Landscapes of the Abyss

Landscapes of the Abyss

I bet all of us have this experience from time to time when we feel like something was created specifically for us, that it somehow encapsulates the essence of who we are, creates this deep resonance by pulling the right strings of our heart - be it music, poetry, visual art, natural phenomenon or someone's piercing gaze. That's how I feel about the outstanding tarot deck created by Marie White.

It's nihil novi - the Mary-El exists on the market since 2012 and is widely recognized and well-loved by many. It's me being a little late to the party due to various reasons. Serendipitously, with my stupid luck and thanks to the insane generosity of Alaina I'm finally in posession of the Holy Grail. And let me just say - straight from the moment I touched the cards I knew we were going to have a fruitful romance. This is what many tarot enthusiasts aptly describe as having a visceral reaction to the deck. (Although, it's hard to believe some of them if they "have a visceral reaction" to almost every deck they review. I imagine their viscera must be in horrible condition at the rate of one or more decks per week! Pardon my sarcasm.)


Unlike most other tarot decks in my posession, this one crosses the line of being just a psychological tool for me. It comes straight from the primordial soup of collective unconscious, of mythos and ancient mysteries, of forces that elude language and thus elude judgement through the prism of black&white human morality. While I understand that it might seem blasphemous and seditious to some, it feels deep, dark and delicious to me.

Mary-El is a Crone of tarot - she doesn't shy away from strong imagery of Goddesses and Wild Womanhood, of menstrual blood mysteries. She's also not intimidated by phalluses and strong Masculinity, which is rather rare these days. She doesn't feel the need to depreciate Masculinity to strengthen the Feminine. She's definitely not the ethereal, delicate, dreamy type of woman but rather the firm, deeply grounded one, with moist soil under her fingernails, creased forehead and fiery heart.


What initially drew my attention to this deck ages ago was the Knight of Wands. When I saw the Black Panther, I knew I needed this imagery in my life no matter what. I've always felt a strong connection with the Felinae People, especially the Black Panther. She's been my guide, my teacher and my wild Self since I can remember.

And let me just say - I bet Carl Jung would be intrigued to see this imagery. With its Liber Novus-like aesthetics, it seems to be the tool for shadow work. This is precisely the kind of art that works with the shadow - dark, rich in symbolism that's sometimes difficult to stomach, raw and real to the bone. I'm delighted that it appeared in my life at this moment. It is a topic for another story, which I happened to tackle in My Year Ahead post in February.

Anyway, as I already somewhat mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are these stimuli - pieces of art, certain phenomena, smells, places, weather or vibe in the psychosphere - all these things that trigger specific altered states of consciousness, launching us on a journey within. It can be extremely helpful to pinpoint our personal triggers to be able to: a) be aware of the signs that indicate some shadow content is creeping up on us; b) use them to induce a desired state of mind "on demand". For me, Mary-El is certainly one of those triggers.

Since I got Mary-El on February 9th, I haven't touched any other tarot decks. Marie White must be a Soul from my tribe of people - her images are depictions of what I feel when I think of the archetypes of tarot. Her words from Landscapes of the Abyss set my heart on fire, she would probably understand me without words and vice versa. She knows. I doubted I'd ever experience this feeling with tarot, but here I am, in awe and forever grateful for this gift.

Of course, there's no such thing as a tarot deck for everyone and this one is no exception. I've seen people say that the companion book is gibberish, that the images are too edgy, unnecessarily confronting, that it's not a deck for everyday use because the messages that come through are too deep and hard to digest. Well, it all depends on why you do tarot in the first place. If it's for staying in the comfort zone, to feel special or to be enabled, then this deck is definitely not for you. But for me, this deck is exactly what tarot is about. Getting dirty and sweaty from the hard work. Cutting the bullshit and looking at things as they are. Seeing what I might not want to notice otherwise. That's my thing. And Mary-El is precisely designed for that.

