The Tarot is often considered older than it’s apparent history.
Although no documents exist prior to the 18th century of the Tarot being used as an oracle, divination using similar cards may be found as early as 1540; The Oracles of Francesco Marcolino da Forli shows a simple method of divination using regular playing cards. In 1735 (The Square of Sevens) and 1750 (Pratesi Cartomancer) rudimentary divinatory meanings and lay outs for the Tarot may be found. The oldest surviving Tarot Cards are three early to mid 15th century sets, all made for members of the Visconti family, however their suites and Major Arcana are only similar in construction to what is viewed as the modern decks of the 20th and 21rst century. In the 1880s the Golden Dawn assembled many variations and mystical systems to produce a deck that was synchronized with multiple western and mid eastern traditions.
In my study of the Tarot I have focused on the Kabalah and Western European traditions as a basis of understanding the system. The Tarot represents several layers of perception to the world around us and how we interact and discover ourselves.
One day I accidentally dropped a deck of Tarot Cards and saw how they fell into a random pattern. Because of their shape I couldn’t see much of the deck as the cards were covering the images beneath and wondered how a reading would be done if one could see how the images would interface with each other. I made a decision to develop jewelry focusing on spiritual and metaphysical subjects, bringing these ideas to the hand and eye. I then undertook a labor to produce a Three Dimensional Tarot system completed in 1992: the Tarot Casters.
The Tarot Casters comprises of the major Arcana’s 22 concepts, each shape unique, each interpretation of the card an original design. I based the pieces on Hebrew letters assigned and extrapolated the classic design of the card. The result is a deck of 22 pieces that may be held in the hands and dropped on a surface. Then the querent looks at the random design and (like a rorschach blot) interpret the design. The reader then interprets the shape by the sum of it’s components: the flow of element and concept from one piece to the other.
The response has been interesting. Many seasoned readers found the decks challenging, no longer relying on formula of basic layouts and key words. Several have referred to the system as “advanced”. Other new to the Tarot have found them quite easy, helping them rely on intuition and perception. The most remarkable recipient was a blind woman who then began to use the set professionally: “For the first time I can use all of my Tarot Studies in readings!”
My most recent project in this field is the Tarot Garden in MetaPlace. I have created a Virtual Reality featuring the Tarot Casters as garden sculpture. Each piece is in its own environment including tone, animation and short videos to help illustrate the concept of each card in a new kind of environment. The first section is the Court Yard where one is introduced to the Garden with a series of helpful hints and instructions on how to interact. This includes a fully animated video that introduces the Tree of Life: the foundation of the Tarot as perceived by most Tarot Students of the 21rst century. From there it separates into three gardens, actually producing “the Fools Journey” as the Major Arana is sometimes referred to.
That Tarot is a living system, we learn from the Tarot by discovering ourselves, other people and the environment that surrounds us. I invite you to examine my work and respond with your impressions.
The metaplace garden is turning out great.
It has been a lot of work, but I had help from my friends! Michael Woody was a trooper, creating several of the animations that I so treasure: the clouds crossing the moon and the wheat field being two of the more impressive animations – not to mention the water flowing through out the worlds. My buddy Allyn was the real goad to us all. He introduced us to the engine and taught me how to create the assets and make them fit properly into the proper angel to fit into the world. Although it looks like the majority of the world is complete, I still have a few ideas about what I would like to present: creating a moving Tarot like this has been a desire for years. Thanks to Raph for creating a tool to create this and the other virtual world where we can make such art happen! MetaPlace Rocks!
Not to mention the cod busting you did for me Robert! The Virtual Jewelry cases would never be the same without your fine eye and steady hand.
I love these amulets! absolutly beautiful!
Bless your heart!
Beauty is but a reflection of the beholder.
This is so cool that this deck can be read by the blind, is your blog also accessible to them via audio? I find this connection between touch, sight and reading tarot cards a very magical extension of the ideas you have explained. Maybe I’m wrong, again I’m new at this. I think you should get your words HEARD so that more people with visual impairments can benefit from your cards. Kewl stuff!!
There are a few programs out there for the blind to “read” the internet. One of the reasons I decided to blog in the first place is that it is hard to communicate imagery without the text. My dear friend Michael Woody suggested that blogging would allow better access for the visually impaired.
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