I’ve just received a new and fascinating tarot. Tarot Dérive is created by Charles Webb, filmmaker, writer, and sorcerer in many traditions, going from Tao to Hoodoo, and some others in between.
The general idea in this deck is the notion of the ‘swerve’, or the notion of derailing the received teachings throughout the ages as to what the tarot is and what it isn’t. I embrace this swerve, and I heartily thank Charles for his gift.
READ THE DAMN CARDS
While I myself draw on classical cartomancy in my own reading practice of the cards, there’s really nothing that annoys me more than claims to authenticity, what is traditional and what is not in a particular reading approach, and what we should do but we don’t because we supposedly have no respect for earlier generations of readers.
Here on Taroflexions you will catch me making corrective statements about why we should drop all pretense, and instead just read the damn cards.
These days however, as I find that I’m more passionate about the cards and less passionate about fixing troubles in the cartomantic community at large, whose pendulum also swings according to whims, I follow my own iconoclastic lead and enjoy it very much when I see that others follow theirs too.
BREAK THAT IMAGE
What informs this deck is in fact this very ‘breaking of the image’ force. What we have here is a change in the number of trumps, 28 as against the traditional 22, change in names, The Magician is the Sorcerer, change in gender, the Pope looks like a woman, change in the celestial cards, the Sun, the Moon, and the Star are now one card, and so on.
As I’m interested primarily in reading images rather than other people’s words to describe images, I find this deck very exciting in its repositioning of symbol, culture, icon, and territory. This deck maps its own landscape against the background of the situationist technique of composition.
But let’s get to an example of reading these cards in the context of a question. As Charles mentions my reading techniques in the little booklet accompanying the deck – and don’t worry, he offers no set meanings for anything – I was curious to hear how this deck positions my contribution to the Tarot world, especially since I make no effort at all to make an impact or build an empire.
As I said, I just read the cards. If I teach cartomancy right now, it’s because I was kindly asked to do so by people in the community who are hungry for coherent and unapologetic readings. I’m very grateful for it, as I like sharing what I know.
So, in a way, I’m doing public service in spite of myself, in which case I often like to check with myself: ‘How is your serving today?’, I often ask myself, and I find that the cards often amuse me and surprise me. Yes, I will do anything for a good game.
Here’s what I got:
The Sorcerer, Justice, and the Pope.
I have to admit that as soon as I saw these cards, I felt like creating check boxes for each, True or False, since what I got here are all traditional cards. None of the new additions to the deck. I wonder how my reading would have been colored by the card called ‘Maybe’.
Do I ‘magic’ the cards? True.
Do I make distinctions? True.
Do I teach? True.
Well, that settles it.
I like the Sorcerer card here with a looming Saturn over what looks like Ouroboros over the Sorcerer’s head, a hook. I’m now tempted to swerve again, from the hook to the . . . but I leave it to you to imagine what I have in mind.
Justice is a pillar thing, a balance and a stag head. This image rather looks like a Druid to me, all dressed up and ready to officiate a mass. Or else it’s the good Samaritan, bringing her buckets to the well, saying: ‘Here drink this, I see you’re thirsty.’ It’s funny how such direct gestures are always devoid of judgment. That’s Justice, all right. All neutral and devoid of self-interest. If you’re not of a nondual orientation, you can’t impart any justice. That’s what this Justice says to me, as she’s wiggling her horns, mirroring her chalices, and the spirals in her dress.
The Pope is a worldly woman. Full of perfume. I’m sure I’ve seen that image before. Wasn’t that punk fashion queen, Vivienne Westwood designing for Sex Pistols, who released a bottle of sacred incense at some point? I think it was. This Pope is Venus incarnate.
Well, it goes to show.
But where was I? I think I got lost in some details. What was the question? Ah, yeah, my contribution to the Tarot world. Well, why do I even want to know that? That is simply too funny, because you see, right now I think I’m going to go online and get myself some perfume, some real horns, and some hooks. I’m ready to create a spell for something much more interesting than my concern with contributions.
Get this deck and enjoy swerving. It will get you places that are full of creative genius.
Thank you, Charles, for your own contribution to the Tarot world. A good one.
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