Tuesday, November 25, 2014

ALCHEMY & A Paris Hangover - Ça vaut la peine, Part I

ALCHEMY: Any seemingly magical process of transmuting ordinary materials into something of true merit.

"Tarot is a finite system of infinite possibilities" - J. Philip Thomas
Tarot de Paris - J. Philip Thomas

1325 - 1375; Middle English Alkamie, from Old French alquemie, from Medieval Latin alchymia, from Arabic al - the + kimiya; chemistry from Late Greek, Khumeia.  "He wondered by what alchemy it was changed, so that what sickened him one hour, maddened him with hunger the next."  (Marjorie K. Rawlings)

Motto:  Nutrisco et Extingo -  I nourish & I extinguish  - The crest and salamander amidst flames on the Tarot de Paris Alchemy card, is the badge/emblem adopted by Francois 1er, King of France, 1515-1547. It refers to the medieval legend of salamanders living in flames. The ancients, dating back to Pliny & Aristotle believed that salamanders could extinguish the flames with their bodies as virtue could triumph over the fires of passion.

Salamanders performing Alchemy by Go Insane.deviantart.com

Francis was born in a chateau, died in a chateau; built and restored many in between, most notably Chambord, Fontainebleu, Blois, and the Louvre.  He installed hundreds of salamanders throughout his residences; Chambord has 800 carved into the ceiling of the main hall.  At Fontainebleu, they are on chairs, facades, carved upon gilded wainscoting, modeled in stucco above picture frames, on fireplaces. The ones I am particularly fond of, are both in the gallery at Fontainebleu - the gold charmer below, and the one on the forehead of the fantastical Royal Elephant fresco. You can't quite make it out, the emblem with the plumes sprouting fire -  easier to see the stucco one above, between the angels, surrounded by flames.  

Salamander - Galerie - Fontainebleu

Royal Elephant - Galerie - Fontainebleu

Whenever I am lucky enough to score a trip to Paris along with a cozy place to stay (thank you Dan, Mila & Marsha), I choose a card from one of my favorite decks:  the "Tarot de Paris", step into my Nancy Drew persona, and try to ferret out the statues & monuments that Thomas collaged onto each card. He has given clues to the whereabouts of many of the elements, but has admitted he has forgotten quite a few.  It's like a treasure hunt and even when I come up empty handed or photograph-less, I have discovered new facets of the gem & mystery that is the "eternal" Paris.  

Mila & Dan's 14th Arr. apt.

The genesis and creation of Thomas's deck: 3500 photographs, twenty years in the making (though sixteen of those years were not spent physically working on the deck) is best described in an interview he gave to Aeclectic Tarot's Alex B. Crowther:*  

"My highest intentions were to draw fresh parallels between the mystical art/architecture of Paris and its intimate influence on tarot in history while allowing the city to expose its subtle mysteries...my views on the cross pollination of Paris and Tarot were formed during the experiential process of physically 'walking thru the city and the symbols' taking photos for the TDP deck.  As improbable as it may sound, the city's veil was lifted before me and I was allowed to briefly glimpse the subliminal forces that have sustained its existence over thousands of years.  What I saw was an eternal Paris - a living archetype - fashioned by revolutions of chaos, creativity and conservatism." 
- J. Philip Thomas - www.tarotdeparis.com

La France Renaissante - France Reborn, Le Pont de Bir-Hakeim

With Mila as my tireless guide and companion, we quickly found the statue that Thomas had photographed for his Alchemy card above.  "France Reborn" is on the island next to the Bir-Hakeim bridge in the 15th arr.  The rider astride the horse is Jeanne d'Arc, a political symbol in France since the time of Napolean.  A channel named Lazaris told me many years ago that I had been burned at the stake for heresy, so I feel a special kinship with Joan; an additional charge against her was "cross-dressing" -  they didn't pin that one on me.  She was burned at the stake in 1431 at the age of 19. 

Jeanne d'Arc
Bonus shot of Japanese couple posing for wedding photographs - love the red dress!

Seems unfair to place Jeanne so near to the happy couple, but she's earned her place in history.
Joan of Arc Death at the Stake by Herman Stilke - 1843

Next I dragged Mila to the Musée de l’Armée at the Hôtel national des Invalides to find the salamander emblem that Thomas hinted was on one of the canons amongst the 500,000 artifacts of military hardware, armor and weapons in the collection. 

Musée de l’Armée

Me & my Arsenal

We took dozens and dozens of photos, mais hélas, could not find the salamander "badge".  Oh la la, I never thought I could fall for a canon, but I did.  They are works of art, created and christened by individual artisans, with names like Le Souffleteur (the boxer of ears) made by J. Bérenger, 1772, and Le Gentil, 2782 kg of canon par Jean Maritz, 1746.

Time to say goodbye to the canons & all the pretty horses...

And the papier mâché  Napolean...

