Archive for the ‘Via Tarot/Symbolist Art’ category

Herodotus of the Ether

January 4, 2012

Two in one day? Sort of. I have an I Ching draw for later but this was interesting.

Book Depository has a sale on of Oxford World’s Classics, many of them for under $7 and free shipping. I bought several classics a few years ago but there is one that caught my eye today, The Histories by Herodotus which gets good reviews for the translation by Robin Waterfield in this edition, and has lots of notes. Quirky mythology and stories about people, it sounds delightful, so I ordered it.

When I use the Via Tarot which is an unusual deck, I like to pair it with passages from a book in a random discombobulation. I was using a Thames and Hudson World of Art series book called Symbolist Art but I kept coming up with artist Odilon Redon and got frustrated by the lack of variety for discussion. The last time I used the deck it decided to go book-free.

Well, we can’t be having that bloody nonsense from a deck. So I’m going to foist Herodotus on it.

I now have to wait three weeks to get the book but it can be a cheap treat for January, and a whole new world to explore.

What say ye Via Tarot Daughters of Light?


The Prickly Buffalo Has a Bickie

May 22, 2011

Daily Draw May 22nd, 2011

It’s been a while since I’ve used the Via Tarot with my book on symbolist art. I find sometimes that a certain book will not be a suitable match for a deck. In this case, the book is interesting but not varied enough in subject matter to provide interest for the Via. Well, that’s what it told me, I don’t know.

It rooted around in my Thames and Hudson World of Art series of books, but decided not to pair itself with a book. It wants to stand alone, the bloody cheek of the thing, after I started a special category and made a special bookmark and everything.

These Thoth-based decks can be a handful, they have their own ideas.


At least I was able to foist a custom vintage gradient and a new Photoshop brush on it.

That woman at the bottom seems a bit squashed by the weight of those layers above her. I think I have pulled this card before.

Perhaps the cheeky buffalo at the top is pretending abeyance but merely stretching its hamstrings before galloping off. Yes, completely ignoring you, it decides it has had enough of Odilon Redon and wants to smell the sweetgrass and contemplate life alone, without the prompt of random passages from art books. The subtle difference between obey and abeyance gives me a smile with this.

That lady at the bottom has put enormous effort into holding this sphere up with her large hands, but now it’s all for nothing if that buffalo won’t comply with the study.

Dang, why does this happen on a Sunday? I’m messing around, with the plan mapped out in my head and now this. See, the book explains how the sevens are in the position of Netzach on the tree of life, which is not a balanced area and can be unstable. Titled The Lord of Failure, this card is about restriction, delay, things not happening as you had planned and a feeling of limited opportunity (the squashed lady) and hesitation. The dashes in the artwork look like animal fur and the lady is surrounded by barbed wire—makes me think of porcupines. Prickly, insurmountable obstacles.

Rats. Maybe a day for cups of tea and a book.

And a bickie….

Amid the Soap Suds, Stars

January 24, 2010

Daily Draw January 24th, 2010

Today I’m back to my rotating Eccentric Studies. Feeling like a bit of art today, I am reaching for the Via Tarot and my Symbolist Art book.

For various reasons, my husband and I are a bit down today. Usually in marriage, if one person gets down the other can pull them up and provide some balance. I’m afraid it isn’t going to work today. We both had a shower and cleaned up and I’m cutting paper and doing laundry while he watches golf on TV.

You do what you can to lift yourselves up. I actually find doing laundry a cheerful thing!!


Usually a card of nostalgia and memory of the past, the Via is a Thoth-based deck so will probably have a different spin on it. I suppose after all these years I should simple remember meanings but I don’t always, I find it more exciting and fresh that way, as are my responses. As I’ve said, I often don’t remember the order of the Major cards–it is pointless to me. I just like to go with what comes up. What could be easier and lighter?

Here we are in the realm of The Glory of the Great Dragon and enjoyment and harmony. Pleasure in all forms, even laundry. So perhaps a Zen koan type of day. I like the last line in the book: “Commencement of a period of steady improvement in personal conditions.”

And from the book Symbolist Art by Edward Lucie-Smith:

Hahahaha, I have put my finger on a self-portrait of artist Edvard Munch, the fellow who painted The Scream.

He was considered ahead of his time, but his work led others to Modernism. He was risky, nervy, his paintings full of raw emotion, and the author thinks highly of him. Munch wanted to paint both shocking emotion and the results of them, not just a moment in time but a living portrait of people who feel and suffer and love in the history of the Self.

Similar to my thoughts on Odilon Redon, it’s odd that men of such strangled emotional times could seriously embrace this kind of art. Think how risky that really was. History doesn’t let us know that men have feelings, but art does.

