The cards brush against the heavy carpet as old hands roughly arrange them into rows of three. I am amazed how fast the reader moves, and how consumed the questioner is. It is apparent that the cards are holding authority over the both of them.
These opening titles for Cleo de 5 a 7 gave me a clear destination in Paris; a grungy esoteric shop in the 7th Arrondissement. I have heard that one should not buy one’s own deck. I figured, because I set out with different intentions than divination that I was safe. I was after the imagery, and I know now how complex tarot is to use. Every card has its own meaning, which can be altered by what is dealt nearby, and its orientation. Every reader has different methods, and every reading is subject to subtle changes in ritual.
Tarot was once just a game. It took only one century to become a method of clairvoyance after its arrival in southern Europe. By the 19th century reading Tarot was very vogue, a Victorian titillation akin to Ouija boards and séance. Now the poor cards have been smothered by the crushed purple velvet of modern occult clichés.
The deck of cards I came away with was a plastic coated reproduction named Tarot Egyptien. Egyptian because of a slightly misleading development; it is said that Tarot is derived from ancient Egyptian knowledge and mythology. This has never actually been confirmed and is a little unusual considering a recurring motif in Egyptian mythology is that the knowledge of gods is not human domain.
The eclecticism in a shop devoted to mysticism is both baffling and wonderful to me. Most of the objects you’ll find there are tools; to understand, to teach, to reach, to overcome, to pacify. They are arranged from all kinds of backgrounds. A fossil, a mandala and a rosary lay next to each other, closing oceans and centuries of spiritual development.
Things like tarot are so highly romanticized it is no wonder they are met with so much skepticism. As an artist, tarot is a kind of tool that speaks to me directly. With tarot, an object stands between two people. Through the object issues can be filtered and analyzed. The biases of each person involved in the conversation are present but because the object has the power, they are not leading the discussion.
To place this kind of energy into a physical entity enables the mind to reflect on it from a different perspective. You are actually looking at your question, instead of asking it.