Let’s talk about the Tower, baby, let’s talk about you and me…

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Tarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck; a 1909 card scanned by Holly Voley  for the public domain

Tarot card from the Rider-Waite tarot deck; a 1909 card scanned by Holly Voley for the public domain

Tarot’s Tower does come across as a phallic symbol and in some interpretations it is read as such*; the Star accordingly could be read as female orgasm – and as connection to sephirot Binah and whatnot.

It’s one of the Major Arcanum I have working knowledge of, but can’t connect to on a deeper level, I don’t get it.

Yes, I know it all – the connection to even more confusing Biblical tale of the Babylonian Tower; for an uber-intellectual analysis of the Arcanum and references to anyone you can think of – from Nimrod to Plutarch, see “Jung and Tarot: An Archetypal Journey” by Sallie Nichols… It is a great book on theory of Tarot and I recommend it heartily, but I do doubt it will improve your practical reading skills even the tiniest bit.

It’s been said before that Tarot is a language – a system of signs in semiotic understanding. As such, it does need to be studied both theoretically and practically. To me personally, the two aspects of studying do go hand in hand, otherwise – theory without practice is abstract and dry, whereas practice without theoretic studying tends to turn the discipline into mere fortune-telling. (Nothing too wrong about it, except that on philosophical level it’s diametrically opposed to the doctrine of  free will, whereas in practice it too easily activates the notorious ‘negative self-fulfilling prophecy’, ie. negative predictions do influence sitter’s mind on various levels.)

I am not going to re-digest numerous valid and known interpretations of the Arcanum XVI, those didn’t do much for me. I did learn over years what Tower means in my readings – it’s usually denoting couple of days of stress and upset, but not more than that. (One of the cards I dislike getting way more is the depressing and dis-empowering Hanged Man, that energy for me is way more difficult to handle than shaky and unpredictable Tower.)

What I wanted to share is an unusual and non-deterministic take on the Tower to which I came during last couple of days, since I relocated once again from Montenegro to Moscow.

See, nevertheless we too speak a Slavic language and albeit my country throughout history had close ties with Russia – our own Balkan mentality and Mediterranean way of living has nothing to do with Russian ways. Italian mentality is close to ours – and no wonder, it is a neighboring country to ours and good part of Montenegro was historically ruled by Venetia. We get along with Turks very well – after all – as much as we fought throughout history, we did live in a close proximity for some 400 years and by now we do have a lot in common, taste in foods and similar cuisines among it. But Russians… as much as we love them, we have close to nothing in common with them – neither the system of values, nor the way of life. And it’s tough for me, every time I come here, to adapt and adjust to it all once again – and here we come to the Towerish experience which I wanted to share.

I wrote before on secondary linguistic personality and cultural adaptation ( you can read an excellent material – Russian source translated into English – here http://www.russcomm.ru/eng/rca_biblio/l/leontovich02_eng.shtml ), learning a foreign language is a profoundly transforming and deeply Tower-ish experience.

Leading kabbalistis of our times, such as Shaul Youdkevitch, say that the language we speak molds our personalities – and albeit I am a doctoral candidate in linguistics, I quote kabbalists way more gladly than linguists and philosophers. (After all, during brief 45 min of intro lecture to Kabbalah – which is mostly on what Kabbalah is NOT-  one learns way more than during hours long, boring and pretentious lectures by Slavoy Zizek for example, at least it is so in my experience.) The thing with me is that by now I speak Russian as a native and they don’t figure out easily I am a foreigner; but my attitude is foreign to them and that brings about a lot of confusion. Our society back home is conservative – and so is Russian, but in very different ways; I am from patriarchal culture, but I am not used to patronizing to which I am exposed over here due to my gender – and Russians are not used to women being as assertive as I am, at least not at my age (I look younger my biological age.) Back at home I don’t act from the framework of my gender – I am a responsible person, a member of the community and most often my gender is irrelevant to whatever I am doing or saying. It’s not so in mother Russia. I was told I speak too much for a woman (by a member of the academy of science, mind you.) I am constantly reminded I don’t need bother too much, it’s suffices that my looks are somewhat pleasing to the eye. That bothers me. I wasn’t raised as a girlie girl – I was raised to be a person, not a girl. More so that at my age and with social position I have back home it is ridiculous to be reduced to some kind of decoration… but it is what it is. I learned so far that there isn’t much point in arguing and explaining feminist premises to anyone, people get it or not. What’s important is that in my own microcosms – in academia and at my own Muscovite University it is NOT so; the treatment I – and most other women get out there… that I can’t change, as much as it bothers me. For the sake of the proverbial intercultural communication, you need to adapt- at least seemingly and temporarily – as difficult as it I; so, I learned a little trick, which makes my Towerish adaptation tad easier to bare – I introduced a heavy foreign accent which clearly marks me as an intruder. As soon as I step out from the comfort of Pushkin University, my faked accent distinguishes me as an outsider, a crazy foreigner, Albert Camus’ Meursault – by choice.

