The Cartomancer: Transmission

The Cartomancer: Transmission January 27, 2016

Image source: Creative Commons
Image source: By Wingchi Poon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] via wiki commons
When my father died I was 8. He died at my mother’s family farm in the country in communist Romania. It was autumn. We were there for a whole week to harvest the last grapes and to make wine. The women would work the juice and the men would drink it. After each harvest day the men would gather around a long table, sing sentimental songs, and drink themselves senseless, drowning themselves in the vintage wine brought up from the cellar. The new wine had to be celebrated with the old wine.

When the weekend was over we prepared to go home. My father was fussing, faking intoxication. He didn’t want to leave the place. He invented a story that he could be free from work on the following Monday. My mother didn’t buy this. She reminded my father that he was a mathematician working for the army, and he should thus be doubly into precision and discipline. She reminded him that when this happened before, she had to fix it for him by patching it up with the general’s wife, her friend, whose husband, the general himself, would then issue some formal excuse for my father’s absence. The arguing went on for a while, all the way to the bus stop. Or nearly all the way to the bus stop, for, by the time we boarded the bus, my father was no longer with us. He had made his choice to stay, and drink some more.

I will never forget the tension in that episode, and my mother’s struggle to transmit clearly to my father the necessity to make a distinction between the two narratives: work was work, and fun was fun. This was, after all, communist Romania, and people didn’t grow up with the odd notion that you absolutely have to love what you do. Nobody I grew up with loved what they did, and everybody was mighty good at keeping these narratives apart: work was work, and fun was fun. This is in fact one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned growing up.

But so it was that father wouldn’t listen. He turned his back to us, and said: ‘I’m staying.’ Mother’s frustration and rage rose up in her and she ended up delivering a sentence: ‘Very well, then. Stay. May you not come home till I’ll bring you home in a coffin.’ This came to pass. She brought him home in a coffin three days later.

I would like to say that father died a natural death, like a nice heart attack that gets you out of here in a clean and rapid way. But he died a most excruciating death, choking on his own vomit, after he had crossed all the limits to what a man can possibly muster. Without mother’s judgmental eye around, he thought he would indulge freely, all the way. To his death, actually, as it turned out.

My parents, Ana and Georg
My parents, Ana and Georg

The Gift of Prophesy

My mother had a way of saying things that would come to pass, that is, in that form that most would identify with a curse. Politely we call it a prophesy. But all things being equal, she could also heal when called to. Generally, she was a master at keeping the narratives apart, and she never thought it for a minute that being a Marxist logician should interfere with her ways of receiving and transmitting power.

Sometime after father’s death, I would catch her addressing him in a cup of coffee, saying: ‘I’m so angry with you. Dying like that. I’m so angry with myself. You make me want to pee on your grave to release this anger.’ I never learned whether she actually did this before her own death, though I’m inclined to believe that she did. She was a woman of her word and of action.

As mother never remarried, I grew up sensitized to the idea of what, how, when, and why we transmit clearly. In my book of poems, The Logician, dedicated to my mother, I wrote about a concrete episode in which she was making a selection between the numerous suitors she had. Men of all walks of life wanted to marry her, for they considered her a ravishing beauty. She dismissed this, and she dismissed the men invoking beauty as a good reason to get married. She wanted good arguments, or at least some interesting fallacies, not sentimental idiocy.

I consider watching my mother during this period in my life as the strongest lesson in transmitting valor, especially in terms of realizing the difference between transmitting clearly and then demonstrating what this clarity in transmission really consists of. When clarity is not just an intangible economy, but rather demonstrated, it is the epitome of what good transmission is all about.


Last week I wrote a post on what I make myself available to. It sparked numerous reactions expressed in the three letter exclamation: ‘Wow’, followed occasionally, but quite consistently, by this phrase: ‘This post made my hair rise.’ I put these reactions on account of my choice of words and experiences, ranging from communing with the natural forces to visiting Lilith and her hordes of demons in the underworld. One of the comments that accompanied the many shares of this post on social media came from friend and fellow sorcerer, Fabeku Fatunmise, who was enticing people to read this, saying: ‘Want to see what a transmission looks like? Check out this unapologetic blast of BOOM!’

This made me think of my entire history of growing up, when I would struggle, perhaps like my mother did, to transmit clearly. I didn’t always succeed, partly also because I would be more concerned with how my transmissions would be received, rather than with demonstrating clearly why my convictions would be embodied by this or that form, or why they would take the form of this or that manifestation.

In my work at the university I teach clarity, but I find that the clarity we push for the institutionalized way is not tangible. It’s abstract. Clarity as an abstract sounds good. Stylistically you can achieve many things with it, but what I appreciate the most is the type of clarity that is tangible. When my mother got clear in her intentions, she could conjure the death of another. In this visceral approach I find a lot of power that is useful to the way in which we get to interact with one another. In this demonstrated clarity we transmit to one another our sense of mortality. We say to one another: ‘Don’t waste my time.’ ‘Don’t waste my time’ should be the proper greeting among spiritual folk.

In my search for this power, I have found that working with cards, asking them a question, leads to the embodiment of what we make of time and the ways we transmit our messages clearly.

How is your transmission?

Ask your cards the following questions, and pay attention to what reflections come up in you. Can you feel your transmitting power? Are you in it? Or is your transmission the repetition of dictated conditions?

So ask yourself:

  • How is my capacity to transmit?
  • What form does my transmission take?
  • What do I get out of perfecting the art of insinuation?
  • What do I get out of my perfecting the art of clear transmission?
  • How do I condition myself to powerful transmission?

Here is an example of an answer that my own cards gave me when I asked this question:

How can I make my transmission touch ground, in the sense of making myself available to it, available to being IN it?

The cards were generous to me, and offered a beautiful vista:

Marseille Tarot as reconstructed by Wilfried Houdoin, Millenium Edition (Photo: Camelia Elias)
Marseille Tarot as reconstructed by Wilfried Houdoin, Millenium Edition (Photo: Camelia Elias)

Justice, The Moon, The World

First you discern and make fair distinctions. You then feel the truth that discernment and distinction offer. Finally, you’re in it by default.

The fact that the cards showed me what it takes to be IN it, namely orchestrating all the natural forces, covering my base as suggested by the World card, is a mighty confirmation of what most of us doing this kind of introspective work realize: The very condition for meaningful transmission in the world is feeling your own truth. Not just figuring it out, or owning it, but feeling it.

Usually we say that it’s a good idea to integrate our unconscious desires, shadow, or the dark night of our soul into our conscious walking on the earth, our consciously made mundane decisions to live, to serve, and to be useful. But the progression in this sequence of cards from the truth of justice to the magic of the fascinating moon suggests a different approach.

Perhaps, indeed, after we’re done with deliberating what we need, what is even more important is to let it all sink in, relax, and allow for the senses that are not informed by our rational mind to take over our cognitive capacity to decode patterns and their emergence. Consciously making a move towards magic, or even madness, brings us closer to transmitting the fullness of our being.

The truth (Justice) of your unconscious desires and fears (The Moon) equals the World.

I’ll take this formula for good transmission.

What is your formula? What does it look like? Are you happy with it?


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