The Anieth Nature Deck
My journey with the Tarot began when I was very young and attracted to the images on my mother's Rider-Waite deck. I noticed many correspondences between cards and the work of other mythographers. In the work of Alwyn and Brinley Rhys my observations of the four-fold way of Western mythology was confirmed. They noticed the four-fold map showing up in folklore from India to Ireland. I noticed this correspondence in Sufi and Tibetan Buddhist work as well. However, it was the work of Robert Graves in his book, ≤i≥the White Goddess≤/i> that led me to think about the major arcana of the Tarot as an alphabet.
After much study, I determined some logical correspondences between many of the Ogham letters and the cards of the major arcana. I did not try to put the cards in order based on the alphabet, for in most of Europe, the alphabets were stamped with a Greco/Roman ordering based on the Hebrew. Outlying alphabets such as Ogham were arranged in different orders. I tried different orders on the cards for the alphabet, but nothing fit. I determined that the cards were part of a myth archetype map of four holy stories that I talk about on other pages.
This image shows the result of some of that work. You see the Hebrew, Greek and Irish alphabets in an attempt to arrange the cards by story. I will continue to work on this, but it was enough to convince me to base the cards of the major arcana on the Ogham alphabet.
Animals and Trees
My work on a new coordinate system for ancient European astronomy led me to a five-fold star grid rather than the square Cartesian grid we are used to. The Cartesian grid fails when placed upon a round surface, which confuses most children who have to study geography! The same problem holds for star maps since we see the sky as a sphere around us. I saw no reason whatsoever that the people who built Stonehenge would have worked with the Cartesian grid. In my exploration of stellar myths of Europe, the four-fold and five-fold maps were everywhere. So my Ogham alphabet became loaded onto my star grid. The Ogham alphabet is a Tree alphabet, and is then easily mapped onto stars in the sky. I'm being brief here, for you can explore much more on this subject in other pages.
The reason to show you this is to demonstrate that I have tried, in the illustrations of the cards I have done to resurrect Western mythology and put those images in the Tarot which is such a lovely example of the four-fold way. In my cards, I have tried to honor many of the correspondences that seemed "right" according to the folklore of Northern Europe rather than right according to Near Eastern folklore. Crowley and other members of the Golden Dawn were obsessed with the Kaballah and other Near Eastern folklores, so their work on the Tarot has been tied to those roots. I chose to take out the four-fold way and impose my own interpretation based on the work of Rhys and others onto the Tarot.
For example, here we have the twelve card in the major arcana, usually called the Hanged Man. The Hanged Man is a card representing the ancient king sacrifice of the heroic arm of the four-fold myth. For more information on this, read The Masks of God - Primitive Mythology by Josephy Campbell. James Frazer found thousands of accounts of a ceremony that is still prevalent in Britain called "the hunting of the wren." The time of this hunt and the elements make it obvious that it is a substitute for this king sacrifice. The wren is closely associated with the oak tree which is also connected heavily to this king sacrifice.
As you can see from these cards, color plays a large part in my symbolism. Although I sometimes take some liberties with the animals or the trees, color is vital in the lower arcana. Each of the four stages of the way are marked by color, and this is born out by the Sufis and the Buddhists. The suit of Cups is connected to water, and to the first position noted by Piaget in his work on child psychology, of survival or oral fixation. I have marked it also by the color blue and by the dot, or the first dimension. Level two is the emotional level, the suit of Wands being connected to fire and the force of will. Level Three is the verbal or thinking level the most children reach about the age of four when they begin to lie and tell stories. This is marked by yellow, Swords (here called Blades) air, the north, trickster images, and the god Odin and his ravens. Level four is the heroic level of many fairy tales of the social/sexual arrival into the adult life. It is marked by the square, by green, the "king" trees and animals, by earth, and Diamonds (here called stones).
There is much more I could write about the Tarot and my own research, but I wanted merely to intrigue you and assure you that, although these cards are full of birds and animals, they are connected tightly to our own myths that have been orphaned by the attraction of Near East bodies of folklore.