Meanwhile, I skyp with my family, so not to lose my mind completely 😉

my mom, my fur baby, my cousin Drago and sis in law Vanja

my mom, my fur baby, my cousin Drago and sis in law Vanja; father dearest on the snapshot bellow (he’s just back from a reception hence the tie & all that jazz ;))

Video call snapshot 48 Video call snapshot 50

Lon Milo Duquette, Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot; Weiser Books, 2003 (also Sexual Alchemy of the Thoth Tarot – DVD course by the same author)

 

My Pursuit of the Art of Living

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re-posted from zenhabits

by Leo Babauta

 

For many years I simply lived, and got by.

But in the last few years, after learning a bit about habits and mindfulness and simplicity and love, I have changed my approach to living.

Now I see living as an art form, to be studied and played with and practiced and mastered. Of course, few ever master the art of living, and I don’t know if I ever will. Probably not.

But I can pursue this art. I can appreciate it when others do it well. I can learn about it, through experiments and observation and introspection.

My pursuit of the art of living is only just beginning, but I thought I’d share a bit about this pursuit with you, my good friends.

Beginning the Pursuit
The journey begins with a single step, a wise man said, and for me that first step is simple:

Admit I don’t know.

Learning begins by emptying your cup, so that you can fill it with what you find. Emptying your cup means getting rid of pre-set opinions.

I don’t know what the art of living is, but I am curious.

And so the path is one of open hands, of curiosity and finding out.

And it’s one of bare feet, of being open and naked, willing to be exposed to life and chaos.

It’s about clear seeing, mindfulness turned to seeing reality as it is, without trying to make things rosy or conform to the story you tell yourself.

Clear seeing, naked, open hands, curious without knowing. That’s the path that I’ve found, so far.

The Art Emerges
With clear seeing, I start to see why I (and others) suffer, why we stress and get mad at each other and want more and more.

And now I can start to apply the art of living to my days.

Here’s what I practice with, imperfectly:

Compassion. Instead of being angry or frustrated, I find the pain in others, and open my heart to them. This includes compassion for myself.
Gratitude. Life is filled with wonder, and the people around me as well. I try to open myself to that wonder, and be grateful it’s there, instead of complaining.
Joyfear. Joy is an awesome thing to have, but joyfear is present in the powerful moments in life where joy and fear mix, where we’re taking chances and doing something outside of our comfort zone that both excites us and makes us face the possibility of failure. I now embrace these moments rather than avoiding them.
Not avoiding discomfort or uncertainty. When we avoid discomfort, we are limited by our comfort zone, and new learning and new ventures become impossible. When we avoid uncertainty, we only stick to what we know. But we can purposely become good at discomfort and uncertainty, by practicing in small bite-sized chunks, over and over.
Staying with the moment, even when it’s hard. This is the hardest of all. “Living in the moment” sounds wonderful, but actually staying with the present moment isn’t ever easy. Try it: with your eyes open, sit still and stay with the sights and sounds around you for 1 minute, without your mind wandering away from them. If you don’t notice your mind wandering, either you’re an experienced mindfulness practitioner, or you didn’t notice when your mind wandered.
Relationships are everything. Getting what we want, having things our way, having control, being right … these things matter nothing compared to relationships. Imagine being in your death bed at the age of 80 … will your sense of being right and in control comfort you when you have no good relationships, no one who has loved you? Put relationships first.
Not holding on to expectations & judgments. Expectations and judgments prevent me from enjoying what I have, from enjoying the simple presence of someone else in my life. I practice with noticing these expectations and judgments, and practice with holding them loosely, letting them go.
Letting go. This is the art of living in two words: letting go. It’s letting go of judgments, expectations, wanting to be right, wanting to control, fear of discomfort, fear of uncertainty, fear of failure, fear of boredom, comparing myself to others, wanting distraction, being irritated, complaining. It’s noticing when I’m holding these, and letting go. Loosening my heart’s grip on any of these, and letting go. And then letting go again. And again.
And so the art of living is a practice, one that doesn’t end, that doesn’t have a mastery level. It’s a constant letting go, a constant picking up again, and then letting go again. And falling, and getting up without beating myself up.

