As above, so below
Or so the story goes
Alchemy in a cup of tea
I conjure lines of prose.
A bit of this, a pinch of that,
heart lifted to the moon,
I turn within and see myself,
Aligned, entwined, in tune.
Some days I struggle to see myself here,
to understand that these workings are of my will
as much as I am of theirs.
This relationship of as above
and so below
And me an intermediary of the flow
between the two
Can feel like responsibility to something grander
than I feel worthy of.
But this argument that I might just have been
loses ground when one considers
that every place
and every time
has it’s own power.
In my consideration,
The Magician is not one to alter reality
so much as to work within it,
to accept their place in the firmament
as intrinsic and co-operative,
as accompaniment as much as associate,
as instrument as much as instrumental.
The first time I tried DMT
it was really intense
as one might expect.
The way everything looked was unreal,
all at once.
Vivid and vibrant were nowhere near adjective-y enough
And what struck me at the time
was the possibility that the world
Is always a swirling maelstrom of colour and image and light and spiralling connectivity.
The thought created a certain sadness because it was beautiful and I wanted it to stay.
But I understood that I don’t have the capacity to engage with
on a regular basis,
to gorge on the infinite mysteries which surround
at any given moment.
Even now, likely.
And so I seek a relationship which isn’t reliant on
grasping more than is necessary
at any given moment.
Understanding what constitutes enough,
Not just having
But giving and taking too,
Is a sort of magic in itself.
Today’s deck is the Vertigo Tarot and it’s a bit bittersweet for me. It might be my favourite deck of all time, but I don’t use it much. The cards are very delicate and it’s really hard to find now so I’m cautious with it. The characters represented on the major arcana cards are all from the DC Vertigo universe and they are old friends and familiar faces so using the deck feels very personal for me. Like the New Wave tarot with its musician avatars, I have a pre-existing connection which might make reading these cards for others difficult. Only because it’s tough to divest myself of the desire to share that connection, to acknowledge that it’s not about me, I am merely a conduit for message. I could argue that my shared experience is part of that message but sometimes it’s more important to listen, even when speaking.
But this deck, by brilliant artist Dave McKean and insightful writer Rachel Pollack, is dark and witchy and delicious in all the ways I love. Her interpretation of the cards goes so well with his visual imagery it allows me to dive even deeper than I do into more traditional decks. Combined with the connection of the characters involved, this deck feels very powerful to me.
I included the Devil, played to perfection by Lucifer, and the Fool, equally well represented by John Constantine because one was directly under the Magician card, and the other at the bottom of the deck. They are easily two of my most favourite characters not just within this universe, but many others. It doesn’t seem at all like a coincidence that I would consider them both able to strike a perfect balance between roles within the tenet of as above, so below. Both are well versed in either position, and have abilities which allow for an expansion of perception for anyone who might cross their path. They are not safe by any means, but the danger they represent is often the sort which comes from handing away one’s agency without careful consideration of what the result might be. But where the Fool lacks responsibility, and the Devil is a slave to his as the Lord of Hell, the Magician must work to maintain a balance between knowledge acquired and the cost entailed.
For the sake of clarity, I might not read these cards the same way in a deck that did not have definitive and familiar characters representing them. Another reason I rarely read this deck for others. My response to them is coloured by my experience.
At the very last, I would like to offer thanks to Rachel Pollack for all the she taught and will teach me through her writings. I’ve just learned she has departed this world for the spaces beyond, and am grateful for the legacy she left us.