NOTE: Skip to the bottom of this post for answers to basic questions about the show--where to see it, how long it will be at each venue, how to bring it to your town, and more. To view the rest of the series of posts, go HERE.
Once again I am posting the classic image from a "clone" of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck (the Universal Waite deck, which uses the exact same drawings but has recolored them slightly).
What is magic, anyway?
Art is a form of magic.
Hard work is a form of magic.
Loving kindness is a form of magic.
Prayer is a form of magic.
Meditation is a form of magic.
Right speech is a form of magic.
Deep listening is a form of magic.
Learning something new is a form of magic.
The Ten Thousand Things...
Magic is far more common than we acknowledge. “It's all a matter of paying attention, being awake in the present moment, and not expecting a huge payoff. The magic in this world seems to work in whispers and small kindnesses.” ― Charles de Lint
However--hold onto your hats, folks. Here is Mariah Krauss’s rug, her version of The Magician tarot card...
Well. Ok, then! Where to begin with this one? !!!
First, Mariah Krauss’s artistic biography can be found HERE.
I urge you to follow that link. In addition to her bio, you will see two of her previous rugs, both of which have caused a sensation. Mariah is definitely a genre-bending designer and artist.
She is a Rug Magician.
Without spoiling the story behind this rug, which she tells in the show catalog* (and it is a fascinating and moving story to hear), I can say that the above photograph is superbly done. It is very challenging to photograph a piece with so much black and so much dimension. Anne-Marie Littenberg, a textile artist herself, photographed the entire show and made all our pieces look wonderful. I will include more information on A-M in the next post.
But to see this rug in person adds a whole other layer which cannot be contained in any kind of two-dimensional flat image. Mariah used a proddy technique on the black background and the depth of its texture contrasts with the tight, very low traditionally-hooked loops she used in the high-chroma sections (and the black sleeves and cap). It is unbelievably effective.
Her Magician appears to be sunken into the darkest part of the night, and generating his own Light--he is the a portrait of absolute clarity, focus, and radiance, surrounded by a thick fog. The intense coloration of his face, hands, and sphere draws our eyes into the action with him.
When I had dinner after the Show Opening with some of the organizers, artists, and their families, one group reported that they had shut off the lights in the gallery for a few moments and that the figure actually glowed in the dark.
I bet you can believe that, looking at this photograph.
[*To read the story behind Mariah's design, consult the show catalog—see details of how to obtain the catalog in the FAQ at the end of this post.]
WHAT DOES THE CARD MEAN?
The word “magic” has so many definitions. We hear it overused in advertisements. We long for it when all else fails. And some people only think of magic as the work of the devil.
But I believe the only true magic is based on love.
Love in its highest form is always magical. Is there anyone among us who has not seen genuine love work magic? (I include “tough love” here, when that is appropriate.)
Because of the richness of the symbols in all tarot cards, there are many layers of meaning for each card and therefore, much depends on where the card falls in relation to other cards when they are used together. However, if you go back and look at the Universal Waite Deck image I’ve shown above, you can see that the Magician stands before a table on which are placed the four elements—fire (the wand), water (the cup), air (the sword), and earth (the pentacle or disk). The Magician’s hands are in a position indicating that Wisdom (a.k.a. Love) is being drawn from above and directed down to earth. The Magician has all the tools needed to achieve the goal behind the focused intention.
This card calls us to look at how we use our free will in daily life. What is our focus? What exactly are we grounding? One of the meanings the card brings to us is to ask us to examine our motivations. What is the actual motivation behind our goals? A true Magician is guiding the most powerful universal force—love—and grounding it in the earth. Magic motivated by love will always succeed. Even in the most troubling, broken-hearted times.
Does that mean we will get what we want? Not necessarily. As we all know, what we want is often not what we need. Magic often works itself out in strange ways, through what appears to be coincidence. And the results can be very unexpected.
And magic has its own timing; results may not come "on schedule". Love exists outside of time.
Does that this mean that people never try to use magic for perverse ends? No, alas. Some certainly do, imposing their will on others inappropriately. Lying, misdirection, narcissistic, cruel words or deeds may appear to succeed, but evil (defined as the absence of love as a motivation for action) boomerangs, and will eventually destroy the perpetrator. Small wonder that some people view magicians as professional con artists and tricksters. This card can have that meaning, depending on context.
And yet, true magic is everywhere. “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ― W.B. Yeats
So when considering this card, ask yourself, “What is my goal, and what is the motivation behind it? Where is my focus, and why? What tools do I have available to me?”
If you are acting from love, then go ahead. If not: think twice.
[As usual, there are many other related meanings to this card, but space constraints mean I must leave it here.]
What do you think about Mariah’s rug? Please leave your comments on the blog for her to read.