The art of living is the art of getting back up.

ArtofLife1

 

The Art of Life Tarot by Charlene Livingstone, published by U.S. Games Systems Inc; read a great review of the deck here: http://newpathstarot.com/wordpress/index.php/art-of-life-tarot-deck-review/

i wish there would be following Facebook buttons, besides Like:

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1. i agree 100% with your update (whatever it is & usually it’s something highly irrelevant to the 99% of world’s population) AND i wish i thought of it myself, but then i am a non-native speaker and still couldn’t word it so neatly, so i feel tad envious too;

2. i disagree completely, more so – i almost hate you right now, but can’t remove you from friends because there is no reasonable explanation to my neurotic reaction for our mutual fb friends, thus i’ll pretend i haven’t read your status AT ALL;

3. i didn’t reply to your cry for help not because i am insensitive, but because i am in another time zone and now, 22h later,  i feel embarrassed to say anything at all;

4. i hate prolonged status updates posted late in the night, i mean, c’mmon, who has the focus for that in this ADD era?!

5. you are plain WRONG, but i am too tired to argue, so here is a passive-aggressive Like with a smirk ;

6. you post in a language i don’t speak, but you look kinda hot on your profile picture, so i Like your update & keep my fingers crossed that it isn’t about your companion being ill or something;

7. iLike your status, i really do, but it’s quite personal and i am neither sure who you are nor why i added you to friends, so i’ll pass;

8. i have no idea what you are talking about & i am too busy to read it all, but given that 78 mutual friends liked your status & commented on it Like it is!

9. despite being called ‘most anti-social invention’ by some,  a Facebook “like” is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment; “Liking” something on the social media site is a “substantive statement” being made by a user – and i don’t take those lightly, because the mere sound of the phrase is legal-power-igniting & it doesn’t matter the least that i am not sure at all what substantive statements are!

10. iLike what you are saying, it comes across as intelligent and eloquent, but i am uninformed on the topic& can’t be bothered to read extensively about it, so to comment appropriately, thus i’ll pretend that i missed this one, albeit i didn’t;

11.  i think i Like your status, but i am not sure & it’s my bedtime (i am in another time zone)

12. i like your status, but then i think your significant other won’t like yet another Like of mine on your Facebook wall;

13. you haven’t Liked any of my statuses recently & being a firm believer in Facebook reciprocity, i pass;

14. yours is a marketing douchebaggery, so no Like from me, despite the big puppy eyes you are making;

15. if i Like this, you’ll expect me to Like other stuff of yours; if i do – then you’ll invite me to Like your Facebook page, if i do that – all your Facebook friends will start nagging me to Like their respective Facebook pages and i don’t really like many of their pages, but would feel thorn apart if i liked some and wouldn’t like others and i don’t wish that kind of anguish for myself, so i pass!

facebook

a minimalist collector

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A minimalist collector? Could it be or it’s a scholarly example of a contradiction in terms?  By definition,

col·lec·tor noun

(is )

a person who collects things of a specified type, professionally or as a hobby, “an art collector”

 

Then there is the minimalist paradigm:

“Q: Why be a minimalist?

A: It’s a way to escape the excesses of the world around us — the excesses of consumerism, material possessions, clutter, having too much to do, too much debt, too many distractions, too much noise. But too little meaning. Minimalism is a way of eschewing the non-essential in order to focus on what’s truly important, what gives our lives meaning, what gives us joy and value.

Q: Isn’t minimalism boring or too sparse, with nothing in your life?

