I’m on vacation a few days on the island of Bornholm. While roaming about, I meet all sorts of tricksters. I’m on to the tricksters, because ever since I was eight, when mother told me I had insight about the human nature, I was preoccupied with eloquence and the way in which language works, the very domain of all tricksters.
As a very young girl, my favorite genre was aphorisms, particularly the ones written by the Germans, especially Nietzsche and Adorno, and cloak and dagger novels written by French revolutionaries interested in unmasking the bourgeoisie.
Why? Because they knew how to put it beyond merely thinking about it. In my case, nothing has changed since I was eight, except perhaps that I’ve learnt to use different vocabularies for different rooms. But while words change, and so does their fictional character, the nature of the mind perceiving the words doesn’t. This is a simple fact.
If some of us don’t experience this it’s because we are too involved in maintaining our self-image as we find it appropriate to transact with in the different rooms that culture makes available to us.
For instance, as an academic, I can safely say that I have become an adept at lying, and pretending that the general incompetence ruling over universities these days is not something that I see or touches me. But that’s just a pretense.
My electing not to see this doesn’t change the nature of the reality that holds this truth: the unskilled are unaware, and because they are unaware, they are convinced that they preform a brilliant job when they don’t.
Now, while saying hello to Odin, who is a trickster in a different class than the hate-filled Loki, I was reminded of yet another favorite writer, the 12 century Chinese Zen master Foyan, asking the following question: ‘Can you speak effectively?’
As I tend to travel with his words, here’s a screenshot of his wisdom, in the translation of Thomas Clearly from Instant Zen.
Yes, I thought, returning to my 8 year old self, the self that was more in touch with the nature of the mind bidding clear light and insight.
Then I thought, how would the cards enforce this knowledge?
I have just received a quirky new Tarot that combines the classical Jean Dodal Tarot with trickster figures. This reproduction, called The Trickster Marseille, was designed by Charles Webb, a writer and filmmaker, and student of Cards and Magic.
I asked the cards:
Do I speak effectively?
I didn’t ask, ‘can I speak effectively,’ because that would mean offending the gods and Foyan, my teacher, who taught me how to know such things – sometimes I’m a good student.
I know I can speak effectively especially when I remove the layers of cultural pre-conditioning that I also suffer from due to pomp and circumstance. Therefore, for me, the more pressing question is the other one, related to how much I elect to speak effectively in the face of being presented with all sorts that often makes me decide that speaking effectively is a waste of time, if this speech is addressed to the ones not equipped with astute hearing.
The cards said:
The Popess, Force, and Justice.
A clear message: ‘You have the insight. You deliver it forcefully and justly. In other words, you’re the most unpopular person. Join the club of the damned soothsayers. Who ever like the folks who speak the truth?’
Damn, indeed. We pay for our clear sight.
Charles has Eris, the goddess of chaos and discord superimposed on the Popess card. As a trickster, the Popess is bound to be antagonizing. Lord have mercy.
Force is the Raven, often an omen of wisdom and death. One of the consequences of speaking forcefully, when you’re already positioned as a Popess is that you participate in a whole lot of de-mythologizing, bringing death to all forced systems. You almost yell to everybody: ‘Denial (of death) is the root to all your problems. Accept that everything passes, whether your wedding vows as blissful and everlasting as you imagine them be, or your sorrows. Everything passes. Get it?’
Justice features the Coyote. Imagine Justice as this trickster. I like this move in Charles Webb’s modified Marseille. You can never trust the Coyote. Too clever. But the nature of truth is still the same, to point to the nothingness of all things. Naturally we would have the playful Coyote suggest this, so we might get off our righteous horses.
Do you speak effectively? Ask your cards, if you’re not Zen already.
Note on the cards: Charles Webb, The Trickster Marseille, 2016 (modified reproduction of Jean Dodal, 1701).
More clear sight? Stay in the loop. New cartomantic courses in sight.