Offense, excitement, and a reading about impotence

As a test, psychotherapists and spiritual teachers alike prefer to ask this question: ‘how often are you offended?’ People’s answers disclose something about their emotional barometer. The less one takes offense, the more balanced one is. This is a good test, but I have to admit that I haven’t encountered anyone who provided a counter question to the question of offense, one that I think would be a good idea to ask: ‘how often are you excited?’ The answer to that question also reveals something about the emotional state of a person, and can, in places, be even more efficient.

While we can agree that taking offense faster than we blink may be a bad idea, being excited about everything is actually worse. Being excited without discrimination is not a sign of being lively or full of optimism. It’s a sign of poor judgment. In fact, the more excited a person is when there’s hardly any cause for this excitement, the likelier it is for this person to also take offense very fast.

A quick trick with the cards would be to ask about what triggers which tendency and then compare. For instance you can pose these questions and then read a 3-card string for each:

What do I tend to be offended about without thinking of the extent to which there is a justification for this emotion?

What do I tend to get excited about without thinking of the extent to which there is a justification for this emotion?

We ask for a justification here because without its presence we may as well dismiss both the offense and the excitement on account of their being overreactions, rather than a proper response to a situation. Try this practice and see what you get.

The more interesting point I want to make, however, is the point about responding with an emotion to a situation, yet without letting that emotion come in the way of how the situation unfolds. In other words, do we give the situation enough space so we can see what it is made of, or do we invade it already with an emotion without actually knowing where the boundaries are?

In my work with the cards I prefer to think of the more interesting questions that underlie what we already know. For instance, we all know that emotions exist, but are they real? See, this particular question was already successfully asked and answered by the sages of the world. For an example, I like to point to the fun discussion about the reality of emotions that the Dalai Lama and the actor Richard Gere once had. I wrote about this in an essay on Patheos that you’re welcome to read.

In the context of offense and excitement that is not about the current Johnny vs Amber drama that I also made a passing remark about, let me refer to a recent reading I performed that featured both emotions on my table.

The impotent case

A middle aged man was concerned about his health, more specifically his vitality. The three cards on my table, the Hermit, the Magician, and the Charioteer, gave me an opportunity to say the following:

‘You’re impotent now, but you can rise again through a simple trick.’

At first the man took offense. He didn’t want to hear his problem being spelt out quite like that. I could read his expectation on his face. He wanted me to be more diplomatic and consider his feelings. But what I did instead was to terminate this non-verbalized expectation by pointing to the fact that being diplomatic about emotions doesn’t interest me. What interests me is what I see in the cards. Which in his case was good news. He was excited about it. In fact so excited that he managed to shift his response from feeling a ‘real’ emotion about the whole misery to one of hope. He put his first emotional response aside, because he also saw that I wasn’t going to waste my time with feelings of either shame or embarrassment. He was now ready for the trick. What was he supposed to do?

I pulled another card to see what the Hermit was looking at. The World. ‘Do you see this woman?’ I asked the man. ‘Look at her. Consider how you felt once, when you looked at her as if through the lens of a camera.’

The man took offense again. Such an impractical trick, he thought, given that this was a past flame and he had no possibility of connecting with this woman. Didn’t I have anything about the current situation? I said, ‘this is the current situation. Whoever you’re with now is not even represented in the cards, so another woman is not the answer here, but if you want to feel young again, full of drive and enchanting power, then you must activate your memories.’ I then pointed to how all the three male characters here are looking towards the past, so I figured that my suggestion would make sense, taking the visual cues into consideration. The man took a minute to think about it, and then got excited again. He could see the point of this discussion, especially in light of the fact that no woman of the present could make him feel the way the woman in his past did.

We ended the session on that note. We went from offense to excitement. But the beauty of the session was this: without telling the man to relax about both taking offense and being overly excited, he managed to detach from both emotions. He was willing to consider the power of memory and how visualizing his past love was going to do it for him, physically speaking, once more. As far I was concerned, I was glad that I had no emotions of my own invested in this work. For what would be the point of that?