A: This is a misconception about minimalism — that it’s necessarily monk-like, empty, boring, sterile. Not at all. Well, it can be, if you go in that direction, but I don’t advocate that flavor of minimalism. Instead, we are clearing away all but the most essential things — to make room for that which gives us the most joy. Clear away the distractions so we can create something incredible. Clear away all the obligations so we can spend time with loved ones. Clear away the noise so we can concentrate on inner peace, on spirituality (if we wish), on our thinking. As a result, there is more happiness, peace, and joy, because we’ve made room for these things.” Leo Babauta

Source: http://mnmlist.com/minimalist-faqs/

Are these two concepts compatible? Yes, if you ask me. A major Tarot collection consists of over a thousand decks – and several of my friends have them.

My own collection, in that context, is small – less than 100 decks, but all of them are exceptional either because they are hard to find, limited editions or simply because they are great reading decks and/or have outstanding artwork.

If you are going to be a savvy collector, you won’t be buying decks when they hit the Hard to Find/ Out of Print lists – by then their price has skyrocketed;  you’ll be following new releases and buying them while they are fresh out of press. A newly released deck in Europe is around 20 euros, with shipment (from San Marino to you, or wherever your preferred Tarot dealer is.)

It hasn’t been unheard of that in time these decks reach 40x more of their initial purchasing value – if you do some research online, you can track the raise of value of Baba Prague’s decks for example.

Of course, commercial decks – those printed by major publishers in unlimited series – will hardly ever reach that value;  so it does take a lot of researching, following Tarot artists’ work, reading forums and facebook groups (and, of course, the hearsay between the collectors) in order to make an informed and lucrative selection.

Myself, I buy decks I am impressed with at the first sight, that’s about it. I’ve never sold a deck, albeit I gave away at least two times more of what I kept for myself. (And among those decks are many which I received as a gift.)

It’s possible to make a business of it and many Tarotists do it, I find it to be an uber cool way to make an income – it’s artsy, it’s exciting, it’s magical – what else would one want from a business? I live of other things, so mine, at least for the time being,  is directed towards acquiring the artwork I love and decks I enjoy reading.

I don’t necessarily need to possess every single deck I admire and I definitely don’t keep a single deck that I am not absolutely crazy about.

True, i was (jokingly) called cruel by a dear friend of mine who’s the owner of one of the world’s most impressive collections, she said that one can’t simply discard decks they don’t like because they are… like children… And it’s true, as much as collecting might come across as a greedy and possessive thing to do to those who simply don’t get it – once you become a collector, you develop quite a deep , emotional bond with the items you collect. (Mind you, i spend less on that than most people spend on unhealthy eating habits or some other vice of their choice.)

My “problem” is that besides decks, I collect books…

My living space (in Montenegro) is 85m2, I am a clean freak and at the same time I am trying to simplify my life… Improbable, but doable.

Until recently, I had a library – a room furnished with shelves only, where books used to dwell. The problem was that it took me 8h every other week to un-dust and tidy it and with my working schedule it did become a chore. With the books I apply the same principles as with decks – only loved ones and those of big value stay, everything else is  gifted, donated and some of it – even thrown to the dust bin. I’ve moved what’s left to a closet. In that closet I used to store table linen – all those embroidered clothes and napkins… I got rid of those. As much as I love table art and albeit I am having guests often, I did downsize there. I opted for table clothes which don’t need to be ironed and paper napkins – albeit that causes heartache to my mother and my grandmother probably wouldn’t talk to me at all after that heresy. See, those napkins took me 4h every other week – to be washed, cleaned of vine stains and ironed… I don’t have that much time.

I applied the same principle to all the areas of my life – hobbies, friendships and even online forums and facebook groups.

There are many people and things I really like, but very few I can’t live without; the very little free time I get – I choose to spend on the latter.

(And here are some images of my home and how I’ve organized it during the latest de- cluttering .)

“Make the place where you live to be your place, even if it was not your own choice. And make yourself an essential part of this place. So you belong. Your life is the entire life. If the grass is greener somewhere else, then you let your life get lost. And the people you live with, lose you. Make thís grass green, fill in your place, give coordinates to your life. An unlimited life does not make you exist, but a limited one makes a big presence.” LiSe’s Hexagram 54

source: www.yijing.nl

 

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Zlatibor Mountain, Dinaric Alps

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Mother dearest took these while vacationing in Mount Zlatibor. I am sharing them here (with permission), just in case you wondered after whom i got hooked on photography – and on prophecies too… At 8ht photo from the bottom you see mom standing beside wooden monument of Tarabic brothers – the famed Foreseers of Kremna, all’s said 😉

Living the Quiet Life

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By Leo Babauta

When I first started simplifying my life, about 8 years ago, I remember my life being much busier.

