Saturday, December 31, 2016

Six Exercises for the Marseilles Tarot by Enrique Enriquez

Six Exercises for the Marseilles Tarot by Enrique Enriquez


Dear Friends,

I don't have many things to share, but I hope you will find the few I do have useful. During the next six weeks I hope to cover the basic aspects of what can be described as the Marseilles tarot's optical language: its rhyme, rhythm, resonance and optical patterns. We will do this by means of six practical exercises which will be accompanied by a theoretical frame of reference. The theoretical frame of reference for each weekly exercise will be found on my web site, under the "Eye Rhyme" section. But you don't need to send me questions. You only need to read these short essays and then work on the exercise I will pose you here on AT. You should post your response to the exercise under the same thread in which I posted the exercise and we will then work through some feedback. All questions are welcome and I am more than happy to answer them to the best of my ability.

You will notice that I make lots of references to artists, writers and poets. If the Marseilles tarot is the tarot of the image-makers, then it is within the realm of the image makers that I find the answers I am looking for. For example, since I see a tarot reading as an act of visual poetry, it is by studying poetry that I have arrived at an understanding of the tarot. If you aren't familiar with some of these names, and Wikipedia isn't responding, please ask me about these authors and I will be more than happy to tell you about them.


Our first exercise might be the most problematic one, not in terms of its difficulty, but in terms of some of the conclusions I hope to arrive at after we work on it. Today I will post the exercise and tomorrow I will post the first little essay in my Eye Rhyme project. In this specific case, it will be better if you do the exercise first, and read the essay afterwards.

The exercise is very simple, but please read through these instructions a couple of times to make sure you know what to do before you do the exercise. So, shuffle your whole deck and place it face down on a table. Put your hand over the deck and travel down in your imagination through a specific numbers of cards. Choose any number that comes to your mind. (If for example you decide to travel 20 cards down the deck, focus on that 20th card from top to bottom). You won't know which card this is. I won't know which card it is. And that is fantastic! I would like you then to describe the feelings that come to mind while you are focused on that unknown card. Please, don't try to describe the card, but only the feelings that come to your mind while you focus on it. Write it all down. After you have written it down, go through the deck and look at that card. I want you to then write down your initial reaction on seeing the card. After seeing that card, and when your initial reaction has faded away, I want you to find all possible relationships between the feelings you experienced while focusing on the unknown card, and the imagery in the card.

That's it. It is that simple.

Please, report back.

Have fun,




Hello All,

Our second exercise is about paying attention. It will consist on looking at three cards together and answer the following questions:

What did you notice?

What did you hear?

What did you admire?

What astonished you?

What would you like to see again?

What was most tender?

What was most wonderful?

What did you think was happening?

The first question "What did you notice?" is the place where you can write down all the eye rhymes you see in your cards. The rest of the questions intend for you to renew your attention once you have ran out of eye rhymes, so you can keep looking at the cards for more things to notice.

As an example, I got Le Bateleur, Lempereur, La Maison Dieu

Here are my answers:

What did you notice?

I notice two people who refuse to look at each other in the eye, and I notice how they end up holding onto the same thing (the ground) after the tower collapses. I notice the cards telling me: "sometimes it is a good thing that bad things happen". I notice how we have a stand-up-sit-down-stand-up rhythm. Le Bataleur stands, Lempereur sits, the tower in La Maison Dieu stands again. But I also notice how both Le Bateleur and Lempereur have their hats on, while the tower in La Maison Dieu is loosing it. I notice how Le Bateleur's 'wand' rhymes with Lempereur's scepter, and the scepter rhymes with the tower in La Maison Dieu, reminding us that sleight of hand, ruling, and building a house can all be tuned into a spiritual exercise. I also notice how Le Bateleur's 'wand' is as broken as the building we see in La Maison Dieu. Only Lempereur's scepter remains whole. I notice how Le Bateleur's right hand rhymes with Lempereur's right hand, but while Le Bateleur finds security in holding onto a coin, Lempeur knows that he will be safer by holding onto his pants. Their hands also rhyme with the hands of these two characters we see in La Maison Dieu. We can see how the hands in these three cards conform a falling rhyme: coin, belt, ground. Perhaps our two characters need a cataclysm to understand that the soils in the ultimate safe net. I notice Le Bateleur looking toward the past, while Lempereur looks toward the future, or toward La Maison Dieu, as if he is the only one among them both who can foresee the impending catastrophe.
What did you hear?
I hear the silence of Le Bateleur and Lempereor, who prefer to let the voice of thunder speak in La Maison Dieu than using their own voices.
What did you admire?
I admire the calmness of Lempereur, who will let Le Bateleur come around by himself, even when he can see the tower is collapsing not too far away.
What astonished you?
The way power gets progressively reformulated in the sequence. Three kinds of magic are been shown there: personal, social and universal. Le Bateleur trusts in the power of his sleights. Sleight of hand suggests the power one has over oneself. Lempereur trusts the power of his scepter, a symbol suggesting the power a man has over his fellow men. Finally, that flame in La Maison Dieu sprouts like a little flower. Having it reaching the sun suggest it's trust in the power of nature. Nature may very well have been the first religion, and its creatures and events the perfect followers, for no animal wonders if what it perceives is reality or illusion, the rain does not second guess itself.

