Color Me “Plaid”

The more Tarot de Marseille books I read, the more weary I become of the ubiquitous (and usually anal) attempts to parse all of the bits of local color in an image into some kind of coherent meaning; when they don’t drive me crazy, these exhaustive permutations soon degenerate into a monochromatic blur in the mind’s eye. I’m reminded of the line from the Mel Brooks comedy film, Spaceballs: “Oh, No! They’ve gone to plaid!”

I have no problem when one color dominates. For example, the red of passions, appetites and actions on the physical plane; the blue of spiritual and, by extension, emotional supremacy; and the yellow of intelligence applied to mental pursuits. But when they are almost equally distributed and all vying for attention (you know what I mean: the red robe means this, the blue mantle means that, the yellow hat means something else, not to mention the white collar and gold belt) they tend to leave a neutral impression on the interpreter and lose all sense of direction and purpose.

I’m more inclined to look at polarities: how do the spiritual and the physical interact; what does the mental state have to say about the emotional well-being; where do the emotions and the passions converge or collide. This allows them to play off one another in meaningful ways within the context of a reading. Anything more iterative can become so much metaphysical “static” that confuses more than it clarifies.

With that in mind, I came up with a set of images to show these polarities in graphic contrast. In practice, I would back off, stop counting the colored bits and “de-focus” to get an impressionistic sense of chromatic dominance in the scene. Then I would apply the “action/emotion/logic” filter to the card’s base meaning to determine the level at which it might act within the context of the reading.

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