Tarot Universal Dali

Tarot Universal Dali
Dee Dee & Salvador Dali

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Four Aces. Hard to imagine a more auspicious Tarot spread to announce Beginnings for the New Year.

Beginning with Tarot Universal Dali's Ace of Cups, as does GALA'S GRAIL A Dali Codex , with author Kora Silver's promise, " ...we shall embark on a most curious tale of an unorthodox Grail."

This grail comes from the Dosso Dossi's
The Virgin Appearing to St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist
c. 1520s.

The figures in the reversible goblet illusion Silver pegs as Tristan and Iseult . Or as named by The Magician himself in his Tristan and Isolde 1944

Never content with a single sleight of hand, the lovers turn to wings above a fisherman walking upon water.

Cups are the suit of love, emotions and dreams, writes Rachel Pollack. The Ace is "the source of the suit," she elaborates in Salvador Dalli's Tarot. The Ace of Cups speaks to launching these ephemeral pursuits.

Swords, Ms. Pollack writes of Dali's Ace, represent the "analytical mind and the crown the material world. The intellect, and not the emotions, cuts through to the truth. The hand grasps the blade and not the handle, indicating the pain of seeing through illusions."

Also appearing in Tarot Universal Dali's Ace of Swords is the familiar woman in white, arms raised, following her shadow, her body patterns the bell of the chapel on the road to Dali and Gala's home in Cadaques. -- as seen in Suburbs of a Paranoia-Critical Town: Afternoon on the Outskirts of European Hsitory 1936

What a delight! This Ace of Wands is from Georges de La Tour, The Cheat With the Ace of Clubs from the late 1620s.

Wands is the suit associated with Clubs in the modern card suits, Cups with Hearts, Swords-Spades, Pentacles-Diamonds.

Wands are the suit of fire -- depicted via the combustibility of wood which Dali carries further turning leaves of gold out upon the Wands of Tarot Universal Dali. Wands are growth, energy, powerful movement -- beginnings.

But just as Swords illuminate the pain from the exposure of illusions, which is always a hallmark of a new beginning; here Dali's Wands warn of the unseen that always remains below the surface -- here the cheating ace is hidden even from the viewer.

But as for the Ace of Pentacles, there can be no better wishes for a new year of beginnings as what Ms. Pollack writes of this Dali Ace, from Salvador Dali's Tarot:
"...All the Aces represent something given to us by life, which is why the Tarot depicts a hand emerging from some hidden source. But Pentacles especially, with their connotations of wealth and material satisfaction, come to us not as a reward for some moral virtue, but as a gift generated by the concealed workings of the world (concealed not by some spell, but by our limited perceptions of cause and effect). Trees grow alongside the pentacle, while the arm rests on a tree whose trunk and roots penetrate a mist. The wonders and origins of nature reach beyond our understanding."

The year opens with four Aces. One. One. One. One. Hardly a more auspicious opening possible to the new year which is surely beyond our understanding and filled with both illusions and the unveiling of illusions; of pain and discovery; of new beginnings.

Happy New Year 1.1.11

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Leaving Salvador Dali's House

It is a long time now since leaving Salvador Dali's home.

Of course. How else would it be? At its most concrete, time is ephemeral; once an instant passes, once a breath passes, then the time of now is gone.

When that instant was,
when that breath was,
that is what time becomes.
Here and now
whatever time was
time is now ago
And there it will stay forever.

But is it gone?

The heads atop Salvador and Gala Dali's home still overlook the Mediterranean Port Lligat, even if the lens that captured this moment is not there.
They are there.
They are not ago.
This photograph is real,
right now.

Surrealism arrived about the time scientists started adding dimensions to the long held Reality of Three. Come to find out, as the 20th Century rolled along, Time, the absolute yardstick of Life, and thus of Death, was bendable.

Up until then Life was measured in what seemed a one-dimensional way, Time was so one dimensional it wasn't even considered a dimension. Then, Wham!
Not only is Time dimensional, it's such a flexible dimension it can verily double back on itself.

whom Dali called "my father," found the same thing in the human psyche: Time stretches -- forward, backward, every which where. Memory, conscious and un-, overtakes even the all-powerful present and spills forward into dreams, and obsessions, carving out needs even before desire arises; shaping our destinies.

Perhaps, then, there is no true leaving of Salvador and Gala Dali's house which evolved around the eccentric couple from a fisherman's hut now among the hottest tourist attractions on the Mediterranean.