What would you like to see again?
I would like to see again that moment in which Le Bateleur lost his precious coin among the many ones falling from the sky in La Maison Dieu. That moment in which he understood that his little truth was as valuable as many other little truths - and equally tiny. I would also like to see that moment in which Lempeur understood that Le Bateleur can only learn that lesson for himself, although that doesn't mean he will learn it alone. Hail is coming.

What was most tender?
That flower of fire that comes from within the tower with is fleshy fire calling for his dad.
What was most wonderful?

If these two pay attention, both of them will get to learn their half of the same lesson.
What did you think was happening?
A young person feels ripe and ready, but no one comes to harvest her. She is only seeing the small picture. In her, depression takes the form of resentment. An older person can see the whole picture: "the fact that you feel ready doesn't means the world is ready for you". But the old person would talk and the young person would listen. That won't be a problem. What cannot be expressed in words will be expressed in actions when they discover together that opinions are made of clay, and that no matter how much fire we give to them, they will crash as soon as we fall down. Sometimes two people need to have the ground lifted from under their feet to find a common ground.

Have fun!

Additionally I have posted a new essay on the Eye Rhyme section of my site.

I also set a blog where you can find the previous essays. The link is on my site.

Any comment/question on the new essay is more than welcome.

I am looking forward to your answers!





Hello all.

I have posted a new essay on my site, under the Eye Rhyme section. This week’s exercise will focus on the main idea in that text:

“A person comes to us because they have lost their words. They will never say it like that, but that is basically it. They have forgotten how to talk about a problem, or about themselves. Perhaps they simply haven't yet found the right words to talk about their future. We may have forgotten their future and need a few cue words to remember it. We give them our cards so they can use them to tell us their story, and we look at these cards to find some words we can give back to them.”

If you think about it, having someone talking about our problems, or our experience, having someone naming it, is a soothing act in itself because it make us feel acknowledged by validating our pain. A reading usually accomplishes more than that, but that is a good beginning. Obviously, in order for us to be able to give words to a person, we have to have words to give in the first place. So, this week’s exercise may seem a little bit silly, and it probably needs to be taken in a spirit of silliness, since it should only be considered as some sort of “mental calisthenics’. Our results shouldn’t be memorized nor taken as definitive guidelines for looking at the cards. They should be seen more as “learning to fish” than as “been given a fish”.

The premise is very basic. I want each one of you to create a dictionary of synonyms for the pips. As an example we have Lark’s wonderful interpretation of wands as arteries. Yes, wands can be arteries, but they can also be dog leashes, or as Stella shared, heavily embroidered doors. How many other things can these wands be? What about these swords, these cups and these coins?

I don’t want your responses right away, but I would love to have your responses by Wednesday-Thursday, so we have some time to comment on them. Use this few days to compile a list.

Again, the idea is not to say: “Coins are mirrors, navels, and Mexican sombreros”, but to train ourselves so we can see in the pips, on the spot, things as diverse as those.

Have fun!




Dear all,

For our third exercise I would like to borrow some ideas from Luc Bigé's book "Petite diccionaire in langue des oiseaux." Although the book doesn't provides any historical background on the language of the birds, and I basically think he made the whole thing up, his take is useful as a departure point since he is basically organizing an understanding of how la langue de oiseaux, as a form of wordplay, can be used in today's French world.

Bigé points to something I am interested: the prevalence of shape and sound over meaning when it comes to the way our unconscious perceive words. I see this identical to the idea of the unconscious being affected by color and shape in the Marseille tarot. A sonic rhythm becomes a visual one, that's it. Then he goes into explaining what to look on each letter. Here I start having problems with his system. In some letters he will go by shape, but in some others he will detect symbolism. This isn't a coherent system. So, I reversed engineering it: based on my understanding of the cards, I am being able to see letters as shapes and derivate messages from them. Same principle, different methodology.

