the phone is the symbol of work. I mean, I use mine for that, almost entirely, but it is a symbol, and a token - a thing you probably have on you, that you use to Get Things Done. Make Things Happen. The wands are the fire-sign in the Tarot, the quick, the fast, the aggressive and the ready. Making things happen. That's what the phone is about.

Now let's be real - you call some people, you start a thing, you sell them on ideas, you get things done on the phone.

Ace of Phones 003

Or you know, the internet, the email whatever. But we're at a weird moment right? Where the phone isn't in the house on the wall, it's this object you carry with you that lets you get things accomplished. What can you do if you leave home without your phone? Can you find a restaurant? Can you find a coffee shop? Can you function? Can you do your job without a phone? Without... The Internet? The internet and phones are about to be the same thing. We're at a weird moment. That's what I'm saying.

So here is the phone - which subs for the Wands - because I don't know anybody that uses a stick to get shit done, but when it comes to getting shit done the tool most people seem to use is their phone.

Ain't got time to mess around? Do you have tasks? Missions? Goals?

Dude my phone wakes me up in the morning and it's the last thing I look at before I go to bed. I read the news, I read my email, I figure out what bus I'm gonna take - all with my phone. It's your possession that makes your life possible, it's your main tool - so here it is. The 21st century stick. The phone.

The Ace of Wands is supposed to represent the hermetic elements as well. Mountain, stream, the stick itself, the wand, is fire - you're supposed to see ACTION acting on the WORLD. Because the world is elements etc...

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We've got those things here. The mountain, the stream - permanence and change- and they're broadcast through the sky by electric-space-fire. Motherfucker this is the PHONE it's about jumping up off your chair and taking action, getting SHIT DONE. Have a little FUCKING ENTHUSIASM.

Motherfucker this is the PHONE. Answer your PHONE!

You got to get some shit DONE

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Comics 004
So #15 is traditionally - THE DEVIL! Maybe you're spooked of the Devil? Maybe not, I bet you can tell what kind of a person you are if you are or aren't. That's my opinion. Well, that's an aspect of my opinion, there's actually rather a lot to it. Why not explore? Yes lets!

So in some ancient forms the Devil is representative of temptation, think of Christ being tempted in the wilderness for example - the Devil appears and tries to get Christ to act all wrong and then Christ resists. The Devil also appears and tempts Job - "Curse God and Die!" The Devil tempts. Kind of a weird thing to tempt a person to - hopelessness? I can see that, hopelessness is a real vice.

Over time this figure changes into a manichean opposite of god, goes from the Adversary meant to tempt creation into an enemy, possibly even on equal footing, the Devil, to be opposed, thwarted, tossed in the lake of fire. Now this is probably the more familiar of the Devils you've heard of and the Tarot kind of works from that, and it kind of mentions the older meaning too. The Devil represents Vice and the temptation to vice. And this... This is representative of a worldview that may prevail, but I'd say not by many. The idea here is that there is a force that tempts you to the wicked actions - this force is purely malevolent and wants to doom you. Now - I don't buy that. That there is a dark force that turns your hand and heart to wickedness - well I don't deny that. But we're talking about dualism and soul/mind/body divisions - I'm not exactly going that way. It's not a dark spiritual force that tempts you to wickedness - is what I am saying.

Rather, the Devil represents the dooming component of human existence - which is our frailty. Our physical frailty specifically. The Devil represents a kind of arrogance, in my mind, that there is a special force that rules over evil and compels you to evil action. Vice is maybe its own temptation, but I theorize something else.

For example. I see the people driving their $100,000 cars in my neighborhood and you know, I daydream about robbing them, I totally do. Because I want money. Which is gross! But here's the thing - the wolf is at the door, the menace is in the world, there are menacing forces that would drive me to do such things. Or maybe you've grown too attached to someone, you'd rather they were dead than without you, or you're menaced by another who looks to outcompete you, or you've got a vague anxiety that the person you are with is going to be the last person to love you, the last person to touch you. You can have these fears and they'll tempt, tempt or drive you to vice. I don't suggest that people have any innate wickedness but that their fragility predisposes them to it. Not a fall of man - but the story of the fall of man kind of sums this up. The immortal and invincible person is of course the good guy - there is no danger that he faces.

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This of course doesn't allow for mad-dog killers and the sort. Serial murderers and ladies that execute their babies in bathtubs. Genuinely I don't think those people are wicked, I think they are probably very crazy and that is sad.

So the Wolves. The wolf is kind of the same as the person - pack hunters, tribal and so forth. We're similar in our ecological neighborhood. But the wolf, you know, they have a few million years of adaptive advantage over us, they're more capable, dangerous - they're more effective and less fragile. They're a paradigm of human fear, a good marker of human frailty. The wolves at the door, the danger that waits lurking. Man is a wolf to other men - the big bad wolf- it comes up and hasn't faded imagery wise.

