These days I’m into testing my limits in the animal kingdom. I’ve acquired a dog, Frigg, a beautiful exemplary of a female Siberian Husky and German Shepherd mix. As she is very smart I make an effort to give all I’ve got in terms of training and educating her, so that we may have a harmonious relationship. Yet, this is the first limit that I encounter, as the reason why I got a dog in the first place is to let it teach me something about harmony, rather than the other way around. So, I keep teaching in spite of myself. This tests my limit number two, which is to deal with having to teach for a living, when, occasionally, I’d much rather do something else.
But Frigg is quick and has a sharp eye. She can sit and stay and come and fetch, in addition to being very loving, attentive, and sensitive – all this at the tender age of 4 months and a half. But today in the woods, and in spite of all her running around to find me among the trees, there was a moment when she became forgetful. She engaged in digging a whole in the ground that was worthy of a gravedigger at the cemetery. In no time at all the hole was big enough for us to throw a whole treasure in it, or something else entirely. We did no such thing. Frigg kept digging and I kept hiding. We had not other agenda where the hole was concerned. As far as training was concerned, I had a very specific aim in mind. To test the limit of Frigg’s awareness. I hid in a bushy spot and waited for her to discover that I was gone. I waited and waited and waited, while the hole got bigger and bigger and bigger. Nothing happened. I started whistling, and calling, and crying out. Nothing helped. The hole was getting deeper, drowning my voice in it. Finally I came out of my hiding, went close to where Frigg could see me, and called again. This time she heard me and looked at me. But still she wouldn’t come. Now she was all black and looked like something frightening from the underworld. But I’m good with voice. I gave her a final shriek, and that did it. She came quickly and apologizing with her eyes for not responding. I put the leash around her neck and we walked out of the fun place in an instant. Frigg knows that I am not to be messed with. Love is love and a command is a command.
Back home I felt a bit remorseful, even though feeling remorseful is never something that I entertain. I like to believe that I make an effort to behave in such a way as to avoid being remorseful all together. It works for me. But, for once, as I was feeling remorseful I decided to ask the newly reconstructed tarot of Jacques Viéville (1650) to tell me what kind of a woman it thought I was. Generally speaking. I got an interesting answer, in part also due to the fact that I have two versions of this Tarot. In light of some of the historical challenges that this intriguing and interesting tarot poses, the card maker, Roxanne Flornoy, decided to market the deck so that it represents some of the issues that scholars are trying to figure out. What Roxanne did is design one version that follows the Marseille tradition, including the numerical ordering of the trumps, and another that is slightly at odds with the Marseille, both in terms of numbers, and also in terms of movement of the characters. These cards are done ‘inverted’, as it were, as a mirror image of the Marseille images. Now, for my question I used the ‘non-Marseille’ version.
Here’s what I got: THE STAR, THE FOOL, THE DEVIL.
Oh, jolly good, I said to myself. Here’s is a wise astrologer, the man with a compass in his hand, measuring and mapping time, and waiting to deal with the fools and the devils of the earth. In this narrative I identify with the astrologer and I pretend that the other two are not potential aspects of myself. If, however, I saw myself as a woman in control, but who, for some reason, decides to allow the devil to chase her and her dog, then I would have to narrate a different story about what kind of a woman I am. Perhaps one in cohort with the Green Man, who carries on his belly the astrologer’s face, a face embodied by the Fool’s dog. For all we know, the astrologer may be hiding under the green mask of the dog. And what does he want? Just to hang on to the Fool’s pants, or nag him about the passing of time, or tell him something about the Canes Venatici galaxy? The Fool has no sense of time. Nor possessions. He carries his as a tamed dragon; His wand passively awaiting activation. The Fool is his own universe. Not even the Devil has any chance in the Fool’s world. So what kind of a woman am I in this context? Clearly one who likes having the occult sciences come to her passionately in the guise of something less orderly and less patterned, like the idea that disciplining the dog must first pass through hell before it gets heavenly.
But now to more narrative. Just out of curiosity I pulled the same cards from Viéville, the Marseille pattern, and as inverted.
Oh, my. I didn’t like much what I saw here. In this rendition, the astrologer has no wisdom to pass on, being involved in his own past. The compass looks more like a scissors in his hand. He may wish to cut some old bonds with it, but he gets too distracted by the confetti in the sky. The Fool, in spite of warnings from his dog, misses the message – whatever message – and walks straight into a resolute Devil who is intent on burning all that comes his way without making any selection. The Fool loses his ears and becomes a Devil without an agenda. The worst kind. More can be said about this.
Meanwhile, so it goes with asking picture cards a question. They will tell you all sorts. Including what to think of your dog: As the faithful animal, who, trained or not, will just follow you, from hell to heaven, and back again. Frigg, thank you for the lesson. And Roxanne, thank you for the Viéville.
Note on the deck: Tarot de Jacques Viéville (1650) as reconstructed by Roxanne Flornoy.
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