He says that all the consonants' shapes evolve from combinations of the vowels. This is very interesting from a graphic point of view. But then I thought: there are two axis, a vertical one (being) and an horizontal one (becoming). These axis united "above with below" and "past" with "future". Lets take the most minimal shape in our alphabet (the letter I) as reference, and establish it as "being." The letter I would represent the individual (not because the word 'individual' starts with an I, but because the letter I is made by one simple stroke). Now, lets assume that our sense of being gets reshaped by our sense of becoming. This is, when the vertical axis represented by the letter I is activated horizontal-wise, we have the letter I reshaping itself to form all the other letters in the alphabet. (I do this with the cards all the time. I look at the first card on a row, then at the last one, and ask myself: "what needs to happen for this image to become that other one"). Just as The Empress has to let her motherly energy erupt to become The Tower, the letter I breaks apart to become receptive to the ground and we have a letter A. When the letter I grows arms to embrace the world it created the letter B. If the letter I curves itself, forming a letter C, it becomes receptive towards the future. This way, by understanding the 'motion' that took place from the original vertical stroke to become a letter, we have a narrative we can share, and we get to meditate in our own names, special words, etc.

Proposed as a way to play with the letters to get unexpected insights, clean of all occult, or esoteric flair, This is useful. Based on this idea, here is our exercise for this week: I want you to pick a random word in a dictionary, and I want you to 'read' that word as a narrative. I want you to forget about the word's meaning or etymology, and base your reading in the way shape progresses letter by letter along the word. In other words, do as if each letter is a card.

Pay attention to:

- Optical rhythm: rising, falling, constant.

- Eye Rhymes among the letter's shape.

- Resonances among the letter's shape.

Look and react to what you see, not to what you think the word means.

As an reference for what I am asking you to do, let me share this:

Last year a guy named Guillermo wrote to me saying the he wanted to change his sex. I thought this was an unique opportunity to explore the unconscious messages in the letters on a name, so, I asked him which name he would like to have after technically becoming a woman and he told me he wanted to call 'herself' GIGGIOLLA. There were several things I noticed, but this were the two more relevant: Instead of one G, he/she will now have three. I envisioned the G as an O who breaks is perfection to reaffirm its ego, like pointing to his chest with her thumb saying "me, me, me." In the change of name, the self-indulgent would get triplicated! The other relevant thing is the elimination of the R. Literally, the R is a P with a little "leg" moving forward. Both shape and sound of the letter R suggest driven (RRRRRRRRRRR!). Instead of that he will now have only Gs and the two Ls. The L is an I that extends itself over the vertical plane, at a ground level. I took this as a gesture intended to affirm a terrenal, sexual nature. I saw him making himself completely passive, and getting rid of all his drive. On top of that I noticed that GIGGIOLLA can be separated in GIGGI and OLLA. Giggi is the name of a infamous, very tacky, TV actress in Venezuela, where this guy lives. 'Olla' means 'pot' in Spanish, like a cooking pot. The name describes then a bimbo-receptacle.

I wrote back to him explaining that I had compared the shapes of the letters in both names, paying special attention to the letters that were present in the original name and now were missing in the new name, and showed him how the new name suggested that he was making himself into a doll, or a sex-toy. The point wasn't to judge this person's hopes, or choices, but to to arrive at certain ideas by non-logical means so I can give him some things to think about. This lead to a powerful conversation about true motivations, an possibles adjustments of his plan. Interestingly, from that point on the guy started talking about "loosing my R", and "having to keep my R on."

This exercise is totally about looking. I hope it will help us to understand even better of how to approach shape instead of meaning by showing how, even something as familiar to us as the letters of the alphabet can give us messages if we see with new eyes.

It would be great if you can do this exercise, which is fairly short, and also follow Satori's example in the previous thread, by going through the whole deck or part of it while asking to each card "what am I missing", or any other question you find interesting to explore.

I also have posted a new essay on my Eye Rhyme site.

Have fun with this one! As usual, if you have any questions, please ask.

All the best, and thanks,




Dear all,

In this week’s essay I mention Japanese poet Matsuo Basho, who is literally regarded as the Saint of Haiku. There is one technique in haiku-making that I find very useful for crafting metaphors. It basically consist on seeing, or thinking, of something, and then find three sentences to describe it. For a long time Western scholars have thought that Japanese poets employ no metaphors in their haiku, when in truth, they simply have a different way to create metaphors. For us, a metaphors creates meaning by establishing a relationship between two terms. Each term must be significant by itself. The capacity a metaphor has to create meaning depends on having us perceiving a relationship between these two components.