The wolf means another thing too though.
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The beneficence of human genius. Cause the dog is a wolf and it's our best friend. Not mine you understand, but I get it - a dog, you can get somewhere with a dog, it is the primordial danger and fear turned on its head, made a tool. A useful tool to turn against our other predators, other people included. It's a sign that this fragility, while it tempts us to dark deeds - is also a tendency that can be mastered. The frailty endemic to the human condition, that creates the human condition, it can be snatched away and have its nature changed. Because we're better than the world, we can solve the puzzle of biology and darkness and primordial fear.

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After making such a fuss and going to such weird expository lengths with #8 - I was pretty pleased to have a clean, easy, and unambiguous idea for #9. In the traditional Tarot 9 is the Hermit. Now, the hermit means a few things, like Enlightenment,Guidance, Reflection - and oh yeah, loneliness. See, the Hermit is like the Yoda of Tarot. But I had already done some solitary figure with #6 - Satisfaction. I realized that if I just paint a lot of weird loners - I'm not going to get much of anywhere with this project. But this idea came to me pretty easily.

I'm not utterly content with Commonwealth, #8- but that's perhaps a useful guide to the journey you make through the Arcana. The Hermit means a sense of guidance that comes from the strength of Justice - which I've pointed out - tenuous. But here, I didn't have to illustrate some under-defined philosophical concept - but a person. So I flipped the expectation, I made a solitary Lovers card, and two together for the Hermit. And then I put them in wedding clothes and then I called it Loneliness. Now. I'm not above an amount of irony, but I am not throwing out irony for its own sake understand. This is all... Something. Something I mean to be a little profound.

So look at the journey so far - from Satisfaction --> Infrastructure --> Commonwealth --> Loneliness. So there is a road you travel into communion. But here, that concept is betrayed, somewhat. Why do you seek that union? Is it out of your own fear? Out of your own worries about being lonesome? That's the question posed here. Are the couple marrying out of love or desperation? Are they motivated by their affection? Where does their affection come from? I knew a guy, he was alone for so long, and then he loved a woman, the one he met, and what he loved about her was that she had saved him from loneliness. So I have them - together but lonely. That's the concept at the core of this card, this sense.

The I-Ching was helpful again too. Hexagram 9 - The Taming Power of the Small. Now I've been married before, I can't disguise or try to suggest that that experience doesn't inform my choice here. But I didn't pair-bond out of loneliness, this is another idea - this is a sense of the power of something small, that nagging voice that warns you that you will be alone - this is the little thing in your mind that governs and terrorizes you, this is what tames you. Loneliness. You are bound and submit to binding because of this fear. This little fear that tames you. That is the essential idea.

I didn't want them to be sad, not sad at all, but they can't look at each other, they are apart - still alone, because they are ashamed. Or they are afraid still, their union hasn't abolished loneliness, it has changed the tone of it. They have not been true, they are not true, so they are ashamed, they can't share anything, not even their fear, because Loneliness makes you a liar, makes you untrue, in your heart. So I wanted that sense to be included. This idea of the defeat, that Communion, that the Commonwealth, could be subverted by disingenuous participants.

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In the end I think I'm better at painting that photography, or maybe my camera is poor, or maybe my lighting is crummy, anyway, this one is (and take my word for it) nicer than it looks. But it's also pretty complicated and hard to explain. It was hard to think about too.

Here's the image I was going off of. You notice that it's #11 in the Waite deck - but that's to do with Astrology and I honestly haven't included any astrological themes so far, I don't know if I will. Astrology is cool and all, I won't speak against it exactly - but this is my deck and it's all about the Wasteland and my experience and I don't see a lot of stars in my city. When I do - I don't recognize them, so Astrology is out. But Justice is often enough and traditionally the 8th card. So I started thinking about Justice.

This wasn't awesome for me - it turns out that I don't really value justice as a virtue. True fact, I think of Justice as being fairly regressive as a quality - right up there with Honor. It is altogether worse to have Justice than it is to have something else, that Justice, conceptually, negates. This was just a feeling I had, a sense, but I wanted to understand it so I did a little studying. What is Justice? I looked into it and thought about it a lot. In the end I concluded that Justice is a concept in the West that is based on principles of Natural Law - which I do not condone. Life-Liberty-Property - okay? Sure you have these rights? Except that no. No, that's a purely western and I think, reckless construction. Now in that state where you have those natural rights, then Justice is a significant concept because you're constantly going to be in conflict with other people. Your liberties and properties, maybe even your life is always getting on the toes of everyone else's life liberty and property. So you have to have a system of justice to figure things out within the paradigm. You with me so far? So I thought and thought about what that all means - and I couldn't get anywhere. Locke is, fine I guess, Tabula Rasa.... hey man, if you say so. But people who know me know I tend to hold with Hobbes, a little more. And after looking into Utilitarianism etc... I found that I liked Hobbes a little better in terms of his ideas about Justice.

So this image was very informative for me. The Leviathan, the state, the power of the overwhelming giant-king. See? I put it in there too. Giant menacing kings.

