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Stars and Cards: Time Cycles and the Tarot, Part III

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In Part III, the role of the Abstract Expressions and their mystical and psychological artistic philosophies and their influence on mid-twentieth century tarot developments are explored.
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  1 Elizabeth Hazel c 2010. Originally published in the ATA Quarterly Journal, Winter 2010 issue. All Rights Reserved. Stars and Cards by Elizabeth Hazel Time Cycles and The Tarot, Part III: The Absolute Symbol  In the Fall issue I examined the rocky progress of fine art and the tarot from 1900 to the 1950¶s,ending with Jackson Pollack¶s breakthrough in abstract art, and the decks in the vanguard of the tarot renaissance. In this issue, Mark Rothko lays the groundwork for the phenomenal growth of tarot techniques in the late 1960¶s and 1970¶s. The Extended Sextile About sixty to seventy years after their conjunction, Neptune and Pluto move into an extendedsextile (60° aspect) that can last as long as forty years. The sextile of the previous 1391 conjunction cyclecorresponds to the Renaissance (1460-1490). Neptune and Pluto travel a few degrees every year and retrograde for almost half of each year.When these planets arrive at a sign cusp, they enter and exit the signs multiple times before irrevocablychanging signs. Pluto moved into Virgo from 1956-58; Neptune edged into Scorpio from 1955-57. Plutowas moving into Neptune¶s orbit, thus matching its speed. The years 1957 and 1958 are the astrological boundary between the Baby Boomers and the following generation. There are noticeable differences inthe people born with Neptune and Pluto in the yang signs (Libra/Leo) and yin signs (Scorpio/Virgo).The glyphs for Virgo and Scorpio are quite similar. The glyph for Virgo is an ³M´ with a tailcurving inward (  ). This symbolizes development and evolution taking place on an inner plane. Scorpiois an ³M´ with the tail pointing outward (  ), thus able to penetrate the external boundaries of dark or hidden realms through the power of the arrow/stinger of the Scorpion. The glyph symbolizes the penetrating and fertilizing power of water, like the Six of Cups.Virgo and Scorpio are signs concerned with spiritual development, peak experiences, and theoccult. Both are signs of study and in-depth research, plumbing secrets, and evolving mastery of abilities,skills and methods. The waxing sextile of Neptune and Pluto always begins as these planets pass fromLeo/Libra into Virgo/Scorpio. In a truly esoteric sense, the spark of the yang is received and nurtured bythe yin, birthing new concepts and modes of understanding. The two outer planets remained in these signsuntil 1970-71, coinciding precisely with the genesis of the tarot renaissance. Art as Alchemy The Abstract Expressionist most fully invested in thespiritual aspects of the Quest, the Void and the Veil was Mark Rothko (born September 25, 1903 in Latvia). He was highly literateand deeply influenced by Nietzsche and Jung. During his early³mythomorphic abstractionist´ period, Rothko painted themes fromancient Greek tragedies in the belief that art could relieve modernman¶s spiritual emptiness that resulted from a lack of mythologyand redeem him from the terrors of mortal life.Rothko moved into his ³multiform´ period in the early1950¶s. These paintings feature color islands , rectangular fields of color floating on a plain background. He wrote that the rectangleswere ³unknown adventures in unknown space«free from direct Mark Rothko  2 Elizabeth Hazel c 2010. Originally published in the ATA Quarterly Journal, Winter 2010 issue. All Rights Reserved. T his viewer gives an idea of the size and impactof Rothkos paintings. association with any particular.´Since ³maps are full of the impertinence of the arbitrary´ ([1] p 203) Rothko¶s paintings strive toovercome the dilemma of the horizon while defining the relationships between zones of absolute potential. Art critic Brian O¶Doherty states that ³the picture is a frame from some larger continuum, [ and  ]the lines have been traveling for a long time,´ thus showing both containment and endlessness. ³All of thespace on a canvas is made equal, and can be continually filled and emptied, given the opportunity tocontinually re-define itself. The process becomes the subject.´ (ibid. p157) Ultimately, ³The Romantic Self, and the Romantic will,disappear into the flat landscape of paradox, into provisional responses to a continual emergency for which there is no answer, and ultimately no question, sothat it becomes banal. The emblems of the quest arereleased to describe the cartography of the void.