Having worked with this deck a few times since I dealt with a gender-role quibble, I am enjoying the deck if I don’t use/look at the most offensive (to me) cards! So, let’s begin to take a look at the 22 Major Arcana cards, shall we?
As I mentioned previously, Laura Perry uses a key phrase for each card. I find I rather like this for the 22 trump cards of the tarot deck. I’m still a bit ambivalent about the Linear B phrase on each card – although some of them are a better “fit” on these cards. Most of her images are adapted from actual murals found in the excavated ruins of Minoan Crete. I greatly like the colored borders as well. I find the color use makes for easier reading. Females and youths have paler skin; the male figures are more sun-tanned. While I don’t think Minoan women spent less time in the sun? It is a useful device for rapid recognition.
Perry, working with a civilization that was pre-Christian, somewhat re-defines the cards, generally in ways that I like. I can more easily ignore a bit of gender stupidity and re-define that for myself than I can constant monotheistic “demonize all else” images on more traditional tarot decks.
The Fool – a Minoan youth whose key phrase is “I am.” Linear B proclaims “wild” – he doesn’t look wild to me! Of course, as I type this, it is snowing — so I think he looks likely to chill in his nakedness! Perry sees this card as a primal beginning, a self-discovery state. Reversed*, she credits it with speaking of living a non-authentic, entirely too-tamed “playing the crowd” of “shoulds” life.
I have some issues with this card in any deck; while it is meant to suggest a primal innocence, I suspect it can also mean a willful idiot. In an America where people proclaim a pride in their ignorance, as if there is value in being an intentional moron — someone should explain that ignorance is NOT the same as innocence. While innocence can lead one to make errors, only willful ignorance can lead to the special kind of harm we see on the news practically daily.
The High Priest – The key phrase is “I act.” and the Linear B is the word for priest. Perry attributes this to outward action (animus and intellect) – finding one’s abilities and what to most fruitfully do with those strengths. Again, the reversal of this card speaks of inauthenticity – trouble being other than you are told to be. I’m sensing a trend in the reverse meanings! Oddly, the image of this card almost calls to mind something Aztec. — I think it is all the feathers on his head.
This replacement name for the” Magician” works for me; it avoids the problematic idea of trickery and slight of hand. You see the four representations of elements/suites: dagger-fire, rhyton-water, labrys-air, horns-earth. I have a feeling my efforts to not be insulted by this “acting” figure may not entirely decline with time. Of course, Perry would never suggest that her card is gender determinant — insisting it is a “characteristic” available to all.
The High Priestess – “I perceive” is the key phrase and the Linear B says “priestess”. I still feel there is a bit of gender delineation here, but that could just be my usual contrary nature? The traditional meaning of this card does speak to anima/intuition and internalization of “mystery” and hearing the inner promptings of spirit/mind. Perhaps had I not taken such offense to the court cards, this would not be a nagging little bit of bitchery in my head? It does not help that historically, possibly for every era SINCE Minoan Crete (or Catal Hayuk?) women’s “powers” have been relegated to the “inner mysteries” for the same reason women were known as witches and poisoners — women were denied other outlets of power. The reversal again connotes being inauthentic — not hearing the inward voice because you fear it brings bad news.
With that in mind, I note to myself that the gender bias I find in the cards is also a reflection of history and FACT. Just because it hurts me to look at it doesn’t mean the card attributions are wrong. We don’t really know enough about life in Minoan Crete to know if the bare-breasted beauties of the murals there were so fully circumscribed as later Hellenic matrons and maidens – but I surely doubt it. I think interpreting the images still vivid on volcano/quake/tsunami battered walls within such limits is an error. My reading style will evolve beyond those definitions rather rapidly, I suspect.
Designers of tarot cards are human (alas, like designers of religion?) and thus bring their flaws to their design. Even reading cards even more psychologically than psychically is more like poetry than prose. So, for the sake of beautiful cards devoid of monotheistic images, I will cope with the perceived flaws in the stated definitions of the designer.
*I admit, I struggle with the issue of reversed cards. I’ve been told in many books to cut the cards and reverse one stack. I find this so artificial as to be impractical. But with this deck, I did take about 1/4 or 1/3 of the deck at random and so turn it. But my more usual method is to look at the card in the layout and if it makes no bloody sense at all, I try reading it as reversed even if it is upright. If it makes more sense, I simply turn it in the spread at that point. I’ve had much more luck, sense, and accuracy with that method.