At this point though - the symbolism kind of spoke to me. The sword- my sword is the Sharpie Pen - the pen being the sign of political stakeholders (i.e.: Legislators) and intellectualism (i.e.: Me and you). So a pen, he's got that big pen? Sure, I get it. And the little village, heck I like that little village, that speaks to me.

But what's my idea here? What's my thought? What is the concept I'm trying to convey that will eventually have a mythic and mystic connotation when removed from this (overwrought) context?

So I consult the I-Ching, and it's showing me Hexagram #8 - Holding Together - Union So I had it. The union of people. From there some of the imagery came. Now - I'm kind of happy that I paint these things without a plan or special insight, and maybe I'm doing a lot of after-the fact rationalizing. but look.
Here's the little village in the valley with the wall of bricks in a ring. The Bricks. Unity - apart, alone? What's a brick? Together they make the strong wall that holds the predatory giant king at bay. More than that they're a ring, it's a ring - the union of lovers, the sanctioned, unbreakable union. Together - together and united the little village in the valley is not menaced by the king, he may prey upon them, but together they resist his overwhelming strength, force him to reconcile, to wait. His pen, the law, his official strength, it looms over the village but the walls are strong. The roads - the roads join together, all unity of the hill. There are the terraced little farms on the hillsides
015 in the image of hexagram #8 - they're common, together, the road leads to the safety of the village where they are joined together into the one road.

But what about this guy?
This shirtless little weirdo? Well, this came about. Honestly this was a hard painting to paint. I had ideas, but couldn't make them come together, I actually erased and repainted it a few times. But I kept having this other hill. And I thought - it's got to mean something, and the menacing king. Look - Justice, conceptually - is delivered by an overwhelming power - in our society justice is handed down from the court, it is decided by the bureaucracy. There is an element of inequality inherent in systems of justice - of all vs. all within the concept of Natural Law. So this shirtless little madman represents that - the idea of the individual claiming his rights, challenging the power of the king. He stands atop the other peak and is not effectual, not against the power of the giants. He carries his own pen, trying to go to the battle, thinking that it is a swordfight. See, he's undone already, he has contended according to a lopsided system that automatically doesn't favor him. He is aggrieved and considers Justice to be something he deserves, but that he must fight for. Because Justice has within it that quality of inequity. So there is the little village, that is untroubled by the predation of the great, because in communion the many have the power to resist. So... Commonwealth.

I suppose I should note that these cards, these ideas flow out of one another, into one another - there's an organism being made. $6 Satisfaction leads to a journey - the journey requires the #7 Infrastructure, which suggests the unity of action, but is also a destination for the querent - #8 the Commonwealth.
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So right away you can tell I will never-ever be a civil engineer. Or a traffic-engineer,or a car designer or an aeronautics-designer. You can tell, and I concede. Someone tries to offer me those licenses and diplomas and I scatter them on the ground and say: "Nasty old Fishes."

So! The Chariot. This one was a little tricky, to think about. I was debating my processes a little today and i mentioned to an interested party that I don't actually plan these out. The meditative painting-act is fairly sublime and I kind of make what wants to be made. Without being too gross or mysterious - that's what I do. I start painting and try to have a fugue state or something. Then I step back and fix everything that's gone wrong whilst I was fugueing. The Chariot itself isn't easy to interpret. It has a meaning of war and strength - probably lost on contemporary generations - something filthy, something there is that doesn't love a war, or strength. Romantics you know? They have a faith in the more sensual conflicts - can't see the muscle on muscle violence for their fixation on the glorious dead. The Chariot - to me - implies victory. It's... Antique. More than the other cards so far, they're rooted in their time - the Chariot bespeaks an elder age, of martial cruelty, of danger and an intimate conflict. That's a strange strength.

But too, I wanted to move away and out of the personal. I'd tackled that, the personal and the innate, the Self - I did that. So I wanted a step out of there. The Duke of Zhou was helpful with that - the 6th Hexagram being THE ARMY. See there. Public works, the strength of the united public, of the polity, or the social order - all pulling together to exert a profound and effective influence.
The Army - a good start. I went to the Infrastructure, and I've painted up a highway or... Something suggesting a highway - and that bespeaks the power of the many. Denies the significance of the few or the one. There are cars on it, trucks, buses - and those don't arise from a vacuum you know - there's a profound potency in the world - that allows these things to come to be - that then demands that they exist, that builds roads and bridges and a whole unseen, forgotten world to house them.

I had thought that my Chariot might end up being a fighter plane, or some kind of racecar. I thought about it. But Power, a strange and hard to define or understand strength - to me this speaks of the unity of society, of that strength - which is fearful and beautiful and altogether the best part of being all together. I'm writing this to you on the internet and McCluhan was right- the medium is the message. We make the world together and the world is made for us. My Chariot -the Infrastructure - it's meant to suggest that. To imply us all being in this together, to accomplish amazing things, and then to regard those things as commonplace.

