Wherein we all become legends, archetypes, and characters.
Once, while standing in the former apartment of William S. Burroughs, I put an apple on my head. His godson pretended to shoot it with his dead rifle. We were young, drunk, and in love. That same year we broke into an independent news station with a crowbar and slept under the news desk. It was Valentine’s Day and Dr. Whiskey held us in his caring grip.
We built an altar to his godfather and filled it with vodka and Mardi Gras beads. We slept on a mattress and lit rolled cigarettes with altar candles, while I told him stories of the Lwa and the Orishas and drew veves on the floor. “Words of Advice for Young People” played in the background.
“How many cards are in a tarot deck?” He asked.
You have to be eighteen…
You’re not eighteen…
You are seventy-eight.
Old fool sold his soul for a strap-on.
I wrote “78” on the floor in cascarilla. “You should really make a tarot deck,” he said.
And so the seed was planted and Orien McNeill became The Fool, the one who leads the way into the tarot. My deck is an assortment of friends residing in a small town. Here is the story:
The town of Venosta Curon has been underwater for centuries. Rain, as the old tales say, covered this little town bordering two nations Germany and Italy, leaving only the top of the bell tower visible to those who pass by.
Across the globe in Venezuela lies another town underwater. The damming of a river left this town abandoned, all but the steeple of the local church submerged, its name is Potosi, or “fortune.” Both these places hidden from view and shrouded in secret; together, these towns gave their name to this tarot deck's town: Venosta Potosi, the hidden fortune. Ouroboros in shape, tarot is an infinite mystery, but like the places that gave it a name, Venosta Potosi offers infinite meaning. It all depends on the reader—and the read.
The La Gitana Tarot is the story of Venosta Potosi. This hand-painted deck features artists, musicians, entertainers, and characters—both known and unknown, famous and infamous, distinguished and common.
She is the archetype of the world card. The card meaning itself talks of completion, travel, accomplishment, and alliance. Throughout the deck the lemniscate appears reminding everyone that no matter how many cycles we complete we will always repeat. In real analysis the infinity symbol is used to represent an unbound limit. Within the halo you will see equations.
- The Integral f(t) does not bound a finite area from to
- The summation of the infinite splits so that the partial sums grow without bound.
- The total area under the integral f(t) is finite, and equals
- The summation of the infinite series intersect/unite to some real value .
I incorporated real analysis into the card because it deals with the functions, sequences, convergence, and limits of a real variable which in essence is the exact meaning of The World Card.
The plant images are of course courtesy Jim Shirey. Jim is one of my favorite artists and a great friend. I chose Queen Anne's Lace and clover for the card as there have been tales that Scottish women would harvest Queen Anne's Lace aka Wild Carrot Seed on the Sunday before St Michael's feast. This was called "Carrot Sunday." If the roots of the plant where forked it was seen to be fortuitous. The women would sing special songs together and to the plants while gathering. They would then wash the plant and bundle it, tying it off with red string and placed in dirt or sand until St Michael's Feast Day. On that day they were given as blessing with wishes attached for luck, prosperity, fertility and abundance.
Clover is known to attract prosperity and break curse and unwanted energies.The clover grows abundantly , shooting up again after repeated cuttings and always grows in abundance despite soil and climate conditions. It is great for livestock and crops as it balances nitrogen reducing the need for chemical fertilizers.
Within this World Card there is the abundance of Spring storms and flowering plants. There is also the the bare tree of the colder days. Only two of the Major Arcana in the deck have lightening. One, The Tower where all that was known or thought to be true destroyed and through that transformation and The World, where the cosmic egg breaks, the snake sheds it's skin, the halo around Molly's head regards her with reverence but also the light around the sun, moon, or other luminescent body caused by refraction through hexagonal ice crystals in the atmosphere. As the days go from warm to cold, night and day, the journey continues in the ever constant shape of the lemniscate.
The La Gitana Tarot will be published by Catland Publishing Spring 2015.