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Talisman  Talisman is offline
Join Date: 18 Aug 2001
Location: Travelin' . . . like a ball of twine unravelin'
Posts: 491
World Spirit: Six of Swords

In their book "The World Spirit Tarot" Jessica Godino and Lauren O'Leary pay homage to Pamela 'Pixie' Coleman Smith whose Rider-Waite Tarot Lauren calls "unsurpassable." Although the influence of another Golden Dawn artist, Frieda Harris, who worked with Aleister Crowley on the Thoth Tarot, is mentioned, Lauren drew mostly from the designs of Smith, creating a fresh rendition of a familiar RWS scene.

But in some cases, in adding new symbols and images to create a deck with people of many colors and cultures, she "created an entirely new scenario . . ."

The Six of Swords is one of the cards with an entirely new scenario.

It is worth comparing the World Spirit card with the RWS Six of Swords. In a strange and powerful image, Smith depicts a boat at twilight with a boatman poling shrouded figures towards a distant wooded isle. The water on the left side of the boat is glassy smooth, but it is troubled on the right. ("A great silence fills this card, like the silence of Salvador Dali's paintings." Rachel Pollack, "Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom.")

Now look at the World Spirit card. We see a group of figures under the shadows of the pale crescent of the moon. The wild way the dark clouds are scudding across the night sky show it is windy, and if the clouds thicken it will soon be dark and possibly stormy. The wind is seen again in the chop of the water, waves breaking against the boat, which has oars in oarlocks. The water away from the pier will be too deep to pole this boat on its journey, and the water will be even more choppy away from the pier.

Briefly, a man on the pier hands things down to a figue in the boat, who tosses them hastily into the bow where six swords stand around a trunk and bundles. A woman and child watch, their expressions anxious. A seagull also witnesses the unfolding scene. There is a large eye painted on the bow of the boat.

In their book and the book's bibliography, and in interviews Jessica and Lauren mention the influence of Rachel Pollack. It is interesting that in "Seventy-Eight . . ." Rachel calls the Six of Swords one of the "Gate" cards. She explains that RWS images greatly encourage an awareness of the spiritual energy always present within the constantly shifting patterns of the world. But, she says, some cards in the RWS deck do more that teach such awareness, but ". . . taken the right way, can help produce it." She calls these cards "Gates."

She notes of these cards that "They all share certain characteristics: complex, often contradictory, meanings, and a myth-like Strangeness which no allegorical interpretation can completely penetrate. . . . Sometimes the Strangeness of a Gate will lie on the surface, but in other cards it only becomes apparent after we have analysed the card intellectually. . ."

Well, there's lots more about Gate cards in "Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom," but I just want to mention the World Spirit Six of Swords also as a Gate card, and one of the cards where Lauren created an entirely new scenario and an image I find equally as strange and powerful as the RWS.

(This may be getting a little too long, and I want to post it, so I'll continue in a Six of Swords, Part II. I'm really trying to explore what's going on here.)

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