´ (ibid. p 205) In Rothko¶s enormous paintings, man is spread out in time as da Vinci¶s V  itruvian Man is spread out in spac e . Timeis suspended in the eternal present, and demands nothing less than the death and transfiguration of thespectator. By creating these static surfaces, Rothko achieved ³frontality,´ effectively immobilizing theviewer as space collapses around him. Frontality is associated with authority, will and control; paintingswith this characteristic exert a hypnotic, sustained effect on the viewer. ³Mythic, romantic and medievalmodes of perception intersect when the spectator is assimilated and apprehends directly µwithout themediation of other images¶[2].´ (ibid. p 224)For many years Rothko experimented with this theme.His color palette became dark and morbid as Neptune and Plutomoved from Libra/Leo (Venus and the Sun) into Scorpio andVirgo (Mars-Pluto and Mercury). His haunting canvases have a persistent afterlife in memory, a medium that occurs in time .Kierkegaard wrote that ³the true repetition is eternity.´ Tarotistsshould understand the fine differences here: recollection is the process of recall, whereas repetition is based on instants of recognition.In the fine art world, Pollack¶s drip paintings andRothko¶s color islands are considered dead-ends of abstraction.But as it took many years and other minds to find real-lifeapplications for mathematician John Forbes Nash¶s Game Theory,Rothko¶s spiritual color islands do indeed have a practicalapplication, one discovered and leveraged by creative tarotistsaround the time of Rothko¶s death in 1970. Experiments with Shimmering Horizons As explained in the previous issue, tarot development before the 1960¶s offered very little newthinking. Ideas from 19 th century tarotists and occultists were restated and recycled, and the idea of   3 Elizabeth Hazel c 2010. Originally published in the ATA Quarterly Journal, Winter 2010 issue. All Rights Reserved. Mark Rothko  Number 9 (1948).An early expression of Rothkos windows theme gaining intuitive prompts from the details of tarot cards first appeared in Paul Marteau¶s Tarot deMarseilles booklet in 1948. [3]Examine Rothko¶s paintings. At full size, these paintings are huge, covering eight to fifteen feetof canvas, roughly the size of a wall in a typical room. The deliberately exaggerated size is meant toenfold the viewer in the eternal present and convey the feeling of a spiritual experience. It is significantthat he chose rectangles rather than squares, circles or triangles to express his ideas.Rothko¶s rectangles are windows , portalsof potential that allow for ³ unknown adventuresin unknown space .´ Tarotists designing spreadsfill up their windows with prescribed meaningswhen creating spreads. Why is this? Must spread positions be defined in order to generate meaningfor the reader? Is it a law? Or is it an affectationof contemporary tarot praxis based on conditionedhabit? Does the idea of a spread design without position meanings seem frightening or dangerous? Useless? Unreadable? Stupid?Brilliant?Tarot imagery is loaded with meaning, soit is worth considering the idea that spread position meanings are redundant or possiblyunnecessary. If the necessity of position meaningsis a result of conditioning, then starting with anundefined spread design is an opportunity tounderstand them as something quite permeable intime and space.The basis a spread design is anarrangement of empty rectangles. What makesone rectangle more appropriate for the present?The past or future? Does a rectangle¶s location inthe geometric arrangement influence that decision? Its proximity to other rectangles? Do contiguousgroups of cards, their relationships in  space , influence how a tarotist regards them in relation to time ?Return to Rothko¶s adventurous windows concept and regard an arrangement of rectangles as portals of absolute potential. All of the rectangles are capable of being past, present and future. Howmight this change your view of the cards that occupy the arrangement?Shuffle the deck and lay out cards at random, face down, in rows of two, three or four cards.There may be up to five or six rows of a variable number of cards. Rows do not need to be createdsequentially; cards can be added in any manner to the rows.Turn over the cards and examine the rows. Where is the horizon of the present? Do the divinatorymeanings of the cards make this clear, or can any row of the spread be used as the baseline present? Tryto interpret the present using various rows, moving the ³horizon of the present´ from row to row. Howdoes this change your perception of the reading? Is it easier, or merely different? What feels best? Wheredo you automatically want to place the horizon of the present?  