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RiccardoLS  RiccardoLS is offline
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Darkness and dark decks


I have seen a few comments regarding the Dark Grimoire Tarot as a “dark” deck.
While I totally agree with that definition, I wanted to think aloud about what “dark” really means, relating to Tarot deck. The Dark Grimoire is but one among many “dark” decks, but I had the occasion of discussing it while it was being built, and some of those observations may be of interest.


We cannot deny that one of the main differences between decks is simply the Art Style. If we accept, just for the sake of discussion, that Tarot meanings are constant and fixed, the art style may be seen as just a dress. It is a simple superficial layer, appeasing our aesthetics, but with no real influence to the higher truth behind it.
And yet, whenever we use intuition to read Tarot and we actually let ourselves be challenged by the cards we drawn, the way even a constant, known message, is given takes the greatest importance, and brings in different directions.
I may say that, even if there is a necessary link between the two, we can see two different terms of “darkness” in Tarot.
The first is a darkness of emotion. Whatever meaning is contained into the cards it is conveyed by a “dark” metaphor, and “dark” is the interpretation key to unlock the Arcana. This is a darkness of language.
The second is a darkness of content. Whatever the appearance of the card, the deck strives to look into the dark side of things, in the uncharted reaches of the hidden side of the moon. This is a darkness of substance.
Then, when we ask “does the end justify the means” we may conclude that the end and the means are both parts of the same thing, so they are the same. The same language and substance may be parts of the same thing, and could not really be seen one separate from the other.

Well… the dark language sometimes may seem very frivolous. When an adolescent is upset he thinks suicide, and beauty equal damnation. Everything is huge and every single uneven step looks like a hole in the fabric of the universe. It’s a powerful appeal… one that has his tool on me and I think many of us, independent of our age.
This language may be use the same way we use elves and fairies and jolly cherubs: to distract. It works: it is dark… there must be depth. People die, so their last words are certainly important. Etc…
On the other side, such a language encourages to see the dark side of things, to expect and to look for trouble, and works better to let our intuition deal with sadness, loneliness, inadequacy, defenceleness, rejection… all elements that are an important part of our emotional life. If we think (just an imho, and definitely summarized) that the conventional Tarot meanings are focused on the intellectual and emotional drive of a “Magician Hero”, dark language decks allow us to see the emotions of the little ones, not just of the giants.
And that’s important. Inuit is good to talk about snow (or so I’m told).

What we must consider is that, if we use a dark language deck, we attune ourselves to that language. Our associations, the emotion we let surface, our mood and color, will all fit a coherent whole with the darkness we are handling.

A dark substance deck is different. It wants darkness… and there is no one among us that has nothing to offer on that side. But to use such a deck honestly, you will end up looking a the darkness and maybe, for just an instance, think the darkness is your true self (I don’t believe that. We don’t look at darkness often. When we do, and recognize it to be part of us, we just assume/fear that is the whole).
I don’t think this is what we really want to do every day. Facing this path means so much energy and commitment that it can just be done a few times in a while.
By the way… darkness in not just darkness within. There is also in the world… and it affects us, through our defense systems.

Well, anyway… one of the observations we did along with Michele Penco was not to confuse language with substance. They are linked, but they are not the same.

The basic of Lovecraft Horror was the concept that the world itself was “evil”, and madness would have been the only fate of those who looked beyond the veil. So the veil of Maya, illusion separating from truth, is our savior.
It is a bad way to look at the world, also because the “seeker” is always the “victim”.
I think the “dark” of the Dark Grimoire Tarot is about touching darkness. (Well, it’s a Tarot deck and not a collection of Lovecraft based illustrations). When you are drawn into the darkness how do you say yourself, how do you remember light…
How do you allow darkness to change and mold you (because if you go into the darkness you must accept it or sacrifice something as precious: read Hearth of Darkness by J. Conrad – I really would like to make a Tarot deck on that concept)?
And again… what is the meaning of darkness… how can you accept and feel the evil of the world and not be destroyed.
So, when we touch darkness, we don’t do that through a glass window. And still, in a way, even if it doesn’t seem to change anything, darkness is also touched by us.
It was difficult to try to convey the main character of the deck (there are two actually: a man and a woman) as both a victim and a hero. As someone fighting darkness and someone embracing it and learning from it (darkness is both a devourer and a teacher?).

