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Darkness and dark decks

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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregory
That's a very good point about depression. And one thing you do learn during a major episode is that you have to face it. I have coped 100% better since I was finally shown how to do that in hospital. And yes - when I am well, now that I have done that, it makes life a whole lot sweeter.
I think it takes a lot of strength to face such adversity and then be ok enough with ourselves to come out and not feel ashamed about it. Hugs, I'm happy for you

Ash
Top   #31
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Why, thanks !!!

I thought EVERYONE here had read about my going nuts. I make a point of being upfront about it, as so many people feel a stigma and I am totally unashamed !!! And I think it is SO important to get over the shame side. I think I read that 25% of us have a mental illness at some point - and so few get the help that really helps, because they are ashamed to ask for it !!

(sorry, OT !)
Top   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregory
I thought EVERYONE here had read about my going nuts. I make a point of being upfront about it, as so many people feel a stigma and I am totally unashamed !!! And I think it is SO important to get over the shame side. I think I read that 25% of us have a mental illness at some point - and so few get the help that really helps, because they are ashamed to ask for it !!

(sorry, OT !)
I'm not actually sure this is off-topic. I suspect that the stigma toward mental illness has something to do with people's reaction to dark decks. We want, or some part of us wants, life to be "normal" (whatever that means) and balanced. I think you could say that mental illness is a kind of imbalance, something we'd rather deny. And I think that dark decks look directly at that imbalance. Instead of trying to see everything as balanced, what happens if you accept it, and actually look at the world through that imbalanced, abnormal, maybe mentally ill lens? It's not a place you'd want to stay all your life, but a visit may help you get some insight. And as Gregory mentioned, facing it head-on is part of changing it.
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Well, that does make sense. And I like dark decks - well, I like things like the Savage, which scares a lot of people - and have done POSITIVE (!!) readings with it - which is why I still think a deck is not dark in and of itself; it is what the reader makes of it. Though a deck like that one can scare the sitter (both mine ASKED me to use it !)

Whether it is possible to create, deliberately, a deck that will engender dark readings I doubt VERY much. But if someone wants to try. I do know one I would possibly be afraid to use if I had it, for a number of reasons, but in deference to the creator, will not name it...
Top   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregory
I would possibly be afraid to use if I had it
For me that would be the Giger. I find the deck truly terrifying to view. But that's me - it's just cardboard, after all.
Top   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregory
I thought EVERYONE here had read about my going nuts.
Man – I missed those threads. I had zero idea. Good on ya for the honesty! I like that!

I love this subject. And I’ve wasted a few posts about ‘What is a Dark Deck’ and related subjects. Each time I post about it I feel farther away from what it (Dark Tarot/Darkness) is.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Umbrae
…what is a Dark Deck? Some are dark because of the palette, whereas some simply have a palate of imagery that creates darkness. Still some become known as dark in name only…
In The Bohemian Gothic Tarot companion book, the final chapter is a good read on this subject (although I find the author of that one chapter (the entire companion book was written by the ever brilliant Karen Mahony (without an e) Dan Pelletier a sophomoric pedant) from which I’d like to quote:
Quote:
When you leave the Apollonian world, where things are neat and tidy, the sum of a triangle’s angles is always 180 degrees and the good prevails, and enter that of the Dionysian, where the unclean and the taboo are accepted, the individual is often consumed and the bad becomes the good…
He touches on it there, and scoots off. But it is there – moving from the Apollonian to the Dionysian. But what does that look like? How does it feel? How to describe that which escapes a translatable language?

It has been posited that Lovecraft was influenced somewhat by the writings of Crowley. That the formers ‘Al Azif: The Book of the Arab’ (The ‘Necronomicon’) resembles Liber AL vel Legis; that Yog-Sothoth rhymes with Set-Soth.