Munch did a lot of self-portraits. I am unable to find this one online but here it is scanned from the book. This one has an odd harlequin or clown above his head. Perhaps it’s a dragon, laughing at how serious and gloomy he is? Notice though how the composition of Munch’s portrait and the Via card are similar. That’s what I love about random draws, one wonders who in the Universe is having a laugh, but it’s delightful.

Looking at the card, the daughter is holding the dragon up. I shall lift us up amid soap suds and cups of water leading to the stars, past fear, past the dragon.

The Root of the Soul

July 16, 2009

Daily Draw July 16th, 2009

Time for the Via Tarot and a random roll through Symbolist Art by Edward Lucie-Smith.

The relevant Symbolist quote:

“If we look through Redon’s work with this particular preoccupation in mind, we can discover most of the standard Symbolist properties – masks, snaky monsters, severed heads, femme fatales, new interpretations of Classical mythology. But what matters is the very personal way in which they are interpreted. Redon claimed that he was constantly being surprised by his own art, while Maurice Denis, who admired his work greatly, declared ‘the lesson of Redon is his powerlessness to paint anything which is not representative of a state of soul, which does not express some depth of emotion, which does not translate an interior vision’. Of all the masters of Symbolist art, he is the most consistently convincing.”


This card also specifically mentions “soul,” and a united mind and body with no conflict between inner and outer selves. Wealth, riches in the material world, abundance, all these wrap into a contentment with the energy of the Ace, the purest condition.

Perhaps as a man, who in societal expectation was supposed to rein in emotion, Redon was surprised when he saw the depth of emotion he was capable of expressing in his art? After all, it’s really not done is it? We can’t be having men expressing emotion in our society or terrible consequences will occur. How awful the civilization that expects one gender to be less than human, to have less soul.

How kind is Art to let a man express his soul when the society he lives in condemns such a thing. Rooted to the Earth, he has no need of conflict between the inner and outer self, but can achieve the purest condition of the Ace of Disks through art and the representation of the soul.

Two illustrations on the facing pages in the book are Redon’s The Sun Chariot of Apollo with Four Horses and the whispering miasma in the coils of The Green Death. Apollo harnessed his emotion and power and brought light and music to the world in his interior vision. The Green Death is somewhat  indefinable  as many of Redon’s artworks are. Maybe the thought of Death made him feel greenly sick or perhaps the figure is from a dream rising from the chasm of his soul? What strikes me most about his work is that he didn’t get hung up about photo-realism or capturing things exactly as is fashionable today, nor did he dither about at great expense taking a masterclass from the chi-chi artist of the moment. The minutiae of detail didn’t bog him down, he painted what he felt, what was going through his mind, his Self.



I think The Root of the Powers of the Earth would want that sort of action. How refreshing it is in a sea of sameness to see this purest of conditions held up: the power to be your Self, to be rooted. The image on the card looks as if she held the rose up, and it was so light and pure that it started to float out of her hands, like a soul flying.


Open, Sesame of Wands

April 24, 2009

Daily Draw April 24th, 2009

Oh dear, oh law, I’ve been up for hours brimming with energy and ideas. To celebrate, I am interrupting our regular Spring programming for another study with the Via Tarot and the book Symbolist Art by Edward Lucie-Smith.

As I was coming downstairs I passed through the kitchen where a bottle of sesame oil wafted its fragrance as I zoomed by. Let us zoom sesame oil into the mixture of disparate association today and see what happens.



“The continuation of the idealistic, symbolic strain in English nineteenth-century art was, however, assured by the foundation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Part of Pre-Raphaelitism’s inspiration came from abroad, from the German Nazarenes; but part of it was drawn from Blake, who was now, in the middle of the century, again beginning to make an impact.”


Firstly, the Ace of Wands is one of my personal cards, perhaps the quintessential Zooming card. I mean “zooming” in the sense of racing ideas and intellect, when the right side of the brain takes over and pours out creativity and flow and immeasurable ideas and pleasure. Energy, burning hyperdrive, taking you for the ride you long for, the ride you’ve waited all your life to go on.

In this image she lifts the elixir of sesame oil, burning through the ether to heaven, the heat wafting like sparks of electricity. She sings at the delight of the scent, her heart racing, a thousand ideas from past millennia dancing by, captured by the energy she grasps and thrusts upward.

What she sings is this: “We’ll sing in the sunshine, you know we’ll laugh every day, we’ll sing in the sunshine, then I’ll be on my way.”

Spinning through time, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood picks up on the waves of energy and returns to the field to paint nature, reflecting the energy of roasted sesame seed ideas with a high smoke point, and Blake, sitting kilter in the continuum, naked in the garden reading poetry with his wife, has a vision of stir-fried vegetables in sesame oil, while the Nazarenes move from the academy to the cathedral of the Middle Ages, trying to recapture a high smoke moment in time, rejecting the canon, foreshadowing those of us who reject Harold Bloom’s assessment of James Joyce.