If you’re curious about this kind of approach to emotions through the cards, you have a chance to learn more. Tarot and Emotions is a 4-week online course at Aradia Academy starting this Sunday. Hop on board.

The fortuneteller as a grey eminence

If the fortuneteller is not a grand, grey eminence, what is she? What exactly is her function? I like to think of myself as a grey eminence, a title reserved to the masters who are past the age of illusion. Often people come to the cards for empowerments that, sadly, also equally often consist of plain flattery in the form of false validation. But when someone comes to me and says, ‘fuck, I think my whole spirit just died,’ the only thing I can offer that’s genuine is this question, ‘what spirit?’ – echoing my favorite Zen masters plus Nisargadatta.

Apart from what the cards have to say, I never tell anyone that they are some marvellous such and such geniuses, nor that they are unfortunate victims of circumstance, people with whom I then sincerely sympathize. I just ask the people who come to me for empowerment to think about the notions of identity, spirit, and self, and other bogus ideas such as ‘follow your heart’ – when the conditions for it are not even there – or ‘perform only what gives you joy’ – when the knowledge of what that might look like is lacking.

If there’s an empowerment, then it consists of this: prepare yourself to die. Properly. Question your fears and desires. Are you a slave to them? Why? Because they are a source of thrill and enjoyment? I like what answer we get here from the cards, not just the hard cards, such as the spades in a pack, but the other suits too. They are not there to give us what we want to hear. They are there to remind us of what divination is actually all about, namely hearing uncomfortable truths.

Jakob Holmblad’s Samlede Værker, 1700s, in my collection

Even the Queen of Hearts must heed attention to what is essential. A community of vulnerable people crying is only as good as its beliefs. But are these beliefs going anywhere? Not if you ask the grey eminences around who have forsaken all beliefs. There’s belief, and then there’s the singular work of what direction to give the sincere dropping of all pretense.

This month Aradia Academy has kicked off the teaching season to great satisfaction, mine and that of the students who let me know that this is the case. Today I’ve made a teaching plan for the whole year, and some, while thinking about how I might transmit precisely the function of the fortuneteller as the grey eminence that she ought to embody.

Since it’s Saturday, let’s celebrate Saturn, a grey eminence we can’t mess with: Hail the reign of Saturn! Do we master what we do, or are we just playing around, fooling with the cards? I take the first. This year’s course plan will be announced on Tuesday. Stay tuned via Aradia Academy’s newsletter, and keep going.

Losing the plot: A 3-card challenge

Reading cards for insight into relationships in love, at work, with money, or the body, is a classic, but I’ll say that there’s at least one other equally pressing topic worth considering that’s related to the situation of having lost the plot. The feeling of having lost it is not quite the same as having lost control. Rather, it is more about having lost the sense of scope and direction. For instance, you can easily experience the following: you ditched the job you hated for one that gives you joy, and suddenly you realize that, in spite of the joy, you lost your direction.

What do you do? You cast three cards on the table and get an answer. All cool. But when the state of mind doesn’t support a straightforward answer, you can experience the inverse of the situation when, instead of the cards mirroring clarity, or at least showing you an exciting alternative to your predicament, you see them speak of three different scenarios. Of course, here I’m talking about reading the cards for yourself, a situation that can bear the risk of ruining everything, in case you made a decision based on ambiguity.

In addition to this, there’s also the situation when you pose the question about your feeling of having lost it, and the cards give you all the images that go contrary to that. I once did this and got the following: Force, the Emperor, and the Pope.

WTF, I thought, none of these cards mirror my feeling, so what’s going on? As a diviner, one is accustomed to have at least some of the cards on the table validate the context of the question, which is when you know you’re in business, as it were, with these cards showing what you already know is the case and leaving the others on the table as ‘active agents’ towards resolving the issue. But when the cards corroborate nothing, then what?