Of course the infrastructure gets rusty, it gets graffitied upon, it gets used in novel ways and ignored in depressing ones. This power requires maintenance and unity to hold together. Energy, Success, Wealth, Bravery, Command, Discipline. These are identities that go with the old Charioteer -but I see them in the highway and the bridge and the structure of the world that we inhabit. In the best version of the world, no doubt these things are constantly refreshed -but in the meantime they're made so powerfully that they'll last through the ages.

The chariot is traditionally pulled by a black and a white Sphinx - and they've got abstract and unfamiliar provenance. I went with the airplanes - because they provoke a sense of dread - menace - they could bomb the whole thing to pieces, they could. They could erase it all - but if they do, that's the conquest of one infrastructure over another. The plane builders who had the iterative capacity, built over and over and developed through development to overwhelm the underdeveloped. But they are reassuring too - these images of mastery, of a strength over the nations - of motion and speed - we have those, we have it within us to make those. To exert that might. Which is a great thing, a great mastery that sprouts from the shoulders of all the generations before.

So continuity and the threat of ruin, of motion and unity, of the recklessness of disunion and the folly of individuality, and self-seeking. That is The Infrastructure.
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I know what you're thinking. Look what you've painted Kingtycoon! Look at that. How the heck does this relate to This

I have answers for you. A few.

First of all - look at that image. The Lovers. I love the period at the end - The Lovers -Period. Obviously though, I think there's more to say. Look at Adam and Eve and their bellybuttons. Look at them. Stupid. There they are in the Eden, in paradise. They're about to go the wrong way. But look - look at the magic figure connecting them. You see these lovers -but the figure putting them together is central to the whole image. That's the figure I connect with in this image, and that's who I kind of focused on.

The Lovers has some traditional meanings involving a few conditions. First of all - Choice. So my figure, and I say MY kind of insistently - if you didn't know or can't tell - this is pretty much a self portrait - you can tell because of the green kitchen table. Just like mine. So this figure is presented with choices - there are choices - right there on the table. Do I eat? Smoke? Drink the Coffee? Paint? Write? Read? Write? Do I look at the empty chair and feel... Something? Want? Need? Loneliness? And then you look at the card and see it's called Satisfaction. So are you happy because you have choices? Or are you happy that you've made the choice that you've made?

And really, just look. Peanut Butter & Jelly. Coffee & Cigarettes. They go together don't they? They're more identifiable, comfortable pairs than Adam and Eve any day. Paint and brush? These things are on teams, together. Paper and ink, books and more books. There are pairings, combinations - you put things together- you create. You choose a thing to make. That, the fruition of your combinatory exercise - you're GENERATIVE CAPACITY - that's satisfying as hell.

It's also a choice. The choice of human things, of material, creative endeavors, which to pursue? Creation? Art? Learning? Chemical dependency? Or... Look at that Empty Chair. There's room isn't there? You can collaborate, there could be a collaboration... Why isn't there?

See this is the Eden. This is the paradise that you can be tempted away from. Hell, as you know, is other people. Here is the suggestion of peace, of heavenly paradise, and there's that empty chair. There's that temptation to seek out the other. A girl, a lady - someone else. That's the temptation - to abandon paradise for something else. Or - or to invite someone else to the paradise. Empty chair after all. Available space.

So I've accommodated the concept of choice, of desire, of pleasure, humanism, personal values (I missed you Wikipedia! I missed you so bad.) But where is the Sexyness? Where's the beauty? The Physical Attraction?

Seriously? You're asking? Look at this motherfucker

So there it is. #6 - Satisfaction.

True story - the name was the hardest part. rejected ideas:

#6 - Kingtycoon
#6 - The Lover
#6 - Bachelor
#6 - Loner
#6 - Paradise
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So all the way to #5! Nice work. Actually, I ran out of the canvas-paper that I've been using so I bought some biggish boards to paint on - so #5 the Television is the biggest painting I've ever painted. Nice, I know. It's also, now, the only television in my house.

The cable-girl, who came to sell us upgrades and so on - she was shocked, I think authentically shocked, when we said we don't have a TV. We sure don't. That is how I am able to talk about it in the way that I am about to. The old Cathode God is pretty entrenched -and when it came time to paint my version of the Pope -the Hierophant - I didn't take too many minutes to realize that I'd paint a Television. Here's the story. First of all - the hierophant is meant to indicate the Orthodoxy, connection to faith, communal identity, and - significantly - to connect the material with the celestial. If you look at the old cards you'll see the pope giving that two-fingered blessing. 2 up 2 down - the bridge between the heavens and the earth. Well the Pope of the world that I live in is the TV. Dig it - the American Orthodoxy relies on the TV. If you, like me, don't have fluency about contemporary programming, if you don't follow television sports (football and basketball) then you're out- you are in the out crowd. People will think you can't talk and they won't talk to you, they'll suppose you've nothing going on or if you do that you're strange.

