TAROT: A newfound poetry – walking with Luca Shivendra Om

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ENGLiSH . ESPAÑOL . ITALiANO

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EN version by Shelley Ruelle

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DD . Who is Luca Morandini alias LUCA SHiVENDRA OM?

LM . Defining myself has always been a rather hard task for me (maybe because of that nebulous Neptune I have conjunct my Ascendant). Usually I always end up labeling myself wrong. Let’s say I feel I’m a curious and versatile person, a mobile and multiform person, a non-specialist in many — perhaps too many — things. If you want a one-word definition: I’m an “amateur” (or a “versatile dilettante”, but that’s already two words).

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DD . You could say that we’re in a full “renaissance” of the Marseilles Tarot (TdM), which is becoming ever more popular. There’s an abundance of restorations of ancient decks, books, new methods, conferences. There are also more and more “tarologists” around, self-appointed “master teachers” with faithful “disciples” following them. What’s your point of view?

LM . Your question speaks of two very different things: the “renaissance” of the Marseilles Tarot, which is a rebirth of study and research on the tarot, and the proliferation of experts and so-called “master teachers”.

The intensifying interest in the Marseilles is more than positive: in my case, thanks to this “renaissance” I’ve been able to discover and get in contact with different sources and different authors and compare different points of view.

On the proliferation of “master teachers” I have only one thing to say: I feel too anarchic for any “master”. And in fact, I love to cite this quote by Alejandro Jodorowsky: “I’ve realized that if anyone could teach me to decipher them (the tarot cards), he or she still couldn’t be as good of a teacher in flesh and bones as the cards themselves”.

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DD . How did you come to the tarot? Would you like to speak a bit about your path regarding the cards?

LM  . It was 1985 (or maybe 1986). A time of profound transformation for me. Those were days of long wanderings through the bookstore shelves. I was avidly buying and reading books on macrobiotic diets, astrology, the I Ching.

During one of these excursions in the search for books and “solutions”, I bought “Tarot of the Magicians” (Le Tarot des Imagiers du Moyen Age) by Oswald Wirth. With the book came a pack of the 22 major arcana cards designed by Wirth himself and inspired by Stanislas de Guaita (beautiful and fascinating cards).

For my own personal research I practiced a bit with the Wirth Tarot. And I tried for a while with the Rider Waite Smith cards as well. But I ended up choosing I Ching and astrology. Over time I’ve remained faithful to astrology but I’ve abandoned the I Ching, a tool that’s foreign to the culture and I’d say to the life of a European (unless he or she is an expert sinologist).

In 2008, during a weekend workshop with Alejandro Jodorowsky and Marianne Costa, my initial fascination with the Marseilles Tarot regained strength. Since then, it’s been as essential to my daily life as eating and breathing, along with a bit of Rider Waite.

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DD . Are there tarologists or other particular people who have influenced your personal research?

LM . Many influences, but I have such a volatile memory that they must have scattered themselves about in my subconscious. I could cite Jodorowsky, a multifaceted artist who wonderfully knows how to use the Tarot. And more recently Enrique Enriquez, a juggler of language and tarot. Anyone who knows how to play with the cards, I consider an example with whom I can compare myself and from whom I can learn new methods.

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DD . What does the word “tarologist” mean to you?

LM . Is “tarology” a discourse on the tarot? If so, then it’s a word that I don’t like.

Is “tarology” a word that generates discourses on the tarot? If that’s the case, then I like it a lot!

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DD . You work in visual art. Is there a particular bond for you between the world of the tarot and that of your artistic research and production?

LM . More than an “artist” I consider myself “a spy in the house of art”. And I use the tarot as an imagination machine, to generate discourses that are apparently “by chance” but that seem to have a surprising ability to describe reality.

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DD . At first glance, the TdM seems to be steeped in Greek mythology, Christian symbolism, and clear references to alchemy. What are your thoughts?

LM . I think anything that helps one to imagine and generate stories and conversations is good. The tarot cards are a very effective catalyst for imagination and discussions.

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DD . Is the tarot a tool for meditation and getting to know oneself, or a poetic-symbolic method of communication? Or are they two sides of the same coin?

LM . I don’t make a distinction between the things you listed: meditation, imagination and poetry, self-inquiry. There aren’t sides and the coin is you, it’s us.

If you want a less “guru-logical” response: Jung used classic mythology, fairy tales, and alchemy to interpret his patients’ dreams. It’s an approach that one can easily apply to reading a series of cards, which, after all, is like a waking dream, during which you inquire into yourself (or another) using poetic and symbolic tools, and produce a discourse that has its own poetic and literary quality.

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DD . Is reading the cards a question of intuition, knowledge of symbols, personal sensitivity, experience, or innate talent? What counts most for you, and what are the barriers or the links between these components?

LM . I’ll respond by speaking again about dreams. Dreams are the product of everything that you listed: intuition, sensitivity, experiences, creative talent. In dreams, we offer the best of ourselves as beings gifted with a wonderful imaginative and narrative capacity. This is also true when we lay three cards out on the table and we read them. Perhaps more than reading them, I’d say that the cards are dreams that we dream while we’re awake.

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DD . The basic foundation of tarot today is often associated with the archetypes of Jungian psychology. Do you know much about that? What do you think of it?

