View Full Version : Gay Tarot - The Guides
I thought I might start a new thread, this one dealing with the four Guide cards together since, visually, they're more identical than any other corresponding cards.
The Mythic Tarot Workbook (excellent deck, snatch it up!) associated each of the court cards with a particular Greek mythological figure based on his astrological personality. Since there are twelve signs, four of the court cards, the Pages, weren't associated with astrology. Rather, they introduced the spirit of the element into each suit.
And I feel this is what the Guides have done. The Guides are a few of the uniquely supernatural/spiritual entities of the deck. They bear the aura of fairies, a common word in gay circles with a plethora of interpretations. And I can certainly think of Tinkerbell guiding Peter as the spirited voice of reason in his adventures.
The exchange of the regal Queen for the guiding spirit is a good one, and I'm more associative of the nurturing principle with these cards than with the Queens.
Consider the Guide of Cups. He stands, naked, on what seems to be a parched desert mesa (the Grand Canyon and Ayers Rock came to my mind). But he's about to pour a large quantity of water onto the bare stone, quenching the parched dryness of the desert. It makes you want to breathe a sigh of relief whenever you see these cards.
The Guides bear the emblems of their suits, the focused essence of their elements, for the mundane. In times of need, it's the Guides who come flitting down from some other realm to offer the very basic necessities, simplest solutions to vexing problems. They are minimalist entities, but they give the most essential qualities. Much warmer, in my opinion, than Queen cards.
I don't know if this is just some weird and random thought or if we can make something of it- but when I read yor post, somehow the evangelists came to my mind and their winged avatars which are at the same time the fixed signs of the zodiac- so somhow they bring us the essence of the elements, too. Christian mythology meeting astrology and alchemy... As I said, just a thought, but the parallel strikes me. I'll keep thinking :)
And very valid it is. You likely know all the symbolism surrounding the evangelists and their animals and whatnot, so I won't go into that. I like how this deck very subtlely refers to the symbolism of the RWS without being overt about it.
I also found the bodies interesting in these four cards. If you look at all of the humans in the deck, they represent physical proportions of varying sizes. Yet the Guides are the only linked characters across all four suits who have the classic sculpted Apollo look to them.
The Star spirit also has the same body structure. Kind of nice to know that Antonia had no fear of depicting everyone in the mundane world as we really are, instead of making us all into muscle Marys as some artists are want to do.
I had two goals for these cards. First, I had to find a substitute for Queens, and second, I wanted to deliberately introduce a spiritual aspect into what was becoming a very mundane deck. So, fortunately, I was able to do both at the same time by making the Queens into male Guides. I particularly like the way Antonella placed them in empty landscapes (as Glaucus mentions about the Guide of Cups), it suggests a more rarified atmosphere and helps to set them apart from the rest of the deck. In a way, these cards could be thought of almost as the Majors of the deck, with the Gay Tarot Majors being especially significant Minor situations, but without the spiritual power of the Guides.
By the way, I looked back in my original card descriptions which were sent to Lo Scarabeo, and I see that for the Guides, I did not specifiy any particular landscapes, so those are Antonella's contribution.
On the other hand, one thing I can take credit for is the diversity of body type which Glaucus refers to. That was something I put great emphasis on when I sent my descriptions to Lo Scarabeo. And actually, there are a few cards where my descriptions were of people not so heroically proportioned as they ended up. Anyone care to guess which ones? :)
First, I had to find a substitute for Queens, and second, I wanted to deliberately introduce a spiritual aspect into what was becoming a very mundane deck.
I must say that the Guides struck me as very "strange", as if they didn't belong to the deck. All the other cards have images from everyday-life, only the guides are winged creatures. When I first looked at them I had the distinct feeling that they were falsely mixed into this deck and belonged to another deck.
Many cards of this deck open for me new aspects of interpretation, but the guides just don't speak to me. Just because they have wings don't make them spiritual for me.
I adore the guides...
possibly because I'm a lesbian working with an all male deck...but...
I love them, I think they add a very nice touch to the deck.
I agree for the most part with Glaucus's original post...I appreciate the supernatural aspect of the Guides, in an otherwise "everyday life" kinda deck.
I think Glaucus makes some excellent points about the Guides.
I see the Guides not as a substitution for the Queens but as a replacement for the Queens. Consider The Witches Tarot where all the Queens are the same card design and only the elemental color of their dress is different and they hold the suit designation in one hand. Is that an improvement for your understanding of the Queens? Hardly - you just take what you know and apply it to the card since the card is boring - IMHO. Lee could have decided to eliminate the card altogether and have a 74 card deck - and I'm glad he didn't.
The Guides are another story. Yes, they inject an 'otherworldly quality' into a somewhat otherwise realistically portrayed deck (I defy anyone to diagram that sentence!) When reading for gay men and Queens pop up you usually get a bunch of giggles! These cards will make the querent stop and wait for your explanation - regardless of the fact that the Guides have great butts! The Guides tell us to take things to the spiritual level - for once in our lives. Cups =messages from your heart; Coins = fidning joy in the ordinary, Wands = being inspired to help others, Swords = messages from the Higher self. In some ways they touch on some of the aspects usually delegated to Pages. I don't doubt that it will take an adjustment or two to use them in a reading, because merely 'substituting in' your understanding of the Queens for these men won't work- particularly if you see the Queen Swords as head bitch incarnate and this benignly smiling man with the sword in his hand does not fit that description.
If this is your only compaint - 4 out of 78 cards - that's a low percentage.
I confess, the guides are my least favorite cards in this deck. They don't strike me as spiritual at all; they seem quite passive and uncommunicative. It's certainly not that they're not nice to look at! I just don't see their point. They strike me simply as idealized male bodies with wings.
I would not have minded if either the queens had been portrayed as "queens," nor if there had been a few women in the deck. I mean, I'm very, very glad this is such a male-oriented deck, but I don't think that has to preclude women altogether, especially since women-- and in particular, straight women-- have always played such an integral role in the gay male social world (I've always hated the expressions "fag hag" or "fruit fly").
If it was not to be queens, I would rather have seen the court cards stripped of their "courtly" roles and interpreted simply as stages in the cycle of life: child, adolescent, adult, and elder, which is often how I read the traditional court cards anyway.
And by the way, am I the only one who looks at the Guide of Cups and sees something other than water spurting out of that chalice? :eek: :D
The guides of pentacles and cups worked with me by the way they work with their environment. The Swords one I can sort of see, his dragonfly wings have him moving more quickly and directly than the others which is very swords. The guide of wands leaves me compeletely blank.
Yes I thought taht about the Guide of cups as well, however I interpreted it to show that the water poruing out was more than could fit in the chalice, thus his healing waters flow from an infinite source.
I think the 'magic wand' the Guide holds is 'wrong,' that it might have been something that was visually closer to the RWS type. I think that he is supposed to be helping to bring the plants in the foreground to 'life.' He also has the most 'angelic' wings of the group; swords has dragonfly wings, Cups has buterfly wings, and the coins has bird wings. I guess that these are also an expression of their characters?
As I stated elsewhere, I am also glad that these creatures, although naked, were not endowed with mega-penises that most gay-oriented art seems to 'have' to have. They do have nice butts, though!