I'm painting my own tarot deck for the purposes of amusement and metaphysical awakening - so I probably count as pretty weird. In this respect the TV is easily compared to the Pope - cause Religion and TV are things I've dallied with and both of them are things I've tried to get away from, and both of them exert a tremendous influence over my interactions with people and the social world that I exist within. The TV is the contemporary orthodoxy, and participation with TV is a vital sacrament in the social circle. Channels, Cable, that kind of thing - it's like denominations, pastoral or monastic callings. The television also connects you with the unreal - the world of imagination, the heady heaven of thought and shared drama, the myths of the time, the socializing power of the collective imagination. I won't deny, I won't hate, or be hostile, but I'll resist, just me personally, with my life, I'm too busy and too generative to absorb religions or imaginary ideas. I make my own man.

I gave the TV some acolytes. And kind of pillars. The Antenna point up, the screen is the connection to the earth.

The Vicar of Christ carries the keys - and I thought it would be alright to put some keys in this- and where else, you rest them on the boob-tube.

I know this an old-timey TV and I know that there's the internet. I know about these things. The internet, it's community but still an outlier, the TV is orthodox - look at how the internet is used - Netflix man, it's all watch and commune, and be part of the community. People come to the faith, called to the temple, it is a conversion experience.

More than that, I mean - I first used the internet on a TV like that - C128 baby, Amiga and the VGA graphics on an old staticy TV. Atari? All of that the old CRT Television is an awesome icon and I don't care that wood-paneled - no remote control - bunny ears TVs are out of the world now, the image and identity of the Television goes to here, to this.
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On today of all days I painted the Senator.

This is my version of Tarot #4 - the Emperor. Sure, sure, the Emperor. You know what? I prefer the imperial system, over the nation state? I say Empire. It's a better, maybe even more robust and correct version of organizing people. More humane. That's my position. Now. I grew up with Star Wars, a little movie you might have seen. The Emperor - he's the bad guy, and Senators are kind of good. Kind of. See this is America. Now I have to get upset and say some political things - for a minute-I just have to. Listen.

So you have representatives, and they're supposed to represent you! It's a whole thing, the Republic. But the thing is - I've noticed that politicians keep deferring to ideologies. Now - I hate ideologies, and by god you should too. You know why the person who represents you wants to talk up ideologies? Because they don't care about you at all, and by talking about pie-in-the-sky notions, they can trick you into thinking that they do. True Fact - if I were the representative for my congressional district - I would hold out, and hold out and hold out and cast tie-breaking, filibuster defeating votes for any bullshit that came across - anything at all - as long as thy would concede that my constituency was granted a $100,000 tax credit. There, job over, represented your interests. Gamed the stupid system and won - for you. Your representatives don't do this -because they do not have your interests at heart - at all. They will tell you some kind of libertarian claptrap about ideals - and that's because they won't do anything for you - at all. Ever. Anger over.

So aside from being kind of angry about politics - today of all days! I painted the Senator. Here's your guide to the iconography. The Emperor is Card 4 in the traditional tarot and it's the Emperor -the universal and maybe sublime father. As I've said - Emperor as a title sits uneasily - what with the nurturing ministrations of star wars. But Father, older, elder, system of governance, the world. Senator is a Roman way of saying 'old man' true fact- the Senex, from the latin for codger. Senators are supposed to be old men who are staid and steady, pillars of the status quo. So - since I like these things: Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood (ya heard!) I went with a democratic symbol of terrestrial dominion and antiquary patriarchy - the Senator. Senators are old men (overwhelmingly) - and they govern, they choose the world you live in. Heck, even if you aren't an american (on today of all days) the old Senate will govern your life in a meaningful way. These are the old guard. I... I'm not trying to make my Senator card a villain. I'm not, just today - it wants to be. I live in Ohio and we haven't had a decent Senator since Glenn returned to the stars. True fact.

So a symbol of terrestrial dominion, masterful excercise over the system of the earth and a patriarch- which, if you value Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood - you don't value or respect all that much - but the Old Guard. The Ancien Regime. The Senator fits the bill.

Now - old timey tarot will put the Emperor as a domnitor, a substitute for the All-Father. Now, this I get. I have a love of the WOTAN of the they Sky Father, the embodiment of childish desiring. Of a want for comfort. I'm a father in fact,and I tell you true- I give some thought to my activities and say: "What would Odin do?" Because Odin plucked out his own eye to see the motherfucking future. You can talk about divine sacrifices, but I am here to tell you that making your hand take out your own motherfucking eye is pretty much the winningest style. So... Okay a door slammed, and I'm... okay I was here. There is a power in the FATHER of all things - and that is something I want to touch and know and care about - not because I want that comfort - but because I want to emulate that strength and goodness. This is lost. There is a lot of talk about the villainy of patriarchy, and I feel - that this talk is fair, it's totally fair. But I also feel that there is a place a vital needful place for the potent, correct and Good Father. So there is that. I abided by convention and gave my Senator a little Col. Sanders Beard. Greying at the temples. And throw in a cane - to complete the iconography.

