Saturday, December 20, 2008

This industrious fellow, from the Ortus Sanitatis of Bernardino Benaglio e Giovanni de Cereto, makes me think of the Eight of Pentacles. Although more traditional representations of this card show a man hammering in his workshop, I thought this image conveys similar ideas about labor and effort. The wheels in the cart in the background also suggest pentacles.

The simplicity of this drawing reminds me of the Marseille Tarot. Medieval art really helps to ground my study of the cards, and prevents my interpretation of them from getting too precious or abstract. This laborer is a reminder that the images and ideas in the Tarot, which emerged from a distinctly magico-religious view of the world, were at the same time rooted in the daily lives and concerns of people living then. Both the cosmic and the mundane, the heavens and earth, the macro and micro are contained in them.

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