I’ve been using the Hoi Polloi Tarot since I bought it at B. Dalton Bookstore back in the 70s. After almost 40 years of friendship, that old deck is very dear to me.
But it must’ve been sometime around 2001 when I realized that, while it is beautiful to look at, there are issues with the deck. It’s fairly faithful as Rider-Waite-Smith clones go, but the backgrounds are missing, and certain very symbolic details are different, such as the number of Yods and the colors of certain objects. One example is The Fool. In the RWS deck, the rose is white. In mine the rose is red.
These differences and issues have surfaced several times before. I always gloss over them and move along with my old friend as before.
Then other day, while contemplating the Knight of Wands, it hit me that his tunic should not be green. It was like a mallet to my forehead. “Mitch,” the voice in my head said, “this is a test.” But what kind of test? Was the challenge before me to just relax and not be so uptight about details? After all, I do struggle with being very driven and nit-picky. Or was the test to realize that all tools wear out eventually and must be replaced, to remain focused on getting the job done rather than being sentimental about tools?
The next day, while performing the Qabalistic Cross, it hit me that the challenge was to do both. If I was going to build a new house, would I throw away the antique hammer that I inherited from my father and replace it? No, I’d just set it aside as a keepsake to use for hanging pictures an such. I’d go and buy a framing hammer for the new job. As usual, the false tension of dualism is the enemy.
So I wrapped up the old cards in a scarf and put them in a pretty box to use on special occasions. The new cards are necessary if I’m going to progress in my esoteric studies. And I ordered a new Tarot deck. It’ll be arriving in the mail soon.
It’s time to make a new friend.