The Way of the Tarot, by Alejandro Jodorowsky; The Anatomy of the Tarot Prt 1

Part of the overall theme for this blog was an intent to write about my ongoing spiritual journey. So far this has led me to look into various paths, most notably Sufism, Gnosticism and Hermeticism. At the moment I am unprepared to make any claims towards one religion, but I believe that it is safe to say I am leaning towards a Christianity leaning towards socially aware Anabaptism. That said, I’m being very syncretic about my religious path and am looking into practically everything.

Which leads me to the subject of one of many recurring posts concerning Alejandro Jodorowsky’s book, The Way of the Tarot. Alejandro Jodorowsky, for those of you who aren’t art school hipsters like myself, is a Chilean-born surrealist known mostly for his heavily symbolic films, such as El Topo and The Holy Mountain. He got his start in puppeteering and mine (he worked closely with Marcel Marceau). He also does rather odd space opera comics with very odd and awkward dialouge; I think it’s due to a combination of translation and Jodorowsky being a mime. I’m going to go out and admit that I’m reading this partially because I think his movies are cool, but he is also a leading expert on the Tarot and worked on the recreation of the oldest known Tarot deck.

Before we go much further I have to say that there has always had some suspicion about Jodorowsky. Of all my obscure little interests, Jodorowsky always seems to be the most obscure. He’s also obscure in the best possible way, because he would make a very interesting name dropper (He’s worked with Marcel Marceau, John Lennon was a big fan, Marilyn Manson will be in his next movie, etc). There is the problem that Jodorowsky is fundamentally outside the English cannon. I have the suspicion that he is much, much bigger in Latin America and France, or at least more well-known. For most of my high school years, I was basically the only person who had ever heard of Jodorowsky. There are all kinds of stories I could tell you about how I tried to find other Jodorowsky fans, or how I’d try¬†to foist his work on others.

There is also the Jodorowsky that will be most of use in this, the Jodorowsky who is an expert on the Tarot and a psychotherapist. While I find some of his ideas to make some kind of sense such as that we are affected by the lives of the people who came before us, there is always some bit of doubt in my mind. Is this guy on the level? Is he just in it for the money? I think at the end of the day Jodorowsky is an honest man, which is to say he believes in what he’s doing. He’s a bit crazy, but in a way that makes him endearing to me.

Which brings us back to the book I was able to pick up on it. Since it’s buy one of my favorite film makers, and I do fine the intricasies to be found in the Tarot’s symbolism interesting, I bought this book and have been reading through it. So far I have learned the following things about the Tarot.

First, the Tarot should be looked at as a complete entity. This is nothing new, I knew that Jodoroswky believes that the Tarot is a whole entity, but it is worth stating. Jodorowsky’s view on the Tarot is basically that of scripture. It is a living entity that exists in the pictures and characters of the deck. That Jodorowsky says the Tarot is alive isn’t very surprising, scripture in all it’s forms is treated as an important entity in all religions.¬†Jodorowsky goes deeper into this by stating that the Tarot can be made into a mandala, which is a Buddhist idea that involves a picture of the entire spiritual and/or physical universe.

After this, Jodorowsky goes into what he sees as proofs for the symbolic nature of the Tarot. I won’t go to much into detail about that, as it’s very late for me and I want to get this over with pretty soon. I did not really find most of his arguments entirely convincing. There was a lot of time when reading this when I thought, okay this could just be a coincidence. While I can believe that the Tarot represents the human soul, I have a difficult time believing that it was the original intention. The arguments I have heard for this have made sense to me, but I believe that this is because we are applying already existing symbols to aspects and characteristics of the human soul. This is a concept that I will explore in later posts.

Anyways, it’s late and I’m getting tired. As I’m writing this it’s 12:30 at night, and this is not yet ready for publication as for some reason the tags and categories aren’t working. I will have this posted tomorrow were I can edit it up a bit more. I will go more into my beliefs on belief, and Jodorowsky’s belief in the Tarot’s Anatomy in a later post.