Anton LeVey reminded us that fiction can direct magical forces regardless of historical validity…

Michael Aquino wrote two rituals based on a made up ‘Yuggothic” language…

There are of course varied paths where one can explore darkness. The Lovecraftian mythos, some would say the Crowley schools, perhaps the path of the vampyre…

But here’s the thread…that one finds another dimension of being. The normal human world. And another world outside – and it’s different. There is created an ontological tension. That their reality exists, throws our concept of reality into confusion. It pales our existence.

It is a realm where some who view it succumb to madness. Come to think of it, I have known a few ‘students’ of the darker arts who fried a few circuits on the motherboard and exhibited what appeared to be reduced cognitive functions for the rest of their lives…


A few ‘dark decks’ out there lampoon the whole thing. The Lovecraft Tarot is a good example. HP Lovecraft invented the ‘Necronomicon’ (which some believe is an actual book). He also created an entire fictional mythos to use through his horror stories. Other writers since have used the Necronomicon, and recently a modern writer wrote a Necronomicon series based on the fictions based on the fiction. Then he designed a deck based on the fictions based on the frictions based on the fiction.

It sucked. It wholly diluted the entire concept.

There’s the Vargo Gothic Tarot. It has gargoyles and vampires and ghouls and…does to darkness what Halloween does to darkness – lampoons it. Whistling past the cemetary and nothing else.

But then - There’s the Gothic Tarot of the Vampires…now that comes close. That’s dark. It just plain shoves man down the food-chain with a single strong hand and leaves him there with no chance of redemption. Bold stuff.

“Yeah another world exists, and in it you’re weak and defenseless, tag – you’re it.”

Mage: The Ascension – Wonderfully dark.

The Bohemian Gothic falls short for many because of the total immersion, and the assumption that you speak the language (Gothic as opposed to Goth). The former inspires rejection via revulsion, and the latter just does not ‘get it’. There are those of course who embrace it, and many of those – only for a short time – and they won’t discuss why.

Giger/Baphomet – Nice. The stuff that screams are made out of. (I love to read with these cards IRL).

The tie between these decks? They depict another world in a way that accepts it as a fact, and makes no apologies (“Perhaps it WOULD look like this…maybe…”)

Man…remember Roger Dean (may wanna go hunt down some Yes album covers)? Unapologetic otherworldy. It’s dark – not from palette, but from believability.

You know the Lovecraft Tarot? I gave it away to Kiama because it just blew chunks. Why? Because it lacked the artistic merit to allow it to cross into the arena of believability.

Something to ponder, perhaps we’ll chat later.
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Personally, I really admire the Bohemian Gothic: some of the illustrations are disturbing without knowing the Gothic backstory. Perhaps because the Gothic genre deals with certain core issues of horror: fear of death, fear of the dead, fear of madness, the historical reality of witch hunts and torture, the historic and legendary reality of serial killers, fear of children who are *not* innocent, the historic and legendary reality of abusive family situations...

A corrective note mon cher Umbrae: Lovecraft did not create the Cthulhu Mythos. He created tantalizing hints of such a religion, and tantalizing hints of variant cults as well. Lovecraft himself was a staunch atheist. Lovecraft's personal circle of friends who were also writers got into the spirit of the game and added their own hints in their works. (CA Smith, Robert E Howard, Robert Bloch etc.) Two influential "codifiers" of a coherent Mythos which has been since mistaken as Lovecraft's invention were August Dereleth and Lin Carter; unfortunately, both did a certain amount of....intellectual distortion of Lovecraft's concepts in the process. Cthulhu, for example, is not a god. Lovecraft deliberately states that he is the high priest of even greater gods, a literary technique Lovecraft had picked up from Dunsany.

Tyson's work could be considered in the genre of fan fiction. While I agree with you that Tyson's deck is not an effective real occult tool--in spite of Llewellyn's trying to push it as such-- I do appreciate Tyson's real love of Lovecraft which has been the case for many years and some of Tyson's writing has been good work in the tiny avid literary genre of Mythos Fiction.

For real people doing real readings about real spiritual stuff, I agree it is utter drek. And it won't make friends on campus either.