Like the artist, the house is unusual and the impact breathtaking.

Although shuffled in, shuffled through, shuffled out the door,
the timelessness of sea and sun and stone remains. Either in memory or planted by Dali whose so named "Paranoid Critical Method" called not only upon his own "irrational knowledge" but sought to provoke that knowledge.

The evolution of the home/studio grew organically into womb-like rooms of soft curves and sunlight. Narrow stairs and corridors in white. White, white, white, white, white and filled with Dali's outrageous genius and brimming also with Gala.

Just to convey again: The walls are white. They are white, white, white, white, white.

It is the same white hot light inside as out.

Egg atop the summer dining room
Anchors the courtyard.
Sun, sun, sun.
Sea, sea, sea.

Then something else. Georgia O'Keeffe?

Then inside, a grand piano, nestled and defunct within crumbling rock.

Meanwhile, playing on the white, white, white stucco wall is The Magician himself.

It would be easy to dismiss Salvador Dali on so many levels -- as George Orwell tried in 1946 in an essay discussing Dali's promiscuous and distasteful subjects:

He is a symptom of the world's illness. The important thing is not to denounce him as a cad who ought to be horsewhipped, or to defend him as a genius who ought not to be questioned, but to find out why he exhibits that particular set of aberrations.

But by the next decade, as time warped and dreams became potentially more real than what had once been Reality, Dali added complex mathematics and Einstein and DNA theories into the visionary work he produced on canvas and in objects; seeking to provoke in others the "irrational knowledge" that layers our Reality and telescopes our vision into other Dimensions.

Perhaps, to try to answer Mr. Orwell from this more distant vantage, Dali is trying to warn us of something.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010


here it begins .... the bricks and stones of what passes for concrete reality with its tiny hints of what The Magician Dali saw. Up the hill from this small church ... less than a dozen worn wooden pews inside ... Salvador and Gaia made their home at Port Lligat.
Today I prayed the only two prayers inside the church: Help me Help me Help me and Thank you Thank you Thank you.
Tommorrow I climb first up from here and then far down and enter their home.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I - The Magician - El Mago

I am packing for a journey to Dali's home in
Cadaqués, Spain: How could it be anything but a day for The Magician?

Or in Tarot Universal Dali's Spanish, El Mago. No matter the language or the contrivances of this Tarot's creator, El Mago remains the opening card of the active Major Arcana.

By that adjective -- active -- I refer to a technique prevalent among Tarot readers and alluded to in the first post of this new venue:

0 - The Fool http://deedee-salvadordali.blogspot.com/2010/06/fool-el-loco.html

The technique uses The Fool (-- El Loco in Tarot Universal Dali --) as the subject. The Fool is considered an infant, without imprint, an unformed psyche and proceeds to traverse the rest of the Major Arcana's 22 cards. (The full Tarot consists of 78 cards. This includes the 56 cards of the Minor Arcana which more closely resemble contemporary playing cards than do the 22 of the Major Arcana.)

Taken from the deck in this manner, this odd man out and carrying the number zero, this Fool, El Loco, faces the challenges of three rows of seven cards. Imagine it as a virgin psyche moving through three levels of self-awareness.

The first row of seven cards represent that which is Universal and beyond Human contrivance; the second row is that which Life imparts and imprints upon us; the third is that which we use to act upon Life.

The Magician is the complete and all seeing, the One, the Father; all knowing and thus the keeper and dispenser of the mysterious life-giving force of inspiration that powers creativity. It is this unknowable hugeness that first greets the innocent, unformed and uninformed who like The Fool is thrown naked into Life.

No surprise who Dali casts in the role of the Omnipotent, the Creator.

In her Complete Illustrated Guide to Tarot (published by Element, a HarperCollins imprint),
Tarot authority Rachel Pollack describes the first seven cards of the Major Arcana as representing higher consciousness, the next seven the unconscious and the final seven the conscious.

(This is a very abbreviated gloss of Ms. Pollack's much more profound elaboration in her chapter on Symbols and Structures that Tarot readers access.)

Ms. Pollack notes the typically open stance of the Magician depicts
"the body as a channel for power. Artists and writers -- like ritual magicians -- know that the ego,
the conscious self, does not really create anything. Instead, all our training and preparation serves to allow us to get out of the way. Something moves through us. Something that wants to be created. This is what it means to experience."

