Archive for the ‘Two Testaments of Terra Lucida’ category

Love the Body, Sayeth Ezekiel

December 5, 2012

Daily Draw – December 5th, 2012

Hah, the fifth of the month and I get the fifth card, which in the Minchiate is similar to The Lovers in regular tarot.

LOVE – 5 – L’AMORE

Minchiate5_Love

This is about important decisions to be made and choices. On the card it looks like Venus and her son Eros, which is where the love comes in. She is giving the male figure the crown which seems like a chivalrous concept of affection and appreciation rather than a sensual act of love.

And the bible passage I randomly picked to go with this is:

Ezekiel 29: 6-7

6 Then all who live in Egypt will know that I am the Lord.

“‘You have been a staff of reed for the people of Israel. 7 When they grasped you with their hands, you splintered and you tore open their shoulders; when they leaned on you, you broke and their backs were wrenched.

I was a bit iffy on my Israel/Babylonian history so a brief pause to set the scene.

At one point ancient Israel was divided into two kingdoms. The Kingdom of Israel in the north and the Kingdom of Judah in the south. The north Kingdom fell to the Assyrians around 722 B.C.E. and Judah fell to Babylon around 586 B.C.E. Jerusalem was burned and left in ruins and the Israeli nation went into exile and capture in Babylon.

At the time of Ezekiel, good old Nebuchadnezzar II (from the Book of Daniel) was ruling Babylon. Egypt had promised military aid to Israel in their rebellion against Babylon. When the time came Egypt did not uphold this promise, and Israel regretted trusting the Pharaoh, and remained in captivity in Babylon until the Persians conquered Babylon around 538 B.C.E. God punished Egypt for this betrayal with their own exile.

The odd thing was that this morning when I was meditating I was really tuning into the way my body felt, perhaps aware for the first time of sensations. I kept thinking about my back and all the weight on it and no wonder it felt like it was breaking.

In relation to the bible passage—maybe it’s silly—but I feel like I am the Pharaoh who wrenched the back of my body and my body touched me for a moment in my mind and said “Wow, you noticed.” I felt some affection for the poor thing, lumbering (or lumbar-ing to play with the word) under such burdens without the support it had been promised.

The bit about tearing open their shoulders would refer to my tendinitis and neck pain that has bothered me since the 80s. My body trusted and leaned on me and I let it down. Thus I went into the exile of chronic pain.

But exile doesn’t last forever, even for Pharaoh. My decision and awareness will this time carry me out of captivity.

I was struck today by how handsome the backs of these cards are and how well they go together.

MinchiateBacks

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Gemelli in the Mouth of the Whale

June 22, 2011

Daily Draw June 22nd, 2011

Today Job has come to call, specifically Job 31:16-23. In this part he is defending himself and claiming his charitable behaviour toward the poor; he wouldn’t hurt anyone because he fears God. I gather he was accused of being a rotter and this passage, in part, is his defense and outline of his real mercy.

Job 31:16-23

16 “If I have denied the desires of the poor
or let the eyes of the widow grow weary,
17 if I have kept my bread to myself,
not sharing it with the fatherless—
18 but from my youth I reared them as a father would,
and from my birth I guided the widow—
19 if I have seen anyone perishing for lack of clothing,
or the needy without garments,
20 and their hearts did not bless me
for warming them with the fleece from my sheep,
21 if I have raised my hand against the fatherless,
knowing that I had influence in court,
22 then let my arm fall from the shoulder,
let it be broken off at the joint.
23 For I dreaded destruction from God,
and for fear of his splendor I could not do such things.

And to go with that, from the Minchiate I picked…

35 – GEMINI – I GEMELLI

Wasn’t Gemellus the kid with the cough who got his head whacked off by Macro by order of Caligula in I Claudius by Robert Graves? Yes, that’s right and Gemellus was a twin. In real life he was much older when he died rather than a child, and his twin brother died in infancy. The word gemellus or gemelli is derived from the Latin word geminus, meaning twin or twin-born, and is like a nickname.