Better or more Interesting “Da Vinci Codes”

One of my readers said that she thought that this blog may be a bit to intellectual for her. So I decided that I’d do a post on something that isn’t intellectual; Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Particularly, I’m going to come up with ideas for people who I think could have written a much more interesting version of the Da Vinci Code.

  • H.P. Lovecraft, “The Terror in the Louvre,” Robert Langdon discovers an ancient conspiracy to cover up the secret bloodline of Jesus, who is really the Eldritch Abomination Yog Sothoth. He realizes he is a member of said bloodline, goes insane and commits suicide.
  • Jorge Luis Borges, Robert Langdon spends most of the story, which is made up of three to five pages, pondering the murder of the a museum curator. After pondering the nature of the universe, it is revealed that Robert Langdon was the murderer and made up the whole Jesus-Mary Magdalene bloodline to get away (or maybe he’s a member of said bloodline). That or the dead guy is the actual Robert Langdon.
  • Philip K. Dick, Probably the same thing, but in Space and better.
  • Franz Kafka, “The Conspiracy,” Robert L discovers an ancient conspiracy, but nobody explains what it’s supposed to be, what it’s purpose is or what it wants from him.

Filtering out the good stuff and chucking the gunk

Well, here it is. My new blog. For those of you who don’t know, I used to have a blog called “The Aspie Diaries.” That was getting a bit frustrating and I felt I needed to start a new one, mainly since I’m not the human being who started that blog. This is what I hope to be a more mature blog to focus any thoughts I have regarding what I usually ponder about, such as life, religion, the nature of ideas, writing and role-playing. Expect fan material for White Wolf’s World of Darkness line.
While I had your attention, I thought I’d bring up what this blog is supposed to be and why I called it something as crazy as SOLVE ET COAGULA. Knowing some of my audience, such as Jason from the Chasing Hermes podcast, I really don’t need to explain what that is. However, the vast majority of my readers (i.e. my family) probably have no idea what I’m talking about. And what’s with calling my blog, anyways?
Well, the psychic refugees thing is easy enough. It was part of an early title for this blog, something like Psychic Refugees of the Lost Aeon or Psychic Refugees of an Unknown Generation. While these names had cool words like Aeon and Generation, I didn’t really like them. Earlier ideas were Exegesis, which I stole from Philip K. Dick, and Incorrectly Decoded Signals, which I stole from a William S. Burroughs quote. Neither of these felt right, so instead I decided to go SOLVE ET COAGULA.
Solve Et Coagula is an alchemical phrase, which basically means “To take apart and then to reassemble.” I first heard it in the documentary “The Mindscapes of Alan Moore,” where famous comic book writer and magician Alan Moore used it to explain art. To put it at it’s most basic, he said that modern art concentrates too much on the SOLVE(taking apart) and not enough on the COAGULA(putting back together). Also in that documentary he put forth his idea that writing is fundamentally a magical act, as the artist creates something out of nothing.
Alan Moore’s thesis is similar to that of the Remodernists, an English art movement I discovered over the Internet. They are a reaction about trends in English art to call pickled sharks or unmade beds art. The Remodernists are into pure art, which is to say art that has spiritual meaning to it and is not ruled by the empty commercialists of the day.
I’m not a painter, but I am a writer and a poet. For the most part I’m oblivious to modern art and writing, though I am a fan of slam poetry and Roberto Bolano, as well as the British Wave of Comic Book writers that started in the 1980s (Alan Moore is the leading figure in this movement, though a trend is probably a better word). I do believe that my writing should be meaningful, if only because I want my life to be meaingful. Which brings us about to the reason I’m starting this blog. It is, in many ways an alchemical sequel to my last blog, “The Aspie Diaries.” I feel that that blog has been weighing me down, that I had developed outside it’s bonds and it’s time for me to spread out my wings and remake myself. SOLVE ET COAGULA is the tool by which I plan on doing that. Hopefully this blog will be a new home for my thoughts and musings, and hopefully I can keep it going.
Well, hope that is a good explanation and enjoy my writing.