What, you might ask, does the Cornwall of Merlin’s Britain have to do with the Tarot? And why am I leading a tour there? To join this unique tour, sign up by January 31, 2017 at Global Spiritual Studies.
Pamela Colman Smith, artist of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck died in Bude Cornwall, just north of Merlin’s Tintagel, in 1951. Smith owed a considerable sum of money so that all her possessions, including her artwork, was sold at auction to pay the bills. Prior to living in Bude she lived at the far end of Cornwall in a place called The Lizard, where she ran a vacation home for Catholic priests. Waite, Smith, Merlin and even King Arthur all share a major part of Britain’s magical past, with their stories converging in Cornwall and Glastonbury, which we will explore on this tour.
We will visit Tintagel Castle, the birthplace of Arthur that came about through Merlin’s magic, and the supposed burial place of Merlin. We even hope to find the lost burial place of Smith herself.
‘Marvellous Merlin is wasted away
With a wicked woman:–woe might she be!
For she hath closed him in a crag
On Cornwall coast.’
—The Death of Merlin by Ernest Rhys (1898)
The Minor Arcana of the Tarot by Pixie (her small stature and dark coloring led her to declare herself of fairy blood) is in a style quite different from that of the Major Arcana. A look at the late 19th and early 20th century Arthurian and Grail artists depicted in the University of Rochester’s Camelot Project, demonstrate that the Minor Arcana is of this artistic tradition. Could there be a reason for this? I believe so, as stated by Waite himself when he wrote that the Ace of Cups (the Grail) “is an intimation of that which may lie behind the Lesser Arcana.” Waite also named the Knight of Swords Galahad. This should not be surprising as the same year the deck was published also saw publication of Waite’s book, The Hidden Church of the Holy Grail. This work features a chapter titled, “The Hallows of the Graal Mystery: Rediscovered in the Talismans of the Tarot,” specifically on the Minor Arcana of the Tarot (each suit is one of the four Grail “Hallows”) with no mention of the Majors! On the tour I will reveal how Waite envisioned the Minor Arcana as rough outlines for a quaternity of ritual pageants depicting a great Spiritual Loss, while the Major Arcana represent the path of Mystical Attainment that’s at the heart of the story of Glastonbury and Cornwall. Come join me, Linda Marson of Global Spiritual Studies, and tour guide and author extraordinare, Jamie George, of Glastonbury’s Gothic Image Bookshop and publishing house, on a tour you’ll never forget.