As my summer holidays reach their apex and I prepare for a couple of weeks away at a beach house further up the coast, I begin to sense that queasiness (which I shall of course repress) that one day soon all this will end and I shall be back to the old routine. Naturally, I refuse to think of it now and shall enjoy the moment; the best is yet to come; long beach days, evening barbecues, undistracted rest, reading, siestas, no need for me to know what time it is and – best of all – no computer. Enforced rest. I feel an urge to watch the waves, empty my mind and – before leaving – do a little mid-holiday spread.
I find it very strange (and this isn’t the first time it has happened) that I feel an urge for dark decks as summer temperatures reach their height. I wonder why this is? I have also been playing with Robert Place’s darkly cinematic Vampire Tarot the last few days too and rereading the companion book. The hotter the sun overhead, the more I crave darkness and shadows. Today I reached for a favourite; my Bohemian Gothic Tarot. Not the silver edition, not the 1st edition but the pewter-edged 2nd edition (in its “Bone Chapel” bag) for everyday use. I shuffled and – pondering holidays – drew the following cards;
We have the Ace of Wands, 10 of Swords and the King of Swords laid out on the black silk reading cloth. Oh how I laughed when I saw that anguished 10 of Swords. Now if that isn’t a “back to work” card then I don’t know what is. I see that card embedded in the spread because – try as I might – thoughts of holidays ending and of going back to work are inevitable, though I can – and do – repress them. But this is tarot’s little way of allowing me to recognise my feelings here and move on. The Ace of Wands – generically/elementally speaking – could be the lone “I”, burning with fiery intensity, burning “with that hard, gem-like flame”. Holidays are wonderful; if we’re lucky (and those around us are kind) then we can wallow deeply in “me time” and truly unwind, and thats what the Ace of Wands could be, I suppose. A pure state of “me!” burning bright. No obligations, no commitments, no distracting stuff. Just me. And in this particular image, the lone “I” is crowned in glory. This skull with its sceptre reminds me of a dog with a bone. It is not going to let go. I am not going to let go; I am going to enjoy my time to the maximum. Nevertheless our skull is happily ensconced in comfort on its cushion. And that’s just how I feel.
Now the King of Swords is a card I love. I identify enourmously with this King and this is one of the best representations I have seen. I love how he is protected, nothing can reach him, no sentiment can seep through and harm him. This King typfies impersonal detachment, coldness, facelessness, sword drawn defensively. We do not really know who he is. This is – perhaps – the working self. The fiercely burning “I” of the Ace will have to face the anguished return to work (and there is quite an abrupt dislocaton from Ace to Ten!) and learn to be detached again. But the woman sobbing by the graveside really anchors this spead. Normally I would be unnerved by the 10 of Swords in a reading but here it makes me smirk. I shall allow myself a little melodrama. It really isn’t that bad.
Now to enjoy my holidays in the midday sun and try and forget these dark bohemian shadows. Back soon. Watch out for me sobbing in a couple of weeks.