I find it interesting that in the Brian Williams Minchiate Tarot the twins are depicted as male but in the Ancient Minchiate Etruria, they are female. The twins of Gemini are usually Castor and Pollux. I didn’t realize that they were Leda’s children, born from the incident where Zeus took the form of a swan and ravaged her. I first became aware of Leda and the swan through the Leonardo da Vinci Tarot where I did a study on the card depicting Leda in a long-ago tarot group. In mythology Leda gave birth to two eggs, one containing the boys Castor and Pollux, and one containing the girls Helen and Clytemnestra, which explains the two genders on these cards.

Twins are two sides, which is like Job and his bad and good side, the side he willed himself to use more often. Because someone mirrors you, does not mean you should follow what they do, the wrath of God notwithstanding. Be good and don’t hurt or lie to people and you will find doubled reward.

Castor and Pollux were known for their amazing goodness and bravery, much like we know Job from his complete story rather than the rumours of his contemporaries.

Double the intelligence and goodness, and perhaps a hint of indecisiveness with this card. There is always a bit of indecision between good and evil with humans. The booklet with the Etruria mentions adaptability and critical sense, but Job reminds me that it is a moral sense, and adapting to the will of others is not always intelligent or good.

A Coin for the King’s Proverbial Friend

January 27, 2011

Daily Draw January 27th, 2011

I’ve been stuck on my Minchiate draws because for almost a year, the fabric cover for my NIV Quest Study Bible lay unfinished. Now it’s done and I can get back to random draws and random passages with this deck. This is one of my rotating studies with specific books and decks, and I find that I have to be in the mood for a meander with these. I’m up at 3:30 a.m. so feel like a meander. Due to a back injury I can no longer read in bed, so it’s cards in the a.m. for me.

SEVEN OF COINS – Sette de Denari
7 OF CHALICES

Premonitory dreams, extravagant visions, forebodings, illusions, in the Minchiate Etruria, and Brian Williams in The Minchiate Tarot describes this as progress, a step forward, or an admirable feat.

Hmmm, perhaps one can retain visions of admirable feats and thus bring them to fruition? Forebodings seems to have a negative connotation of fear, but I think there is something generally fearful about having visions of what is to come. That could explain why I don’t care for reading tarot cards, I’ve been spooked a couple of times and prefer not to know.

Today’s passage is from Proverbs 22:11.

He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.

This chapter in Proverbs is generally about having the foresight to conduct your life in edifying ways. Foresight and foreboding are similar words in that they look forward seemingly. The word “bode” come from the Old English bodian, which means “to announce,” so the evil or disaster that has been tacked onto this word is not really true to the base meaning, it could be any announcement. We think of forward but the root of “fore” is before, so before it happens.

Kings are like rock stars, they are surrounded by greedy liars and manipulators, so having people around them with pure hearts would be a relief I expect: someone to trust and rely on, someone whose motivations you don’t have to worry about. Not a leeching hanger-on but an ally who has integrity.

Impure people may seem gracious superficially, then they fumble and show their real selves. Aren’t we all impure? I suppose, but grace implies good conscience, an eye to God, not human manipulation and guile. The king needs a pure heart to advise him before events; it’s an interesting tie-in with the Minchiate cards.

I do get a sense of health issues here too, probably just because my head is all wrapped up in that lately–the disaster waiting to happen. A vision toward rectifying my health before it’s too late comes to mind. In a way it is too late, but with a pure heart and grace, who knows what king shall be an ally in my progress?

The Minchiate Quest, and Resurrecting Projects

January 14, 2011

I’ve been having some problems with my hips and knees, making it hard to muster up the energy for daily cards. We also had a plumbing problem that took 16 days to fix–this sort of thing can be a drag on the psyche, making any sort of reflection negative.

