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Bohemian Gothic Tarot - Two of Pentacles

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Bohemian Gothic Tarot - Two of Pentacles


The Baba Prague avatar card...I'd better be careful!

Here is a young woman posing in the street with a bicycle and a dog. The bicycle is a bone-shaker or penny-farthing, with a big front wheel and a small back wheel. The dog is a pug-dog presenting us with its rump (perhaps the more scenic end? ), and regarding the woman with quite the expression, sticking its tongue out at her in a way that I hadn't thought caninely possible. It has some kind of harness around its middle; red with a brass buckle or badge. The woman is bright-eyed, rosy-cheeked and smiling. She is wearing: a red Napoleon hat with bow and brooch; earrings, a hair ribbon, a blue bow-tie, a military-style jacket with epaulettes to go with the hat, and what looks for all the world to be armour on her arms in a style which is called "gothic plate", with lobster-tail style articulations, which definitely doesn't go with the hat or its era! Her elbows are not armoured with coudres/elbow cops, but have billows of blousing protruding in the landsknecht style. This is the only evidence of the blouse, as her jacket is open and her skin is bare down to...can't see because of her crossed arms, but all I see is skin! The fabric of her skirt matches her jacket, being yellow and green brocade in an overall pea-soup colour. It reaches to just below her knees. One wonders if she could ride the bike without it getting caught in the wheel, even if it is a split skirt. She wears rose hose, and has on what resemble cowboy boots in a light colour. She seems to have two legs, not one, as someone had feared in the Scariest Cards thread.

The street is cobbled and lined with modest buildings that have seen better days. The fronts are carefully plastered and painted, one in pink, but the sides of the buildings are lumpy plaster that is starting to crack. The upstairs windows are open, and possibly the doors, but I can't tell for sure. There is a flight of stairs following the roof line of one place, with a handrail set in the wall, but it stops abruptly at least eight feet above the street. There is something wacky about the pattern of the roof tiles on the last two roofs, and the last building doesn't seem sure whether it is facing us or facing the street. Perhaps this is a bit of photo-shopping that I'm not supposed to be noticing. A mist creeps along the road. Just beyond the woman's head is a sign that clearly says "Dr. Caligari's Cabinet of Curiosities".

This card is traditionally about balance and juggling the various facets of one's life. The bicycle is about balance, but there is implied "imbalance" in the different sizes of its wheels. The young woman looks physically healthy, and appears to enjoy the healthy pastime of cycling, but her get-up...ye gawds! "I am Napoleon!" Is she on her way to the lunatic asylum, or did she escape from one? A pug-dog would not be my breed of choice to have as a companion while cycling, with its stumpy legs and genetic inclination toward respiratory problems. No wonder it's giving her a grimace with its very strange teeth, and sticking its tongue out at her! That lumpy street must be a real joy to ride a bike on, particularly if the suspension is rudimentary or lacking.

The buildings present a good face to the public, but are cracked behind their facades, just as the woman seems to be. The upstairs windows being open...seems like there should be a phrase involving windows being open equivalent to "lights on but nobody home". Perhaps the Czechs have such a saying? The staircase...I'm glad that the builder was concerned enough about balance and safety to install a handrail, but that last step is a long one! The plane-shifting buildings kind of speak for themselves. All is not what it seems. Things are askew. Balance is in the mind of the beholder!

Someone else will have to refresh me on Dr. Caligari. I've heard the name, but don't know if it was a book or a movie or what. Any thoughts?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swimming in tarot
but her get-up...ye gawds! "I am Napoleon!" Is she on her way to the lunatic asylum, or did she escape from one?
Actually, she's just wearing what old-time street performers and circus folk wore back in the day. They would paste together the most colorful, most gaudy elements of old costumes to stand out and seem "colorful," thus grabbing the attention of an audience.

It's no different than some street performer now wearing wacky old clothing from by-gone days. And I'm sure this girls street act has something to do with both her and/or the pug balancing on the seat of that bicycle. It's far harder to stand and balance on a pennyfarthing than a bike with two equal-sized wheels. She must be very good. I do like, by the way, using the bicycle as our "two pents" rather than the usual juggling balls.

Your connection of the Napoleon hat to inanity, however, does have some relevance to this card: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a famous silent film, best known for its German, expressionist-art style sets. There are other cards in this deck (like 2/Swords) very evidently influenced by this marvelous movie (take a look here to get an example. the look of the film is really quite marvelous and striking--and very "unbalanced" with good, symbolic reason as you'll see: http://www.mrrl.org/blogs/wordpress/...10/cabinet.jpg). Here is what this movie is about:

From Wiki:
Quote:
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (a silent film): Francis and his friend visit a carnival in the village where they see Dr. Caligari and the somnambulist Cesare, whom the doctor is displaying as an attraction. Caligari brags that Cesare can answer any question he is asked. When Alan asks Cesare how long he has to live, Cesare tells Alan that he will die before dawn tomorrow—a prophecy which turns out to be fulfilled.