There was one last concept I wanted to address about darkness and that was quite important when thinking about this deck: the concept of “empowering”.
One of the ways to use Tarot we consider important evolves around the “empowering” concept. Future should not be fate, and a querient (if you read to others or if you read to yourself) should be encouraged by Tarot to find solution, think strategies, act… and ultimately accept responsibility for himself.
When considering a horror/dark deck, one should think that the horror concept really has not heroes but rather victims. The horror comes exactly when the point of view of the reader/spectator has no control over things. There is nothing but to run and hide, and even so, there is no escape. The feeling of dread we receive from true horror is definitely linked to “lack of control”. Doing an horror Tarot deck means asking people using it to synthonize with lack of control, and that’s not really good for empowering.
Answering this contradiction, and trying to find a way to have these two concepts coexist has been an important part of the design work.

ric

P.s.
One final note. Most of the times creating a deck is not a way to give an answer to all possible consideration about a theme (like darkness, for instance). It’s just a way to ask the questions, or to open a door. We don’t know, ever, what’s behind the door.
If the deck is good, it may be, it can *spark* something in those using it, and then be useful, right when it’s needed to. If the deck is bad, then… it doesn’t work this way. ^_^
Top   #1
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Sinduction  Sinduction is offline
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Well, I use mostly dark decks and I don't find that it's all darkness.

I believe even villains can be seen as heroes, even if they happen to be misguided. But then I also grew up thinking Darth Vader was so much cooler than the Jedi!

Even with Frankenstein, Jekyll/Hyde, Dracula; in all of them I can see heroes as well as victims. Light as well as dark. Just as I can see the same in fairy tales.

I think every tarot (well done of course) is the same. There is light and dark in each card. While I do think that a lot of humans have a hard time looking at the darkness because it is full of fear and the constant reminder of our own mortality, some of us find that empowering. Knowing I will die someday allows me to live more fully. Being able to face my fears makes me all the more stronger and prepares me for what is to come. For something is always coming.

I think if people want a light fluffy deck, that's fine. But I'm glad there is an abundance of dark decks.

I think it all comes down to personal preference. I surround myself with dark things and have all my life. It makes me more comfortable that way. I'd rather be surrounded by skulls than pink fluffy bunnies. And it's so nice that I'm able to find decks that recognize that, but I don't find those readings are any more or less dark than a reading with a lighter deck. But that's just me.
Top   #2
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Bernice  Bernice is offline
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A very insightful post which also highlights the measure of responsibility which is given to the creation of a tarot deck. A very revealing peep into 'how to' create a balanced Dark deck.
Quote:
.......we can see two different terms of “darkness” in Tarot..........language and substance..............
What we must consider is that, if we use a dark language deck (card meanings that evoke emotions), we attune ourselves to that language.
So, here we're talking about 'psychological' or 'emotionally' themed deck meanings, as given in the LWB?
Quote:
A dark substance (art-work, appearance) deck is different. It wants darkness… and there is no one among us that has nothing to offer on that side. But to use such a deck honestly, you will end up looking at the darkness and maybe, for just an instance, think the darkness is your true self (I don’t believe that. We don’t look at darkness often. When we do, and recognize it to be part of us, we just assume/fear that is the whole).
I don’t think this is what we really want to do every day.
And here, the art-work conveys the 'psychological/emotional' message of the cards. And when the two terms come together under a fantasy theme, we have a Dark Deck.

This rings faint alarm bells. Not ringing for the Deck, ringing for the users. Some people are just that way inclined and have no problem handling the darkness. But others, who are attracted (like sirens calling....) without any real perception or recognition that Darkness is just the other side of Light, a cause & effect balance, may find themselves drawn into a dark world-view. Seeing everything and everyone in terms of darkness.

This reminds me of the early days of computers. Some kids became so immersed in a programming language that they saw and responded to everything in binary terms. Others identified with game characters so strongly that they were unable to relate to everyday situations in the mundane world. So yes, alarm bells do ring. Tarot is mostly used and explored by adults, and we are not necessarily immune to the fantasies of themed decks.
Quote:
There was one last concept I wanted to address about darkness and that was quite important when thinking about this deck: the concept of “empowering”.
One of the ways to use Tarot we consider important evolves around the “empowering” concept. Future should not be fate, and a querient (if you read to others or if you read to yourself) should be encouraged by Tarot to find solution, think strategies, act… and ultimately accept responsibility for himself.............
Very valid point which cannot be over-stressed IMHO. What is the use of identifying a hitch/problem, and then not looking for some solution or method of dealing with it? Whether a deck is Dark or Light (fluffy fairy), a reading (ideally) aught to balance out the content and 'ground' the querent by outlining the possibilites what they can & can't do about it. Some measure of control, which may only turn out to be another way of looking at their issue.

