December Card-a-Month: Universal Dalí

Twelve months ago I was looking for a way to continue the tradition of a month-by-month yearly card misreading that I had done in 2017 and 2018. I also was looking for a way to increase my posting frequency here on the blog. I decided that instead of reading once for a year, to read on a monthly basis. This way I would channel more current energy into each month's guide card and get more posts out of it. For variety, I would use a different deck each time I would do it so not only would each post be about the month in question but a review of the materials in use.

Twelve months later I'm not sure how it all turned out. You can read all of the card-a-month posts here. I think that may have influenced some of the results of this December guide card, which I pulled using the Universal Dalí Tarot.

I've discussed some of the origins of the Dalí deck a few months ago. In contact with it again, I can only stress how gorgeous it is, a striking deck that is more art object than anything else, though its depth of meaning and understanding of the cards are clearly evident. Dali knew what he was doing with this design, mainly based on the Rider-Waite. He relies heavily on his collage techniques, taking famous paintings from the European art history and warping or recontextualizing them into the Tarot's design motifs, swirled by his own surrealist intents. This deck is being rereleased by Taschen with a complete guidebook by Dalí and details about all of the origin paintings. That is great because these source images play a part in the readings, and not being an art historian, it would help if there was some more reference material. Details like this are one reason why this deck can be off-putting. It's also quite large to hold, and with gilded edges, this can make shuffling difficult. Again, in many cases this deck is more about form over function. But it is beautiful.

My reading and my feelings to the end of this project are very appropriately summed up by the card I pulled as the guide for December:

The Two of Pentacles.

Yes, more Pentacles/Coins. There's been a lot of that this year and at this point it's to be expected. We're dealing with our basic needs on a daily basis, aren't we. Sometimes it feels like that's all that there is and it can consume us. That's all I want to say about that.

The reading of the Two of Pentacles card itself aligns for the most part with the Rider-Waite approach, though the outer figures painted by Dalí—the red humanoid and the serpent—emphasize the opposing forces that are in play quite more strongly than the average Two of Pentacles. It reminds me more of the Wheel of Fortune, who we saw back in February. Opposing ideas are in flux, two things are happening at once, and all is in motion. Hold on.

I wish I had that new Taschen book because I'd love to know if that central blue figure is the personification of winter or Boreas the north wind or someone else. My instincts tell me Dalí only inserted that figure to introduce an element to the card to animate the waves in the classic Rider card. But in this case, a card reading for December, I don't think that it's wrong to read the figure of the wind/winter literally. It's going to get cold. Still, hold on.

[All photographs by Anthony Michael Morena CC BY 2.0]

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