The Eight of Wands. El Ocho de Bastos. What a bloody card in the Dali deck.
Again Rachel Pollack ‘s “Salvador Dali’s Tarot” identifies the painting of a struggle within a cavernous background, made all the more ominous by Dali framing the details inside a succulent red womb. The surrounding gore is additionally off putting.
How to reconcile this with the harmonious, well balanced eights, particularly the Eight of Batons? Yes the Dali card shows balance in and off itself – and certainly energy, the new overtaking the old – so overtly showing rebirth – but the image is so full of batons’ work, work, work.
And out of it, in the Dali card, the clash is the triumph and the lack of mercy is elegant.
His detail of the saluting men comes from the Oath of Horatti by Jacques-Louis David http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/neocl_dav_oath.html which was painted before the French Revolution in 1784.
The Oath was David’s depiction of a story told in Lvius’ history of Rome. Patriotic, pre-revolutionary France saw the three brothers pledging defense of Rome as heroic. The weeping women were sidelined in the painting and ignored by Dali. (“The Oath of Horatti,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia)
This is not a card of going gently into any good night. This card is about the triumph of action and assault. Unexpected in a card traditionally reflecting balance and renewal.
Although the blood could be taken as birthing Dali is not content with merely framing the action. He fills the left side of the card with a blood saturated mosquito, that harbinger of death. Paint is smudged and drooled down the right side. This is not a gentle rebirth – it may be balanced but the medium is violent.
But what of the book speared by two of the batons and suspended above the action? That, too, is a new twist to the traditional card. Perhaps it tempers the intemperate action that the Eight of Batons can also depict. The wands, batons, scepters, regardless they are wooden and carry the element of fire within; purifying and sudden.
Indeed, sudden actions, thoughtless activity, jealousy and dissonance is captured in the Eight of Wands as well as the bloom of newness. It must always be considered that every action, every thought, every card, every heart holds its own opposite.
Comment: So. Well begun January: Let us hope this promise of violent rebirth shakes us from the thoughtless activities that would allow the Cabellero de Oros to not see the abandoned and now exploded wealth left behind. Let us accept the challenge that the trail itself, as promised last week and this week confirmed, will be harsh and sudden.
But the book. What shall I make of the book, the writings, the record?
It is this that we write here today.