In her Salvador Dali's Tarot, (published by the Rainbow Publishing Group Limited) Ms. Pollack reaffirms that El Mago "represents the creative principle, the spark of light that begins existence."
But she notes in this card, one of two self-portraits in Tarot Universal Dali, the Magician Dali's "crossed arms, a sign that the artist retains his inner mysteries."

And she proffers a warning regarding another variance in Tarot Universal Dali from the more contemporary benchmarks, the Rider-Waite Tarot or Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot (shown, respectively, above).

The flames, she writes,
"remind us that the creative, or 'masculine' principle ... perceived as a flame ... can either destroy or transform."

"On the table," Ms. Pollack continues, "... bread and wine, Christian symbols of transformation ... and Dali's famous melted watch, symbol of eternity."

This last bit first struck me as an odd take.
Dali named the work,
The Persistence of Memory.

Then Realization:
Memory is as eternal as it is persistent.

Only cultural habits cast eternity as exclusively an Unknowable Future.
Eternity is now.
Our lives are played out in its midst.

This re-casting seems an important lesson from El Mago. A lesson I suspect passed along to La Sacerdotisa
via the scroll she holds so similar to that upon Magician Dali's table.

High Priestess, La Sacerdotisa, balances, conducts, guides the wild and untempered creative force; she is the channeler of unleashed flames.

The Magician is Fire.The High Priestess is Water. And they are connected by words. Words. Merely mnemonics once you get down to it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Leaving The Fool

Still I tarry at El Loco.

It is a Don Quixote hang-up.

Not withstanding Raphael or Rider-Waite
-- the "read" of this petitioner of the 0 - El Loco first card of the Tarot Universal Dali is "Don Quixote," an uncontested fool who lived a life fighting windmills. An old Don Quijote.

In old age Don Quixote knew himself for a fool, the butt of his neighbors' cruel jokes, living through the knowledge that his life had been spent in gallantry concocted from vanity and fantasy.

Here sits Don Quixote in Marbella, Spain -- Dali named his statue, Don Quijote sentado. It is the old man, not the self-deluded knight, Tarot Universal Dali depicts.

In Marbella, Spain the knight errant is El Loco.

Dali's countryman, Pablo Picasso, also fell prey to the "Eternal obsession of Don Quijote" http://deedee-salvadordali.blogspot.com/2010/07/eternal-obsession-of-don-quijote.html, depicting the knight still a-mount Rocinante. Yet even upon this day amongst his questing, Picasso lets a tiny drop of the knight-errant's head suggest, just perhaps, he knew he was about a fool's errant.

If I were to accept this card I would want it to lead me toward then push me fully into what is next, forcing a full encounter, full force, without time for preconceptions, forcing me to become both a fool and crazy. I want to see that old man as a warning against the sin of windmill fighting, wasting life.

I am ready now to leave this card -- move on to I - The Magician. I wish to leave with another sketch of Don Quixote/Quijote, this one by Dali.

As with his Tarot cards, this sketch is something of a parody and a homage of his compatriot Picasso's Quixote sketch. Also, it seems aligned with the Rider-Waite Tarot standard-bearer's depiction of the Fool; certainly more so than the Raphael image. Even Rocinante's over-the-shoulder questioning is suggested.

El Loco is exhilarated, energized and young in this sketch, Rocinante awaits only the word from his knight and they will leap into a world anew.

This is a good image to carry into the next card, I - The Magician, which Dali adorns with a self-portrait.

And if, perhaps, as Tarot Universal Dali's 0 - El Loco suggests, some of us facing yet another blind and naked leap into the unknowable future are not exhilarated, energized or young, then, how foolish could it be to plead before the Madonna seeking guidance and protection?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Eternal Obsession of Don Quijote

Since the last blog, which is to become the first of this newly directed exploration, this painting by Darwin Leon -- which came to me through cyberspace while researching O-El Loco -- The Fool from Tarot Universal Dali -- has demanded my attention.

So here it is.

Here it is better http://fineartamerica.com/featured/the-eternal-obsession-of-don-quijote-darwin-leon.html -- no endorsement intended.

What is our eternal obsession with lost causes? Is this Dali's message with his fool?

As we age, Tarot Universal Dali suggests we are still offered opportunities to be filled with pure hope. It is even possible that we gain from the fall. Certainly we gain insight more quickly from failures than through day-by-day evolution.

