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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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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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