In one way or another, during the “Gutenberg era”, many authors have tried to consign in the ideal of the “total book” an entire vision of the world and of reality: from Hegel to the “Great American Novel”, passing by the costumbrist catalogues of the 18th century and the encyclopaedia, total books – meaning books that are able to encompass everything that is, was and will be — continues to be an elusive project, or to be more accurate, a partial one.

But the cards compiled by the Tarot deck (in its different varieties, figures and mythologies) assume this partiality and incompleteness as a base, carrying in their mobile unit and symbolic system the seed of that improbable total book where —potentially at least— all stories lie in waiting.

mitelliasse-e1403117137575

The origin of the deck and its author are unknown. Who, for example, could claim to have created in the solitude of their workshop the English language? Tarot, both as a language and the practice of language, exists in the same dimension as the great anonymous works of man, the Mayan pyramids or gothic cathedrals. There are plenty of speculations surrounding its name: some say it comes from Tao, the totality of Confucianism; others seek its etymology in Toth, the Egyptian god of writing and magic, assimilated to the Roman Hermes for centuries. There are even those who see in the word “Tarot” an echo of “Torah”, meaning law in Hebrew.

If the origin of its name is hard to define, defining its symbolism is not an easier task: the most ancient Tarot and one which has no subsequent variations (this does not mean there is an ideal or original “model” behind the Tarot), is the Tarot of Marseille, which has been dated to the early fifteenth century in northern Italy; this is constituted by 22 major arcana and 56 minor arcana. In the major arcana we find archetypal images of characters, functions or structures of human coexistence latched in Judeo-Christian myths and in the socio-political tradition of Medieval Europe; thus, its 22 stances (that symbolise the initiated path from the Fool’s outdoors, to the realisation of the World), show kings, queens, magicians, demons and celestial bodies, such as the Sun, the Moon and the Star.

tarot-fan-art-the-avengers-are-surprisingly-fitting-as-cool-tarot-cards-jpeg-158188

In terms of its reading, it is commonly believed that the Tarot can be used to predict the future of the querent, so that they can be better prepared to face their upcoming circumstances. Modern techniques of the reading (such as that promoted by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Marianne Costa, Jean Claude Fornoy or Philipe Camoin) perceive the Tarot as a projective method of signification: the symbols work as mirrors in which the querent and the reader create a tale with therapeutic ends, seeking advice or analysing anguishing and long forgotten situations, in the fashion of psychoanalytic therapy, but with tools that have been sharpened and used for centuries.

We say that Tarot “does not know”, but that it is in fact the querent gains access to “knowledge” of himself and of the world by consulting it. Seen as objects, the cards of Tarot are merely coloured impressions on cardboard; as a tool of learning, Tarot teaches us to adopt a symbolic gaze over the world and over reality; a gaze that has nothing to do with supra-terrestrial powers, but with the capacity of observation and the self-knowledge we possess.

tumblr_lsbq09c4ba1qaab22o1_500

Tarot is an infinite book because every single situation can be drawn with its images: the gaze learns to recognise itself in the combinatory ars, to identify with the situations and to disidentify in order to find the being that lies beneath the layers of human history that every single one of must cross sooner or later to be born effectively, to then occupy the chapter that belongs to only us in the infinite book of life.

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In one way or another, during the “Gutenberg era”, many authors have tried to consign in the ideal of the “total book” an entire vision of the world and of reality: from Hegel to the “Great American Novel”, passing by the costumbrist catalogues of the 18th century and the encyclopaedia, total books – meaning books that are able to encompass everything that is, was and will be — continues to be an elusive project, or to be more accurate, a partial one.

But the cards compiled by the Tarot deck (in its different varieties, figures and mythologies) assume this partiality and incompleteness as a base, carrying in their mobile unit and symbolic system the seed of that improbable total book where —potentially at least— all stories lie in waiting.

mitelliasse-e1403117137575

The origin of the deck and its author are unknown. Who, for example, could claim to have created in the solitude of their workshop the English language? Tarot, both as a language and the practice of language, exists in the same dimension as the great anonymous works of man, the Mayan pyramids or gothic cathedrals. There are plenty of speculations surrounding its name: some say it comes from Tao, the totality of Confucianism; others seek its etymology in Toth, the Egyptian god of writing and magic, assimilated to the Roman Hermes for centuries. There are even those who see in the word “Tarot” an echo of “Torah”, meaning law in Hebrew.

If the origin of its name is hard to define, defining its symbolism is not an easier task: the most ancient Tarot and one which has no subsequent variations (this does not mean there is an ideal or original “model” behind the Tarot), is the Tarot of Marseille, which has been dated to the early fifteenth century in northern Italy; this is constituted by 22 major arcana and 56 minor arcana. In the major arcana we find archetypal images of characters, functions or structures of human coexistence latched in Judeo-Christian myths and in the socio-political tradition of Medieval Europe; thus, its 22 stances (that symbolise the initiated path from the Fool’s outdoors, to the realisation of the World), show kings, queens, magicians, demons and celestial bodies, such as the Sun, the Moon and the Star.

tarot-fan-art-the-avengers-are-surprisingly-fitting-as-cool-tarot-cards-jpeg-158188

In terms of its reading, it is commonly believed that the Tarot can be used to predict the future of the querent, so that they can be better prepared to face their upcoming circumstances. Modern techniques of the reading (such as that promoted by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Marianne Costa, Jean Claude Fornoy or Philipe Camoin) perceive the Tarot as a projective method of signification: the symbols work as mirrors in which the querent and the reader create a tale with therapeutic ends, seeking advice or analysing anguishing and long forgotten situations, in the fashion of psychoanalytic therapy, but with tools that have been sharpened and used for centuries.

We say that Tarot “does not know”, but that it is in fact the querent gains access to “knowledge” of himself and of the world by consulting it. Seen as objects, the cards of Tarot are merely coloured impressions on cardboard; as a tool of learning, Tarot teaches us to adopt a symbolic gaze over the world and over reality; a gaze that has nothing to do with supra-terrestrial powers, but with the capacity of observation and the self-knowledge we possess.

tumblr_lsbq09c4ba1qaab22o1_500

Tarot is an infinite book because every single situation can be drawn with its images: the gaze learns to recognise itself in the combinatory ars, to identify with the situations and to disidentify in order to find the being that lies beneath the layers of human history that every single one of must cross sooner or later to be born effectively, to then occupy the chapter that belongs to only us in the infinite book of life.

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