The Dark Tarot...

0. The Fool


"Nobody will break your fall,
All for none, yeah, none for all.
Nothing's so cruel as the truth...
Join the Festival of Fools.

Nobody will break your fall,
All for one, yeah, none for all.
Nothing's so cruel as the truth...
Join the festival, my fools."


- Type O Negative, "The Dream is Dead"


Imagery: The Fool is a child clad in glittering raiment; he dances amidst a battlefield where the bodies of fallen warriors and chevairds are piled like cordwood.  The sky is a desolate red and the mountains on the horizon resemble black and broken fangs past which an incarnadine sun sets like a malignant tumor in the sky.   The Fool is blind to all this, though, as it celebrates in a rapture of innocence that springs unbidden from within… in its dance it sees nothing of the true world around it.  The ghost of an animal dodges between the child’s feet, as if trying desperately but pointlessly to warn it about something… it may be a dog, or a cat, or something completely different altogether.


Meaning: The Fool is blind in its revelry and non-understanding in its celebration of a life it does not know of.  It is an archetype of both innocence and joyous limitation, and most deceiving in its power and abilities.  From the Fool flows an essence that old great age can produce… and only a child’s tantrum can rival.  It signifies beginning as well as it does ignorance and innocence, and it should not be forgotten that this is where we all must begin our dance.



I. The Sorcerer


"I listen to the words he'd say,
But in his voice I heard decay.
The plastic face forced to portray
All the insides left cold and gray.

There is a place that still remains...
It eats the fear it eats the pain.
The sweetest price he'll have to pay...
The day the whole world went away."


- Nine Inch Nails, "The Day the World Went Away"


Imagery: A figure is decked in a robe adorned with silver symbols, the vestment of one who dons power and grace with equal ease.  It stands with its hands spread out before it, displaying an obsidian altar upon which rests the implements of its quest: a coin carved with a seven-pointed star, a cup which holds red wine or possibly blood, a wand whose tip is alight with a blue flame, and a blood-streaked sword which rests at the edge of the altar.  There is a caduceus carved into the flesh of the Sorcerer’s forehead, blood from this self-inflected wound obscures its face and hides its gender.  It stands against a night sky of alien constellations.


Meaning: The Sorcerer is taken to be a figure of both mystery and power, but there is more behind this façade than meets the eyes.  All power comes with sacrifice, represented by the ritual scarification on the brow of the Sorcerer, and the violence subtly portrayed by the implements it displays for us.  As the Sorcerer smiles and frowns at us simultaneously we can see that there may also be an element of madness in power as well, to walk in the woods of the gods requires a degree of insanity.  The Fool still lurks behind those closed eyes, but has come further now, closer to greater mysteries.



II. The High Priestess


"Hey Bacchus... she hates me...
Hey Bacchus... she hates me...

A lonely blue girl guards the riverbed,
She shakes her brown torch at the tide.
On Pier Six we'd creep and count the cracks
Side by side... side by side...

See, we're counting cracks..."

- Type O Negative, "In Praise of Bacchus"


Imagery: She sits in a chair made from the twisting roots of the two great trees which stand at either side of her; one is a pale Ash and the other a dark Rowan.  Clad in a diaphanous gown she looks at us, her green-brown eyes tawny in the light of the setting sun, a sun which gives her a halo shaped like a golden crescent, the symbols of the sun and moon are one in her.  One hand beckons to the viewer while the other rests in a bowl that sits on one of the arms of her strange throne… the bowl is full of blood which coats her fingers red as it falls from them.  Upon her brow is the symbol of a seven-pointed starburst, yet it looks natural and not forced.


Meaning: She is the melding and co-joining of opposites, in her both answers and mysteries are one.  She can open one to the Path or deny it to them forever, as they stand caught in her webs of prophecy and words.  She is the summation of the archetypes… both star and moon and sun can be found in her being.  Yet over these things she has no external power, she acts without understanding or the necessity of it, knowing and needing only the natural principle behind those actions.  She guards the Cenotaph, but is forbidden from entering it.



III. The Empress


"And she had Audry Hepburn's smile,
With deeper sadder eyes,
The only thing she said...
No one hears Cassandra cry.
Because the earth is standing still
And the truth becomes a lie,
A choice profound is bittersweet...
No one hears Cassandra cry..."


- The Cruxshadows, "Cassandra"


Imagery: A woman stands in the stately hall of a castle or manse; she wears a light gray suit of armor decorated with motifs of vines and roses, flaxen around her face in waves.  Her features are twisted in pain or anger, however, and from her right eye a tear falls.  She looks as if she is meditating upon something distasteful or hurtful.  She is very beautiful… but the look of her beauty seems almost dangerous, something to both admire and be wary of.  In a mirror positioned to her side and from behind to our perspective a man wearing dark gray armor is shown instead.


Meaning: The Empress is a figure of vitality and life as well as a reflection of the price both these things entail.  She is incomplete however, you can see this by the look and cast of her face as she looks down considering that which she may have lost or has yet to attain.  Her armor and raiment suggests great power and puissance, yet at the moment she stands idle in her home or sanctum… perhaps waiting for that which would make her complete to return to her, or maybe hating the other part of her for leaving in a cage of memory and regrets.



IV. The Emperor


"I used to be a little boy,
So old in my shoes.
And what I choose is my voice...
What's a boy supposed to do?
The killer in me is the killer in you...
My love.
I send this smile over to you..."


- The Smashing Pumpkins, "Disarm"


Imagery: A man stands in what may be a sepulcher or cathedral, his features are lit by a nearby sconce.  He looks foreboding and serious, yet there is a certain vitality to his eyes and a half-smile may even lurk on the corners of his lips.  He wears an ornate set of dark gray armor bearing the motifs of symbolic animals such as great cats and griffons; his black hair falls in sable rivers to his armor-clad shoulders.  He is a man who the look of seeing and participating in wars and campaigns, a general of men.  In the mirror behind him his wife, the Empress, is shown.


Meaning: The Emperor represents a natural-born diplomat, warrior, and leader concept.  Like his consort and mate, however, there is something lacking to him, a feeling that whatever makes him complete is missing.  Unlike the Empress he does not seem to mind overmuch, there is a feeling of certainty to him that he will ultimately return to his castle and be at one with his Empress once more.  His optimism is empowering but also dangerous, for there is always more than need be known before one delves into the waters of prophecies and omens.



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