Viewers of my Morning Mindfulness daily tarot pulls in my instagram stories were treated to a surprise this morning, when I started April Fool’s Day with a pull from “The Fantod Pack,” Edward Gorey’s unique take on tarot in his signature pen and ink style, a blending of the macabre and the whimsical in detailed Edwardian settings.
It will surprise no one that I have been a fan of Gorey (1925-2000) since childhood. Like many, I discovered his work through the animated title sequence of PBS’ “Mystery!” and promptly hung a poster of “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” in my room. (Of course I was absolutely chuffed to be included in this grim sequence, haha!)
To find then, many years after discovering his work, that he held an interest in tarot was a delight for me, though the Fantod does not operate like a traditional deck. From the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust, “Edward Gorey’s trademark sense of impending doom is nowhere more darkly humorous than in this, his version of a tarot card deck. Each of the 20 cards forecasts a list of outcomes for the user, ranging from the merely unpleasant (loss of hair, breakage, thwarted ambitions) to the downright horrible (catarrh, spasms, shriveling). The 32-page booklet provides interpretation of the cards courtesy of one Madame Groeda Weyrd, who Gorey tells us ‘is of mixed Finnish and Egyptian extraction, has devoted her life to divination, and is the author of, among a shelf of other works, Floating Tambourines, a collection of esoteric verse, and The Future Speaks Through Entrails.’ Who but Gorey to make mirth from a kaleidoscope of catastrophe?”
While I can certainly say I don’t want to experience any of these outcomes, I really appreciate the sense of playfulness in these cards! Maybe it’s that we tarot readers have spent too much time defending our practice to skeptics, but I think that too often tarot is presented as something we must approach with the utmost solemnity. Even when we are exploring our shadows and plumbing deep truths, I think that finding the humor in a situation can be a deeply healing experience.
Are you feeling a sense of mirth now that spring is in the air? Alternately, if your heart is feeling bruised, where can you find space for humor and play in your day today? Whatever you are feeling today, I hope you can take just a moment to appreciate the whimsy of a waltzing mouse!