Divination By Punctuation
Author: Craig Conley
Prof. Oldfellow’s Forgotten Wisdom
“In all beginnings dwells a magic force.”
“Divination By Punctuation” is a project that I have followed since its inception. Craig very graciously agreed to do an interview with me about this particular project to give us some insight into the process – https://bonniecehovet.wordpress.com/2010/06/26/interview-with-craig-conley/. We are very blessed that this work is now available in print form (I dearly love holding a book in my hand, while at the same time wanting to make a living through e-books!). I am deeply honored – and extremely humbled – that I am one of three individuals (along with Tamara Yelin and Gary Barwin) that Craig dedicated this book to. This is probably because I used my Cappie perseverance to nag him to put this work out for public consumption!
A bit about Craig’s background – he is uber intelligent – that is all you need to know! Okay – he is also some other things, like author/artist for the “Punctuated Tarot” and “Trump L’Oeil – Tarot of Portmeirion” (http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/cards/portmeirion/review.shtml ), author of “Magic Words – A Dictionary” (http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/books/magic-words-dictionary/), and “One Letter Words – A Dictionary”. A former college teacher, he is a lexicographer, visionary thinker, and true “Renaissance man”.
From the book:
“In ‘The Secret Teachings of All Ages’ (1928), Manly P. Hall suggests that Tarot cards must be considered in three ways:’ (1) as separate and complete hieroglyphs ,each representing a distinct principle, law, power, or element in Nature; (2) in relation to each other as the effect of one agent operating upon another; and (3) as vowels and consonants of a philosophic alphabet.’
Conley sees Hall as proposing that Tarot cards form “distinct units of meaning”. He quotes Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone as concurring: “The practical language of Tarot is a language of question and answer. In that language, card meanings could be compared to the words, and spreads to the grammar” (Tarot Tips, 2003).
The point is made that while it is easy to translate (interpret) a Tarot card in isolation, it is more of a challenge to understand the “deep structure” of a Tarot spread that includes several cards. Conley posits that a secondary system of icons can provide visual clues as to how individual cards relate. He goes on to say that just a traditional Tarot imagery distills the archetypes that make up our life, the standard marks and signs of punctuation clarify meaning as our story folds (and that is what the Tarot is – our story, told in our own unique way). In essence, punctuation offers cues on how to understand our life experiences. I liked the quote by poet/veteran punctuation artist Gary Barwin, who considers punctuation marks to be “the secret operatives of language”. How much better does it get! It does get better – Barwin goes on to say, in relating punctuation marks to the Tarot “We have a deep connection to these little dark marks. Each of them is like a tiny Tarot card, the reading of which depends on the reader. There are many ways to read their miniscule portraits.”
This is much more a workbook than simply a book to be read and digested. After introducing the concept of punctuation and Tarot, we jump right into working with the upright and reversed meanings of the punctuation marks. The way this is done is to draw two Tarot cards, then draw a punctuation card, and place it between them. In this way a sentence is formed.
For example, if we place an Em Dash between the two cards, then the substance of card number one has been interrupted by the substance of card number two. If the punctuation card drawn was an Ellipsis (I love these little guys!), then card number one is going to hit the skids and leave card number two in its wake. With a Guillemet (fast forward symbol) we see card number one speedily advancing towards card number two.
Each punctuation mark is described in both its upright and reversed meanings. Punctuation marks covered include comma, single quotation mark, consecutive dots, ellipsis, bullet, interpunct, semicolon, punctus elevatus, high dot, period, degree, full stop, left square bracket, right square bracket, left parenthesis, right parenthesis, colon, colon separator, ditto mark, double quotation mark, em dash, underscore, asterisk, hodge star, exclamation point, inverted exclamation point, left guillemet, right guillemet, hyphen (prefix), hyphen (suffix), question mark, inverted question mark, forward slash, backslash, caret, caron, sarcasm mark, conditional probability, sharp, hash, falsum, tee, therefore, because, tie, undertie, accolade, right brace, space and move-up bracket.
In looking at punctuation within larger spreads, Conley uses as an example a four card spread that I drew, using the “Shadowscapes Tarot” (Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore). It was read as a linear spread, with the position definitions (1) body, (2) heart, (3) mind and (4) spirit. The punctuation marks drawn were the Asterisk, Colon and Inverted Exclamation Point. This reading can be seen in the guest blog that Craig wrote here – https://bonniecehovet.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/guest-blog-by-craig-conley/. There is another great sample reading in this chapter using a four card reading done for Tarot reader Tamara Yelsin upon receiving the news of Michael Jackson’s death.
In his chapter on the Major Arcana and punction associations, Conley presents each card with its associated punctuation mar, along with a short quote. From the book:
The square brackets, [ ], form a nest for missing or added material.
“The Saints’ days marked between brackets [ ], are not appointed by the church.” – Charles Walker, A Prayer Book For The Young.”
The Major Arcana punctuation associations are:
The Fool – Pilcrow
The Magician – Trademark symbol
The High Priestess – Question Mark
The Empress – Prime Symbol of Mathematics
The Emperor – Ampersand
The Hierophant – Therefore Sign
The Lovers – Section Sign
The Chariot – Space Symbol
Strength – The Brace
The Hermit – Square Brackets
The Wheel of Fortune – Reference Mark
Justice – Percent Sign
The Hanged Man – Semicolon
Death – Ellipsis
Temperance – Tilde
The Devil – Numero Sign
The Tower – Exclamation Point
The Star – Asterisk
The Moon – Degree Symbol
The Sun – The Bullet
Judgement – Interrobang
The World – Copyright SymbolConley revisits my four card spread, replacing the cards from the “Shadowscapes Tarot” with cards from the “Punctuation Tarot”. He also visits a three-card spread done for Tarot reader Catherine Chapman just after a lunar eclipse.
At the end of the book Conley presents six other unique techniques of divination by punctuation: (1) Decipher Your Dog’s Character by the Punctuation Spots, (2) A Tilde in a Teacup: Punctuate Tealeaf Reading, (3) Automatic Punctuating, (4) Punctuation in Palmistry, (5) Punctuated Cloud Divination and (6) Visionary Punctuation: Mystical Insights.
To see the concept of divination by punctuation at work, check out Craig’s awesome guest post – https://bonniecehovet.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/guest-blog-by-craig-conley/. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to get a fresh take on the Tarot – especially those who see the Tarot as a living story, and want to be able to write it in their own unique fashion.
© October 2010 Bonnie Cehovet