BUT, I puttered away and cleaned off my dining room table, thus enabling me to resurrect some creative projects. One of those projects was for the book cover for the NIV Quest Study Bible with annotations that I am using with my study of the Minchiate deck. If you look to the right on my sidebar, you can see this under the title Two Testaments of Terra Lucida.

I have all kinds of these small attendant, books and figures and such to use with my cards. I find them a cheery sort of thing, part play, part random creativity.

I’m hoping to finish this today and thus have the impetus to meander a bit with the Minchiate. Here’s a little snap of the progress. The embroidery I did last year, and yesterday I completed the quilt block Cross and Crown to go with it. I still have to do a bit of embroidery on the inner front flap too.

Soon, soon….

Moses Meets the Water Bearer

February 2, 2010

Daily Draw February 2nd, 2010

Back to the NIV Quest Study Bible and the Minchiate today. Today’s random passage is from Deuteronomy 9:17

“So I took the two tablets and threw them out of my hands, breaking them to pieces before your eyes.”

Moses and God get fed up with the Israelites that Moses had led out of slavery in Egypt, because while Moses was speaking to God, fasting, and receiving the commandments inscribed by God on these two stone tablets, the people had made an idol of gold in the shape of a calf, which was a big sin and a bit of a slap in the face to God who was bothering mightily with their welfare.

Some interesting notations in the border: We have assumed that the two tablets contained the commandments written out completely on both stones, but actually in history when tablets like this were drawn up in a common procedure for writing treaties, one of the tablets was a duplicate, much like a carbon copy, so that both sides involved in the agreement would have a record of the treaty. Each side would store the tablet in a temple of their god. In this case, God had a copy for himself, and Israel had a copy so both tablets were stored in the ark of the covenant. I don’t imagine God really needed a copy but as a formality and symbol of agreement, it would have impressed people more to have the conventional duplicate.

Also, why worship a calf? The impetus could have come from two common symbols: the Canaanite god Baal, the god of fertility and strength, or the Egyptian god Apis, a bull, because having been in captivity in Egypt, the Israelites would have known this god well.

I found it a bit strange that God told Moses to chisel out the stone tablets and then God wrote on them–it would have been easier to have God blast them out of rock and prepare them, but the act of the man in preparing them seems to have been symbolic of the covenant I think. Moses also made the ark to store them in himself. The act was sacred, as much a part of the mutual ritual as the treaty.

XXXII AQUARIUS – 32

This is Aquarius the Water Bearer in astrology, the eleventh sign of the Zodiac which starts on January 21st. The constellation looks like a jug with a stream of water pouring from it, or if more stars are added you can see the male figure holding the jug. Okay, like all constellations, it’s a bit of a stretch, but that’s human imagination for you.

This figure of the water carrier apparently dates as far back as the Babylonians, and perhaps earlier. This constellation was the rain god Hapi to the Egyptians and associated with rain and the flooding of the Nile, which brought fertility and growth of food. The Greeks associated the constellation with the Trojan Prince Ganymede written about by Virgil and Ovid. Ganymede was stolen by Zeus and thereafter served the gods nectar at their feasts. Well, in mythological parlance he was cup-bearer to the gods, not a toady but holding a respected, official position and given immortality. He also became Zeus’s lover so quite often is a symbol of homosexual love or at least breathtaking male beauty. Sometimes Aquarius is depicted as a farmer pouring water on his crops, rather like the Egyptian rain god I expect and the bounty of the fountains of the Nile. In Hindu mythology he is called kumbha or “water-pitcher” or just “pitcher,” another example of how the Greeks influenced India.

I am not a student of astrology so I had never realized this aspect of nourishing water or nectar with Aquarius. It is a sign associated with Air and intellect. I tend to associate it with the Magician card because the fellow who introduced me to tarot felt the Magician archetype fit him, and he was an Aquarius in his birth sign.