How to navigate through a world of temptation and fear and still hold onto hope? And how to regain ourselves to once again brave the knowledge we can fail with the conviction that we will survive the fall.

Let go, cries El Loco, Let go.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Fool - El Loco

The Fool is the only unnumbered card of the 22 cards comprising the Major Arcana of the standard 78-card Tarot deck.

Many contemporary Readers and Seekers use The Fool as a tool to explore the other 21 Major Arcana cards which, absence this odd man, can be arranged in three rows of seven,
a rather perfect blend of numbers, actually.

To begin: The Fool of the contemporary Tarot standard bearer:

Rider-Waite Tarot: The Fool

The traditional read is of naiveté, innocence, youth stepping blithely, blindly into life. Innocence perched upon the edge of the unknowable. The little dancing dog nips at the Fool's heels, chasing him on, perhaps, but even so, The Fool embodies freewill, youth with the sun at his back. Untested faith. "The Fool leads us to take risks," writes Rachel Pollack in "Complete Illustrated Guide to Tarot." "He calls to the child inside us, the part of us that wants to follow our instincts..."

Or it could be said, given the suspected cliff, He's cruisin' for a bruisin'.

Dali appears to capture his Fool at a different stage of the game.

Tarot Universal Dali: The Fool - El Loco

This man does not look unaware, nor does his steed, nor does his hovering androgynous ectoplasm complete with genitalia and iconic crutch. They all look like they've been around the block before.

Indeed, and not unexpected, from the start Tarot Universal Dali frees each card from tradition by the prism of Surrealism. Dali's crutches prop open the blinding layers of our sight, offer us glances into other worlds and realities. It is the Zero card. The Nothing Card. The No-thing. Already the crutch appears.

Each card also honors tradition by paying homage through style and form and texture to the symbols that have evolved through the centuries of Tarot. The expression on El Loco seems nearly to mimic Rider Waite and the crutch balances somehow parallel to The Fool's stick.

And still, again, Dali digs yet deeper, infusing the archetypal messages from Tarot with snippets via something akin to postcards from the epic human battles and grandest god-myths. He plucks these snapshots to drop into Tarot Universal Dali from the greatest of the known artistic masterpieces.

He plucked El Loco from Raphael.

The Sistine Madonna by Raphael.

Raphael painted this man as St.Sixtus -- a Roman-ized Greek name meaning 'polished' -- worshiping at the feet of the Madonna. Madonna will always be in Salvador Dali's world, Gala.

-- more than muse or wife or model or inspiration -- Gala connected Dali's genius to the World.

Salvador Dali created Tarot Universal Dali for Gala.

The Fool transforms, draped in butterflies which transfigures El Loco into Don Quixote upon Rocinante. Don Quixote, who after all his adventures, died of a return to sanity forced by cruel practical jokers. It was a return he never wished.

Dali claimed Gala kept him from madness and early death.

The Fool still represents risk taking in Tarot Universal Dali, but Tarot Universal Dali does not predicate ingenuousness with innocence. The lack of knowledge, the innocence of youth, these are not the only conditions bestowing the blindness needed to risk.

Still the sun shines upon El Loco -- although perhaps from his Madonna and no longer at his back as with the traditional Fool.

Nor do symbolic dogs nip at heels his heels. Those nibbling impulses, more pronounced in other decks with cats and dogs biting The Fool's leg, are trivial to Dali who instead splashed a bloody crutch wielding ectoplasm down the card, revealing explicit impulses. Impulses which do not avert El Loco's gaze to his Madonna.

And though El Loco does not carry a youth's face, which arouses a suspicion of guile in place of innocence, Tarot Universal Dali portrays his face as serene, as trusting of life as are the traditional youths. There is a richness in this: Serenity despite the fear pulsating through his mount, the blinding impact of the sun, the full bodied awareness of carnal impulse and all of the psychology imbued.

Knowledge intact does not prevent us from being The Fool. Risk is life long.

Note: Raphael, with Michelangelo and De Vinci, is of the Trinity of the High Renaissance period of 1450 to 1527. Raphael died young, at 37. According to Giogio Vasari, father of art-historical writing and a contemporary, Raphael died from a too energetic night of sex which was subsequently misdiagnosed and thus mistreated. The result was death within a couple weeks.