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What art collectors say beyond the grave

What art collectors say beyond the grave September 8, 2021

Frank and Frigg (Photo: Camelia Elias)

Yesterday I commemorated the death of a mentor and best friend. Historian and card collector K. Frank Jensen left this world five years ago, joining the army of spirits that he surrounded himself with at this own home. As he collected all sorts of antiques, not just cards, from African masks to Tibetan curiosities, the walls of his house were filled with dead power. We used to laugh at how macabre his house was, yet at the same time exuding an erotic power and sweetness that is hard to describe.

Camelia Elias at Frank’s house in Roskilde, Denmark

As I’m sitting with preparing for my upcoming course in Cartomancy and Necromancy, calling on Frank’s spirit on the day of his death was quite befitting. I didn’t call on him as an ancestor, because if we’re to listen to the big books of magic, I’d have to wait more years, as Frank would not be able to perform the role of the ancestor. But as a dead friend, it’s as if, ‘I’m allowed.’ Who gives us these instructions and permissions, I’ve no idea. We can’t trace the sources for the instruction that the dead has to be dead for 40 years before becoming an ancestor, or that the dead can, in principle, perform the same office if considered a friend instead, or a family member.

But never mind that. I don’t concern myself sources, as they are all unreliable. No one can have a perfectly natural explanation of personal gnosis. What a laughable thing that would be. We may take the old books and grimoires at face value, but where the value to their purported truth is concerned, it’s best to relegate that to a mean deconstructing Zen master. Such a master would put your mind to rest, telling you that it’s all vocabulary. Vocabulary and an enlarged field of vision that’s already conditioned to and by images.

In necromantic sessions I follow my own common sense practice to which I add a good dose of philosophy, the philosophy of expectation. When I call on the dead I’m not surprised at what emerges, as my mind is already framed by what I expect to see. Nothing more, nothing less. This applies to conducting a necromantic session according to some black book of magic too, such as the Grimorium Verum. If I call on a gatekeeper first, I expect to see an image of what others before me decided is the image of the gatekeeper. I say hello to Scirlin, for instance, in this image that’s now part of my cultural and imagological competence, and then get down to business.

Usually there are many questions I like to pose to the dead, but one of the questions in particular that I pose is actually a question that leaves my desire to know things up to the dead to deliver. After a series of reading the cards in line in sets of three, I finally gave Frank the word. ‘Say whatever you want to say to me. It can be related to anything,’ I furthermore said, implicitly pledging to take to my heart whatever the cards had to offer. Three cards fell on the table from the ugly, yet extremely precious Carolus Zoya Marseille Tarot, a gift from Frank.

Carolus Zoya Marseille Tarot, ca. 1680 (Photo: Camelia Elias)

10 Batons, 7 Batons, and the Knight of Swords.

Firstly I thought that what Frank was telling me was that my effort to cut down on my working load was not good enough. Going from 10 Batons to 7 is not good enough, when your status is actually that of a retired person. You have to be more aggressive. On the other hand, at the descriptive level, one can also take this string of cards to suggest the following: you can be a better warrior if you go against 7 batons rather than 10.

I liked, however, what I came up with on first, as this message spoke more to my needs. I often lament that I don’t do anything for fun anymore, because I don’t have the time for it. My own household accuses me of working too much. I reflected on this, as I wanted to know why the swap. When I left my professorship at Roskilde University, the idea was to slow down, not intensify the workload. But then I realized why I had started working already on every vacation, and when I stopped working for the government, why I went working for twice the load. Due to health conditions and attachment to a dog meant staying at home all the time. What can you do at home? Read, write, teach online classes, perform a slew of cartomantic readings, commune with your own dead and those of others, and make talismanic art. All of these functions were performed with view to serving another. How did I serve myself in the process? I wasn’t so sure about it. I started dreaming of getting a new sports car, but then I thought: to do what with? Would I even get it out of the garage? How would driving aimlessly in a fancy coupé solve the problem with regular aging, lost passions, attachments, and other health bothers? I don’t have an answer to my assumption that if I got aggressive about cutting my current workload, I would be able to fill my time with fun. But what is fun?

Today I decided that what is fun is to run a course in Cartomancy and Necromancy. Given the material that I’m producing for it, it’s likely that I may end up calling what I do fun, rather than work, though the diligence that I bring to this fun is very much the same kind that I invest in work. It goes to show. It’s all vocabulary. Meanwhile, if you’re curious about how to work with the dead, you’re welcome to hop on board. The course starts this Sunday. The registration stays open until Saturday.

About Camelia Elias
Camelia Elias walks the path of Zen: cards in one hand, a sword in the other. You can read more about the author here.

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