Or anyway approach completion. I painted the Senator's Cane and kept thinking of Preston Brooks (wikipedia is protesting, google for yourself - unless you're wise). Senators should all have canes, and maybe pistols. There's a strength in the world and in Democracy and maybe the best version of that is the Senator. It's only that when it all goes bad, when it's the worst that it can be -the Senator, the Emperor, the Father - he's the villain, he's Darth Vader, he's the bad-bad-man. Which is a turn. But interesting. First in greatness, least in deficiency. That's my Senator.

I topped it, you know, with the goat-head. Capricorn you know - pretty satanic right? I didn't mean for the excess of Satanism. True story though - I think this is one of the better paintings I've painted. I thought hard about casting the whole thing in the shadow of the Goat-Head- but resolved instead to replace the anthropomorphization of democratic ideals with a terrible goat head. Because it's relevant to the esoteric symbolism - but also Creepy As Hell. So while you contemplate sinister goat-heads - look at this:

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And... Continuing. I am not feeling awesome today - I was saying that I think the daily weather that lately encompasses all of the seasons every 24 hours is a monumental test. The Sky has gotten bored of just freezing us out every year and now we're being tested to see if we can bear the whole world's cycle every day - and if we can we'll deserve a spring. As it is, kinda sick today. Still, I have things to do, so I do them, sickness being a slight inconvenience and no object to the tasks at hand.

Today I get up to the Major Arcana #3 - which in my construction is the Schoolteacher. So here's my explanation.

The Empress is supposed to be universal fecundity, female ripeness, the mother of all. I kind of hate this idea. The whole cult of the mother - as it has been redefined by the Victorians and their followers - it's just grotesque and patriarchal. Don't get me wrong - I think it can come from a right place. I think the paleolithic humans who had no concept that sex was the origin of people - I think that they might have had an authentic cult of the mother. But in the modern context - I think it is gross. Motherhood is fine, but it's not emblematic of nurturing and care - just ask my mother - Or yours (Your Mom). And uh... tasteless jokes aside - I thought about a figure of constancy and nurturing, that brings you into the world. Really into the world. Sure - life. Life we won't denigrate and we won't speak against motherhood here. But who trains you to be in the world? Who gives you that life in society? In the world of thought? I went with the Schoolteacher as an emblem of this idea. That you are born, but not a person, that you are trained into the patterns of the world and that is you becoming a person. Because I want my #3 to be more terrestrial, more rooted in the Mundus. That's suggested by other interpretations - and heck - in the old form the Universal Mother gives physical form to souls - it's the translation of the ephemeral into the physical.

Since I almost default to materialism I put the Schoolteacher as the one who translates you from the physical to the intellectual - the self of knowledge. But this knowledge is kind of rigid - in the way that physicality is rigid. You die if you don't eat, you die if you don't breath - there are boundaries of life. So too in the intellectual training you get at school. You are bounded.

Abandoning the idea of universal motherhood - I was as well allowed to play fast and loose with gender - I guess I went all ambiguous - but to me the Schoolteacher is a lady - but I'm satisfied that it can be interpreted any way you want. She carries the ruler - which demonstrates the rigidity of ideas, an inch a meter -these are concepts that have a physical reality that is arbitrarily decided, but decided, defined and (insofar as is possible) absolute. The Schoolteacher doesn't make the rules, she teaches you the rules so you know. Attendant to the Ruler is the feather of Ma'at - the ancient ruler/measure/weight against which your character is judged. The Schoolteacher - the Schoolteacher judges you. Not whether you are bad or good - not what kind of person you are -but rather whether you are ready to begin the next phase of being a person. Whether you are ready to move forward. She has a lot going on - gatekeeper for the many. Nurturer and trainer of the world.

A couple of other things about the Schoolteacher that I've painted. Rider-Waite gives the Empress an ugly frock covered in Pomegranates (again! Again with the pomegranates!) They are meant to evoke, in his illustration, the goddess Persephone. This is an idea about seasons - which was the first thing to suggest the Schoolteacher to me. Aside from farmers and snow-plow operators I guess that Teachers are probably the most affected by the seasons - so incorporating ideas about seasons suggested the schoolteacher as an image. Still -the ugly pomegranate dress doesn't really refer to anything except mythology - it's just a goony costume that the Empress wears in a kind of fandom of greek myth. So true to form I made my schoolteacher goony and fannish and gave her Mr. Spock's jersey.

And right the Schoolteacher is giving you a system for understanding things. The Schoolteacher prepares you to exist in the world, not to be correct, exactly, but to understand the System, and to take a place in it. Another cue I had for choosing the schoolteacher was the 3rd Hexagram that the Duke of Zhou decided on - Difficulty at the Beginning - which I have sadly cast too often and never been happy to see -but which is also very suggestive of school, a beginning, a difficult one. For me anyway.

The empress is also supposed to be crowned with 12 stars - and that's... 12. Okay - tribes of Israel? Months? The Zodiac? I'm just going to put the stars up there - they probably mean months. But the Schoolteacher isn't wearing a crown. No.