Today is about momentum and energy and human potential, and the river of ideas we share across time, inspiring and reflecting. Say it, dream it, make everything work, roasting and pressing it in your mind of fire.

Orpheus Sings to Me in Pastels

December 9, 2008

Daily Draw December 9th, 2008

“Redon was born in Bordeaux.”

Odilon Redon seems to have preferred black and white art in the form of charcoal and lithographs for his work, at least in the period on the page I opened. There is a reproduction of his Orpheus in coloured pastel shown in the book. I can’t help it, but these days the disembodied head of Orpheus always reminds me of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics, where the Sandman’s son Orpheus featured in a couple of story arcs that were very well done. But the head on the beach scene was a bit campy in my mind, so that’s what I think of when I see the head of Orpheus.

Oh, I’d forgotten that Russell Hoban’s book The Medusa Frequency features Orpheus. I always meant to read that but I still have two books of Hoban’s yet to read on my bookshelves.

Orpheus and his lyre ties into his father Apollo who was also a lyre player, so that reminds me of the sun which I see on this card:


I can’t quite relate this to my day, but the figures look to be black and white with a grisaille technique perhaps for blushes of colour. This looks like the dove of holy love, and night and day, and opening until you bleed. I suppose love does feel a bit like you’ve been wounded with a sword as does opening up to people, particularly when they wound you. The hot rays of the sun beam upward from the couple.

I keep forgetting that the artist tries to depict Hebrew letters as part of the picture. I like that.

Apart from the similarities in using black and white and colour as Redon did, I can’t seem to pick up anything from this card today. I have a migraine and eye strain from working closely on something and I’m quite fatigued from pulling my back last week and the pain from that. While I am enjoying the item I’m working on, the exhaustion I feel is making the task feel like I’m moving through mud.

Perhaps it’s as simple as losing colour in the world through pain, and thus needing to relax and hear some music. Orpheus has his eyes closed in the pastel work, and the Lovers card is titled Children of the Voice, so maybe the voice and lyre of Orpheus this day for harmony.


Ricketts is the Lord of the Triumph of Light

December 8, 2008

Daily Draw December 8th 2008

“It has sometimes been assumed that Beardsley was completely sui generis. This was not the case. A number of other artists, illustrators in particular, can be set beside him. One of these was the painter and draughtsman Charles Ricketts, whose illustrations are by far the most ‘Symbolist’ part of his production as an artist.”


The Chariot in the Thoth deck was a card that someone on a mailing list drew for me that got me interested in buying card decks in 2001.

So here it is in the Via with a trio of tigers and a vulture I think it is. No, it’s a sea eagle, which reminds me of the book called The Stonor Eagles by William Horwood. They are majestic chaps and go well with tigers, moving around from here to there, tidying things up. The lady is blindfolded, seeking a random trip with her friends, preferring the balance of chaos down the road.

Can you hear those wheels? Hope and victory on the move and triumph in all things. I hope so, I got quite a bit of work done today and hope to continue the momentum tomorrow. I am tired, having been at it all day–sore eyes and small details.

Sui generis means “one of a kind,” which is humbling in this context, lest one should think they were one of a kind, since even Aubrey Beardsley wasn’t. Ooooh, Ricketts was a book designer and typographer as well, my favourites, and designed theatre costumes. He started out doing woodcuts, another keen interest of mine, and he had a restless and volatile personality, perhaps echoing The Chariot.

I like people that do diverse things and tie writing and art together as Ricketts did. He also worked closely with his partner, like the lady in the chariot works with the eagle and the tigers. And he and his partner Charles Shannon were friends of Oscar Wilde and stood by him during his trial. “Ricketts, sometimes in collaboration with Shannon, did drawings for all of Wilde’s books except Salomé (which was illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley).”

Ricketts created three type fonts–the Vale (shown on the image below), the Avon, and the King’s–for his Vale Press books, and also designed elaborate initial letters and intricate decorative borders in an Art Nouveau style.” The P22 font foundry has the Vale font for sale along with the King’s font., and the Avon font is also still available.

I think I like Ricketts. I expect I shall run into Ricketts and Shannon in my biography of Oscar Wilde that I just purchased from a used book shop. I’ll be interested in that.

And the Chariot rolls on to another theatre of diverse life and activity.


Ricketts was an early advisor to the National Gallery of Canada and there are a couple of books about him. I might try to get this one from the library. There is another one published by Oxford University Press but it’s OOP and going for outrageous prices. Silly.