I would say yes to everything, and go to lots of social stuff, and drive everywhere doing a crazy amount of things, rushing wherever I went. By crazy I mean it can drive you a bit insane.

These days I know a lot of people who do an amazing amount of socializing online instead of in person — chatting and sending messages and tumbling and posting pictures and status updates. While I understand the need for social connection, I also recognize the addictiveness of it all, to the point where we have no quiet.

Quiet space is incredibly important to me these days. I like my quiet mornings where I can drink a nice tea, meditate, write, as the day grows light and the kids are sleeping. I like quiet on my runs and long walks, so that I can process my ideas, give my thoughts some space, reflect on my life.

The quiet space I allow myself has made possible my writing, but also all the improvements I’ve made to my life: healthier eating, the exercise habit, meditation, decluttering, procrastinating less, etc. Because the quiet space allows me to be more conscious about my actions, and gives me the time to consider whether what I’m doing is how I want to live my life.

And so, while I still socialize, I live a quieter life now. I have my quiet mornings of meditation, tea and writing, but also my nice runs, some time drinking tea or working out with a friend, alone time with my wife, reading with my kids, and some time alone with a good novel.

Is every minute one of quiet? No, the kids make sure I have some noise in my life, and I’m grateful for that, but the quiet is also in how I respond to the noise. A quiet response is one that absorbs the force of noise, with compassion, and doesn’t throw it back with equal force.

Today I wish the quiet life upon you.

Some ideas:

  • Create a little quiet space in the morning.
  • Meditate for 2 minutes a day (to start with). Just sit and put your attention on your breath, returning when your thoughts distract you.
  • When you feel the urge to socialize online, pause. Give yourself a little quiet instead.
  • When you feel the automatic urge to say Yes to an invitation, consider saying No instead, unless it’s something that will truly enrich your life.
  • Don’t take music on a run or walk. Instead, give yourself space with your thoughts.
  • When someone talks to you, instead of jumping in with something about yourself, just listen. Absorb. Reflect their thoughts back to them. Appreciate their beauty.
  • Make time for the people closest to you. One-on-one time is best. Really pay attention to them.
  • Make time for creating, with no distractions.
  • Spend some time decluttering, and creating peaceful space.
  • Create space between your automatic reaction, and your actions (or words). Even one second is enough. In that space, consider whether your reaction is appropriate.
  • Instead of rushing, take a breath, and slow down.
  • Pay attention to sensations of whatever you’re eating, drinking, doing.
  • Have a daily time for reflection.

You don’t have to do all of these, and certainly not all at once. A slow, happy progression is best.

In the quiet space that you create, in this world of noise and rushing and distraction, is a new world of reflection, peacefulness, and beauty. It’s a world of your own, and it’s worth living in.

 

reblogged from zenhabits.net

Uncopyright notice: Leo’s entire blog is uncopyrighted (since January 2008), he has put it in public domain; still, when reposting, BE A DARLING and credit the source of original content because it’s the right thing to do.

 

A quiet day on Darebin Creek,  Tom Roberts (1856–1931)

A quiet day on Darebin Creek, Tom Roberts (1856–1931)

 

‘If you wake up surrounded by broken vodka bottles…

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… ass-naked in the snow you had a quiet night with some work colleagues in Moscow’, says the Road Junky’s Instant Global Morning-After Self-Locator. Sounds funny and perfectly depicts the common stereotypes about mother Russia – but it’s false. 21st century Moscow’s reality is rather what they believe to await you in Switzerland, under the circumstances: If you wake up in a snow bank and are greeted in six different languages by a helpful hiker you are in Switzerland. Don’t touch anything; you can’t afford it.  You see, Zurich is ranking somewhere 7th in various lists of the world’s most expensive cities, and Moscow is either No1 – or second only to Tokio.

The truth is that my friends and colleagues here don’t drink more than my other friends anywhere in the world, it’s only that they pay double and triple for the booze. All in all, if you are dying to live a genuinely Russian experience – or, rather, a Soviet one – you’d better head for Moldova or Belarus. I’ve been to Moldova couple of years ago – and it’s really an experience out of this world, somehow the globalization has bypassed it and you can indeed experience stuff unavailable anywhere else; i was told the same is in Belarus.

