DT: It’s the weekend of the fall Equinox. The Fall/Equinox. It’s also Yom Kippur. If not now, when? I’m sitting here with my muse at my left shoulder, the fast friend who used to be my sister-in-law. I still feel poised between lives. Between light and dark. Wanting light to win out, just when we’re going to get less and less of it for the next three months. Time for the last mortal exuberance of gardens. Can grief be sexy? What the fuck is forgiveness? And where in the turmoil of my studio are the three cards I’ve already completed of this project?
II The Unknowable
DT: Loss of control. You’ve managed the world with your head for a long time. The ground of darkness from which all luminosity emerges. Grace that breaks open; Destroyer of Illusion. The Fullness and appalling Emptiness.
III The Knife Thrower
DT: Whose idea was this card in the first place? Did I come up with it? If so, what was I thinking? Precision and skill. High stakes. Absolute trust. Gut-liquefying fear. Who the hell ever chooses to be the target? More pretensions to control, but at least this time some honesty about what can go wrong. Really, really wrong. Is it the knife thrower looking at this card, or is the card looking at him?
IV The Fall
DT: We call it the Fall, as though we were Icarus, or angels. Wings akimbo, plunging headlong. But we imagine it as Expulsion, eyes averted but moving forward when moving back is forbidden. Irrevocable disaster that turns out to be not the end but the beginning.
V The Librarian
DT: Nothing’s disposable, everything begs to be archived. It all needs to be catalogued, or it won’t be found again, save by blind chance. Here’s one you go to to find it for you. The one who confidently crosses the room and pulls it off the shelf. Or says sorry, it seems to be lost.
DT: It’s not any more pleasant than the first time, but this time you have the option to go through it as an act of faith. Maybe someday you’ll look back on it and be able to embrace it wholeheartedly. For now, it’s trauma joined maybe to an act of will.
VII The Laundress
DT: It’s fine to count on her good will and diligence, but don’t take her for granted. There’s only so much she can do. Some messes can be cleaned up. Others are there to stay.
VIII The Dancing Master
DT: His dreadlocks are flying. A river of sweat spins off his forehead as he whirls. He raises one foot in a gesture of power and freedom, raises a hand to tell you not to fear, raises in another the flame of destruction and purification. He has more hands left over.
DT: The fullness of life lies elsewhere, enshrined in memory, or maybe embalmed in it. You dream of going back. Waking life’s another matter.
X The Miser
DT: Losing his fist would give him back his hand. He’s too stuck with the reality of the one to imagine the other. What’s killing him seems the only thing that keeps him alive. A windfall received as though it were a God-given right. A privilege defended to the death.
XI The Matchmaker
DT: An alliance effected from outside. The web of connections from which a particular connection emerges. Social agony. Grounds for a lawsuit.
XII The Foundling
DT: Hope floating precariously. Waters of life, or of destruction. The protection of temporary obscurity. Eventual victory or vindication.
XIII The Costume Mistress
DT: The putting on or off of an assumed role. A tension between freedom and restraint. A combination of seemingly disparate possibilities. Fluid identity. Inverted: the compulsion to perform a part imposed upon the individual.
XIV The Front Man
DT: Deceptive congeniality, disguised malice, or at least hypocrisy. An immanent collapse of what has seemed stable.
XV The Customs Broker
DT: A facilitator of border crossings. Specialized or arcane knowledge available for a price. Passage from one state to another.
XVI The Juggler
DT: All things successfully in play at once. Accomplishment or dexterity. Vigilance. Anxiety or failure.
XVII The Backroom Boy
DT: A maker of deals. Privileged connection, either taken for granted or shrewdly pursued. Ruthlessness, obliviousness to consequences to others.
XVIII The Forger
DT: Resolve to claim one’s desires, even in the face of prohibition. The possibility of retaliation, or repudiation of one’s actions by the authorities. The fear of exposure.
DT: Regret, mourning, or an attempt to reverse the consequences of destructive past actions. A path forward.
XX The Flaming Sword
DT: Impossibility of retracing one’s steps: the blockage of access to origins. The cutting away and destruction of illusion. Inverted: refusal to live in the present.
XXI The Swimmer
DT: Consistently applied strength and determination; a focused response to chaotic circumstance. Trust in the totality of energies surrounding the individual.
The banana peel, the one who drops it, and the one who slips on it, all rolled into one. When you’re expecting Something, the big Zero you get. When you’re expecting nothing, the Big Surprise. The bait, the catch, hook, line, and sinker. You name it.