Today it is my intention to work on Cups. Cups, the suit of emotion, really draws me in.
The last few days, I have been writing feverishly, setting up the website, and digging into the digital pieces of the paintings that are finished (maybe) so far. That part of the work- the design, just getting things where they go, is a big part of it, and it seems to come from a completely different part of my brain/creativity than painting and drawing. It's really not less creative, especially editing the images and creating them into a design that's cohesive across the epic story of the Tarot. It's just different.
It's one of the reasons I took this project on- and one of the reasons I put it off for so long, even though it really feels like what I should be doing. What if I can't do it? What if 78 (and maybe 79, but more on that later) pieces of art is too much? What if, after all these years, I just burn out?
Well, I might, and if I do, you'll see me fail. After that, I guess I'll go eat worms. Okay, so that's a plan for failure, but what I really want to bet on is... what if I do it? How cool will that be?
Of course, it's not just the cards for me. It's the guide, the meanings, the symbolism and the universality of the stories, storytelling and the passing of traditions. And most of all, for me, it's about the one question that has not let me give up on Tarot, even when it feels far afield from my "real" life and the "reality" of it; I keep picking up the deck, decks- I've amassed a bit of a lovely collection!- shuffling the cards, pulling them and listening, trying to remember everything I know about them, what I've been taught and what I feel.
The problem is, for my question, there just isn't a one card answer, or even a spread that can show me what I want to know.
I believe that within the Tarot, there is literally every single story. It's the heroes journey, the call to a quest. We don't all ride horses and become knights and carve coins or ferry rafts across the river styx, but we are all born into a monomyth of epic proportion- our own life stories.
Every single story has a lesson; every card is an example, good, bad and indifferent of the rivers we do have to all cross symbolically and otherwise. The majors are the big ones- major milestones, archetypes and who and how we are in the inner and outer worlds, and the minors are more the little things- little in their individuality, but not in the importance and quantity. There's more of them, and different types because our lives are made up of the day to day, and we all encounter in one way or another every single struggle in this journey.
But everything can be so subjective- that's a big lesson I've gotten immersed in in recent years- and two people can be on the exact same road but be following totally different paths. It's universal because theres so many ways it can look- but it's collective because we all feel the same emotions, we are all driving different models of the same human being vehicle. The variation is all in the details, and in the meaning we are able to glean.
I know enough to know that the answers don't come from outside. The answers are in me. So, my question, I realize, can only be asked of one person, myself, even though it's a question for my mom.
Did you finish your quest here, did it mean what you wanted it to mean?
I never got the chance to finish up with my mom. She died so suddenly, and her last call I had screened. There was no follow-up portion to the show, where we could all get together and hash it out in a reunion or something, understand the theme and close any loops. Instead of Andy Cohen, there's just been blank air and a Tarot deck, and one incident that I can't quite explain. Some dreams. Memories.
I know her life had meaning. I know she lived long enough to make a story- so many stories, but I can't help but feel that the end was so disappointing. I know it's not true, but it feels like a waste.
Sure, I'm here. But someone else's story is always independent of our own, regardless of how entwined it may feel. The fact is- we're all pretty much objectively doing the same things. We eat, we work, we sleep, we dream, we love, we hurt, we create, we die. Subjectively though, there are as many stories as there are individuals. Each person is their own lead character. It's not a syndrome, it's a fact.
Not every main character is a hero. Not every fool stops being a fool. But in the deck, every role, every circumstance is not just a collective, universal experience, it's a chance to frame meaning into a story.
Now that my moms minor arcana for this life is shut, I want to know what it all adds up to? When there are no more day to days, only a mirror, what does it all mean? Every story has a beginning and an ending, and every beginning and ending marks an endless cycle of them.
I am creating Personal Tarot to answer my question to my mother with one of the tools that she gave me. She taught me tarot, she always had cards. She had iching coins, oracles and stones. We'd make these deals- whoever died first would come back and.... I can't remember now if it's to tickle the other one's left pinky toe, or touch an ear... It was something though, and the other would just know, once and for all, that the other one didn't really die.
But she did, really, really die. I don't expect her spirit to emerge to me in any way that hollywood could depict. I don't expect my toes or ears to itch in morse code.
Because it's not her story at all; it's my story, of my mother, and what she meant to me, and where she went. How did she die, and how did she live? Someone so close to me- someone who's clay I am made of, and she's a mystery to me, as untouchable in death as she was unsavable in live.
So I am giving myself a blank book and 78 paintings to ask the questions I want to know. Maybe I'll get an answer, or maybe I will just know. Maybe I won't be any wiser, but I will be able to say that I painted her story, told every part, and maybe, just maybe, some peace will be revealed to me in the process.
This is love. This is sorrow, grief and healing. This is my part in the story of all stories. Welcome to Personal Tarot.