In Moscow – you won’t get lost if you don’t speak Russian, as it was the case some quarter a century ago, Russian cars are driven mostly by migrants from Central Asia, while locals prefer Mercedes and Audi. Wherever  you go – there is a McDonald’s and a Starbucks and there are very few foods from home which you’ll miss horribly while staying here – you can buy pretty much everything in Moscow’s hypermarkets.

If you were here 25 years ago, you needed to speak from the framework of Russian culture, so to be understood – cultural gap was huge because Russians at the time were watching their own movies exclusively, reading their own writers mostly and listening to music that was made-in-Russia… It’s not the case anymore, the same Hollywood blockbusters are screened in the movie  theaters here and the NY Times bestsellers are translated instantly. Nowadays, when you want to share something from another culture – your brain won’t explode while thinking of the Russian equivalent (i mean the impossible comparisons of a kind: Jim Morrison is to us, what Vladimir Vysotsky is to you, to which foreigners used to resort at the time), just spit it out, whatever it is that you thought of – chances are that your Russian host already knows about it.

Of course that there are certain local specifics – like the tea culture and certain traditional foods, such as herring which is savored with delicious Borodino bread … But those you can taste in any Russian restaurant pretty much everywhere in the world.

Oh, right – many Russian women still wear fur, but so do Montenegrin and vegetarianism is not as common as it is in the Western Europe and USA.

Other than that – i really have hard time thinking of some major differences; Russians, like other Eastern Europeans, were said to be gloomy because here it wasn’t common to keep smiling at all times, but that’s changing too; also the previously obligatory use of patronymics is mostly the matter of the past.

All of that being said, you can imagine my amazement when -unexpectedly – i’ve lived an jamais vu experience, here at VDNH which by now is as ‘all-Russian’ as KFC at the Chinese Great Wall is all Chinese.

After the stroll at the botanical garden, across the park’s ponds we headed to the Exhibition Center VDNH which is adjunct to it. With a friend who’s my usual sojourner during the local adventures, for some reason we ventured into the Pavilion No2, where Soviet geological wonders used to be exposed (nowadays it’s a flower market.)

Lo and behold, we hear loud Panjabi music coming from somewhere, we follow it and get to some stairs leading down, the entrance itself being hidden by white textile paravan… Excited, we head downstairs and find ourselves in the most amazing place in which i’ve been during my three years long stay in Moscow – it’s a restaurant and a shop owned by a Bengali gentleman, Amin, who runs it mostly for his own countrymates and the small business owners from the flower market.

I do doubt there is a friendlier restaurant owner in Moscow than Mr Amin – and i am certain that you can’t treat yourself to such delicacies at such a low prices anywhere else. The atmosphere is that of a local pub – and it doesn’t matter that you don’t really know anyone, you feel welcomed; with all the loneliness and alienation typical of Moscow and all other megalopolises – Amin’s restaurant does feel like a cosy, divinely smelling and tad messy home away from home. (Pictures posted with permission.)

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Critique of Pure Writing Genius

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English: An original card from the tarot deck ...

English: An original card from the tarot deck of Jean Dodal of Lyon, a classic “Marseilles” deck. The deck dates from 1701-1715. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sic. You know i am into catchy phrases, but there is something else… It’s that a genius  is presumably so exceptional and so out of ordinary, that it’s beyond critique – and often – even beyond the comprehension of us, the mortals.

Let alone that no one really knows what’s genius (except that we all agree Da Vinci, Einstein and Tesla were that ), sometimes being genius in one field obviously doesn’t mean the individual in question can transplant that geniousness  onto something else – or – better to say, on anything else.

If you wonder what got me into this flow of thought – it’s that i am reading Italo Calvino’s Tarot inspired book – The Castle of Crossed Destinies… Meh. I’ve been hunting it for years and only this time in Moscow i bumped into a forgotten (and damaged) copy laying somewhere at the sides of a big, flashy bookstore in my neighborhood.

Not sure why i thought Calvino’s would be any different than Pavic’s – or of any other good (or even great) writer who thought his genius writing style sufficed to bite into something as complex and as mystical as Tarot is. You see, it’s not enough. It takes way more than being good (or even great) with words to write about Tarot – given that in your writings you aspire to any depth and any subtext.