As far as meaning, this fellow is very altruistic and idealistic; creative, scientific, and on the shadow side, a little too capricious and up in the clouds, very impractical. Perhaps because of the water, a classic symbol of emotion, he is considered to have an open heart and mind. It seems to me that nourishment of mind and heart requires one to be open as a human.

He is a bit like Moses in his nurturing aspect, seeing to the needs of others, offering them nourishment or spiritual nourishment for the heart and mind. Also interceding for mercy as Moses did when God wanted to kill the Israelites, and also like Moses perhaps prone to the rarefied air of the mountain at the expense of remembering the fears and worries of the mundane world. An ideal, like Moses was (and is) too for people. Pouring water, giving with his hands as Moses did when chiseling stone and fashioning wood into a beautiful ark for the covenant of God and his people.

There are certainly similarities between Moses and Aquarius, and perhaps the notion of not worshipping beauty too much, of being of practical use in the world, rather than being a whiner who makes golden calves of their restless need. Nourish yourself and your spirituality, give and create.

Absalom Makes Sense of Centaurs

January 10, 2010

Daily Draw January 10th, 2010

While browsing through the Minchiate deck I became interested in the Knights and the Sagittarius card because of the Centaurs on them.

Sagittarius depicts the centaur Chiron. I was puzzled by the boar on this card, and Brian Williams, in his book The Minchiate Tarot, refers to it as looking like a family pet because the historical example he shows has a bowl before the boar like the food or water dish of a pet.

On pondering this mystery, I have decided that the boar refers to the fourth labour of Hercules, in which he was supposed to capture or kill the boar that lived on Mount Erymanthus. Along the way he met some centaurs, there was wine involved and centaurs are terrible when they get drunk, and Hercules in defense began shooting poison arrows and killing centaurs and he wounded Chiron, who then was changed into a constellation after he offered to give up his immortality and change places with Prometheus. Some accounts also say that Chiron gave Hercules the information to kill the boar and thus complete his labour with success.

That’s the basic mythology. So the boar is a reminder of the whole story and a delightful clue as to how Sagittarius came to be. For me, that makes sense of it being on this card.

The Knight of Swords and the Knight of Wands (Staves) in the Minchiate are centaurs.

The Knight of Cups and the Knight of Coins are sphinxes. Master Coins is a plain sphinx with the lower body of a lion, and Master Cups has the body of a lion, the wings of an eagle and the tail of a serpent. Brian Williams refers to this as “the long tail of a fish.” I’m starting to get a little worried about Brian Williams’s take on some of these cards. This is most definitely supposed to be the tail of a serpent as often depicted in early Greek mythology. You could stretch it and say it’s a sea serpent and thus tie in with Brian’s fish reference but it’s not a fish except on Brian’s card. I find that odd, but I could find no information to support his reference.

One of the neat aspects of the Minchiate deck is the way the court cards change among the suits: Sphinxes and Centaurs, Handmaids and Pages. I thought this was charmingly different.

Sphinxes were popular in the Renaissance and often show up in art of the period. I didn’t realize this, but because of the Hellenistic influence in Asia, particularly India, but also the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Burma, sphinxes are often found in the art of those regions. They can be somewhat different in Asia, because of local stylization, although the basic form of lion body sometimes with wings can be seen in examples. Some of the depictions are of demon sphinxes with fangs and angry countenance.

My random passage to tie in with the cards with the NIV bible is 2 Samuel Chapter 15.

This is about King David’s son Absalom, who after stirring up trouble and being banished by his father, is finally allowed back into Jerusalem. Absalom was a petulant, spoiled young man, who murdered one man and destroyed the property of others. Always angling for power and manipulating people, he was just a nasty horror of a man/child.

In this chapter Absalom gathers a fancy chariot and horses and a smart-looking guard of fifty men, and sets up on the road leading into Jerusalem. When people passed by on the way to place a complaint before the king, Absalom would start chatting with them and bemoaning the fact that people weren’t being heard by the king or his representatives, and that if only he were in charge people would be heard and get justice. Such a friendly, helpful boy.

