My New Projects: Tarot and Translation

I am no longer gardening to the extent I was for decades. The main reason is that I just didn’t have the energy as I aged to keep up with a large garden. That’s why when I moved from NY to RI two years ago, renting a place that had only a few raised beds available for tenant gardening didn’t seem problematic. In fact, as it turned out, it was a relief. I just kept remembering digging mandrakes out of their heavy, wet soil in November and my knuckles hurting and hurting from the cold.

I’ve greatly decreased the amount of work I put into gardening. The first year here, I started only a few annuals from seed and the rest I bought as transplants, and these were mostly peppers. This year I did start a number of witching herbs and got some as transplants and simply cultivated volunteers that came up from the previous neighbors’ tomatoes. But I have also pretty much given up on indoor cultivation of henbane and mandrake. I find that I do not have the time to care for them properly and am encouraging some friends in that past-time.

Meanwhile, I’ve got some other projects to work on. I’ve been wanting to create a tarot deck for a while now. I settled on an overall theme and collected ideas for the suits. This weekend I completely designed the suit of Cups. Now I have to actually paint the designs. I’m going to try using watercolor, since these paintings will be fairly small size and for me, it is difficult to manipulate oil paints on small supports. I am figuring on a medium-sized deck. I’ll start the paintings this week and see how it goes. I would love to complete two paintings/week, which means it would take me about ten months to complete the deck, but I suspect it will be more like at least a year. This is a big project, and I want it to be right.

So that I can then go on and design ANOTHER tarot. 🙂

Also meanwhile, though, I’ve been wanting for some years to return to studying Hebrew. For a long time I have wanted to work on translating some medieval Jewish magical texts. I think these are of interest in occulture, and some of the translations that are available are not the best. But it does mean a lot of language study on my part. I used to be a regular Torah reader in my synagogue, so I am familiar with Biblical and prayer Hebrew, but it is not a fluency by any means. And medieval Jewish texts are a jumble of Hebrew, Aramaic, and various local languages. So it should be…interesting. Right now I am starting to study Biblical Hebrew in earnest so that I have a starting point. There is a ton to learn, but I am already scouting out possible texts for me to work on.

I was thinking that I was not up to this task, that my brain is too old. But I think I was just a bit depressed. I think this is exactly the sort of task that will work well with making art, since it enlivens a completely different set of brain cells. And of course I hope that some years down the road, these projects will help supplement my meager income from Social Security benefits. So stay tuned.

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