I was like, ‘I lost the plot in this situation,’ and the cards went, ‘no, you didn’t. Your moral spine is strong (Force mirroring the Pope), and you most definitely are in control of what the said moral spine is doing (Emperor). Now imagine my feeling about this picture. Was I disappointed? – ‘oh, but I thought I lost it, give me something to work with’ – or elated? – ‘yay, I still got it.’ If I went with the first, wouldn’t that be a manifestation of insecurity and doubt? If I went with the latter, wouldn’t that be a manifestation of the superficial, of taking the lazy approach to what I’m already suspecting is actually the case? When am I more right, in the first response or in the latter? Or are both suggestions valid? What would I think without the cards?

Let’s just say that, in spite of the context and the question providing half of the answer in any divination session, when what we say always relates back to the context of the question – there are instances when the cards’ level of ambiguity cannot be resolved by either context or the way in which the question is formulated. What do we do in this situation? What do we do when we have to address the issue of others losing their plot?

I’m always exploring this, and now together with others in the upcoming course on the 3-card challenge, a course that gives us the opportunity to look at the situation when the cards undermine what is presupposed. Hop on board if you want to challenge your challenges.

If you want to see more interesting examples of a 3-card challenge, currently I’m posting a few on my Instagram account. Others are shared in my newsletter issued by Aradia Academy, especially when a new course is launched. Stay in the loop.

The 3-Card Challenge course in training reading the 3-card draw with the Marseille Tarot starts on April 10. Registration closes on April 9.

Things and ideas on a plate

I actually like Black Friday. Those who can’t afford ‘the thing,’ can now enjoy it at considerable discounts. I thought about the ones who put effort into making ‘the thing.’ I felt grateful for their valiant attitude. One takes responsibility for how a thing measures up against standards in a different way than one does when one merely sells ideas. I know this because I’m engaged in both the world of making things and the world of inspiring through ideas. Making things with your own hands requires a spine that the head full of ideas doesn’t have.

As Thanksgiving has been upon the many friends and acquittances I have in the US, I participated in both watching people express gratitude and making a few generous offers myself across the board and in various forms. For instance, I bought books on Black Friday – again – and sent people to a freshly restocked Read Like the Devil shop. I had red howlings and silver halides on the menu in addition to other quirky things.

Regarding gratitude, here’s what I think, quite contrary to the popular opinion. You don’t need lessons in gratitude. What you need is remembrance. Remembrance of how to appreciate the world of things and the world of the people invested in making the things that you either need or desire. What you don’t need is a world of ideas instructing you in how you can show gratitude by buying self-validating thoughts. Talk is cheap. Cheaper than the whole concept of Black Friday itself.

Today is Saturday. I played with the unique Carolus Zoya deck that I received as an act of gratitude for my work with the cards. I remembered to appreciate the maker. In my mind I thanked everyone who has ever bought both the first book that showcased this deck, Marseille Tarot: Towards the Art of Reading, and the latest that displays this deck in a different form, Tarot for Romeo and Juliet, now also out as paperback.

I also remembered to thank all those who got my own decks inspired by the Carolus Zoya cards, the Arcades Tarot and the non-commercially distributed Tarot Interdit that only a handful of people got. Generally I thanked everyone who got my things and my ideas alike.

Prompted by how much I invest in making things and coming up with ideas, I looked at my cards to get a sense of priority. I live off ideas, but I also like to make things. Sometimes I run out of time, and I can’t dedicate myself to both as much as I’d like. Ever so apt, the Carolus Zoya originals gave me this set of pictures:

And suggested the following: ‘rely on the love and affection of the men of love in your life. They like your work. You’re both the woman who makes things and the woman who has ideas. At the top, however, is the slot machine. In goes a coin and out comes the materia that you can use to give form.’

Temperance in the wings says: ‘keep making things and the ideas about what form to give them in balance.’

Yes, Sir, Carolus Zoya. You may be old, but you’re still as fresh as the most handsome seducer.