In a haiku meaning is created as if we were drawing with words. The haiku present us with three different strokes to complete a metaphor. Take for example this haiku from Basho:

roadside rose
of sharon: devoured
by my horse

Here, Basho is creating meaning by giving us three images: a rose, eaten, by a horse. What is powerful about this is that he uses very specific images to have us completing a whole event which is small/specific enough to elicit all kinds of sensations. One can listen to the powerful jaws of a huge horse chewing these tender petals. The experience becomes a full sensory spectrum one.

Haikus have very specific technical requirements (a first line composed by 5 sounds, a second line composed by7 sounds, a third line composed by 5 sounds). Leaving aside that, I would like that you, this week, looking at the cards not to write haiku but to ‘think haiku’. In other words, I would like for you to place three or four cards in a row and define a whole idea by describing each card using one single sentence.

For example:


Then I would say:

THE FOV: a man walking

THE CHARIOT: takes a lift

V DE BATONS: and get derailed

ACE DE COUPPES: from his objective

“A man walking takes a lift and get lost from his objective”

This would be the faster way to get a message from the cards. We create one whole, specific, idea by assigning very specific, LITERAL, ideas to each card in a sequence (try not to get symbolic here, but very literal: The Fool is a man walking, just that. The V de Batons a bunch of interwoven roads, things like that). The work we have done at seeing analogies in the pips (Exercise Number Three) and the work we have done at creating whole narratives from shape (Exercise Number Four) should make this exercise very simple.

Please, do this exercise at least three times. This is, draw at least three sequences of three or four cards, and proceed in the way I did on the example above. Those of you who may want to do more are welcome to do so. (The way I used to practice was by drawing three cards, seeing a message in this way, then I would draw three more cards, see another message, and so on until I went through the whole deck, day after day.)

As usual, questions and comments are welcome.





Dear all,

I regret to say that we have arrived at our last exercise. It has been enormously fun for me to ‘meet’ with you here, weekly. Of course, this is not a “good bye” since we will be working on some readings for a couple of weeks starting next week, and because we will hopefully keep in touch. I am ‘here’ for you at any time.

For our last exercise we will again look at three cards together, maximum five. Why do I say “maximum five”? because when I have my three cards on the table, and I see that one of the characters in the cards is looking outside the sequence, I find useful to place a card there to ‘close’ the spread and see what is what the character is looking at (I first learned about the idea of following the character’s gaze in Paul Marteau’s book, but I have seen Jodorowsky doing the same, and I know Philippe Camoin suggest the same thing in his method). Since a character may be seeing outside the sequence either at the beginning or the end of the three card-sequence, the original sequence might grow from three to four cards, if only one character is looking out, or from three to five if we have characters looking outside both at the beginning and the end of the sequence. (Wow! so complicate to explain by writing, so simply to actually see!)

Only human characters look out. If a pip is at the beginning or the end of a sequence, there is no need to place any additional card.

So, please, give it a try and work with this simple arrangement: a single row of three cards that you might eventually extend up to five cards.

So far, in our exercises, we have been kind of “zooming out” from looking at specific details in the cards to looking at single cards and then at whole sequences. This way we work accordingly to the way the whole pack of cards, as an object, functions, which is in a constantly changing sequence. Do you know how much is “too much salt”? It is very hard to say if we don’t know what are we cooking, for whom, or for how many people. Same thing happens with each card. What does a card means? It is very hard to say if we don’t know what are we asking, who is asking, and how many other cards are on the table. In our fifth exercise we noticed how we are able to get the cards' message as soon as we look at them. The message is simple and direct. The only real difficulty lies in putting that understanding into words. This weeks’ exercise builds up on our fifth exercise. The idea is to facilitate this process, so we can detect the message in a sequence of cards and know what to say.

The exercise is simple: look at three cards and ask yourselves these two questions:

- What is happening?

- How does this feel?

(Those of you who have my lecture notes will know this questions already. ;-) I saved them for the end because I think they are extremely useful. Specially when a client has no question.)

The first question should lead to a more or less objective description of the image. Here we apply all what we have been practicing in the previous exercises: we define a three-part sentence based on the images (haiku-style), we look for eye-rhymes, rhythms, and patters. The second question should lead to a ‘memory-search’ for those moments of our life that can be illustrated by the card's image. I don’t want a subjective response to the artwork, but a recollection of a moment in which you have felt something similar to what you see happening in the cards. Answer with your memory.

Please, do at least three sequences stating what What is happening?" and "How does this feel?".

Questions are welcome. I am looking forward to your insights!



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