March 19, 2024

Whether or not you believe the tarot to be a divinatory tool, it’s difficult to not see it as a series of seventy-eight highly rich and illustrative images that represent some aspect of human existence. This is what has made it an enduring game for some and sacred talisman for others. And though many artists and magicians have taken a stab at recreating and re-rendering its images since its original 15th century conception, the basic structure has undergone little revision.

The most famous of contemporary decks is inarguably the Smith-Waite deck, produced in the early part of the 20th century and reflective of the pseudo-Christian and hermetic values of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, of which both Pamela Coleman Smith and A.E. Waite were both members. When most of us recall images of the tarot, it is this deck with its usage of bright primary colors and intuitively-grasped symbolism that we imagine.

For each card, especially the twenty-two major arcana, there is imbedded within its imagery a meaning as well as the inverse of that meaning. For this reason, the tarot can feel to some to be a trickster, obfuscating the obvious. To really get to know the tarot, one must dive below the surface- level meanings and penetrate the depths of our own lived experiences, our own tragedies and euphoric exaltations. We must be as deep-sea divers examining the wreckage and forgotten totems of our past. What is a sea’s surface anyway but an illusion, seemingly solid in its stillness, but containing within its depths the monstrous and mysterious, as well as the threat of danger and death.

For this year’s themes, we have chosen four major arcana cards that we feel represent each of the four seasons, as well as the tempestuous waters of lived experience as we encounter these archetypes in our lives. This issue gives us The Lovers. In the Smith-Waite deck we see two beings in Edenic paradise, fully naked and in celebration of each other and themselves before the archangel Raphael who is crowned in glory by the sun above. Yet, in this card we also see the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, guarded by a serpent. We know this state of unity to be one of temporality, soon to be disrupted by disharmony, strife, and chaos which also breathes life into the cosmos. But such chaos is also necessary for within it lies the seeds of what it means for us to be human. We strive against Edenic stagnation because we see within us greater potentiality.

We also see this striving in the encounters we have with each other, despite the nature of our relationships. And it is through the clash of individual wills, the give and take of self-assertion and sometimes surrender, that the spark of erotic energy is ignited. To be in love with someone or something is to understand your separateness from it and to yearn to be united with it.

Each of the pieces selected for this issue embodies this tension. We feel it in Red Passion’s poem, “Her Hand,” where the incorporeal surface separating spirit from flesh dissolves in an act of fisting. Mish Murphy’s series of flash fiction pieces show us the fragility and temporariness of all encounters. Every single one of these pieces in this issue shows us a different shaft on light elicited from the multi-faceted, prismatic archetype of the lovers.

As always, we really hope you find the work contained herein to be as entertaining and provocative as we did.

You can also find a playlist inspired by the work of our contributors here.
Visual Art
Alex Gruff
Keira Norton
The Lovers
Irina Tall Novikova
Mouli Sharma
To Be Here
Salem B. Holden
Female Faggots
Ellianna Nejat
Red Passion
Her Hand
January Santoso
Flash Fiction
Mish (Eileen) Murphy
Have a Safe Trip
It Was Not My Fault
Antoine Bargel
The Cherry
Maxine Firehammer
Fallen Kittie