Before I forget, here’s the latest book featuring these cards, both the fine edition and the paperback. Enjoy!

Stay in the loop on cartomantic activities at Aradia Academy. For an artful approach to talismanic magic, visit on occasion the shop that connects my reading consultancy, the world of ideas, with making things.

Please, stop

I found myself pleading this week. As I was browsing several virtual book fairs dedicated to fine art and letter press books, I quietly intoned: ‘please, stop torturing me… I don’t have 5 or 35000 dollars for this one.’ The life of the bibliophile can be hard, as there’s always the extremes that make it so. Some books are too damn fine. Others, although presented as such, can also make me plead, ‘please stop. Excellent binding. Very bad art… Please, don’t waste my money and my time with it.’

I experience the latter pleading especially when I dive into occult literature. While I love it that occultists have an eye for the materiality of the book, and thus make an effort to present it as best as they can, the contents don’t always match the fine binding or elaborate typography.

As a general rule, it’s not easy to pull off an occult book of value, because the genre itself presents a challenge. As most occult writing is based on an individual’s personal gnosis and praxis, I must admit that I hardly ever find it fascinating to hear about a practitioner’s relationship with Saturn, and just how it went with his visualization of the Lord of Death, while conjuring the image of a tight coffin. I mean, sure, fine by me. But, so what? Is this thing going anywhere? No, because it’s personal…

I also have a problem with the so-called channelled art, and I’m pretty sure that the ‘High Ones’ out there are already pissed off with my objections. When I come across books that reference this or that hermetic or magical order’s ‘secret’ manuscripts, all channeled material, I want to scream: ‘That’s it, High Ones? Is this all you can do for us, mortals? Present us with lame art of no significance?’ I guess I’m not very nice in my judgments.

Now, granted, if you check your history books, you’ll learn that most occult material has never been intended for public view, as it’s ‘occult’ for a reason. So the art is not really art and the thought that goes into it is not really a thought either. Thus, as far as I’m concerned, most occult material should stay hidden from plain view, so that we may all be spared the lamentation: ‘please, stop. I don’t want to see this…’

But publishers insist. ‘Isn’t it fascinating to read Aleister Crowley’s occult, bad poetry?’ It isn’t, if you ask me. Then the fancy production. Publishers give the personal gnosis a nice cover, and hope that we can all suspend our discernment, going for the book as a fetish instead. I fall for this trick, but only so many times…

Tarot for Romeo and Juliet

As I was mailing a copy of my own fine edition book, Tarot for Romeo and Juliet, to famed tarotist Rachel Pollack, we had a brief exchange about the lack of fine bindings in the Tarot world. There’s no shortage of those in the occult world. Tarot collectors collect cards, not fine bindings, and this was a point of lamentation. Rachel mentioned her contribution to the book accompanying the Tarot of Lenonora Carrington by Fulgur Press. In addition to their standard edition, they also issued a fine edition that sold out quickly. So that was good.

Then there’s Scarlet Imprint’s book, The Game of Saturn, by Peter Mark Adams, referencing the Sola Busca Tarot. I gave a longer review of this book when it came out, mentioning its looks too. A fine thing indeed. In terms of content, however, although it’s announced in the title that the book is about decoding the Sola Busca Tarot, in actuality The Game of Saturn is not about Tarot, but rather, about the conjectured sinister occult practices of elite families in Venice and Ferrara. The cards are used to hypothesize about these practices. Still. A fine book.

And that’s about it. Where are the others? Where are the good looking books that are not just the ‘little white books’ accompanying a deck of cards, now a concept that most in the Tarot world have started to revolt against? There’s good writing about the Tarot out there, but often the packaging doesn’t match the content.