To get the most out of it, you need to have some basic knowledge of mythology, kabbalah and western occult traditions, be able to interpret symbols, understand metaphors and - most importantly - have some degree of an understanding of the laws of nature and the world around you. Don't expect things to be handed to you freely, interpreted and explained for you. This deck will pull you through the Abyss and make you decide what kind of human you want to be on the other side. It will make you do the work, if you're willing to commit.

#TarotThursdayThree: 02/03/2017

#TarotThursdayThree: 02/03/2017


Yet another #TarotThursdayThree, guys! I know I missed most of it in February but hell, this week's questions are juicy and quite serendipitous for me personally, as some of this stuff has been on my mind as of late. Here we go!

1. What was it that initially sparked your interest with Tarot? 
I think I mentioned this a few times but I've never really been a tarot person. I read Elder Futhark since I was 15 years old and considered runes to be the divination tool for a very long time. You know, Futhark 4 life, screw other tools, they're lame and mainstream - not interested!
Something changed after I graduated from uni. Those five years of studying psychology were a time of withdrawal from any kind of spiritual practice, it was time of the Mind, of getting to know and understanding my Self and shedding some unnecessary beliefs, habits, ways of thinking that I picked up on my life path thus far (and gaining a whole new baggage of shit!). I was very much interested in spirituality, liminal experiences, transpersonal and jungian psychology, altered states of consciousnes and the like but it wasn't really the main focus of who I was at that time. If it wasn't for my thesis I've no idea who I'd be today. I was always curious to know how spiritual experiences actually affect our lives and whether or not they influence its quality, so I decided to research it. This research and the whole thesis opened my eyes and made me experience somewhat of a reawakening, coming back to roots, rediscovering my old Self - but this time in completely new ways. I'm not going to describe this shit in detail here because it would probably take (p)ages, but that's basically what sparked my interest with Tarot. I got intrigued and decided to just give it a shot.


2. Is it what you expected it to be and if not, in what ways were your expectations defied?
I didn't have high expectations. All I knew was that it was going to require a lot of studying and that I might not like it as much as runes. I also expected it to work similarly to runes when it comes to divination because I had no idea it could be different. But generally, I craved for something new and complex that I could just dive into and get lost in for months - that part didn't disappoint me! As for the rest, I had to learn that tarot is a completely different tool and I needed to find out what it feels like to me and what it's going to be useful for.

3. How do you primarily use Tarot? I.e. for divination, self-reflection, analysis, shadow work, ritual or something else?
All of the above. Rather than primary use, I'd say for me it's about the primary focus - Self. Growth, reflection, transgression, processing, gaining perspective, inspiration. "Knowing Thyself" is what all this is about for me. Divination (as in gaining insight by interpreting omens and signs, not fortune telling) is a technique used to get to know one's own symbology, which - when practiced and mastered - significantly helps with deciphering the contents of our subconscious (shadow work). As for self-reflection and analysis, it's mostly for solution oriented "operations" - dealing with problematic things that we're conscious of (unlike with the shadow work related stuff) and need a tool to help us come up with an answer, help us find direction or get inspired. Sure, in practice all of these are basically same shit - doing a spread or a single card analysis - but I find this kind of breakdown by function really useful in terms of meeting my (or someone else's) needs without having to spend too much time thinking about what it is that I'm dealing with.
My favorite has to be shadow work, even though it's not what I do most often - once or twice a year in condensed monthly (or shorter) sessions is enough for my personal taste. What I actually use tarot the most for is inspiration - daily or weekly portions of food for thought, something to meditate on. I really don't need much, little goes a long way for me. And I definitely don't use tarot every time I stumble on a hardship - I prefer to solve problems "on my own" to stay sharp. As useful of a tool as it is, it's sad to see people who are dependent on it. After all, it is just a tool and a tool is supposed to be used for something, not become that something in itself.

What's your thoughts on this, people? 


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