For four years he carried on like this, and then he asked the king to let him go to Hebron, and was given permission. Once there, he started his real campaign of secrecy to set himself up as king. People were tricked into following him and he gathered conspirators about him.

The knights always remind me of sons of kings, and are often referred to as that when writing of the court cards as a family set. The knights have such energy and look quite rousing, quite pleasing to the crowd. Youth can be very compelling, but often lacks ethics and judgment. Dashing off with big ideas and physical attractiveness and energy, they can ignite the world toward fine goals, or ruin it, depending on their maturity and moral balance. Much like centaurs, who could be teachers, thinkers, and moderate, reasonable creatures as Chiron was, or drunken, murderous louts.

And a random association: Zadok was a priest in David’s court who comes into the story, and I have always loved that piece of music by Handel called Zadok the Priest which was a coronation anthem for George II of England. They used to play it over the credits of a marvelous 1970s BBC documentary series called Royal Heritage, and it immediately sends blood to my chest with its soaring majesty.

Absalom could have been a majestic leader, but instead chose to be a whining fink, an ungrateful son. Such is the destiny of Knights in Tarot depending on which way the cards fall.

Two Testaments of Terra Lucida

December 31, 2009

I don’t have that many cards to go in my Tarot of the Saints study. It’s taken me over three years and I’m going to miss the stories, history, and personalities.

One of the books I got for Christmas is called Illuminating the Word: The Making of the Saint John’s Bible by Christopher Calderhead which I briefly mentioned at the end of my study of Saint Paul. While reading this book, I realized that I was way, way behind in knowledge of new bible editions and translations. The Saint John’s Bible uses the “New” Revised Standard Version which I’ve never heard of. As I was browsing at Amazon, I found many of the newer bible editions to have an American fundamentalist or pop culture flavour to them. That’s not something I would like.

So I noodled around reading about other translations and editions. I’ve got the original Living Bible that was published in 1972 and my trusty Revised Standard Version, plus The Good News Bible, and a Catholic Bible. The Good News Bible has small line drawings reminiscent of Rockwell Kent’s dingbats for Candide–they are charming. I love different editions of books for comparison.

I eventually settled on the New International Version as sounding fairly balanced. They have a study bible of it called the NIV Quest Study Bible with fabulous annotations and lots of history, sociology and geography. That interested me, you can’t have too many notes or tangents to explore, so I bought a cheaper hardcover edition of it.

This is a sample page of how they set it up, the annotations are down the left side:

Then I got to thinking about the Brian Williams Minchiate Tarot deck again. I like it, but what to do with it? I like to use cards for learning something. The Minchiate is a historical deck and what better way to use it than with a historical book, like the bible? Along the way of studying these two together I can also mix in the Ancient Minchiate Etruria, and a little Dante as I fancy. Dante goes with everything, even Ezekiel.

I’ll call the study Two Testaments of Terra Lucida because it’s a study using the Old and New testaments, and I’ll use Terra, the old Latin name for the Earth, as a nod to gnosticism and “lucida” means light.

I imagine it will clarify itself as I go along here and there. I think I’d like to stick to a character study of sorts, similar to my study of the Saints. I printed a study help online that calls itself 30 Stories You’ve Probably Never Heard. They are all in the Old Testament and I was intrigued by the friendly subtitles. The third one is from Numbers 16 and says “Korah, Dathan, and Abiran: Gulp!” Having checked this out I would agree.

But how to wrap that into a card study? I usually do random draws; I can’t yet settle my mind on a method for doing this.

The mail arrived today with my bible and the Minchiate Tarot, both are fabulous. I’ve decided to redistribute a few things so the Minchiate deck is now in a fancy bag and I’m going to use my handmade Coptic stitch notebook with it. The bag and notebook were formerly with the Illustrative Lenormand Oracle that I designed and printed, but they relate better visually to the Minchiate.

Note how well the colours all go together in this new set. Yup, it’s an exciting life I live.