Editor’s note: Happy New Year! You can expect a variety of blog posts in 2016, including essays from Arcana: the Tarot Poetry Anthology contributors, a new letter series, and much more. This month, Tanya Joyce generously offered to review the first Bay Area reading for the anthology. Without further ado, I turn the blog over to her.
Review by Tanya Joyce
ARCANA: The Tarot Poetry Anthology, edited by Marjorie Jensen, was the focus of a recent gathering at Oakland’s Liminal writing studio. The event featured selections from the anthology read by Martha Villa, Rose Shannon, and Tanya Joyce. Marjorie Jensen introduced the evening, contributed her own poetry to the mix, and commented on the origins of the anthology.
Marjorie’s goal was an international volume of contributions with diverse perspectives. I was surprised to learn that the one volume Marjorie found similar to what she planned was Tarot Haiku, a book I edited with contributions from San Francisco’s Thursday Night Tarot discussion group. New ground is being broken here!
As the evening at Liminal unfolded, Rose Shannon’s powerful warmth came through her poems from ARCANA. Martha Villa had an especially noteworthy sense of focus, evident in both her poetry and the intent way she listened to others.
Marjorie designed the evening to include both poetry reading and an opportunity for tarot card reading. The potential for involving everyone in this way encouraged free form conversation. The varied ambiance extended to refreshments, two Liminal cats, and one visiting baby. I mention all this as an example of an effect tarot images have in bringing people together. Jason Lotterhand, who founded The Thursday Night Tarot in 1950, liked to say that tarot works by encouraging people to check their egos at the door.
“You don’t have to think about it,” Jason would say. “And don’t worry, you get your ego back when you go home.” A tarot-oriented event in progress tends to produce intensified focus. At The Thursday Night Tarot, cats have been known to touch enlarged tarot images with their paws and noses. The cats at Liminal sauntered and sprinted as Marjorie spoke. One was caught on camera! Later, the cats entertained the humans by cavorting at the edge of a loft area.
Tarot enthusiasts may have been put in mind of the cat at the feet of the Queen of Wands in the widely known Smith-Waite tarot deck or the powerful lion being encouraged to roar in the Case-Parke deck Strength card from Builders of the Adytum.
Babies (rare but memorable members of tarot groups) were represented at the ARCANA evening by a little one looking outward with the openness of children in the tarot Sun card. Interestingly, in the way tarot images have of evoking thought, the Queen of Wands and the Sun cards both show sunflowers, reminding us of lions as cultural emblems of heat and fire and encouraging our minds to further evocative explorations.
The reading at Liminal may be the start of reaching out through the arts to create an expanded tarot consciousness. Meditative images from all traditions empower people to see experience from varied standpoints. Multiple vistas carry differing charges. What is this way one day may appear that way tomorrow. It is not a case of “true and false” or “correct and incorrect.” When 78 cards cover all the possibilities, each one must contain many facets.
The diversity of poetry in ARCANA presents exactly this kind of varied direction. Combined with contributors’ biographies in the volume, the book itself is a journey in the realm of what we experience additional to our five senses.
The evening at Liminal brought tarot into an ambiance of dynamic interaction between audience and presenters, between listening to tarot poetry and perceiving a mix of card reading and poetry reading. We look forward to more events from Marjorie Jensen and ARCANA contributors.
Even if you couldn’t make it to the event, you can still hear some contributors read their poems from the book in the Listening Corner.
And you can purchase Arcana: the Tarot Poetry Anthology on the publisher’s website.