4 Elizabeth Hazel c 2010. Originally published in the ATA Quarterly Journal, Winter 2010 issue. All Rights Reserved. Gather the cards, shuffle the deck again, and create a new sequence of rows. Now consider whichrow is the horizon of the future, or the horizon of the past. Do you naturally put the present in the center,the past below and the future above? Why?Another method for experimenting with Rothko¶s ideas is to reproduce an approximation of oneof his paintings on a table top. Spread out a piece of solid color fabric, and cut rectangles somewhat larger than tarot cards from various color papers. When rectangles of different colors are arranged on a surface,do the colors suggest meaning? For many it will ± color has a lengthy association with emotions andstates of mind, as well as with esoteric correspondences. Rothko¶s color palette changed over many years.A web search of Rothko¶s paintings will give an idea of his range of color combinations and the differenteffects achieved within his narrow compositional theme. Work with different colors on the fabric. Closeyour eyes and pick three color cards at random.Shuffle a tarot deck and place cards inside of the color rectangles. Do the colors that frame thetarot cards influence the details seen in the cards? Highlight any of the symbolic elements on the cardthrough similar color values or contrasts? Do the frame colors affect or influence your emotions or intuitions about the card? Experiment with these sensations. Take three different color rectangles, andmove the same card to lie atop each color for a few moments. How does each color frame harmonize or contrast with the card¶s imagery? Try it with different cards. Experiment with different colors of  background fabric. Does white or a light color have an impact distinct from black or a darker tone?Colors don¶t bite, but some people have definite color preferences. Experiment with favored aswell as unpleasant colors. Is there an unhappy association that causes a color to be in the dog house?Place a favorite personal card on a rectangle cut from a color you dislike. Allow the card to act like awindow of potential into your personal associations with that color. Does that tarot card help you think of things that you do like that are that color?Rothko¶s windows of potential paintings created during the 1950¶s and 1960¶s immediately predated the dawning of new and srcinal tarot developments. Like so many ideas that swirl through acultural during times of great change, it is unlikely that anyone can draw a straight line from Rothko totarot development. But it does seem reasonable to acknowledge that the artistic quest to re-establish thevalue of symbols and the abstract concept of ³windows of potential´ somehow infused the waters of theunderground stream that gushed to life during the tarot renaissance.  Part I  V: Tarot and Pop Art  Endnotes and References [1] Brian O¶Doherty. American Masters: The Voice and the Myth in Modern Art . NY, EP Dutton,1974, 1982.[2] refers to a quote from Meister Eckhart: ³Images are seen directly without the mediation of other images´ (O¶Doherty, p. 223)[3] Mary K Greer et. al. A Timeline of the Occult and Divinatory Tarot from 1750 to 1980 . Noct Press2010. Author Bio: Elizabeth Hazel is an astrologer, tarotist and mystic scholar. She is the author of Tarot Decodedand The Whispering Tarot. Liz is the editor of the ATA Quarterly Journal. Her weekly horoscopes can beseen atwww.womensradio.com. Contact:ehazel@bex.netorwww.kozmic-kitchen.com   5 Elizabeth Hazel c 2010. Originally published in the ATA Quarterly Journal, Winter 2010 issue. All Rights Reserved. N eptune and Pluto in the 20 th and 21 st Centuries  NEPTUNE PLUTO 1890 ± 1894 conjunct 6 ± 10       Changes signs:  1901-02 (13 yrs)  1912-14 (25 yrs)  (1914-16 (14 yrs)  1928-29 (14 yrs)  1937-39 (19 yrs)  1942-43 (13 yrs)  1955-57 (15 yrs)  1956-58 (12 yrs)  1970 (14 yrs)  1971-72 (12 yrs)  1984 (14 yrs)  1983-84 (12 yrs)1988 Saturn conjunct Uranus 28   1992-94 Uranus conjunct Neptune 18-19     1995 (13 yrs)May 2000 ± the Millennial Alignment in Taurus (incl. Jupiter/Saturn conj)  1998 (13 yrs)  2008 (16 yrs)Summer 2010 ± the Cardinal Cross (w/ Pluto in Capricorn)  2011-12 (14 yrs)  2025  2024
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