Welcome to the Spring Fling Tarot Blog Hop. For this edition, I volunteered to be wrangler and for the topic, I asked our bloggers what they would change to bring the Tarot into the modern day (or if they thought the archetypes so archetypical that nothing need be changed).
Name changes and extra cards are nothing new in the Tarot. The Thoth deck The Simpsons introduced us to “The Happy Squirrel”:
Fortune Teller [to Lisa]: Now we’ll see what the future holds. [turns over a card from what looks like a Tarot deck]
Lisa: [gulps] The “Death” card?
Fortune Teller: No, that’s good: it means transition, change.
Lisa: [relieved] Oh. [the fortune teller turns over another card] Oh, that’s cute.
Fortune Teller: [gasps] “The Happy Squirrel”!
Lisa: That’s bad?
Fortune Teller: Possibly. The cards are vague and mysterious.
I think we are missing a trick by omitting such a card from the modern Tarot deck, although it was subsequently included as an extra (joke) card in the Touchstone Tarot by Kat Black. Perhaps what is needed, is not so much a Happy Squirrel as “The Fluffy Bunny” or, as in my last Blog Hop Post, “The Pink Fluffy Unicorn”. And, as with the Happy Squirrel, the imagery would be at odds with the card meaning. I am thinking of keywords such as: selective realism, unrealistic optimism, a head in the sand lack of outlook. Bad? Possibly. The cards are vague and mysterious.
One card that could certainly bear updating or renaming is “The Hermit”. There aren’t really too many actual hermits about these days, at least not ones who voluntarily go off to the desert and live in caves eating only Juniper berries. Nor even many communal hermits, like nuns and monks*. I did think that perhaps “The Teenager” or “The Gamer” might be a better representation of self-inflicted solitude. Given half a chance, my teenager certainly spends as much time as possible being geeky in his boy cave, only emerging for sustenance before scuttling away again. The problem with this is that such a card would miss the implicit maturity, guidance and mentoring aspects of “The Hermit”, so it occurred to me that “Tech Support” might be a more apt contemporary title. The solitary geek connected only by the very technology that allows them to avoid the rest of humanity in person, with only their body odour as a companion.
*If you missed it on BBC4, you may just be able to catch the first episode of this fascinating documentary, Saints and Sinners, on the evolution and rise of the monastery, on BBC iPlayer. It should still be available for a few days from the publication of this post.
“The Devil” also seems a little dated in these multi-culti, all-faith (or lack thereof) times, although the concept of “the devil on your back” is fairly universal. For Western society, however, I could easily see this renamed as “The Tax Man” or “The Politician” to represent the inescapable things beyond your control that can ruin your life. Mind you, there are plenty of demons and a fair bit of evil still out there in society, so perhaps best to leave this one as it stands.
Let us turn out attention to omissions. What could be more a reflection of the times in which we live, than the phenomenon of “The Selfie”. Self-absorbed, media-hungry and clamouring for some form of fame, however pitiful or humiliating. Falling somewhere between “The Fool” and “Justice”, (or should that be “Come-Uppance”), it would represent a lack of maturity and the modern tendency towards immodesty and self-obsession. I’m afraid I just don’t find relentlessly plastering pouty images of oneself all over every social media platform even remotely cool.
Then there are the Courts. Most families these days have a pet of some sort, so do we need an additional member of the courts to represent the non-human family members? (And they are most definitely family members, right?). Cups would have to be fish, but which suits are the cat, dog, horse, bird, rodent or reptile owners? Kibble for thought, perhaps 😀
In my opinion, one really glaring omission in the modern Tarot deck, however, is “The Shadow”. The concept of having a shadow side, let alone “working” with it, is a very modern, New Agey kind of thing. Whereas The Devil covers external darkness, the “Shadow” is very much something from within, a Jungian concept far removed from the Renaissance way of thinking. It would have been a totally alien notion to our 15thC ancestors, for whom the ideas of Good and Evil would have been fairly clear cut in principle. Naturally, in practice, I daresay the Medicis saw nothing wrong in poisoning or otherwise despatching their rivals and enemies, since that could be put down to classifying the other party as the Evil one and oneself as acting for the Good. Besides, the Christian church had some rather neat ways for people, especially the rich, to circumvent any consequences (not to mention something of a double standard when it comes to killing). Confess your sins and be absolved, wiping the slate clean, and you could always pay monks to pray for your soul just in case that wasn’t enough. The Shadow, on the other hand, recognises the duality within, something that is not adequately represented among the Tarot Majors, as far as I can see. You might argue that the 7 of Swords covers this shadowy aspect, but would only be in terms of actions, rather than the Self. (Oh dear, I seem to be coming over all serious. Sorry about that! :D)
At first, I struggled to come up with even one change, but in the last few weeks so many possibilities to update the Tarot have presented themselves that I could easily end up with a deck twice the size. Then one evening, I was lying in the bath, where all great inspiration is born, and it struck me. If only one card could be added to the Tarot deck, just one which is an absolutely must…it has to be…..*drum roll*….*pause for dramatic effect*……
Embrace your shadow bunny and together cutely wrinkle your noses at the fluffiness, and sinking your lapine teeth into the carrot of reality, hop down the path infrequently travelled by pink fluffy unicorns to our other hoppers here: