I am not sure what prompted me to sign up for the Tarot Conclave in Philadelphia. My concerned friends asked me some pointed questions. My husband, fairly indignant at my having just touched down from Santa Fe, had some more. I normally travel for the art classes I teach, and they are carefully planned and scheduled well in advance. But, like work with the Tarot, this was intuitive and completely spontaneous. I simply packed my sketchbook and went; not even I knew what to expect.
The main draw was Rachel Polluck, who is one of the best known writers on the Tarot. She was the reason I plunged in. In person, she is the absolute personification of Mary Poppins, one of my all time heroes– that uncanny combination of authority and lightness, magic and practicality. She stood tall and lean in her burgundy tights and matching shoes that point outward, and a full length silk coat. I sat next to her and watched entranced as she pulled deck after deck out of her carpet bag, like a magician. There was nothing false about her – she had a down-to-earth, no-fluff manner. She illuminated possibilities of interpretation in the cards that were astonishing.
The Tarot is a long time interest and study of mine. Most people’s image of the Tarot is a device for telling your fortune, for predicting the future – but it is more apt to see it as a way of activating the subconscious, or as a kind of intuitive problem solving that eludes logic. We used it as a way into storytelling and writing. Rachel was brilliant at giving us prompts and getting us engaged.
Home now for the winter, with time to paint and write, I am ignited with possibilities of expanding my Tarot practice into my writing and painting. I have been working for months on paintings that invoke archetypes represented in the Tarot: Hermit, Magician, Justice, etc. I have been persistent, but not on fire.
Perhaps I can relate my experience at the conclave to learning another language– there is a lot of vocabulary and grammar study to do before one is fluent in conversation. I came home with a new conversational ability with my work that is simple, and difficult to explain.
It is amusing to me: this trip– that was not directly related to teaching or art– has broken my impasse with painting. It is another reminder to me that the time away from the studio can be just as important as when I have the brush in my hand, and that studying something you are curious about can be a wonderful new ingredient for your work.
My thought today is that when you are stuck,
do something impractical, explore something you are curious about–
In the painting you see above, there is a feeling of renewal. These qualities, gratitude and joy, that accompany renewal, are expressed in this poem by e. e. cummings:
i thank You God for most this amazing day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today, and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing breathing any--lifted from the no of all nothing--human merely being doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
What are you curious about? I'd love to hear from you.