Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tarot and Dragons: The Dragons Tarot by Toraldo and Baraldi (1 of 3)

Dragons Tarot” Manfredi Toraldo and Severino Baraldi, Lo Scarabeo: Torino (IT), 2006.

Choosing a card from “Dragons Tarot” was difficult for me, since I found the themes of this deck to be quite unsettling.  Since the authors’ view on dragons differs greatly from mine, I had difficulty responding to the themes of the deck.  Toraldo and Baraldi explain that the role of dragons is to represent “nature’s pure primordial energy, the wild part, instinct, chaos.”  Referring to the dragon as “it”, Toraldo continues with, “It represents the conflict between male and female principles.”  My point of view about dragons is that they are sentient beings who command respect, and have lives outside of people. 

Moreover in “Dragons Tarot”, Toraldo and Baraldi focus not on the dragons but on the human reactions to them.  Therefore this deck is human-centric rather than dragon-centric.  What made choosing cards also hard was that many showed humans killing dragons, about to kill dragons, dragons killing dragons, or dragons killing humans. 

Finally, I decided to focus on Justice (XI) of the Major Arcana.  This card shows a scene from the Anglo-Saxon poem of “Beowulf”-- the dragon fighting the hero Beowulf.  This angry dragon had raged about the countryside seeking justice for the theft of his treasures.  The humans of Beowulf’s kingdom had broken their pact with the dragon, and stole from his treasure hoard.  To protect the town and his kingdom, Beowulf has to fight the dragon.  Although both die, justice is obtained by the dragon for the crimes of the guilty humans, and by Beowulf for the crimes against innocent humans.  I see in this card humans and dragons presented as equals in their own spheres.  They then meet on a “level playing field” to address their grievances.  Both speak and are heard by the other, which for me is justice in action. 

A subtext to this card is the maintenance of the delicate balance between order and chaos.  One cannot exist without the other, and both are needed for the world to go on.  The two spheres are held in stable tension, for although Beowulf (order) is killed, we also know that the dragon (chaos) will also be killed.  Since equilibrium is maintained through the constant adjustments between order and chaos, the twin destinies of Beowulf and the dragon to fight each other.  Justice (XI) captures that eternal moment when order and chaos are in balance. (Toraldo states that additional meanings to this card are “Equilibrium, Adjustment, and Destiny”.)

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