Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Without Any Limit: The Two of Pentacles

I confess that I'm inordinately fond of my Two of Pentacles. Most of this has to do with being inordinately fond of the central image, which has been living on my various computers for, literally, a decade or more. I knew it would come in handy someday.

Beyond that, I think that I nailed the colors (always the diciest part of any design), and constructed a happy surrounding environment for my horn-playing duo; and I'm pleased with how well the cosmic lemniscate worked into the design. This symbol that signifies eternity and boundless ability usually floats above the heads of those who possess that magical quality: on the two of pentacles it is woven almost subliminally into the body and activity of the central figure. Pamela Colman Smith drew it as connecting two juggler's balls, a circusy enough image but not one that I wanted to slavishly duplicate; in other decks I have seen it woven into the wheels of a bicycle, among other things.

One thing that my tuba player has in common with the juggler on Pamela Colman Smith's two of pentacles: they both look as though they could go on doing tis forever, and that's a big part of this card's meaning.

The querent who draws this card typically has several things going on at once in their lives; but with patience and skill they are able to balance these things and even take some joy from the act. Hence my keyword, which I don't think has ever been applied to this card before. However, the card also indicates a need for continued focus: because one wrong move could change the situation from one of harmony and balance into one of calamity.

On the river behind our two-person band floats that great Floating Palace: this was nothing less than a functioning circus on an enclosed barge that traversed the Mississippi during the mid-eighteen-hundreds. Today the waters of that great river are smooth, but they were not always so. The traditional version of the card shows a boat flung about on artfully churning waves, indicating the changeableness of the situation or possibly rough waters ahead. But c'mon: The Floating Palace was an entire circus on a boat... how prone to change and difficulty is that?

-- Freder

Monday, February 10, 2014

The New Deal -- The New Devil

I have said almost from the beginning that the full deck would have, at the very least, a different DEVIL card from that which is now available with the Majors-Only version of the deck. The better to differentiate the two, and make the Majors deck that much more unique. If you like and want the original DEVIL card (shown elsewhere on this site), you should get the majors desk, because that card will be replaced with this version when the full deck is finally published. Only 300 copies of the Majors were printed, only 300 of those Devils, and when they are gone they are gone forever.

P. T. Barnum wanted to be liked. He wanted to be seen as an affable, congenial presenter of the world's greatest curiosities. The fact is that Barnum was cynical, somewhat ruthless, not above anything, He was as hard-nosed a businessman as they come, and would not scruple to exploit anything or anyone if he thought that it could make money for him. He provided well for some of his exhibits, notably General Tom Thumb, the Smallest Man in The World (seen above with his Arranged Bride Lavinia); others were not so lucky. 

This is the man who expounded at length on the great wonders and the great mysteries of the world, yes... but this is also the man who said "There is a Sucker born every minute." Barnum may not have had outright contempt for his exhibits: but he certainly had it for the people who came to see them and thus caused his bank account and pocket book to practically burst at the seams.

-- Freder