Monday, January 14, 2013

New deck free-writing exercise

This one is an exercise I thought of doing myself. In a lot of [creative] writing classes, instructors like to introduce the idea of 'free-writing' - essentially, stream of thought type writing. You take a prompt and you set a specific time frame, usually five or ten minutes, and you literally DO NOT STOP the entire time, just write write write and see what your brain pops out. I thought it would be a nice way to warm up to working with one of my recently acquired (and trimmed!) decks, the Dreaming Way Tarot. In this case, I shall give myself about ten minutes for each of the two cards I've drawn.

I got this even though I feel that I have enough RWS tradition decks already because the art in some many of the cards enchanted me - something about the whimsical, fantasy-story nature of the images which nonetheless are not - unlike the Hanson-Roberts or Whimsical tarots - too childish or 'fluffed up'. The odd touches call to me, as odd things usually do. Like to like...

This devil is a perfect example. A female devil, which is fairly unusual (the only other deck that immediately comes to mind is the Victorian Romantic) who is wearing, of all things, a bright white dress. A modest white dress, at that. There is a straightjacket over it, however - what does that mean? Is the Devil herself, though holding the chains of the human pair, trapped and constrained? Or is is simply an affectation, a preference? I can think of two contexts for such bondage: mental health institutions in the recent past and the BDSM community. Repression or fetish or both?

She is dressed and the humans are naked, bare to the world. Nudity as vulnerability, clothes as power? When Europeans started colonizing the world they thought of many other cultures as savage for, among other things, they did not wear 'civilized' clothes. Look at the paintings of old, royalty wearing so many elaborate garments they could barely move. When cloth was expensive that was what power was. Today, celebrities wear next to nothing on magazine covers and that next to nothings still costs more than most outfits you or I could afford and so it goes. So much and so little changes over years.

A final observation - the two chained people, they are holding hands, clasped together, comforting each other. They have solidarity even in this dilemma. It is generally easier to bear things when you are not alone with them, isn't it? The reason why solitary confinement has always been seen as the harshest of punishments. Does the devil not care about this subversion, or is she too tied up to notice or stop them?

In contrast to the constraints, restrictions, chains in the devil, in the Two of Wands we see the familiar image of possibility, potential. The man is wearing white too but his garments are not so stiff - rather there are odd strings pillowing in the breeze, and checkered pants. He holds a globe in his hand, the world, all the places a person could see and go. The wands stand before him in the shape of a door.

Where will he go, then? This way or that, for him to decide and proceed; you can just barely see what seems to be a split in the road before him, two paths in different directions. In freedom, too, there is limitation: you cannot have everything, see all that there is to see. There isn't enough time, enough energy even for all of it. Jack of all trades master of none, they say about those who like to dabble and flit between this and that.

Potential needs energy, action to fill it out and make it real. Perhaps here on the right there are buildings, towers and houses, on the left there is fog and road and woods, and each have their advantages, different for each individual, but you cannot split yourself in half, go each way at once. In gaining you must also lose, let go, walk away. And after that, what good does looking back do, wondering if perhaps it was the other way that would have been best, questioning? Perhaps in real life not so bad as to turn you into a pillar of salt at a glimpse but nonetheless - a sort of chain.

If the thick stiff gown of the devil represents her overbearing power, the restriction inherent in dealings with her, and the nudity of her two subjects shows their vulnerability and desperation, then this man's clothes...we see individuality, a refusal to conform to any set traditions, the willingness to do something new. Who wears a hat with such straps, or checkered pants, or so many very long ribbons on their shirt? Not all are good ideas but that willingness to experiment, to do as you like and not care what people may think...admirable in its own way.


thesycamoretree said...

I took one look at the Two of Wands and thought, "This guy must be going bowling." :D
I think doing exercises like this help the intuitive side of my brain come out to play. Nice post!

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