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Pictured: Alligo and the Cestaro brothers’ Tarot of the New Vision (Lo Scarabeo) California poet Kay Ryan, sixteenth United States Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner, used tarot cards as writing prompts when she started in poetry. She’d draw a card at random and write a poem about it. Alice Notley talks about how “poets tend always to write in a trance.” A ritualized writing process helps tap into the unconscious within ourselves to generate creativity. That is the kinship of poetry and tarot mentioned earlier in the week. Tarot is an indispensable tool for writers, and poets especially, because... Continue reading
Posted Feb 7, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
On January 30, the eve of a New Moon, housed in Aquarius, I read tarot for Best American Poetry’s very own David Lehman. The King of Swords was selected for his signifier card. In tarot, a signifier card anchors the deck around a singular energetic frequency, and the selection of the signifier identifies that frequency as the subject that the tarot is to be read for. From the King of Swords, we can extrapolate some of David’s personality traits. In his essence, he is Air, the cardinal element governing the suit of Swords. He is an intellectual. Compare: Men of... Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
Beyond its interpretation of success, achievement, and validation of the ego, Key 19, The Sun card in tarot is symbolic of the individual external life. It is the state of consciousness. Meanwhile Key 18, The Moon is symbolic of the dichotomy between that externalized life and the spiritual internal. The Moon reflects the tension of that duality existing within every one of us. It is our subconscious. Regressing backward to Key 17, The Star, the cards begin to talk about the varying states of human consciousness, synthesizing the messages of both the Sun and the Moon. These cards might serve... Continue reading
Posted Feb 5, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
Temple of Apollo at Delphi, by Sam Korn, GNU Free Documentation License The late Joseph Campbell inspired me to reexamine mythology and to approach myth as my mentor, my muse, a sage. Myths are maps that guide us from departure to destination because in myth we can find a metaphor for our own lives, and it is that metaphor that is meaningful to us. That metaphor is the template for what actions and conduct we must exert to achieve the goals we set. That metaphor is how we reflect deep within so that we may heed the revelation of the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 4, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
Left: Yeats at his London apartment. Right: A sketch of Yeats by Pamela Colman Smith. Source: Biography of Pamela Colman Smith. Among the personal effects of poet and Nobel Prize winner William Butler Yeats was a pack of tarot cards. By most accounts Yeats was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn*, an occult secret society that practiced ceremonial magic. As it was, the Hermetic Order considered tarot divination to be one of the foundational studies that the society’s initiates learned (the others being astrology and theurgy). While other notable members of the Golden Dawn, namely A.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2014 at The Best American Poetry
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Jan 30, 2014