Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Health, History and a Solved Mystery

I feel like I'm treading on eggshells here. This is day two without pain, vertigo, or shortness of breath. Granted, I ain't pushing the envelope here, either. My butt was sore from lying in bed so much (now you know I am feeling better!) so I tried to make myself useful today. Sorting medical bills wasn't the greatest of challenges, but it was a beginning. 

I felt well enough to actually do something fun for a change.  I baked a loaf of bread from an old recipe given to me many years ago.  It turned out well, even better than I remember it. So now, since I can't do any hand-kneading with the arthritic hands, I'll just keep the bread machine in the cabinet for these little delights.

It's a beer, bacon, and green onion loaf; perfect with an evening meal or as a mid-day lunch, toasted and topped with pulled chicken or pork. I enjoyed a buttered slice with my supper tonight of beef tips, gravy and egg noodles. Delicious.

As mentioned in the past, I'm a Tarot devotee, introduced to the cards in my teens before getting more involved in my late 20's. I have 3 personal decks that I consult regularly - one being the slightly over-sized Crowley - Thoth deck  - and the favorite being the Paladin Aquarian Deck designed and issued in 1970. It's a beautiful deck and I get great joy in examining the images on each card. 
And, as most Tarot geeks, I also point to the great old standard, the Rider - Waite deck that offers much detail, sometimes more than necessary, that always has a sobering, grounding effect, at least on me.

OK, so where am I going with this?  Well, I'll tell you. 

Back when I was in film school at NYU, I met a Frenchman who worked on a few student films with me, loved that I was from New Orleans, and proud that some of my family hailed from his region of France,  Alsace Lorraine. We became friendly, meeting for greasy burgers and pints of dark draft beer at the Dugout on Bleecker Street at least once a week.

Now this was the 1970s and the Tarot was experiencing a resurgence in popularity in the US, especially at university. Jacques was a long-time reader and loved to talk about the old European customs for readings and the different decks that were used in various regions and countries. 

The cards of his deck of choice, battered and frayed at the edges as they were, contained no writing, numbering, or labels.  The cards were elongated and the images were taken from Icons mostly from western European countries, I guessed, fused into the most beautiful deck I had ever seen.  Of course, I couldn't imagine cards without identifying markings, but Jacques was an old hand at Tarot from a very early age.  He even took the larger size of the cards in stride. They were about the width of a regular deck, but about 6 or 7 inches tall.  Didn't bother him.  He used the tools he was given. 

Anyway, when finished his time at NYU and before returning to France, I asked if he would send me a deck like his.  He wasn't sure he could find one, but promised that he would, if he did. Well, he didn't. Seems there was no change in Tarot popularity in Europe as in the US, and over the years, we lost touch.  

However, I never forgot those cards the images, and how he interpreted them.  Though I've searched and searched until the Google almost screamed with pain, I was never able to find the deck. There was no formal name  - after all these years - to apply to a search, so it was a blind, only occasional foray into the Tarot unknown that ultimately turned up this. Yes, Today!
click to embiggen
It has a name.  The Golden Tarot, or the Sforza/Visconti Tarot, from the 15th century and it's almost as I remember it.  Is that strange, or what?  This deck comes as a kit, complete with a reading spread cloth and history book of the deck.

It made me wonder about Jacques: is he still living? - did he have a good life? - did he pursue film work in France? Funny how life seems to throw things at you when you least expect them, but feel the need for them most. Yes, the deck has been ordered and ought to be in my hot little hands in about a week.  I can hardly wait.

I wonder what it will feel like and what I ought to expect, if anything.  Well, I will certainly expect to remember Jacques, The Dugout, and late night readings over burgers and beer steins, that's for sure.

And so it goes.



  1. I use my bread maker every weekend for a different loaf. best of all - you know what's IN your bread! no rubbish, as dr. spo says.

    serendipity - finding that deck after all these years...have you googled jacques?

    1. AM after 40 years, I don't remember his last name. More's the pity.

  2. I collect decks too; I have about a dozen. Check out Housewives Tarot - hilarious !


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