I'm putting in Malkuth in there - because I like the idea - hermetic and kabbalistic - just to have them as referents.

And I include the Rivers - that appear in a few versions of the Empress card because I thought there should be a reference to Water - which the Empress is not closely associated with but there's an indication that the Schoolteacher has governance, or at least manifests the governance of the waters according to System.

So altogether this has been kind of a departure - but I like the 3rd and the difficult beginning as the place where momentum shifts, and the new begins. I learned a lot from teachers -but I learned also to go on my own and not thoughtlessly obey the common system.

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Tarot Girlfriend
That's right! While you slept and watched football and did whatever else it is that people do - I continued painting. Here's my second Tarot image. #2 The Girlfriend. Now this one was a little simpler - there's not a lot of complicated metaphorical imagery in the old version. Evidently in ancient and continental versions of the deck this was the Popette. Lady Popes are sure interesting sure, but who even knows what it would mean that there's a Popette? I'm not catholic or even religious. If the Pope was a lady? It doesn't mean anything to me - he might even be a lady or be smooth down in his genitals - doesn't matter a bit to me, the Pope is the King of a bunch of people that I don't know or deal with too much. Like the King of England or Siam - I never held too much with Kings. Gods either - so the Popess doesn't pop for me, it's untranslatable.

Now - those tatty victorians they took the idea of the Popette and turned it to their purposes - and made her the High Priestess. Priestesses smoke a lot of grass yo. All day long, high as hell. Hah, but I kid. Really the High Priestess is about sexual license. She's a pagan! She's with all those Pomegranates! The Moon! There's gross victorian metaphor all throughout the Rider-Waite that suggests the high priestess is a lady who will do sex with you! Before you are married to her even! So... abandoning the clumsy-ugly suggestions of Victoriana (I'm looking at your creepy ass Brahm Stoker) - you end up with a nice girl, who embodies compassion, kindness, thoughtfulness and the beginning of an adventure - so I make this, in my life, and in the world of today - to mean The Girlfriend.
Tarot Girlfriend detail 2
Hey! Yeah, check her out, but not too close, I'm only just learning how to paint people - this is only the 2nd or 3rd person I've ever painted in fact. Not too shabby. Protip - Couches are way harder to paint than a lady. So here she is. She's got her nice blue dress on, her hair all done up, she's compassionate and thoughtful, she's sitting there saying- "well, hey, if you want to go out we should go out and do something, but if you want to stay here and make out on this couch and eat pomegranates - that's cool baby." Because the Girlfriend Rules. She's up for adventure but nice times too. I kept the pomegranates - not to suggest the lady-genitals (as filthy Rider-Waite does) but because I know a lot of girls that like Pomegranates. She's got that one, she'll share it with you. Or is it a weird-gross intimation on my part that the Girlfriend wants you to do oral on her? Nah - these are current times - if the Girlfriend wants you to do oral to her she will say so. Probably in a nice way. But hey, while you think about it - have a pomegranate.

She's got her pocketbook too (not too hard to paint at all) and sticking out of it is the Opera playbill. Are you at the Opera? Did you go there together? Did you meet there and she just keeps it as a memento? See the old timey Tarot wants the High Priestess to carry a scroll that says TORA on it - but if it comes to magic words - there's one I like best and that's the Alchemist's term for the unity of all arts - OPERA. So there.

On the Pillars it says B&J which I always find to be kind of comical - the High Priestess is stoned as fuck and offers Blowjobs. Nice work Rider-Waite! Nice work. Really the B&J has a masonic/kabalistic element to it - something to do with Solomon's Temple. Fine. I'll keep the B&J but just because it's also a joke - one the Girlfriend laughs at as well. She's pretty cool about stuff.
Tarot girlfriend detail 1
And just check out those Pomegranates will you? Perfect, I know, I can barely contain my constant success and correctness. I started adding in the I-Ching Hexagrams because of how I do what I want. It's interesting that the first hexagram is all boy and the second is all girl - and the first of the Tarot is the idiomatic Masculine and the second is the Hyperreal feminine. Not that either of these or the Hexagrams really reflect my experience of Man/Woman - but making the distinction - as in- that's the obvious and first distinction people make - Mom v. Dad - who is who? Maybe going forward I'll mess around with these roles and stuff - to be true to the times I live in - but for the first two - I'm content with the time-honored baseline. I also wanted to show the ancient symbol being overgrown - as in - it's old and why are you looking at that anyway? You're girlfriend is right there! You guys should go someplace together. Take her someplace nice.

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Tarot Salesman

By now you may have fallen on the wrong side of fate and found out that I can almost paint a picture. Nah, I can totally paint a picture, all the way through. I'm not the worst at painting either! Maybe 5th or 6th worst - but not the worst. I also have a bit more than a passing interest in divination. The contemporary landscape demands that you qualify such interests, so here goes that: Intuition and Induction my friends. You see and hear a whole lot more than you know, and in your dreams you put it all together in novel and inconceivable ways, and from dreams you have inspirations, and from inspirations you have the whole wide world. My point is just that, if I have to justify my interest in magical and esoteric stuff to you - I'm very disinclined to do so* - but if you really want an explanation, I'll tell you that it's correct to train yourself to perceive your circumstances in a metaphorical light, and that you should work constantly to erode the barrier between your dreamlife and your waking world.