As a way to shut myself up about it, I looked today at a gift that just dropped into my mail box, a gift that actually prompted these thoughts. Cartomancy student and artist Merete Veian sent me back my own book, The Arcades Tarot: Haiku Poems. Why would she do that after a year of keeping it, I thought to myself, until I opened it. To my astonishment it looked like Merete illustrated the whole thing, making excellent use of the ample negative space around each of the poems. A most astonishing feat to the eyes. This was good art I was looking at. Just like that, my poetry book got elevated to an art book. I liked that.

Then I glanced at another book, an art book that Merete did as a graduating project in my Cards and Zen program, Nonreading. I thought about the art books I had been looking at this whole week, books that I couldn’t even begin to get close to – though I tried my best to support the artists. My heart was filled with joy. I have such things in my house, unique takes on art as art relates to cartomancy in general and the Tarot in more specific terms. Merete’s book is a most ingenious concoction, worthy of the ‘special collection’ category in reputable museums. She did everything herself, the binding, the paper (hand dyed), and the writing…

Next to Merete’s book on my shelf of fine bindings and art books is also Carissa Krueger’s graduation project. The 22 major arcana explained. In hand writing and collage art. The quality of thought that goes into this book exceeds most of what I’ve seen in the occult world. This is not the regular grimoire recipe book that goes in steps, or in trite descriptions of method and analysis, ‘first you do this, and then you do that, and when you’re done channeling Beelzebub, think of how transformed you are, and therefore a much better person than before…’ A good book that reflects on the Tarot will do more than describing or heralding unsubstantiated claims.

I’m waiting for more good looking books to happen, whose content lives up to what the covers promise. I’m waiting for more publishers and editors to demonstrate discernment, choose authors who actually enjoy writing, rather than the name writing gives them. I’m waiting for good art to happen. I’m waiting for discerning readers to demand beauty of thought and powerful talismans from the books that they read. Words are magic. Let us try to fuck them up a little less, think about just what kind of celebration that goes into the creation of a book.

In the words of Lucille Clifton: ‘People wish to be poets more than they wish to write poetry, and that’s a mistake. One should wish to celebrate more than one wishes to be celebrated.’

We use cards and books as a gateway to the extended field of the imagination. Why limit ourselves to what is merely commercially viable, to what sells, with the selling point fashioned in prejudice and assumption, as in, ‘this is what people want?’

No.

What people want is not cheap and ephemeral validation and confirmation of their identities. People want an author and an artist’s lust for life. I’m invested in this desire myself. I buy the books and cards of authors and artists, if I can clearly see that their lust comes across. If that’s not present, then I activate my lamentation magic phrase and act in accordance: ‘Please stop. Don’t waste my time…’

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Stay in the loop for new books and cartomantic activities.

Erotic Dreams

How do we dream of another? Part of my job as a diviner is to read the cards for dreams. People tell me what they dream about, and I elucidate their dreams with the imagery from the cards. I thus create a palimpsest, or put a layer of new images on top of the dream’s already existing symbolic world.

On occasion, however, I get to read for the dreams of a third party. ‘How does he dream of me?’ women sometimes ask hoping to get an idea as to how they perform in their lovers’ dreams. Men ask that too. Usually the reason for the desire to know is coupled with loss. When the idea of togetherness is fraught, we want to know how we appear in our lovers’ dreams.

I said recently, while looking at the Knight of Coins, 2 Batons, and the Ace of Swords: ‘In his dreams, your lover seeks you out, but he is barred from penetration.’ ‘At least there’s that,’ the woman said, looking intently at the penetrating sword.

In my latest book about to be launched in a few hours, Tarot for Romeo and Juliet: Reflections on Relationships, I talk about the importance of knowing the heart of another. Reading the heart of another is one of the most intimate acts, and as such, it makes a great impact on the way in which we understand the world in terms that are not shallow.

The new book is a book about how we read passions, reading passions being the very core of divination, but what I also explore most ardently is how and why we fail at relationships. Although I ask tough questions, I also write about love, as if love was ‘the thing itself,’ the vehicle that gets us transposed to a universe where we only exist because the other exists. In other words, a world of beauty and infinite potential.

