Tarot was, most likely, developed from imported Persian playing cards, and may or may not have been used as divinatory aids at first. But then again, late-medieval and early-Renaissance people used everything for divination, from little card stock spinning wheels to pins stuck in their copies of Homer. So it seems likely. When you divine with something, with a set of something, there are certain expectations that come with it. Your divinatory system needs to have everything inside it. What if you’re experiencing anxiety because of an illness but there are no symbols of illness in your divination system? Now we’re to the point of this essay: cultures code what are included and excluded from divinatory systems — what do we do when we aren’t included, or what if we are but in a deeply unsettling way? You guessed it: let’s talk about gender and tarot cards. It’s Pride month, and it’s as good a time as any to get really personal…
This is another entry in my series titled The Postmodern Druid, in which I work to contextualize this crazy religion we’re so fond of within postmodernity — something its practitioners often resist. Today I want to talk about postmodernity itself, the condition of the world we live in. Druids and other neo-pagans often sneer at postmodernity, claiming they’re trying to get to a world, or at least a wordview, preceding it. But the thing is, without postmodernity our alternative religions wouldn’t exist!
If you take a look at my About page, you can see that I’m an academic as well as a magician and all around weirdo. I also recently declared myself a druid I’m trying it on and seeing how it fits. So far it works for me better than Wicca did. However, even in such a great overall community there’s still some anti-academic bias. And that, for obvious reasons, makes me feel a bit odd. So I thought I’d address that here, in a semi-regular series I’ve been considering for a while. So here’s the first entry in The Postmodern Druid.
I assume you’re as hyped up about the new Gorillaz album as I am, right? It’s coming out pretty soon, and it’s titled The Now Now. And while several songs have already been released, I’m just over here still listening to Humanz from a few years ago. So, naturally, I thought I’d do a tarot reading for it.
I was driving recently and listening to a podcast that features “Pagan music.” That’s both music by Pagans and music with Pagan themes or interest. One thing that struck me is that a lot of overtly Pagan music is very literal. It’s basically like Christian rock: they’re both just talking literally about these symbol-systems and experiences that you have to undergo to understand. That doesn’t mean the songs are obscure, just that sometimes they’re a little too on-the-nose. If we’re literally out here on the full moon (just passed) doing magic, it’s not weird to want some music that instills a sense of mystical wonder. So here are a few songs that I feel create that kind of mood. They’re all magical in one way or another, but they don’t just say “we’re doing magic on the Sabbath” (I have literally heard songs that do that).
Here’s a tarot spread you may find helpful. It’s for those times when you feel something that just seems a little weird and you don’t know where it’s coming from or why.
So did you see A Wrinkle in Time? You should do that, if you haven’t. I’m not going to tell the joke about you going and doing that, because it would take a while, but if you haven’t, consider it something to do. I wanted to write something about the film and the book, since I basically grew up on the latter. In a couple of odd ways, the film is actually better.