kat black’s golden tarot

So, this might fall under the category of “Why are you spending your very limited funds on that?”, but I bought a Tarot deck. Specifically, Kat Black’s Golden Tarot, which uses the same symbolism as the famous Rider-Waite deck; but the images have been digitally collaged from little-known art of the High Middle Ages and Early Renaissance. They have gilt edges and come with a 200-page book with hard covers and packaged in a very nice, sturdy box with a top that lifts off. Most Tarot decks come packaged in a thin cardboard box that folds open — like a regular deck of playing cards — and a flimsy little booklet. This is a beautiful and very nicely produced deck, and I really don’t know how US Games can afford to sell it for less than $20.

So why did I buy it? I recently re-read Frank Portman’s Andromeda Klein (recommending it to a friend who enjoyed King Dork made me want to read it again), in which Tarot plays a major part of the plot. It just really made me want one. I bought a Rider-Waite deck when I was a teenager, but must have lost it or given it away or threw it out during one of the dozen times I’ve moved since then. I haven’t seen it in years.

I decided to get something a little different this time. I’ve always liked the symbolism and the order of the classic Rider-Waite deck; I hate the vaunted Aleister Crowley Thoth deck, which changed a lot of the Major Arcana. “Strength” becomes “Lust”? Umm, no. But to be honest — and a little shallow — always thought the execution was a bit lacking. A little research led me to this deck, which has a lot of great reviews on Amazon and won a lot of awards.

I know what you’re thinking: “Dude, aren’t you an atheist?” Yes I am, and I do not believe in fortune-telling. For me, Tarot is more a way to focus on a single issue and think about all the different ways to approach it and all the ways that might change my life for better or for worse. This is not as idiosyncratic as you might think; Kat Black herself, in the intro, says that she uses Tarot for “personal insight”, not for psychic or fortune-telling purposes, although you can certainly use her deck that way. And Carl Jung believed Tarot had legitimate psychotherapy purposes, he thought each card represented a different archetype of humanity.

Here’s a funny coincidence: I did a spread last night — I prefer the Celtic Cross, which I know a lot of aficionados sneer at as a “beginner’s spread”, but I like it because it uses a lot of cards. And the 7th card, the one that is supposed to represent “self”, was the Two of Swords. In Andromeda Klein, this card plays a significant part, and is the card that the title character comes to think of as her Significator. (I myself never use a Significator when I am doing a spread for myself, because it removes a card from the deck.) This is what Andromeda would call a “synch”; but which I, not believing in the occult, merely chalk up to happenstance and the sort of ordinary weirdness that you get in a universe with nearly infinite outcomes.

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