My interest in the tarot is grounded in the Humanists of the Renaissance as well as religious tradition and cultural precepts that reigned during the Middle Ages and that had a large influence on the creation of the tarot. I have less interest in the esoteric development of the tarot in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but appreciate how it has added, transformed, developed, and molded contemporary tarot into the tool that it has become today. I don’t think that any philosophy or form of spirituality should stay static; it should address contemporary issues and concerns and needs. Tarot is one of the few tools that has accomplished that feat, and its history of modulation and change is fascinating (I think of the tarot as one of the truly “living” documents that has been constructed in history—by its very nature and practice it is changing all the time).
The tarot has been studied and absorbed in contemporary times by the “New Age” and esoteric communities, and been interpreted from almost every facet of esoteric school, including such diverse methodologies as: astrology, Kabbalah, fairie or fey enthusiasts, magickal angel inspiration, wicca and witchcraft, as well as Thoth initiation, Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn initiation, and the more psychological school of Jungian thought/philosophy (just to name a few).
However, very few dare to reference the tarot back to its core inspiration… namely, the Bible and the theological writings of the “Church fathers.” These include such people as St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, and Gregory the Great, among many, many others. Themes in their writing can be found in even older ancient texts by the likes of such revered philosophers as Homer, Plato, and Aristotle.
And here lies the basis for our area of study… All these ancient writings discuss or conceptualize ancient precepts of VIRTUE. The concept of the Virtues (particularly in their personifications) was so prevalent that it influenced morality and ethics all the way through the Renaissance—the time period in which the tarot was created. (The tarot may, in fact, be observed and studied as a kind of “pauper’s bible.”) We know these Virtues today as the Cardinal and Theological Virtues:
Strength (or Fortitude)
The blog attached to this site is about tarot and tarot reading. More precisely, however, this blog is intended as a way for me to frame and discuss all the research I’ve been doing on visual representations of virtue ethics pedagogy during the Renaissance and the Middle Ages. The tarot just happens to be one of the greatest mediums through which to focus and explicate those studies (as well as through which to contemporize them) because the tarot was indeed invented during the Renaissance and uses forms of pedagogy, popular catechisms, writings of the church fathers, and other philosophies that were prevalent throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (all the way up to the great schism of the Reformation) .
Partly due to the topic—virtue ethics—this blog often detours and broaches a lot of contemporary media-focused social justice issues because, frankly, I have a lot of opinions about them, and virtue ethics particularly seems like a sane and reasonable way to address those issues (and sometimes to be able to cope with heavier issues). The aim is not to create a lot of controversial debate, but rather to incite readers to consider new ways of thinking critically about issues, to broaden perspective, and inspire further independent investigation.
[Learn more about my Philosophy of tarot on my Blog…]
[To learn more about my Research on tarot history, click here…]