Chess Hustler: 5 of Blades

A chess hustler plays chess in parks for small amounts of money.  Beware if you sit down with one!  This is a very good player, highly skilled in chess, who may verbally intimidate and manipulate you, and might even cheat you.

The image in this card depicts a chess hustler in Harvard Square playing an opponent while another person watches.

The card indicates a conflict in which there is a clear winner and a clear loser. Which one is you?

If you are on the losing side, then there are some points to consider. Someone might be deceiving you.  You might be the victim of a scam. Or you might be up against an opponent with greater skills and abilities. Depending on the position of the card in a reading, you may want to consider taking precautions against being cheated or you may want to resign yourself to losing gracefully.

On the other hand, you may be the winner.  In this case, you may want to consider your goals, strategy, and motivation.  Is winning your only goal?  Do the ends justify the means?  If you think so, then consider that winning at any cost may alienate your friends and allies.  When you need their help in future, they’ll remember your previous actions against them and refuse to help you. This card may be a warning that you should clean up your act and behave in a more ethical manner.

The card is from the Proletariat Tarot, a contemporary interpretation of the tarot that honors the everyday experiences of regular people.

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My first solo exhibit!

I am very excited to announce that I will be exhibiting prints from my work in progress, The Proletariat Tarot.  

The exhibit will be at the Friends Meeting at Cambridge (Quaker), 5 Longfellow Park, Cambridge, MA.  The exhibit will run from March 1st to May 1st.  The opening reception is March 6, 12:15-1:15.





Linking Tarot to the Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism

I found a great article on the history of Tarot: A Sociology of Tarot by Mike Sosteric

To summarize, tarot started in 15th century Italy as a card game for the nobility, a form of entertainment with no mystical connotations.  Towards the end of the 18th century, a French Freemason wrote as essay presenting the tarot as a repository of ancient Egyptian spiritual knowledge.  From that point on, tarot became both a tool of spiritual development for secret societies and of fortunetelling.

Sosteric, the author of the article, asserts that the tarot had been adopted by the Freemasons as an ideological implement to help the emerging middle-class establish the mindset needed to transition from feudalism to capitalism.  Sosteric sees the Freemasons as a club for bourgeois men working to establish a new order.  (My aside- If you think this is far-fetched, consider that George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Paul Revere, and Ethan Allen, as well as lesser known participants in the establishment of the United States, were Freemasons.)  Sosteric thinks that the allegorical nature of the Tarot allows it to be used for indoctrination, even brain-washing.

On the other hand, the Tarot has been used by disenfranchised groups to give meaning to people’s lives outside of capitalism.

I was excited by this article because it confirms my uneasiness about some earlier tarot decks with their emphasis on authoritarianism while recognizing the potential of tarot to foster true liberation.

3 of Cups: Camaraderie

When I was a child, I admired the other girls who could jump double dutch.  I could never do it myself, although the others graciously allowed me to try.

Girls playing double dutch in a schoolyard stayed in my mind as an image of female friendship that was joyful and dynamic.  The excitement of the movement, the pleasure the girls take in their own bodies, the enjoyment of mastering a skill, the team work required, the appreciation of each other’s accomplishments all demonstrate the cards meanings of friendship and exuberance.

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King of Wands: Master of Fire

Here the King of Wands is interpreted as a steelworker, someone who works with fire in a way that combines skill with bravery.  In a reading, this card indicates someone who is passionate, forceful, daring, and creative.  I depicted the King of Wands wearing a Mohawk Warrior Flag decal on his helmet (partially seen) to honor the  many Mohawk and other First Nations ironworkers who have worked on the skyscrapers of New York City, including the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center. On 9/11 Mohawk ironworkers then working in Manhattan rushed to the  scene of the bombing to help survivors escape.  Subsequently, many volunteered in the clean-up, dismantling the buildings some on them had previously erected decades before.  A Mohawk group of ironworkers worked on the raising of the new World Trade Center building known as Freedom Tower.


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Cards from The Proletariat Deck

The cards in traditional decks that touched me the most were about the regular people: laborers, peasants, and homeless people. As someone whose father, paternal grandfather, and uncle were union carpenters, and whose maternal grandfather was a coal miner, I respect the dignity of labor. I want to celebrate with love and beauty the lives of the workers, the disenfranchised, the so-called lower classes. The word that seemed appropriate to encompasses the entirety of my vision was the word proletariat.

The Proletariat Deck is in process.  I’ll be posting new cards as I finish them.