Since I’ve been taking an extended break from writing A Diamond in Snow, I’ve been fiddling with other aspects of the Coera-Gohira-Ohida storyline, from just taking notes on odd ideas and inserting them into whatever story they belong to doing a bit more concept drawing.  My most recent project (and I fully realize that this is the type of project that I’m likely to get about 5% of the way into, then set it down for a week or two, then never get back to it) is create a deck of tarot cards based on the major characters from throughout the CGO timeline.  So far I’ve completed 2 cards and posted them to DeviantArt (Jack Riel and Melody Lilly).

I’m not a big proponent of tarot, astrology, the i Ching, numerology, or any of their ilk as forms of divination which, arguably, are their primary purpose.  (I’m not really big on the Bible or Homer’s epics as historical sources, either; I think they’re about equally reliable.)  What I do think is really cool about the tarot is its encapsulation and codification of mythological and social principles, and the heavy patina of cultural and mystical significance they’ve acquired over the years that disguise the framework on which the tarot is constructed.  There are a good number of sites that offer to explain the meanings of the tarot, but with few exceptions the sites fail to identify the elements of the construction of each card, except for some of the more obvious examples (like the aces or face cards).

For example, Melody Lilly is shown as the III of Swords, which I identified as the Heartbreaker.  Now, most of the tarot explanations will describe the Swords in general as the suit of the element Air, and will describe the them of the suit as characterized by Mind and Reason, though they seem to miss the dominant themes of discipline and sacrifice.  Since the Swords are associated with Air, they are influenced by the Air card of the Major Arcana – the Lovers (this is very rarely mentioned, but it explains why so many of the Swords deal so explicitly with both reason and love).  That much you could expect to get from a good tarot site, but very few indeed will explain the significance of the number III – that it is ruled by the III card of the Major Arcana, the Empress.  Each of the suits tell a story of sorts related to the theme, and this story is reflected and generalized in the cards of the Major Arcana.  The theme, which is to place Reason before Feeling and to sacrifice the Self to the Greater Goal, is made manifest in the I card of the suit, is expressed as a relationship in the II card of the suit, and is generalized to all relationships in the III card.  The Empress represents Creation (the theme of the Major Arcana, and it includes both positive and negative, yin and yang) bestowed upon all in bounty, fruit and leaf, flower and thorn.  So the III card of Swords, which places logic before love in all relationships, becomes the Heartbreaker – the one who will not love, or sacrifices the love of others for what they believe is the greater (or perhaps more personally satisfying) goal.

I used Google Spreadsheets for the first time (I’m beginning to find their docs feature a little lacking) to create a table of the cards and their influences, and it was both exciting and somewhat disappointing to see how cleanly it all dissolved into the specific combination of general elements.  In truth, part of the interest I had in the tarot was in how complex and detailed and specific it seemed.  I was a little amused, though, to think that perhaps some of the explanatory sites I’d read had a weaker grasp on the intentions of the cards than I believe I do now – they get too caught up in the specific symbolism of the names or illustrations of the individual cards to see the underlying reason for those names or illustrations.  Of course, there was also the issue of wanting to spin each card, no matter how unpleasant, into something potentially positive.

Have any of you ever had a tarot reading, or know someone who dabbles with tarot cards?  I’d be interested to hear more about how other people use them and read them.