2017 Tarot Misreading


If 2016 was anything it was the Sweet 16 of the third millennium: gauche, pretty dramatic, and despite the whole reason for the party, still very immature. The world gets older, people get older, maybe better. Hopefully that can start with 2017. To catch that glimpse I used my Minchiate deck to do a month-by-month prediction of what 2017 has in store for us.

The Minchiate deck deserves some explanation. Minchiate was a game played in the Italian states in the early modern Renaissance days until some time in the early 20th century. There are many different versions, but all of them expand on the 22 trumps native to the Tarot. The Minchiate I use is a 1994 reproduction by Il Meneghello of a 1725 deck called the Minchiate Fiorentine Etruria. It adds the 12 zodiac signs, the four elements, the three theological virtues (Hope, Faith, and Charity) and the missing Cardinal virtue (Prudence joins the Tarot's Fortitude/Strength, Temperance, and Justice).

From left to right: Fortitude, Justice, Temperance, and Prudence. Justice is the only visualization still recognizable to contemporary viewers.

There isn't a High Priestess/Popess card, or an Empress, but there is a very Empress-like Grand Duke. The Emperor is now the Western Emperor, and the Pope is the Eastern Emperor. If you aren't adjusted to the different order and altered identities of trumps, these changes can be very off-putting. I missed the Empress until I realized that the Grand Duke allows for the same reading free of strict gender roles. The High Priestess may be here too, in all of those added virtues, especially Faith, who also holds a scroll in her hand and covers her hair with a headdress. The pip cards all show realistic depictions of a quantity of swords, batons, cups, and coins, but once in a while a pip card will also feature a strange scene with animal figures. The court cards are structurally the same, though all the knights are human-animal hybrids and two of the pages are young women (coins and cups, obvs).

Not a beginners deck, to be sure, but very powerful and very beautiful.

The reason I wanted to use the Minchiate for this reading was that I could use the zodiac cards as part of the spread. Each zodiac card became the signifier for a month, starting with Capricorn for January and ending with Sagittarius for December. I know the signs/months don't align that neatly, but this is an art of inexactitudes, so we're rounding up.

Here's how they fell:

Top row: January to June. Bottom row: July to December

There are a few things that jump out here. Half of the cards are trumps. Of the other six cards, four of them are cups. Three of those cup cards are contiguous. There is a fifth, semi-cup in close proximity to them when you notice that the horse-rider in the Star also carries a chalice. Also notable is the presence of the Sun, Moon, and Star cards (in reverse order, and also equally spaced). Don't let the cups' predominance and celestial family fool you: this was a well-shuffled deck. The cards here look as if they alternate between months of dynamic action and stasis. From this 2017 looks like an emotional roller coaster of a year.

Winter

🌞, 🙃, 4 of 🏑

2017 begins with the Sun. Traditional Rider decks feature a baby on this card, not unlike the new year baby. In the Minchiate Fiorentine it looks more like The Lovers. In either case, in January we have powerful, strong start to the year. You want to hope this rising sun is not related to the Trump ascension, but there is that possibility. He is a dumb baby. February follows with something more neutral. The Hanging Man is a trying time, but it's momentary suffering for long-term gain. By March, and the Four of Batons, a card that denotes pure happiness and accord, all that hanging around might pay off.

Spring

⚖, ⏳, 🌛

Justice here in April is another neutral card, balancing out March's high note. My first instinct looking at this card was to read it as an important judicial ruling: that may mean bad legal news. That could explain the next cards. In the Minchiate the Hermit is called Time, and that lantern is seen in the original hourglass. The old man isn't a seeker, he's in bad shape. There's also a stag. In the medieval world, the stag was a figure of renewal because every year it shed its antlers, which would later regrow. They also believed that that shedding process was done in secret, requiring a withdrawal (that's how Time wound up becoming the Hermit). This May a healing period, a time turned inward. But June is the Moon, and that shows that the healing process isn't going to go well. This card shows a man with a sun dial trying to tell time by moonlight: delusions, insecurities, bad thinking.

Personally, it could be devastating spring, but I did this reading asking about the most general, communal experience that 2017 will bring. Not that that narrative won't affect each of us on a personal level.

Summer

9 of 🏺, 8 of 🏺, 🏇 of 🏺

Cups are the emotional suit, the one that affects our bodies through feeling. After this spring, the summer is going to be an emotional hemorrhaging. This sequence makes it look particularly bi-polar. 9 of cups in July is a great rebound from June. It's the satisfaction-guaranteed card of the deck. And yet in August the 8 of cups takes us one number back in sequence, to the card that best represents total dissatisfaction with things. The Knight of cups that follows in September suggests acting on those feelings. But will it be a positive or negative action? We'll have to look towards the Fall.

Fall

🤴 of 🔅, 🌟, 4 of 🏺

The striking thing about the transition from September to October is the similarity of the Knight of Cups and the King of Coins in the Minchiate Fiorentine. From the facial features and the tilt of the head, they look as if they've been rendered from the same model. In this sequence I would say they are the before and after pictures. The emotional sally-forth of September will lead to the economic fulfillment of October. November shows another kingly figure, this time acting like a knight, riding forth with emotion as he beholds a miracle: the Star. This card is a stunner, and its presence should always uplift the surrounding cards. That's why even though the year ends in December on a mixed note, with the Four of Cups, I like how it feels.

The 4 of cups is focused on inward reflection (this card has a monkey on it, checking itself out). That's not unusual. The month is usually about the past, year-in-review themes, and generally closing out the imaginary space of one number turning into another. The four of cups can mean being introspective to a fault (hence the monkey), but it's also one that says things are better than they seem. After the year we're going to have we'll need the time to think things over. We just need to remember not to look back so much we forget to look ahead.

Happy New Year!

Notes on the emojis: The amphora emoji (🏺) is perfect for the Minchiate cups. I used the polo stick (🏑) for batons/wands because there really isn't a suitable stick or club-like emoji out there yet, not even a baseball bat. I considered using the related vanilla playing card club suit symbol (♣️), but that wouldn't jibe with the rest of the emoji set I used. But the polo stick actually has historical precedent: the original card suits that were imported to Europe from the Middle East used polo sticks, a game that was popular there. It was a suit represented by an item of leisure, of physicality, creative action, and showmanship. Since no one in Europe played the game, they had to come up with a close approximation for this long blunt object. They called it batons, which later morphed into staves, clubs, and even wands. Other emojis I considered were the tanabata tree (🎋) and the herb (🌿) but the tanabata has its own spiritual significance and both of them were trying too hard to get the effect of the leafy branch style that doesn't even appear in the Minchiate's batons. So, polo sticks. Low battery emoji (🔅) was the roundest, yellowest emoji that wasn't a DVD, so I used it for coins. Plus, the black rendering in some versions of the emoji looks a lot like the design of the coin suit in many historical decks. If you're viewing this on an Android device just stop, because Android emojis are some trash.

Image credits: Four Virtues: "Figure des quatre Vertus from Ballet comique de la reine" Jacques Patin (15..–1587) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Minchiate pictures are my own, and public domain.

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