Francis, along with his girlfriend Jane, investigate Caligari...Francis discovers that "Caligari" is actually the head of the local insane asylum, and, with the help of his colleagues, discovers that he is obsessed with the story of an 18th-century Dr. Caligari, who in northern Italy used a somnambulist to murder people as a traveling act....Caligari is imprisoned in his asylum. The twist ending reveals that Francis' flashback is actually his fantasy: he, Jane and Cesare are all inmates of the insane asylum, and the man he says is Caligari is his asylum doctor, who, after this revelation of the source of his patient's delusion, says that now he will be able to cure Francis.
A story about regaining mental balance? About sleeping and walking up?
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Thank you for the quote and link!
Street performer? All very well...and I wouldn't try tricks with a regular bike, never mind one of those contraptions...but do you find any significance in the cut-off staircase, the mist, the dog's face? Are these simply "atmospheric" in a deck where details seem to count?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swimming in tarot
Thank you for the quote and link!
Street performer? All very well...and I wouldn't try tricks with a regular bike, never mind one of those contraptions...but do you find any significance in the cut-off staircase, the mist, the dog's face? Are these simply "atmospheric" in a deck where details seem to count?
I don't think they're merely atmospheric. I do find the reference to Insanity really interesting however. Pents are usually all about the body, and I'm reminded of the phrase "healthy in body and mind." This being the BG deck, I wonder if our street performing acrobat is healthy only in body, not in mind. If she is part of Dr. Caligari's mad circus, hence the different sized wheels. She's in perfect physical condition, but not mental condition...and we might not want to trust her too far. Dr. Caligari uses the mad to perform murders after all.

As for the cut-off staircases and mist, they give us that dream-like quality. Which goes back to Dr. Caligari. The whole movie is a madman's dream. Is Baba Prague telling us something by having this as her Avatar? Is the whole deck her mad dream, or ours? The deck is a juggling/balancing act of sorts between real and surreal, dark and light, life and death, sane and insane, body and soul.

Though all 2's are about "balance" none is more about the acrobatics and tricks we all perform in a desperate hope to stay on that bicycle and get rewarded for our effort, than the 2/Pents. There is a certain madness, I suppose, in all that we do to keep our wheels spinning, all the crazy tricks we'll pull and bizarre costume's we'll wear.

Oh, and I believe pugs always stick out their tongues that way. Goes with the smooshed in faces
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Golden Lane


Heehee!
I just googled Prague attractions, and the street where the 2 of Pentacles scene is, is called Golden Lane! Appropriate for the pentacle suit. It is within the castle precinct, and was a bit of land given to the castle marksmen to build houses on in the late 1500's, if I got it right. There wasn't much land, so they built very small, and only half-houses: the ridge of the roof stops at the castle wall. Asymmetrical, off-balance...

See modern photos of the street at:
http://www.prague.net/gallery/golden-lane/pic1.php
so you can compare with the card. I think having this background information might just deepen the card meanings.
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Hi, my name is Dave and I'm a practicing astrologer new to Tarot. I dabbled with the cards many years ago with an R/W deck. Recently I saw the Bohemian Gothic Deck and (I know this sounds strange) it seemed to almost speak to me. I've never been so drawn to anything in my life.

At any rate, one of the cards in this deck I have trouble associating the meaning with is the Two of Pentacles. I understand the balancing part. I didn't until I read this thread. The bicycle symbolises this very well. What in the image suggests juggling though? Nothing suggests juggling many activities at once to me. Any help will be greatly appreciated and thank you for your time.

P.S. May I also say to Baba-Prague that this is the most beautiful deck I've ever seen.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astrologerdave
What in the image suggests juggling though? Nothing suggests juggling many activities at once to me. Any help will be greatly appreciated and thank you for your time.

P.S. May I also say to Baba-Prague that this is the most beautiful deck I've ever seen.
Welcome to our study threads, and welcome to the BG fan club! You're not alone in your love affair with this deck. We all think it's stunning and amazing, and I, for one, hope these discussions go on for a nice long time. I've never wanted to talk about a deck as much as I enjoy talking about this one!

RE: Juggling and the 2/Pents: What you have to understand about Tarot is that these images present the "spirit" of the idea rather than the literal image of it (though, sometimes, the image can be taken literally--but that's another discussion). So while the RW deck has a juggler for 2/Pents, that doesn't mean it's literally about juggling. In away, that juggler is a pun, a joke. It's about "juggling finances" right? Or just all those things in our life: work, home, staying healthy.

But we can take that meaning and say it some other way. In this instance, the card uses the bicycle and says, "Balancing finances," or "keeping your wheels spinning." It means the same thing, it's just a different metaphor. Whether juggler or bicycle rider, the real idea here is to keep things rotating so that they don't fall down. If you've ever juggled, you know what I mean. It all works because you keep those balls circling, hand to hand and one in the air. Stop rotating those balls form place to place and they fall down. Same with the bike. It won't stand up if the rider isn't keeping those wheels moving. If those wheels aren't turning, then the bike falls over, and she falls with it.

Thus, the meaning of this card is to indicate that sort of situation. That, for example, you're going to have to keep rotating the bills you pay: paying the rent this month, the electric bill next month, the food bill next month and back to the rent. Because you haven't the money to pay them all, and without a regular rotation the whole thing will fall down. Or with your life, you have to rotate from concentrating on work, to concentrating on your kids, to concentrating on your health. Concentrate too much on work, and the others will get neglected, and your whole life will fall down.

Yes?
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astrologerdave  astrologerdave is offline
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Thank you!


Thirteen,

That was an EXCELLENT reply. The card makes perfect sense to me now. I tend to be somewhat literal minded. I think part of what attracts me to Tarot is the symbolism, same as with astrology.

I have learned so much from reading this Bohemian Gothic study group. I hope to participate more. Please bear with me though when I don't "get" something. I'm a bit slow with imagery but I eventually do "get it".

Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my question.


Dave
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