Borrowing Shakespeare’s passionate lovers, Romeo and Juliet, I weave a personal story of love and loss through encounters with the Tarot. At the cartomancy table we also encounter Werner Herzog’s films, Klaus Kinski’s acting, Formula One driver Ayrton Senna, and professors of Psychology, Renaissance, and Religious Studies. Juliet drives a sports car without crashing and Romeo commits harakiri, Japanese style, while reading books such as Thinking with Demons.

I’m excited to release my 15th book in the philosophy and practice of divination category when EyeCorner Press also celebrates 15 years of operation. For this reason Tarot for Romeo and Juliet got an extra touch, appearing in the form of fine binding, dressed in silk and gold, and speaking in a voice that hits the heart and the gut.

This edition is limited to only 193 copies. Go for it. Go for the marvelous and enjoy the wisdom of knowing the heart of man. It’s as good as an erotic dream.

Dark duel: Algorab conjunct the Moon against some fancy gossipers

The day of reckoning has come.

Dark stars and the dark moon conjoin the force of ravens and of crows under the signature of double blinks. Algorab makes its pronouncements:

‘Today we’ll cook some souls with the poetry of darkness.’

‘We find some liars, gossipers, and hypocrites and take them out of circulation.’

‘Bring me burdock. Adorn yourself with onyx, and don the longest black dress that you have.’

My seething silence matches the command.

The voice of cowards fills my frontal vision, their public proclamations resounding loudly in my ears: ‘We have so much to share, but not in public,’ the cowards herald in public, asking for DMs and PMs and other ‘friendly’ chats. Gossipers and rumor-makers know their devotion to the cheap trick of seduction by suggestion: ‘Oh, we know so much about such and such.’ The masses flock to them, being devoted to the truth that only gossipers can grasp. Liars know exactly as much as they invent, their pitcher going to the waters all by itself. But only so many times before its pride is broken, shattered to pieces by the meanest rays of a malefic sun. The Romanian proverb says. According to the astronomical odds of magical elections. As in, today is the day. Of reckoning.

The man in black, the other name that Algorab prefers, is ready for some pecking and some pluck. My ink as black as that of a cauldron drips on paper that’s sealed with thorns, looking for the words: ‘thy will be done.’

The postman rings the bell, another magic rattle. A package is delivered from ‘Yes Chef’ supporting the black magic on my table. Black dishes in the shape of the dark moon are brought to me, courtesy of the descendants of warriors. The Samurai of Edo at my command: ‘Yes Chef. Thy will be done.’

I stuff myself with watermelon. I spit out the black seeds as if they were Cornelius Agrippa’s enemies in the shape of the malice of men, devils, and winds. I think of nothing except poetry and the sound the crows make after they’ve feasted on the ones they were after.

The words of magic for revenge are ‘after you.’

This text is part of a forthcoming collection of poems, After You, on the poetics of magic and the everyday encounter with the extraordinary.

For cartomantic activities, stay in the loop at Aradia Academy. For more writing of this sort, visit EyeCorner Press.

This is how magic works

Yesterday EyeCorner Press and translator Oscar Díaz del Valle mutually agreed on the terms for the translation of my book, Marseille Tarot: Towards the Art of Reading, first published in 2014. This introduction to the Marseille Tarot is special to me, not only because it became a much beloved book by many, but also because it triggered more subsequent writings on cartomancy, culminating recently with the Read like the Devil trilogy of books dedicated to the practical aspect of reading the Marseille Tarot, the Lenormand Oracle, and Playing Cards. So, to get this work translated into Spanish after many requests from the Spanish speaking fans, placed me in a happy moment. And then it only got better, because magic was afoot.

The very second that the contract with the proper signatures in place reached me via the email, I was on poetry twitter on my phone. I put the phone aside to acknowledge the email, and then returned to twitter. The first post I laid my eyes on featured a picture of a dedicatory poem that Robert Kelly wrote in honor of Saint Jerome, or Hieronymus, the patron saint of translators on his day.

