Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Contrasts in Oracles

One of the most fascinating things about tarot decks is that so many artists have reinterpreted it using their own style, ideas and imagery. It is still a powerful set of symbols no matter which set we are speaking about. There are so many artists and so many styles. There are an infinite way of making a picture of lovers, a merchant, a soldier, a wise man, a priestess, a king, queen, magician, and the scenes from everyday life, people working together, quarreling, building, eating, playing, resting.

Some of the images are timeless, others are the flavor of today or this artist's imagination or philosophical preference. And other designs are very ephemeral, and will be known only by collectors of the odd and curious.

Runes, on the other hand, have remained impervious to all the artists over the millenniums that have come and gone. That suggests to me a reason for their staying power. They address primal needs, primal instincts and eternal values. A simple glyph indicates home, wealth, health, needfire, water, gambling, strength, the divine. Although over time our homes look different, our wealth takes different forms, our ideas about the divine change, these timeless marks represent things that have been important to people since caveman days.

The I Ching has also remained a reliable oracle, with different people trying their hand at translating the verses, but no one has changed the hexagrams. They are set and have been for thousands of years. Similar to the runes in that they represent things that have been important forever in civilizations, the particulars of how we perceive or portray what is important now can change. We may have different ways of saying it now, but what is important now was important to our ancestors.

Oracles can remind us of the roots of matters and as we let them play out, they may appear to be different, according to our individual imaginations.

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