So here's a way that I have decided to do that, and to get (maybe slightly) better at painting pictures. I decided that this year a project I would carry out would be making my own Tarot. Starting with the 1 in the first place I commenced today painting the first of the major arcana. Note to you who are weird about these things - and by weird I mean, reverential or easily drawn into the rigor common in religious and esoteric clubs - I Do What I Want and so I start with #1 and skip #0 for the moment - plenty of time to get to the fool.

So there it is #1 the Salesman. Traditionally the #1 has been the Juggler or the Mountebank (if you're french enough) later on the Thelemites swapped the stage magic for the idea of Tony-Robbins style Personal Power and ended up with the Magician. Now what I have seen in the world and what I know about secret societies and religions is this - if you can persuade people that your average street performer is a personally empowered demigod - you've perpetrated a cunning act of salesmanship. One of the best. Salesmanship man. Persuading the rubes that you can heal by faith, that you have the innate power, the voice of god, the magic tablets, the ten commandments - that's the alchemy right there - turning falsehoods and petty ambitions into Reality. Plenty of con-men have drawn followings, and sometimes those followings go on to do amazing things. Like found nations, religions, put people on the moon. That kind of thing. Turning ideas into reality is pretty much magical, so my magician, the magus for the moment is the Salesman.

Tarot Salesman detail
Here's a little guide to the Imagery - if you need it. First off - the yellow background and the flowering plants? Stolen straight out of Rider-Waite - because hey, sure, and also - I am terrible at painting feet/shoes. Next you have the folding table and the laptop. He's got that folding table, standing in the weeds because he can give his pitch anywhere. A good pitch - if you haven't heard one before, is like an incantation, it'll bring you on board, it'll draw you in, it is a kind of power. He can perpetrate his pitch any old time, any old place, standing in the weeds at the old folding table. He has his power point presentation as well- useful for the sales-minded. On his Power-Point? The Hermetic Elements - cause after all, dude is still related to the old guard, Trismegistus and all that. Now, understand, I struggled mightily with settling on the hermetic elements, I thought very hard about switching to the 17 elements in Pokemon - but I don't think I can paint 17 elements in a 3"x3" space - and besides, it's still weird to me that Normal is an elemental type.

Next up you've got him eternally juggling the suits- "the infinity sign is just an 8!" you protest. You know what? it isn't. It's on it's side - why? Because that's the way it goes. Now he's juggling the suits, he can bring one out at any time, the one that'll persuade you most. He's like a politician, he can be patrician and condescending, he can be earthly and common, he can be an erudite true believer. Now, I've changed the old suits to suit me. First off - Cups, kept the same, but it doesn't mean much about Clergy now.

I put in the starbucks cup because honestly, I doubt there's a more recognizable kind of cup, and what's more, I think that the hospitality industry and the daily drugging we all take substitutes well for the medieval church. Well enough anyhow. The cup is also water, it is also compassion, in the way that the barista knows what you want and has it ready for you before you order, because you are a regular and you have attained coffeehouse absolution.

Next up is the 2nd Estate - which in the past was the nobility, represented by the Spade or the Sword. I live in a democracy where power comes from legislators, that is, people who write, so I put a picture of my favorite kind of pen to substitute for the sword. There's that old chestnut about the pen and the sword as well - I just know that the ruling classes rule with a pen and not a sword, and if I subbed in a gun for a sword I'd have to acknowledge soldiers, cops and gun enthusiasts and knights of some kind - which I will never ever do. So the Sharpie Pen.
After that the Pentacles are obviously replaced by Bucks. Maybe eventually and later I'll get into it about gold and fiat currency and dollars and whatever currency isn't dollars. For now Money will substitute for Money - the urban classes, commerce and civilization. All there, all at the Salesman's disposal.

Then? See, you're supposed to put in Clubs, or the Rod - to mean the farmers. This was the hard one for me, but then I reasoned, everything else is something you carry with you, something you have on you that makes you capable of having your day. You need a pen, your coffee, some money, you also need a phone. You can leave your house without keys anymore, but you dare not go out without your phone. The phone, the smartphone - also substitutes nicely as it suggests the content-creator, the people behind the internet, who are a kind of farmer, farmers of ideas? Well, if you believe that I've got a car to sell you! And a bridge you can drive it on.

The Salesman. Learn to emulate his confidence, initiative and personal power, learn to give the pitch, to say things that are compelling, to draw the congregations, to pull in the swing voters.

* Okay, I'll give you this explanation. My friend said 'why would you believe in ghosts!?' All stressed that I might, I said 'Because it makes my life better to believe in them.'


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