Via Twitter

Obviously both Oscar and I are doing the right thing here, Justice style. While agreeing on the translation and signing the contract, neither of us were aware of the thing called, The International Day of Translators, when both saints and sinners are celebrated for their ability to move words around, and give them new homes. And yet, as we contributed to this day in our own way, Saint Jerome was also making sure that the two of us, ignorant people, understood what grand magic this is already.

So, Spanish speaking folks. Stay tuned. This translation is happening in auspicious time. May the magic of this find you all in good health and wealth.

Dark occultism in the age of misinformation

These days I’ve been writing missives, both in my recent Aradia Academy newsletter and on Patheos, pertaining to my upcoming course in Cartomancy and Necromancy, and I thought about the general attitude people have towards the practice of necromancy, or divination from an exhumed corpse often coupled with sorcery and the conjuration of spirits. They call this ‘dark occultism,’ ‘the worst of woo’ or ‘delusional.’

To be honest, I never quite get what people are talking about when they refer to this practice as ‘dark’ – also in the sense of being practiced by the ones who are presumed ‘thick’ in their heads, that is to say, devoid of the capacity to reason and reflect. Given that we live through comparisons, as soon as I compare necromancy with the social media, I get illuminated. Guess what is darkest. Necromancy or the uninformed opinions we get bombarded by on a daily basis about everything? All ‘worthy messages’ – messages from the beyond, if you ask me, that is to say, beyond all common sense and plain rationality.

We live in the age of complaining, criticizing, contradicting, comparing, controlling, and creating conflicts. We talk about compassion, caring, consolation, and courtesy, but when it comes down to practice, these latter virtues get trumped by the vices listed here first. Mingle compassion with comparison, and you’re already feeding a darker demon than the one that possesses your dead father. As the voices of virtues and vices get mingled in a cacophony of indistinguishable babble, we get to stare at a much darker occultism than the one associated with talking with the dead.

In my work with cartomancy, the primary focus has always been an investigation into how we can get past our limiting imagination. I operate with an imaginal world, and if I decide that a string of cards represents the voice of the dead, then it is so, as this world is subject to both, my strategy of enlarging my field of vision and imagination, and my reflecting on just what the purpose of going beyond limits with poetic images is.

The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein formulated a famed axiom that falls under the category of linguistic relativism. He said in Tractatus Philosophicus that ‘the limits of my language mean the limits of my world.’ If you think about it, you’ll note that you’re left with no negotiating power. What Wittgenstein says is actually so. So we’re in the presence of the obvious that cannot be refuted.

This axiom has implications for how we think of our language. We assume that our imagination is limitless, but when we pay attention to the demons of misinformation everywhere, we begin to realize that the premise for so much misinformation around us is due to the fact that those who spread it have a very limited vocabulary, and hence live in a very limited world of the imagination. This, however, is presented as original and as steeped in the limitless. There is simply no end to what the anti-vaxxers imagine about the world of science, nor is there any limit to what some Americans believe Trump is still capable of. Meanwhile, the same type of people want to ask you: ‘you’re not invested in any dark occultism, are you?’ The only appropriate answer is, of course, to say that you’re very much invested in the darkest occultism that has ever existed, and that it is all good, as it makes you see the obvious.

Some take this position as impertinence, but what is more impertinent than some indignations? Even as I sit down to write these words, a former university colleague and literature professor asked me in public, in connection with my essay on calling on a dead art collector to impart his words with me beyond the grave: ‘Camelia, are you joking? You cannot speak to the dead. They’re DEAD!’ (her emphasis). I elected to say this to her, although I might have said many other things: ‘the dead are as real as the fictional characters we read about in novels, whose voice inspires us and motivates us. I tend to listen to such voices.’

I put down some cards for my claims.

I see myself justified in impaling some worldviews, go after the fools, and get my own course rolling. There’s just the temperate virtue in that.

