East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

A turn of the cards


I spent some time this afternoon discussing tarot decks with a friend – my collection never took off the ground (I have half a dozen decks, nothing to write home about), but I still keep an eye out for new designs and classic reprints, and so we talked, and traded suggestions.

I often say that my definitive Plan B, should everything else fail, would be to find a corner table in a pub and do tarot readings. Indeed, it’s two years now that I say I’ll go and sit at the local pub, down in Nizza, between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, order a drink and a sandwich, and start playing with my tarot – I’m pretty sure it would attract some curious parties.
And I could tip the waitresses for them to send people my way.
I say this only half-jokingly – my rationale is, if there’s people that could not write their way out of a paper bag that hold courses about writing, then what the hell, I can read tarot.

After all, I read the handbooks, I followed a few online courses, and it’s been now over thirty years I’ve been reading the cards for fun (but not, alas, for profit).

Incidentally, Rachel Pollack’s Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom is an excellent book about the tarot, its use in divinatory practices, but also about storytelling – and one that makes for a great read. Because in the end, reading the cards is a matter of storytelling abilities – we have a question, we have a set of visual hints and prompts, we need to reconstruct the story.

In this sense, my definitive Plan B would be but an extension of my current Plan B – that is, writing, as an alternative to my “real job”, digging fossils.

And the tarot-writing connection is one that’s come up frequently in the last few weeks – not only one of the latest stories I published (in the second volume of the Zappa & Spada anthology of Italian fantasy) was written using the tarot, but also the new and hare-brained project I’m working on right now has a tangential connection with the tarot and Pollack’s book.

Strange connections.
I think I’ll buy me a new tarot deck, for Christmas.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “A turn of the cards

  1. Both your plan B and its extension are pretty cool.


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.