I'm surprised you didn't like the artwork of the Lovecraft Tarot. The one by Mythos Press? I'm not sure why believeability is an issue there: it's not posing as having occult powers any more than the Jane Austin Tarot does. It doesn't make the kinds of claims Tyson does for his deck.

Back to Dark Decks: the Darkest Deck would be to my mind photographs of victims of crimes committed by humans; or decks glorifying such humans, such as Serial Killer Trading Cards. To heck with the occult trappings or Tarot symbolism and the petty sins of blasphemy and idolatry. Anyone even interested in using such a deck already would be a few sandwiches short of a picnic and such a deck wouldn't help that at all. Sadists, fanatics, killers, rapists etc. all go through a process of normalizing and justifying their desires and deeds through repetitive fantasy and meditation, if they weren't born and raised in a social environment that already has normalized such deeds.

On the other hand, to acknowledge fears & antisocial impulses through the remove of the arts, through tale telling describing others as monsters, can be psychologically healthy. To identify as certain types of monsters can engender empathy and compassion, the very qualities that prevent us from hurting one another. Sometimes it can be difficult to draw the boundary...
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pagan X
A corrective note mon cher Umbrae: Lovecraft did not create the Cthulhu Mythos. He created tantalizing hints of such a religion, and tantalizing hints of variant cults as well.
I didn't say he created the Cthulthu mythos. He DID however create an interconnecting fictional pantheon. Such can be referred to as a mythos since it exhibits persistence.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pagan X
I'm not sure why believeability is an issue there: it's not posing as having occult powers any more than the Jane Austin Tarot does
Remember - I'm discussing Dark Decks in general terms (not Lovecraft et al). What separates wheat from the chaff - believability IMO is a feature. Would a Gummi Bear From Hell serve as a dark deck? Dead Barney Tarot? Some things do not translate over into a Dionysian world. If we peeked through the veil of the worlds and saw the Big Rock Candy Mountain would we shiver in fear? Would we if it came alive and looked like a land trapped Hag-Fish?

True darkness begins with what we know, and ends in the incomprehensible – and believability occurs when it suspends disbelief without our notice.
Top   #38
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Hm. Yeah, the Lovecraft Tarot isn't really very dark. Its a nice gallery of illustrations for Lovecraft stories, but the monochromatic printing, the stylized artwork, the overall lack of ookiness keeps it out of the Dark category.

Style is important to Dark.

The Giger deck bothers me (as does his art) because of the depictions of sexual violation\transformation. The distance granted by it being artwork doesn't overcome for me enough the impact of what is being depicted for me to use it as a Tarot. The distance is there, certainly I am not having the reaction I would if I saw a scene like that in reality.

The Tyson deck is mostly annoyingly crudely drawn art with a couple of ew yuck pictures (victim trailing his/her own entrails.)

To read Tarot, I have to become trusting and vulnerable to the images in a certain way. I have to be safe enough to free-associate; trusting enough to attribute agency to the deck (think of the deck as a being). A shock response is going to block that.

Beauty helps.

Vargas is pretty, but too repetitive between cards in the imagery. That's also a problem for me with the Weirdwood. A tarot needs to be 78 different cards. Heck, I have problems with the 2 and 3 of Wands in the RWS.

So, style and beauty is not *sufficient* for a dark deck. It still has to be a Tarot, grounded in a solid symbol system in some fashion.
Top   #39
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Mage the Ascension -- yes that's about the darkest deck I have. Funny you should mention it... I just pulled it out the other day to do a reading, which was juicily enjoyable. It is so dark, it's funny. I like it -- the darkest darkness of dark does something akin to "paradoxical intervention" -- like telling the depressed person, "yeah, you're right, you really really suck" -- to paradoxically make them feel better, -- there is release and relief of suffering to be had in the mere acknowledgment. Yes, there's something wonderfully affirming in the dark images. Ha!
Top   #40

 




 


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