Tuesday, April 17, 2012

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

Furthermore, I am sensitive to the violence that is depicted in some form on many of the cards.  For example, The Lovers (VI) of the Major Arcana depicts the Norse legend of Sigurd and the Dragon Fafnir of the Volsunga Saga.  Sigurd is bathing in the dead dragon’s blood.  Meanwhile, the Eight of Chalices shows two dragons in deadly combat, and Seven of Chalices depicts an attempted rape.  I found the illustrations of this deck to be too extreme to gain much meaning in any of my readings.

Comparing this deck to “The Celtic Dragon Tarot” (Conway and Hunt) is a lesson in opposites.  Conway regards dragons to be co-magicians and wise teachers, not agents of chaos.  Toraldo’s views of the dragons representing the elements also differ from Conway’s.  She sees dragons connected to the elemental powers of earth, air, fire, and waters.  Therefore working with the dragons will help a person to tap into this spiritual energy.  Meanwhile Toraldo writes, “It represents a vision of the four elemental realities in a single animal.”  In his view, dragons are only “representations” and not actual conduits.  However, both authors agree that dragons need to be approached with respect.

Although “The Dragon Tarot” (Donaldson and Procownik) does share a similar title to “Dragons Tarot” (Baradi and Toraldo), their points of view about dragons differ greatly.  The Lovers (VI) of Toraldo’s deck represents “the pact with the dragon (which) is the primordial marriage with the forces of nature.”  While Donaldson does regard dragons to be a force of nature, to him they are much more.  The Lovers (VI) of the Major Arcana of “The Dragon Tarot” shows two dragons loving each other.  Donaldson writes, “Two Dragons…gaze at each other in a moment of Union.  Above them shines the Yin-Yang symbol indicating that all love is in a state of constant evolutions.”

Donaldson sees dragons as separate, full-blooded entities who may or may not guide humans.  The only way to find out who will is for the person to go on a magickal journey to Dragonland.  Along the way, they will meet the dragons who are disposed to teaching humans.

Meanwhile the dragons of “Dragons Tarot” are the archetypes of chaos, with many warring with humans.  However, there are those who will meet humans, half-way, as a form of compromise, but these dragons are still a contrast to the people they are with.  For example, the dragons of the Court Cards protect the humans in their care, but seem more subservient to the human. 

I see this deck used as a springboard for learning dragon stories from around the world.  Each culture has its own vision of dragons that is hinted at in “Dragons Tarot”.  Use the cards as prompts to find out more about cultural differences on dragon-human relations.  The stories can lead to a more in depth exploration of dragons.

Works Used:
Bartlett, Sarah, “The Tarot Bible”, Sterling: New York, 2006.

Breeden, David, “The Adventures of Beowulf: an Adaptation from the Old English”, Culture Café, 5 March 1999, http://www.lone-star.net/literature/beowulf/,

Colum, Padriac, “Nordic Gods and Heroes”, Dover: New York, 1996.

Conway, D.J. and Lisa Hunt, “The Celtic Dragon Tarot”, Llewellyn: St. Paul (MN), 2005.

Donaldson, Terry and Peter Pracownik, “The Dragon Tarot”, U.S. Games: Stamford (CT), 1996.

Fontana, David, “The Essential Guide to the Tarot”, Watkins Publishing: London, 2011.

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

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