I loved Calvino’s others books, he’s simply a great writer. The beginning of the Castle sounded promising – again, at first it’s the master storytelling that gets you… But what it comes down to?

It seems what Calvino did is the following – he shuffled and pulled the cards randomly and than wrote whatever association came to his (rich) imagination.

Which is good, and every single serious Tarotist did it – as a learning exercise. That’s what you do, when you are just starting to learn reading Tarot de Marseilles; you pull the cards randomly, arrange them in a line, pay attention to the body language of the figures depicted – and tell the story.

If you are somewhat gifted for writing and more so if you were diligent in your high school history classes – you’ll end up with a good story and most probably – with a great story.

Then you learn to read the Tarot as cartomancers do… and a whole new paradigm, a whole ‘brave new world’ opens up for you.

That space, the discourse between you and the cards – it’s sacred and i won’t pollute your experience by retelling mine, but whomever did it – knows it’s deep and overwhelming and mind blowing… Oftentimes it’s beyond verbalization, but when peeps who were brave enough and nerdy enough to let the Tarot paradigm infuse their minds, those who were opened enough (and mad enough) to live the Tarot experience… when they start putting those into words, in their very words – and often  in between them, you feel the Light, or that which we normally name ‘geniusness’.

I am not saying Calvino’s book is not good – it is of course, but not more than that – and somehow i did expect more.

The thing is that many great minds – such as Joseph Campbell, who co-authored a book on Tarot ( “Tarot Revelations”, Joseph Campbell and Richard Roberts)- in their work touched on Tarot and left it at that…

Sad, because one can’t but think – what if… What if those great minds really spent prolonged periods of time with their decks, without presuming that they can put it to some use, as it is?

Mary Greer writes on Jung and Tarot. I claim Mary to be genius – and here is why: i’ve studied from her books and i’ve been reading her posts on certain Tarot forum and in several facebook groups, see – firstly she has an out-of-ordinary capacity to learn, digest and deconstruct enormous quantities of both scientific data and mystical texts; she found the proverbial middle way – not being a slave to facts, but not falling into mishy-mashy pseudo-scientific discourse to which many of esoteric authors are inclined. You see – to achieve that balance when working with the occult – is genius. Also, Mary is movingly honest in her search – and from Socrates onwards all great minds were such. See, that – the honesty in one’s search for truth – is the main reason that Thomas Aquinas by most in academia is not even considered to be a philosopher; the thing with him is that he ‘knew’ the truth and by various means is manipulating you into his believes and views… that’s dogma, not philosophy, no matter how skillful the orator.

So, for myself, when defining a genius i follow the notorious ‘i know it when i see it’ – and it is so; we all have this or that author to whom we are partial, but we mostly agree on who among them is genius.

Calvino’s writing style is genius, it’s a gift and when you read his work, even in a dreaded translation, you feel it, you feel that 1% of something, that can’t be put into words and which can’t be achieved with the proverbial 99% of sweating. Calvino has it in his words, my pet peeve is that he thought it sufficed to write on Tarot.

Once again, his is a good book – and even  a great one, if you don’t have a clue about Tarot; the thing is that equally well written texts you can find on aeclectic.net if you go to the Tarot de Marseilles subforum and dig out some older threads there… You know what? You’ll find way better written texts there – because the peeps who authored them – Le Fanu of the Curious Cabinet, Paul NagyEnrique Enriques , Jean- Michel David and others with great gift for words wrote those – and that’s after having spent years and decades with the cards.

Tarot-wise, i grew up on that forum, so while reading Calvino’s book, i can’t stop myself from thinking: Italo, my man, you should have tried harder…

“Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.” 
― Italo CalvinoInvisible Cities

Europe’s Largest Botanical Garden

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Russians take their Botanical Gardens very seriously – there are five in Moscow alone. The country’s botanical gardens were traditionally under the patronage of the Russian royal family, but Soviet authorities, however, managed to outdo the Tsars both in scope and grandeur.

The largest and the most famous one is that of the Russian Academy of Sciences’, located in the northwest part of the city, next to the VDNH Exhibition Center.

Officially founded in 1945 and spanning over 890 acres, it’s twice the size of Monaco, and Europe’s largest Botanical Garden.

The rose garden alone is the home of 2,500 species, including an ancient green Bengali rose.

adopted from: moscow.info and rt.com