Sunday, February 16, 2014

Tarot Magic

My recent trip to Melbourne for the Festival of the Photocopier included a visit to Sticky, located in the Flinders Street tunnel under Degraves Street. Visiting the shop in person, as opposed to online, is a far more valuable way of keeping abreast of new titles and zine news. Unfortunately, I have to travel all the way from Sydney to do it. It was worth it though, as the amiable Fulsome Prism (who staffs the shop) introduced me to some choice zines, one of which was Bastian Fox Phelan’s latest offering, Tarot Magic.

Naturally, I got excited about the existence of an esoteric zine that wasn’t mine. I’m unaware of other DIY titles that cover arcane subjects, so discovering Tarot Magic was a bit of a revelation. As the author expresses in the opening page, ‘this zine is an unapologetic love letter to the deck of cards that helped me become my own best partner’. Tarot Magic is a tarot reading in itself, and documents Bastian’s adventures with a pack of cards designed and printed by The Collective Tarot, a creative/esoteric co-op based in Portland, Oregon.

The Collective Tarot uses images loosely based on the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. Interestingly, it contains the Suit of Bones, which I feel represents the Earth element and our questions concerning structure, support, and finding ground in a wobbly world.
Tarot is Bastian’s preferred method of engaging in healthy dialogue with herself. It’s a self-care ritual where she can safely process negative emotions and experience the ‘thing’ that has many guises – magic/intuition/instinct/gut feeling/insight/sensitivity/sixth sense/divine guidance/Universal consciousness … call it what you will. Unfortunately, there isn’t much room for magic in Western culture. Many health care workers treat magical thinking as a character defect that needs correcting, yet magic can provide answers to questions that remain unresolved despite mainstream approaches to problem solving.

Tarot, like astrology and other divinatory tools, is a creative way to check-in with yourself and re-connect with suppressed feelings. It’s an opportunity to pause and ask: ‘What am I feeling right now? Why am I feeling this?’

It’s refreshing to see another esoteric zine bobbing around the sea of perzines and artist books that defines twenty-first century DIY culture. I don’t feel like the maverick so much. It requires a certain amount of bravery to produce a zine like this, so I commend Bastian for taking it on. Tarot Magic is an enchanting read, and the fact that one of our finest zine makers has created it is reason enough to go there.

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