Monday, May 14, 2007

A Horse (or Two) of a Different Color

Tuesday, May 1 ~ Santa Fe, New Mexico

I open my email this morning to a message and image from British artist Courtney Davis. The image is The Chariot card from his sadly out-of-print Celtic Tarot deck. He has sent me a copy so that I can write a caption for an upcoming retrospective of his art.

The card, as I mention on the acknowledgments page of The MoonQuest played a significant role in the book's birth...

It's March 1994. I see The Celtic Tarot in Toronto's Omega Centre bookstore and it so seduces me that I can't not buy it. Days later, I use the deck in a writing class I'm teaching: With eyes closed, each student draws one of the major arcana cards and then, with eyes open to the chosen card, is led through a guided visualization into writing.

Generally when I teach, I don't write. I watch the students and hold space for them.

But this night's group is different. These five women are a subset of a larger University of Toronto class that I have just led through 10 weeks of creative awakening. They don't require my usual overseeing and so, once they're settled into writing, some inner imperative has me draw a card of my own: The Chariot.

That same imperative has me pick up a pen and push it across the blank page. What emerges is the tale of an odd-looking man in an even odder-looking coach that is pulled by two odd-colored horses.

Next morning, I'm drawn back to the story. I add to it. I keep adding to it daily, almost obsessively. And a year later in Amirault's Hill, Nova Scotia, on the anniversary of that Toronto class, I complete my first draft of The MoonQuest.

When I see The Chariot this morning in Santa Fe, for the first time in a decade, I'm startled. Even though the cover designer never saw the tarot card and knows nothing of The Celtic Tarot or how it inspired me, there's a definite connection between the two.

Today, many drafts and many years later, the manuscript is a book. And although the book's opening has changed and the odd-looking man has been superseded in importance by other characters, I realize that The Chariot's inspiration is still evident throughout The MoonQuest.

I no longer own a copy of The Celtic Tarot. I gifted mine to a friend in 1997. And so today, reinspired by its energy, I will scour the internet for a replacement. Maybe its magic is still potent enough to launch The MoonQuest's two projected sequels.

Art: The Chariot tarot card by Courtney Davis; The MoonQuest cover by Angela Farley.


Angel-Light said...

Wow! The two horses are definitely not a coincidence! As often as I've had similar experiences and read those of others, I never cease to be awed and/or smile at them. I appreciate your sharing your essence in this world Mark David. I often ask the Divine for blessings (of various types) upon you.

Angel-Light Love
Healing/Wellbeing Facilitator

Mark David Gerson said...

Thank you....for all. Yes, the synchonicities are all around us. And, yes, our awe keeps 'em comin'!

Blessings to you,
Mark David

Vanessa Smith, MA, CLC said...

What a great story! The two horses are even the same color and in the same position as in the card. I love the mysterious creativity of life. Magic and miracle for sure!

Mark David Gerson said...

Thanks for the comment, Vanessa, and for prompting me to share the story on your blog. I'm still awed by the similarities between card and cover!

Tarot By Arwen said...

Mark David, when I unpack all those boxes of tarot decks, I think I have a copy of this deck. If I do, I'll let you know. It is yours if I have it and you want it. :) Of course unpacking may take me a few weeks so do remind me!

Mark David Gerson said...

You're very sweet to make the offer, Arwen. I guess I should have posted a p.s. -- which is that I ultimately found a copy of the Celtic Tarot, still in its original wrapping, on Amazon. So my mystical horses and I have been reunited!

Stephen Tiano said...

Reminds me of my first cross-country trip. I travelled with my first deck of Tarot cards, a Swiss deck, I believe. But this was sort of a last resort, as I had frantically searched for another deck, a particular deck, in the weeks leading up to my trip.

Deep into the trip, we stopped in that hotbed of spirituality, Reno, NV. The world's biggest little town and all that. In a second-hand bookstore, I came upon the deck, the Crowley deck. But we were at the point where we were each watching every penny, desirous of returning home as we were.

The person behind the counter saw this and offered me the deck, throwing in a companion book, at a severe discount. To the point where I considered it at least partly a gift. WHich is, of course, the best way to get tarot cards.

Kimberlee said...

Beautiful story Mark!

I love the tarot, it is a never ending source of inspiration. Now I want to read your book even more. ;)

I've been meaning to write a tarot-inspired story, I should get on that.


Mark David Gerson said...

Stephen: Thanks for the story. I may have given that original Celtic Tarot deck away, but I did manage to find a replacement last year, even though it's officially out of print!

Kimberlee: That card was a pretty amazing -- and unexpected -- inspiration. I haven't used that exercise in a workshop in a long time. Now that I have the deck again, perhaps it's time to resurrect it!

Ellen Zucker said...

To me, the Tarot is a wonderful tool to access the intuition as are painting, writing, and any creative right-brained process that draws upon the imagination. And each complements and supports the others.

Your story is a beautiful illustration of these processes coming together to create something completely new.

Thank you for sharing.