NEXT INSTALLMENT will contain:
Additional Frequently Asked Questions and Answers. For example, who took these fabulous photographs? Why are there 23 rugs in this exhibit? Why do we keep showing images from the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot, and who are those guys anyway (Rider, Waite, and Smith) ?
ANSWERS TO THE MOST COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SHOW ARE BELOW:
HOW DO I GET A CATALOG?
IF I WANT TO BRING THE SHOW TO MY TOWN, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
WHERE WILL THE SHOW GO NEXT?
NOTE: Skip to the bottom of this post for answers to basic questions about the show--where to see it, how long it will be at each venue, how to bring it to your town, and more. To start at the beginning of this series of posts, go HERE.
Any tarot deck tells the story of the Fool's Journey.
It is the story of every person; the tarot tells our story--a very human story.
What is tarot? Objectively, it's just 78 pieces of cardboard covered with images that have been drawn and redrawn by humans for centuries. Pretty simple, right? But more about that in another post.
Let's start by looking at a well-known image of The Fool tarot card, which carries the number Zero.
Everything. All of it.
Nothing. None of it.
The story of the tarot is the story of the Fool's Journey. Of our own journey through our lives. The Fool will travel through 21 stages, growing and learning with each stage. The journey is too rich and complex to cover in a short blog--many books have been written on the subject (as well as an awful lot of wrong-headed trash). Perhaps in a future post I'll list some of the better ones.
The Fool is an innocent, and sets out on the Journey with no expectations, no plan. Much as we do as infants. The Fool is a great example of what is known in Buddhism as Beginner's Mind.
"When one's expectations are reduced to zero, one really appreciates everything one does have." - Stephen Hawking
The Fool simply acts in response to each moment, knowing that whatever happens will result in learning and growth. And somehow, Fools are protected. They are even considered sacred, like the famous Jesters in history who could get away with imitating anyone, even a King or Queen.
HOW DID THIS TAROT RUG PROJECT BEGIN?
Our two guiding Journey-ers and heroines for the Tarot Rug Project are Michele Micarelli and Loretta Scena, who conceived of, recruited the artists for, organized, and grounded the project at its formal opening in Vermont this month. Can we get a huzzah for these smart, inspired, fabulous rug artists? Here they are:
That is Loretta on the left and Michele on the right.
Michele and Loretta are both highly respected artists, designers, and teachers. They also work in other media. To see some of their extraordinary pieces, go HERE for Michele's website and HERE for Loretta's website. Enjoy the eye candy! Gratitude also goes to their families, without whom Loretta and Michele wouldn't have been able to get the staggering amount of work it took to organize and mount this exhibit done.
Another heroine in this journey is Rae Harrell, who found the venue I wrote about in yesterday's post, the amazing location in Vermont for the Opening. Here's Rae:
Rae is an artist in several media and you can view her work HERE. As with Loretta and Michele, she is a well-known rug artist, designer, maker, and teacher.
and now...BACK TO THE FOOL'S JOURNEY
Let’s get to the first rug in the exhibit--The Fool, number Zero. Here is Diane Philips’ interpretation of the card in her rug, side by side with the original Rider-Waite-Smith image.
To learn more about Diane, go HERE for a terrific article on her work by Rug Hooking Magazine. I've been lucky enough to take a class with her and see many of her rugs in person; she's a funny, smart, wonderful woman and an incredible artist.
Here is a quote that applies to the Fool:
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what a ship is for.”
— Thomas Aquinas
And isn't that true for all of us? Since I don't want to spoil what Diane wrote in the catalog of the exhibit (you can find out how to get a catalog below, and note that the proceeds go to help the rugs travel to different venues), I'll just say she has captured the innocence, playfulness, and wisdom of the Fool. I love the addition of our entire planet, which her Fool seems to be blessing or protecting. And that dog! Can we guess that it's Diane's dog, or one that she loves or has loved?
We now begin our own journey through these tarot rugs, and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do. I don't believe tarot is very effective for fortune-telling, and the many abuses of tarot by fortune tellers is something we all know about. My preference is to use tarot as a way to stimulate our inner wisdom. In this case, that is Fool's Wisdom, or Beginner's Mind.
As you look at Diane's rug, and at the original card, ask yourself:
What do you notice about Diane's interpretation--what strikes you? Please leave a comment for her and others to read.
A final word in this post, before I get to some Frequently Asked Questions: Loretta is collecting stories by the artists who worked on these rugs. There were some very intriguing life experiences that artists had as they created their rugs, each relating to the particular card that the artist had been assigned. If you are one of the artists and you have an anecdote about something that happened to you as you designed and created your rug, related to the symbolism in the card, please email your story to Loretta (her email is in the FAQ below) so that she can compile them. She may get a book or at least a wonderful article out of these stories. We heard some good ones at the Opening!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
HOW DO I GET A CATALOG?