And here, Ric speaks of 'lack of control' re. dark decks. I.E. The bottomless pit of 'helplessness', unable to find any suitable response to conditions.
Quote:
......The feeling of dread we receive from true horror is definitely linked to “lack of control”. Doing a horror Tarot deck means asking people using it to synthasize with lack of control, and that’s not really good for empowering.
Again the stress on 'empowerment', especially with a dark deck. The initial intentions of the reader when doing a reading = find a balance and look for solutions.
Some may think these considerations a form of 'dark deck' censorship, to them I would say "not so" because nothing is with-held from the decks. They are assembled with insight and responsibility. I think it would be a good idea to include portions of Rics post with the LWB of such decks.

Bee (all done - gone for coffee, ciggy, and a look at my newly arrived deck )
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gregory  gregory is offline
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What a brilliant post, Ric. Thanks. I wish I were at home with my collection right now, so I could respond appropriately... but I won't be there for any length of time for quite a while. I don't see any deck as "dark" in and of itself, though.
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This is an important thread


With the interst in the Dark Grimorie deck and its recent release I though that this thread needed a bit of a bump for people to find and continue this discussion.

Onyx.
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I have read in the past with the LoS Gothic Vampires, maybe someday I'll get it out again. In my mind it's a dark deck but one that spoke well with me; I found it gave honest thought-provoking answers.

Sometimes though it gave moments of pure beauty, pure peace, happiness even. It was perhaps the first deck that I ignored card meanings and instead focused purely upon the pictures of the card--for that I thank the creator (and publisher) of the deck.

Kenny
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A keenly insightful and interesting post Ric.
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Cool


In general I agree with much. However there are a few points we could expand.

Please remember that the darkness metaphor stretches beyond age, adolescent or middle-aged share the same range of emotions - and fear. When we’re older, we look down our noses at ‘teen angst’, while we whistle past the graveyard with our own. Denial and justification are finely honed tools.

In the darkside, there is never helplessness, nor is there victimhood. Victims can become heroes. Control lost may be found. Dark slimy crawly creatures can be turned away. Or stared down. Turned and in turn – used. The darkside is a place where the powerless can claim power.

Sure Pandora opened the box, sure hope came out…but so did everything else, and its over here – in darkside. Some of which appears really light!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RiccardoLS
And again… what is the meaning of darkness… how can you accept and feel the evil of the world and not be destroyed.

So, when we touch darkness, we don’t do that through a glass window. And still, in a way, even if it doesn’t seem to change anything, darkness is also touched by us.
Ahhhh, now that’s the fun! It’s the same as when you bathe yourself in all that light. Cuz once you’ve been there, you find some of the darkest things look really fuzzy and sunny on the outside! Some things of goodness can cause so much pain and dissention. But they’re justified.

How does one justify evil. How to roll around it in and come away clean? It’s not like you can go on a vacation and be evil, and then not bring it on home with you. “Take your boots off at the door honey, I just cleaned and don’t want you traipsing yer evil all over the nice clean floors.”

But many of us roll around in our guilt. We stole a teabag from work. Roll around in that evil. Okay so its little. But its still stealing! That’s wrong! Broke a commandment. A little teabag and eternal damnation!

“It’s a teabag. And the company is worth millions, and I didn’t get a pay raise.”

Justify it. Thou shalt not steal is not conditional. It’s no larger or smaller than I shalt not kill. Perhaps the justification is even the most evil part.

So roll around in it. Get the stink all over you like a dog rolling in a dead duck. Roll roll roll walk around with that stink of sin all over you. Don’t even wash your hands, get on a street car (If any of those people knew what was standing right next to them – a thief – a killer – a justifier…okay perhaps you think its just a little evil…

It’s the guilt that’ll get ‘cha in the long run. That rock you threw as a child and hit that other kid…still think about that…? Enjoy the guilt.

That’s part of the monstrousness that separates you (or me) from the rest of humanity. Nobody could possibly understand the guilt you walk around with.

Cthulhu? A piker compared to the dark stuff you and I carry around everyday.

And remember – the dragon has to win. Otherwise the hero cannot make a comeback.
Top   #8
RiccardoLS  RiccardoLS is offline
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You resumed a dead thread didn't you?

I think that *guilt* and *shame* are among the main source of darkness in our world, expecially in cultures heavily influenced by the catholic church.
(and this should be strange because the whole point of the Christian faith is that you are loved, even if you are weak, so you should be and live happily).

Freud would say that the *darkness* cames into us as we learn to deny the Id, and the principle of pleasure. And that in turn lead from eros to thanatos.
Our iability to cope with the internal conflict leads inevitably to *dark urges*.

ric
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Cool


Quote:
Originally Posted by RiccardoLS
Our iability to cope with the internal conflict leads inevitably to *dark urges*.
...and half of society is trying to save us from those dark urges, and the other half is trying to market to those dark urges...
Top   #10




 


 


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