Napolean's Tomb
Time to get some caffeine & "faire la queue" (stand in line) for Niki de St. Phalle at the Grand Palais

"I want to go ever deeper into the poetry of it" - Niki de St. Phalle

...to be continued in Part II

Upcoming tarot events for those in France:

I will be reading cards at Le Perroquet Verte Noel Fete in Chalais, November 29th
and at Aubeterre-sur-Dronne Christmas Market on Nov. 30th - Cartomancy & Tarot

Happy Thanksgiving to our friends in USA, save us some leftovers. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Simply OCTOBER - Récolte ce que tu sèmes - Harvest what you sow

Bee on Cornflower - On the way to Honey Festival

Le Maine Meunier - Ferme Auberge - Chavenat, Honey Festival

Oak leaves - the Forest, Grassac

Autumn glaze, fall leaves tumbling, the warm gossamer air still embracing us - biking at first light past fields of burnt orange, mixed with buffy tweeds & pale greens, violet ferns, magenta leaves and red roses hugging stone walls, purple grapes, mustards and gold leaf -  October, I say it out loud and some melancholy creeps in - goodbye Indian summer.

Old Shed - Doumerac

Last roses - Doumerac

"Sometimes in our life, a door opens.  We enter, and a new landscape appears in front of us--a scene that is new, vaster and more striking than anything we have ever been used to. Before we were contained in a small safe place.  We did not imagine this door existed.  But once we open it, we find beautiful views, hills and valleys, sunlit rivers, mists like embroidery, wide spaces.  Our life will never be the same."   Piero Ferrucci from Beauty and the Soul

Roses against stone wall - Doumerac

Butterfly - Doumerac

 Some say life is short, I say life is tall, grab a straw - SARK


Girl Spinning - Hotel de Ville - Angouleme

Circuit des Remparts - Angouleme

The last few months my world has been blurry, as I've waited for eye surgery to burn off the cloud cover from my eyes.  As I waited and waited and waited, my French friend Annie gave me a wonderful piece of advice, passed on to her from one of her belles-soeurs (sisters-in-law) "Accroche-toi aux branches - "Hold onto the branches...and so I have.  

Alone, in the slant of sun, back against a stone wall, I've watched days pass from light to shadow - like a cat curling into warmth.   "I went to collect the few personal belongings which...I held to be invaluable: my cat, my resolve to travel, and my solitude."

Cat - Jonathan & Nicole's house

Cattails - field near Charras
Thistle - Tiny hands

 When our hands are alone, they open, like faces. There is no shore to their opening.  St. Gerard

All the blue canoes - Aubeterre-sur-Dronne

On the River Dronne

Father & Baby daughter - Aubeterre-sur-Dronne

Kevin - Bridge over the River Dronne

Stone Bridge, Aubeterre-sur-Dronne

 From the Notebooks of Anne Verveine, VII

Distance was the house in which I welcomed you.
But it was in the river 
that we became cadence, there where the current braided

together again, after the stone bridge stanchion parted the stream.
It was to last only as long as the beauty lasted.
Do you believe in the soul?

Words torn from the void, wet and mewling,
Where we walked on the mountain, water
poured around us, surged up from the springs, seethed

down into rivulets, rocky streams, and one long blinding cascade:
your kisses were an eau-de-vie and as bitter.
I am poured out like water.

Distance is feminine in French.
I held a knife to a man's throat and let him bleed quietly into a cup.
What does "us" mean?

Coiled serpentine headdress of Leonardo's woman:
you wanted her, I wanted you.
Chill sunlight flexing itself on the city river

gave me the emptiness I needed
to write these instructions:  Sorrow
is a liqueur.  Drink deep. We will all be consumed.

                --Rosanna Warren

Parrot - Parc Colonial - Grosbot

Statue - Parc Colonial

Antoinette & Moi - Parc Colonial
Berries & Bamboo - Parc Colonial

I spent some time visiting animals; we seemed to be on the same wave length.

Rasputin - Le Maine Meunier - Chavenat

Kevin & Rasputin - Honey Festival - Chavenat

Geese, Chavenat Honey Festival

Lizard - Doumerac

OCTOBER – cut up poem version

watched you sleep
all summer long -
ripened junipers
to vinegar,
longing itself
at dawn

if that broken, yellow dog
wakes again at twilight
to turn into the bronze bobcat
furry and sure
climbing sixty foot trees
following the cry of her tennis ball concert
under a canopy of oak fingers
you know she can't see Tammy's backridge fence,
but she can still smell
buckets of damp Eucalyptus earth clinging,
hear the copper mushrooms
dried to dust
fallen -
a train whistle vanishing
through summer doorways.

RA Martin

Champignons - Charras
After harvest, field resting, waiting

End of Day - Antennae waiting
Sunset - Charras

Tiny Buddha - Parc Colonial - Grosbot

Rose - Doumerac
Ever amazing, this world we live in... Technology IS Magic,
& today à la Johnny Nash:
I can see clearly now the rain is gone.
I can see all the obstacles in my way.
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.
It's gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin' day.
It's gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin' day.

I will be in Paris October 20 - 26 doing Tarot readings, meeting up with Irish friends from Ireland Poetry Tour AND to see Niki de St. Phalle's show at the Grand Palais.  Still some slots open for readings on the 25th - ramartin8@gmail.com.

Ruthanne Doll - Made by Susan Andrews

It says on the back:  Ruthanne, a real doll - her heart as big as the great outdoors

Susan gave me this doll sometime in 197? - I treasure it.  It has gone around the world with me & Susan is still migrating too with her other Oiseaux Sister, Carolyn Fellman.  Check out their amazing artwork and workshops:  www.oiseauxsisters.com

Susan Andrews - Artist/Dollmaker

From July 2014 Summer Retreat - Moravia, New York