Sometimes when you read the cards, you can experience all sorts of things popping into your head that may not necessarily have to do with either what you’re asking or thinking about.
As soon as you lay the cards down you can actually begin to ‘hear’ all sorts.
His art participated in the celebration of my 50th birthday, when I decided to offer myself a gift of beauty that I created myself. Yamamoto popped in my dream prior to the day and gave me instructions. When I woke up I was shooting pictures already, following part of a process that he’s famous for.
While fiddling with the cards, thinking of the power that artists of caliber have to open the gates of the sublime for us, I was wondering what Yamamoto’s secret is. It doesn’t matter what I look at, when I look at his photographs, the way in which I respond is always the same: I stop in my tracks, I forget to breathe, and for a moment I realize that whatever sense of self I have is vanished in this moment of contemplation.
If I asked Yamamoto sensei, he’d say that his secret has to do with the power of his art to grab your ‘kokoro’, which is the Japanese equivalent of your mind, soul, heart, emotional core and passion, all at once. A difficult term to translate, but as far as I’m concerned, I keep it simple: If I can hold my breath and forget all about my existence in that moment, then I’m right there with my ‘kokoro’ not only grabbed but also conquered.
I asked the cards about it, though, as I like a level of concreteness that’s more tangible than my appreciation of my own emptiness.
As it happens, however, as soon as I laid down the cards to ask, ‘what is Yamamoto’s secret?’, I heard a line in my head upon seeing the cards of the Charioteer, Death, and Justice that is not immediately tangible.
‘I kindly stopped for death and found truth.’
Whoa, I found myself exclaiming, while instantly thinking of Emily Dickinson’s famous poem about Death’s carriage, instantly realizing too that my head got it all wrong.
And yet. My question was not about Dickinson and her art, but about Yamamoto and his art.
His secret is this: ‘I kindly stopped for death and found truth.’
Dickinson’s line is different: ‘Because I could not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me,’ she said, in a voice of acceptance and gratitude.
I’m not sure I understand what the line in my own head means, as I may have to reflect on it further, but one thing is certain: grabbing people’s hearts requires being able to stop yourself. To death. Hence the kindness, as you still have to keep living and pass the beauty that you see in this stopping on to others. If we can’t make this world of cultural symbols and human suffering more beautiful, then what?
We’re always running towards goals, following our aspiration and motivations. There’s never any time for anything, which is often the chief reason for why we feel so miserable. We hardly ever stop to look at the moon, unless someone instructs us that it’s a good idea. We need to take a course in awareness and plant magic, in order to realize what the benefit of looking at nature or a flower is.
The greatest function of art is to make us stop in our tracks and put us in a state of being at a loss for words. And breath. At least that’s what my definition of art is. If art does that for me, make me stop in my tracks, and in the holding of my breath forget about my cultural self and existence, then I know that I can experience beauty in the world.
Indeed, to be able to kindly stop for death and find the truth there is no small thing, as it requires both courage and a sense of singularity, the kind that has the power to grab your ‘kokoro’ so you can exclaim to yourself: ‘Here’s the whole universe in a single image, or a flower, or a color, or a line. I like it’.
There’s power in this grabbing of the heart, which often leads to better readings of the cards. I hope you experience it too.
Stay in the loop for cartomantic activities. An exciting online fortunetelling fair organized by Aradia Academy featuring 15 fortunetellers will take place on November 24.