LM . The archetypes are a postulate that are effective for interpreting dreams, or for mental or behavioral difficulties. They work. Jung made them work. Like many other things, they can also serve to create intelligent connections through reading the cards. If you know how to make them work.

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DD . Do you read the cards for anyone who asks you? How do you approach and manage a tarot reading? Does the classic dynamic of question/answer, querent/reader have its limitations? If so, what are they?

LM . Yes, I read the cards for anyone who asks me. Sometimes I come out energized, other times feeling emotionally drained, but that’s part of the game. Question and answer are the rules of the game. What’s truly essential is that the querent manages to shape the question, to refine it until it becomes a blade capable of cutting out the response like a diamond.

If it’s formed well, the querent’s question is comparable to the skillful and insightful investigative question on a dream. It sets off in the reader and the querent the same useful and illuminating associations. In short: it’s all in the question. It’s the question that generates the stories and discourses.

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DD . In your readings, do you use all 78 cards or just the 22 trumps (major arcana)?

LM . Usually I only use the 22 trumps: they’re less abstract than the pips (minor arcana) and the querent can more quickly recognize his or her own world in the Magician or the Empress rather than in the Two of Wands or in the Three of Cups.

With the trumps, it would seem easier to build a story. But I can assure you that once you start using the pip cards, they come alive and are capable of telling as much as the apparently easier-to-read figures on the trumps. The Two of Cups becomes a couple; the Ten of Swords, a situation that’s so difficult that it becomes an unbearable source of stress, the Ace of Coins a business opportunity.

Sometimes it happens that I’ll add a line of three pip cards to a reading of three trumps and I’ll read the two lines in relation to each other. That opens up a world that’s rich with color, subtleties, and very refined details.

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DD . Without question, Alejandro Jodorowsky represents one of the personalities of modern tarot, a dividing line between the old and new approaches to the use of the tarot. Do you agree?

LM . Jodorowsky is a man of a thousand talents: artist, juggler, storyteller, actor. He’s a great old man, a fountain of energy. He’s an excellent writer who knows how to convey and meld both tradition and personal experience in his books on the tarot. One can sense a lot of vitality in both him and in his books.

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DD . Do you read cards to respond to questions about health or illness? Do you think that cards can be a tool for medical diagnosis?

LM . I never read cards on illness or health. If the body becomes ill, a doctor needs to take care of it. Or rather: it’s the doctor who has to help you to take better care of your body.
I believe in a medical-scientific approach to diagnosis, to illnesses and cures. Perhaps with a healthy “holistic” correction to the excessiveness of specialization. And in any case, you can’t reconstruct the etiology of a headache or cure a headache with poetry. Poetry can help you to avoid one – maybe.

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DD . Nowadays on the internet, on the one hand, there are numerous tarot resources full of studies and detailed information from experts with years of research behind them. On the other hand, there are more and more advisers and “schools”, conferences and paid “custom-designed” courses, websites that are clearly commercially-based that claim to have the “best” or “true” knowledge of the Marseilles Tarot, or claim to be able to reveal life-shattering truths for a certain price. What do you think about all this?

LM . I believe I’m rather immune to concepts like “true knowledge”, “true master”, “true truth”. As I was saying, I’m too anarchic and I have a memory that’s too volatile. The “truths” tend to be forgotten in a hurry or to become mixed up among themselves. I can tell you, however, that I love the internet. It’s a wonderful big cooking pot full of succulent information. If you know how to cook, then excellent recipes can come from it – very tasty ones.

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DD . Do you think that tarology could be recognized as a profession regulated by an international statute?

LM . I can tell you that I’ve never asked myself this and I don’t think about it.

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DD . IIs the tarot for you “just” a passion or do you manage a business with it as well? Given the many years of experience you have behind you, experience that you’ve clearly acquired, have you ever thought about writing a book or starting a full-time business dedicated to the tarot, by yourself or with others?

LM . I would like to organize and structure my experiences with the tarot. And at the moment to share them on a larger scale, it could be nice to use forms or methods that aren’t just the pages of social networks. A book could be one of these forms. Tarot for me is, in fact, “full time”: it takes up a lot of space and time in my daily life. I think “living” off the tarot (meaning putting a value on the time that you dedicate to it) is a difficult horizon to reach. But I don’t want to limit what’s possible. Just like I don’t limit the possibility of working with others. Large-scale collaboration is one of the nice things offered by the ease of the wonderful and progressive internet and social network age.

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DD . Have you ever thought about creating and designing your own original tarot deck?

LM . A few months ago, I started “copying” a classic from the great Marseilles family, the Grimaud. Freehand, in black and white, I redrew The Fool, The Hermit, Strength, all the court cards, and many others. (You can see some examples on my Instagram profile: lucashivendraom). “Life drawing” the cards is a good exercise — it should absolutely be done! It allows you to really see the cards, to pass them through the filter of your personality and to then express them with your own personal touch. From this study, a personal project could someday spring forth — who knows.

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DD . Thanks Luca, very nice! Our conversation was a good opportunity to know yourself more closely. I’m happy to have met you and to have discovered your amazing Tarot activity in the middle of the multitude! I leave you with an anagram poem I wrote and comes out of your name, I hope you like it and it could be an other positive sign of our meeting.

LM . All good questions and I liked to answer. Thanks to you Danilo, has been a special moment of exchange.

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DAN

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