Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

A Little Bit Of Background Information

I first came across the Tarot in Eliot's The Waste Land- a modernist poem written 100 years ago- and so no longer modern. Eliot is a bit sniffy about his cartomancer, Madame Sosostris (who has a bad cold), but sufficiently intrigued to make her "wicked pack of cards" integral to the development of his poem. The Boston Brahman is fashionably scornful, the poet is drawn in...

If he were writing now he wouldn't get away with his breezy assertion that "I am not familiar with the exact constitution of the Tarot pack of cards, from which I have obviously departed to suit my convenience..." because Tarot is now mainstream- which it wasn't in his day.

As a wannabe poet I got drawn in too. From Richard Cavendish's The Black Arts (1967)- a comprehensive survey of the esoteric- I learned that there's no such card as "The Drowned Phoenician Sailor" (pity really) and from that book and Charles Williams's novel The Greater Trumps (1932) I learned that the Tarot goes deep.

I love the Tarot and have worked with it in many different ways- including (for a brief spell) doing readings for money (just like Mme Sosostris). Ailz and I passed our love of it on to Alice (who has picked it up and run with it). Ailz and Alice are much better Tarot readers than I am. More intuitive, you see.

My favourite card is the Fool. He's a free spirit- and utterly fearless. The dog of the world snaps at his heels and he doesn't even notice.

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