Hop on board for some dark occultism, and be better informed.

Cars and Cartomancy

‘The wall moved.’ ‘No, it didn’t.’ ‘Yes, it did, a few millimeters, and it was in my way. That’s why I crashed.’ This is Ayrton Senna talking, explaining why he couldn’t finish a car race in Dallas when he had all the odds with him. As reported by race engineer, Pat Symonds, someone had hit the far end of the concrete block resulting in the track swivelling, so that the leading edge of the block was standing out by a few millimeters. That was enough to make the difference. How could Senna see that? Sense that?

I like this story so much about Ayrton Senna, the legendary Brazilian Formula One driver and god of precision, because it made me understand why, when he died in 1994, the Japanese cried the hardest. This in spite of the fact that Senna at that point was no longer associated with the Japanese, racing for Honda.

Although no one has ever wondered about it, I like to think of a reason. As the Japanese are invested in the concept of kokoro, or the things done with the heart from a standpoint of no compromise, of a death resolve, I like to see how this kokoro crosses national borders, making everyone a samurai, that is to say, if they are able to display it. Senna could. He was just like the most famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, who understood timing and precision in the context of death. You draw the sword too early, you’re dead. You break too early, you’re dead. You lose the competition. You break too late, you’re also dead. You lose your life. There’s a lot of mastery that goes into knowing the difference. The masters who possess such knowledge also raise this difference to the status of art. This means that they get inscribed into my book of conjurations. I call on their dead souls and ask them to teach me how I can risk being blown off course, yet without losing it.

As it happens, I’m not into cars and Formula One drivers, except for the fact that I got a taste for it when, in the early ’80s, I watched the French film Un homme et une femme by Claude Leloush (1966), featuring the love story between a car racer who lost his wife to suicide and a widow who lost her husband to an accident. But as I drove through town and the quiet Danish landscape yesterday, I had Senna on my mind. When I get behind the wheel I call on him, as I’m always curious to know how he’d compete when there’s no competition around, for I’m sure he’d find something to race against.

I pay for this privilege: I smoke a pipe and eat Brazilian chocolate. I dedicate the hedonism to Senna. I also read the cards. As Senna was an inveterate Catholic who regularly performed bibliomantic seances by reading verses from the Bible at random that he would then take as the oracular voice of the divine guiding him through the day, I think that he would approve of the Devil’s work here, the name cartomancy happens to go by.

To keep it with the martial arts kokoro, today I offered Senna my Mars pipe, a sweeter chocolate than I personally prefer, and the Sergio Toppi Tarot in the form of a haiku. He got these cards: Justice, the Devil, and Force.

As this reading was a way to thank him for all he did, and also for accompanying me on my own car trips, giving me instruction even as I have to suffer through plodding along at the lowest speed behind some geriatric – myself joining that club soon enough – I saw these cards as a representation of what he was like: a man of justice and a daredevil of great caliber. In the form of a haiku, however, here’s what I see:

When the time is right

The hot Devil rides once more

Helmet of ardor

I like Senna because he operated with simple truths. He knew what his own justice was. His triumvirate was made up by determination, dedication, and competence. Justice here is the woman of method. Competence stems from methodical awareness and self-reflection. Force has the helmet of overcoming obstacles on. The Devil says, ‘if you want it badly enough, then resolve to go for it. Go all in and give it your all without compromise.’

I can’t think of better cards for Senna. The Chariot in the Tarot, the car, didn’t present itself on my table, as one might have expected. But then I wasn’t surprised, as he was done with that. What we got here instead is the exactitude of ‘neither too much, nor too little, but precisely as much as it’s necessary.’ There’s no space for the unnecessary millimeters that push our walls off track and chance. We can’t afford to crash because of it.

I don’t drive the car very often, but I think I might take my kokoro for a spin again tomorrow, commune with Senna again and hear what else he has to say.

Stay tuned for cartomancy courses at Aradia Academy.