IT ONLY TAKES TWO TO TAROT…
FROM « THE WAY OF TAROT » TO « TAROT STEP BY STEP »
Many things have been said about the Tarot, lots of which are pure invention and fantasy. There is no conclusive research to this day as to where it comes from and who invented it. The oldest Tarot card known to this day is a series of cards crafted in Italy for the benefit of the Dukes of Milan, but these are unique pieces comparable to works of art, and an older Tarot may have existed as a simple game of cards. No one knows what the word Tarot means or to what language it belongs. Nor does anyone know whether there was an original Tarot deck prior to any other card game, or whether Tarot is the end result of a slow evolution that begun with the creation the common deck of cards, to which might have been added, over the course of the years, both the Trumps (or Major Arcana) and the Honors or Court Cards.
From the 16th century Tarot decks were crafted in various cities of France for the purpose of being played as a card game. By the end of the 17th century a standard emerged that came to be called « Tarot of Marseille ». That standard remained the model of Tarot game for three centuries until it was discovered by the Masons and Occultists of the late 18th-mid19th century who became fascinated by its symbolism, its geometrical and numerological structure, and the abstract symbology of the Minor Arcana. in the 20th century, the Surrealists became fascinated with the Tarot, Italo Calvino used it as a storytelling device and Jodorowsky named it « a nomadic cathedral ». The questions remain about its origin : was it the work of a single creator? Or did it take a lineage of artesans to give shape to such a great encyclopedia of symbols?
The Marseille Tarot is composed of images united by a series of internal coherent bonds — numbers, symbols and names which, placed in the appropriate order, end up forming a mandala, a complete image of the universe. The 78 arcanas of the Tarot can either be viewed all together or separately, united two by two, then three by three, and so on in segments of meaning that all relate to the « bigger picture ». In its totality, the Tarot as a mandala is a comprehensive portrait of human and cosmic experience, a mirror of our soul that is reflected in its mundane aspects as well as in its most sublime dimensions. The Tarot can help us better understand our Subconscious, with its dark corners and family conflicts, our creative processes, our material life, our attachements and emotions, our ideas, as well as our Supra-conscious aspirations to becoming one with the unthinkable force that sustains the Universe.
Ever since, she has been traveling and teaching around the world, guiding
The whole Tarot is organized around the collaboration of female and male archetypes : The Emperess-Emperor, The High Priestess-Pope, The Moon-Sun. The initiate needs his female complement, and vice versa, for both to attain an understanding guided by Cosmic Consciousness. If the Spiritual Teacher lies in the cards, it is essentially of androgynous nature, both a She and a He : this is the ultimate message of the Tarot. To integrate it into one’s life, beyond memorizing it, you have to perform actions that rational minds would no doubt consider childish. For example, you could fall asleep every night with a different card under your pillow, or spend an entire day with one of them in your pocket, rub your body with the cards, speak in their names, imagining the rhythm and tone of each of their voices, visualize each figure naked, or complete the drawings beyond the frame.
Jodorowsky remembers that his first encounter with the Tarot happened in the early fifties, in Santiago de Chile, through a sixty-year-old Frenchwoman, Marie Lefèvre, who shared her dinner and read the cards to a bunch of young wandering poets. That extraordinary woman, always accompanied by her eighteen-year-old boyfriend, always had a full pot of soup simmering in her kitchen, a chaotic magma that contained the leftover food the neighboring restaurant gave her in return for her card readings for its customers. While her naked lover snored away, Marie, wrapped in a Chinese dressing gown, served full bowls of the delicious broth before she proceeded to the Tarot reading, using cards of her own making. In Jodorowsky’s memory, the Tarot forever remained linked to generosity and boundless love.
André Breton sustained that the only Tarot deck that was worth studying was the Tarot of Marseille. For a long time, the only version of that ancient Tarot was the one reinvented and published by Paul Marteau in 1930 — it was the one that Breton favored. When young Jodorowsky, expecting his approval, naively allowed himself to offer him a Rider Waite Deck, the Pope of Surrealism examined the cards with a smile that soon transformed into a grimace of disgust. “This is a ridiculous deck of cards. Its symbols are lamentably obvious. There is nothing profound in it. The sole valid Tarot is that of Marseille. Its cards are intriguing and moving, but they never surrender their intrinsic secret. One of them inspired me to write Arcanum 17.” Trusting the poet’s word, Jodorowsky set up to studying all he could about the Tarot. He came to the conclusion that it is a sacred work, thus, by essence, perfect. In 1994, he met Philippe Camoin, the last heir of the card makers of Marseille, and they both decided that they would try to restore the Tarot as close as possible to its original form. The difficulty of this work resided in the fact that a large number of printers of the Tarot of Marseille existed during the 17th and 18th century. Depending on the card makers, the lines and colors were reproduced with more or less clarity and individual variations. Jodorowsky and Camoin observed that some of those ancient Tarots had identical and superimposable drawings, and yet each contained symbols that do not appear on the others. They deduced that they had been copied from the same Tarot, an older version that was now missing. Little by little, they began to restore most of the original shapes and symbols of what they considered to be the original Tarot. That deck has been published in 1997 and has had a considerable success in Europe, Asia and Americas.
Marianne Costa’s close relationship with the Tarot card began the day she found a series of cards spilled over her doormat. She read the meaning of the figures and aces according to the tradition of cartomancy, but a series of seven pip cards remained, forming a series of numbers which, her intuition told her, must have some secret meaning. The first day someone invited her to Jodorowsky’s weekly free card reading in a parisian café was the same day that Jodorowsky began using the new deck. She became his student and then his collaborator, and ultimately found out that the series of numbers the cards had suggested to her ten years before was actually Jodorowsky’s telephone number. Even if it is difficult for the rational mind to accept that nothing is accidental in nature, that everything that happens in the universe is caused by a pre-established law, that certain events are written in the future and that the effect precedes the cause, the beginning of this collaboration seemed like the work of a destiny established by an inconceivable being… Jodorowsky and Costa ended up studying and reading the Tarot together, and writing a book together called The Way Of Tarot, published in 2004, that has been a worldwide best-seller translated to 12 languages.
Marianne’s literary and artistic background led her to take very seriously the idea that Tarot is, first and foremost, a storytelling device. Whether the story becomes pure gossip or a holy narration, depends on our commitment with the cards and ourselves, on the depth of our psychological and spiritual understanding. There is no actual gap between the Tarot as a game and its use for soul-searching : any game has the capacity of becoming a description of the whole universe. Likewise, there is a continuum between the most crude popular use of Tarot, where a self-proclaimed witch or psychic will tell you whatever crosses their mind about your future, and using Tarot as a delicate, rich and deep life coaching device : it’s all about having a conversation with someone you trust to be able to both interpret the language of the cards and guide you, and at the end of the day, it’s the consultant’s responsibility to chose who they want to get a reading from… Marianne’s approach is to teach the 78 arcanas of the Tarot as a coherent organic whole, to help each person find out what their true relationship to Tarot is. She promotes coherence, integrity, creativity and fun as the main pillars of the work. Her latest book, Tarot Step by Step, was published in France in 2019, followed by translations in Italian in 2020, and Spanish (Latin America and Spain) in 2021.