IF I WANT TO BRING THE SHOW TO MY TOWN, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
River House Rugs
Petit Riviere, Nova Scotia, Canada
The Hooked Rug Museum of North America
Hubbards, Nova Scotia
February 1- February 28 2017
The Barron Art Center
Woodbridge, New Jersey
October 29-November 30
The Athens Cultural Center
Athens, New York
October 19-23 2016
Green Mountain Guild Rug Show
Essex Junction, Vermont
August 15-20 2016
Rug Hooking Week at Sauder Village
September 1-24 2016
Dorchester Center for the Arts
...that's it so far. More dates/locations to be added!
NEXT POST IN THE SERIES: THE MAGICIAN.
This is the first post in a series about the Tarot Rug Show--possibly quite a long series, as there is a lot to say and many photos to show. I'll try to keep individual posts picture-heavy.
I've written about the origins of the show here. It opened last Friday at the All Souls Interfaith Gallery (ASIG) in Shelburne, Vermont, and will be there through January 22nd or so.
But before I get into that, I have a surprise to show. I drove up Friday (4 hours, ugh) and stayed in an Airbnb I had selected because it was near the show location. Imagine my surprise when I discovered this on the upper landing of the condo, just outside my room:
Not only was the accommodation itself an inexpensive delight, but a hand-hooked rug greeted me. As it turns out, this little cutie was designed and hooked by the hostess's mother, to commemorate the family's cats Oscar (Peterson) and Miles (Davis), named after the two jazz greats. Oscar and Miles were very much alive when this rug was designed, but are now sadly long gone, as are their namesakes.
I so loved the original design and whimsical nature of the rug! Both Miles and Oscar look well-fed and assertive, staring out at us as only cats can do. I love the padula-posy borders and the wonderful backgrounds. Everything about this rug makes me smile. My Airbnb hostess was named Lydia, and Lydia's mom only hooked two rugs--this one and one other which is not of her own design. I didn't see the other rug, alas, but I'm sorry Lydia's mom is no longer hooking. Apparently she's now into watercolor. I hope she begins hooking rugs again, and I hope Lydia brings her to the tarot rug show, as I think anyone would enjoy it--but someone who knows how to hook rugs will enjoy it even more.
(And of course, if you know anything about tarot, you will also find it thought-provoking!)
You do not need to know anything at all about either rug hooking or tarot to love this show--but more about that starting with the next post in this series.
Before I begin to show the rugs (I can probably only show a few a day, and there are 22 of them, so that's why this will take a while), I just want to say something about the venue. Namely: it's EXQUISITE. Here are some views from inside:
And here are some photos to give you some sense of the gallery space. Don't drive yourself crazy trying to see the individual rugs here--I'll be posting the rugs individually over the next several days, so you will have a chance to see each one close up. Just take a moment to get a sense of the space they are in. Talk about spectacular:
Please remember that photos of the individual rugs are going to be posted here slowly over the next few days, but here's a little temptation for you. You will soon be able to see each one much more clearly.
My goal today is to give readers just a taste of the gallery itself, not of the rugs.
Oh, and why aren't there any people looking at the rugs? Because I took these photos "off-hours" before the show actually opened.
In addition to the lovely, elegant interior, the grounds of the venue are beautiful beyond belief, with that amazing view all the way down to Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains. The property was apparently originally part of Shelburne Farms, which was gifted in a parcel of 1500 acres to a daughter of the Webb family upon her marriage (ok, let's hear it for the power of wealth and the Webb Family in Shelburne--Electra Havemeyer Webb created the Shelburne Museum just down the road, but that's another story entirely).
This smaller parcel of several acres houses ASIG and was originally built as a home by members of the Webb family. I believe ASIG has owned it now since the early 90s, though I could be wrong. It is truly a dramatically lovely site; not only the land, but the buildings are elegant and meticulously maintained. The Sanctuary is absolutely stunning, even more dramatic than the photos of the gallery above, which are from another building entirely. I am kicking myself for not having photographed the interior of the Sanctuary.
Why didn't I do that? because I was giving tarot readings to viewers of the show during the entire opening. And the following day (an all-day rug hooking event was held in the Sanctuary the day after the opening) I was giving readings to any participants who asked for one. And nearly everyone wanted a reading, so I'm betting I gave close to 30 readings during the two events.
Rug hookers are just the loveliest people in the world.
More information about the two organizers, the curious story of what occurred during the creation of the tarot rugs, and the start of showing the individual rugs in closeup views.
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator and coach, focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
My next Beginning Zentangle® class is not yet scheduled--stay tuned.
I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.)
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society