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More thoughts on appropriate illustrations for the Trumps in The Necronomicon Tarot. This list is not meant as a put-down of Tyson's beautiful pack -- he has done outstanding work on it, and it is gorgeous, a true collector's item. This list is just for fun. Enjoy, dear reader:

Trump 0, The Fool. This Trump is associated with the Element Air and the planet Uranus, ruler of Earth's atmosphere, cutting-edge science and technology, sudden and unpredictable events, disasters, space travel, science fiction, extreme despotisms, mass movements, Socialism, Communism, friendships, one's associates or colleagues, and related matters. Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun. It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in the Solar System. Alchemically, the metal associated with Uranus is uranium. The illustration should be of Azathoth, the blind idiot God.* Of course, MAD Magazine's Alfred E. Neuman would serve even better.

Trump I, The Magician (The Magus). This card is associated with Mercury, the planet, and mercury metal, a.k.a. quicksilver. Mercury is the smallest and closest to the Sun of the eight planets in the Solar System, with an orbital period of about 88 Earth days. Seen from Earth, it appears to move around its orbit in about 116 days, which is much faster than any other planet. The illustration should be of Nyarlathotep, the Messenger of the Great Old Ones.* Of course, there's always Abdul Al-Hazred, who was definitely messing around with the occult, and would qualify for this card. On the other hand, we could just go with an image of H. P. Lovecraft himself, dressed in robes, holding up a wand in one hand and a book of his stories in another.

Trump II, The High Priestess. Associated with the Moon, ruler of birth and death, of water and moods. The Moon, a.k.a. Luna is the Earth's only natural satellite. Although not the largest natural satellite in the Solar System, it is the largest relative to the size of the object it orbits (its primary) and, after Jupiter's satellite Io, it is the second most dense satellite among those whose densities are known. Alchemically, the Moon's metal is silver. The illustration for The High Priestess should be of Shub-Niggurath, the Goddess of the Fertility of Life -- Earth's Moon is also associated with unlimited reproduction and the fertility that ensures that life will continue.

Trump III, The Empress. This card is associated with Venus, ruler of love, beauty, and social interactions. Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. It has no natural satellite. Venus is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. After the Moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky, reaching an apparent magnitude of −4.6, bright enough to cast shadows. Alchemically, Venus's metal is copper. The illustration for this Trump should be either of Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of love and war, or Ishtar, the East Semitic Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. Of course, MAD Magazine's Moxie Cowznofski would do even better.

Trump IV: The Emperor. This card is associated with the sign Aries, the Ram, which begins on the Vernal Equinox, the start of the astrological and astronomical year. Aries, the first month of spring, is said to rule the Hebrews and their descendants, the Jews, so perhaps an illustration of the Ark of the Covenant might be appropriate for this Trump. Jesus, who is characterized by Christians as the Good Shepherd, might be another possibility. Or, since the Ram is associated with the animal which Abraham was told by God to sacrifice in place of his beloved son, someone sacrificing a ram on an altar might be appropriate for this Trump.

Trump V, The Hierophant. This card is associated with the sign Taurus, the Bull, the second month of spring. The Hierophant is equivalent to the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, the Patriarch of each branch of the Christian Orthodox church, or the Emperor of Japan, representing the ultimate conduit of communication and divine favor between Earth and Heaven, and the most exalted of high priests of a given religion. Since Cthulhu is the Great Old Ones' high priest, the appropriate illustration for this Trump is Cthulhu.

Trump VI, The Lovers. This card is associated with the sign Gemini, the Twins, the third and last month of spring. The illustration should be of Cthulhu and Idh-yaa, who is, according to the Ponape Scripture, Cthulhu's mate. Alternate: the Twin Obscenities, the Great Old Ones Zhar and Lloigor, who lie imprisoned together beneath the Plateau of Sung.

Trump VII, The Chariot. This card is associated with the sign Cancer, the Crab. Cancer begins on the Summer Solstice, and comprises the first month of astronomical and astrological summer. This sign is associated with territoriality, patriotism, real estate, and the inheritance of land. Perhaps a giant crab, as conceived by Toho Productions, current creators of Godzilla movies, would be appropriate -- it could be pictured taking Tokyo apart, while Godzilla, fiercely territorial, battles the Crab over who gets to stomp Tokyo flat. (Okay, okay, it ain't canon, but it does fit. Go, go Godzilla!)

Trump VIII, Strength. This card is associated with the sign Leo, the Lion, and the second and hottest month of summer. The cat-Goddess Bast (also called Bastet) would be appropriate for the illustration for this Trump. She first appeared in the historical record in the 3rd Millennium BC as a lion or a lion-headed woman. Later She became associated with domestic cats, but She had her beginning as a divine lioness. See Bastet for more on Bast.

Trump IX, The Hermit. This card is aAssociated with the sign Virgo, the third and last month of summer, the time of the harvest. Perhaps Abdul Al-Hazred himself would be appropriate as an illustration for this Trump -- considered mad and a very dangerous spiritual loose cannon by others, he was shunned and left alone by all. He "harvested" the names of the Great Old Ones and their cronies, not to mention whatever left behind a large crater and sulfurous smells in the place where he holed up, doing rituals and studying the unmentionable mysteries of the cosmos.

Trump X, Fortune. This card is associated with Jupiter, the Great Benefic, and the largest planet in the Solar System. The Hindu God Ganesha would be appropriate as the illustration for this Trump..Ganesha, also spelled Ganesa, also known as Ganapati and Vinayaka, is a widely worshipped deity in the Hindu pantheon. His image is found throughout India and Nepal. Hindu sects worship him regardless of affiliations. Devotion to Ganesha is widely diffused and extends to Jains, Buddhists, and beyond India. Ganesha is Vighneshvara or Vighnaraja or "Vighnaharta"(marathi), the Lord of Obstacles, both of a material and spiritual order. He is popularly worshipped as a remover of obstacles, though traditionally he also places obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked. His image has the head of an elephant and, often, four arms, making him a sort of benefic monster. He is a God of success and good fortune.

Trump XI, Justice. This card is associated with the sign Libra, the first month of autumn. Libra begins at the Autumnal Equinox, the Time of Storms, when heat-transfer and confrontation of cold and warm weather fronts create massive currents in the atmosphere, often resulting in storms. It rules legal proceedings, justice vs. injustice, marriages, partnerships of any kind, war, confrontations of all kinds, legal documents, and related matters. Minos, a bull-headed creature in Dante's Inferno, might be appropriate here, as he is one of the judges of the dead (see, e.g., Minos, and also Inferno, a novel by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle).

Trump XII, The Hanged Man. This card is associated with the Element Water and the planet Neptune. Neptune is the eighth and farthest planet from the Sun in the Solar System. It is the fourth-largest planet by diameter and the third-largest by mass. Dagon, the sea-God, would be appropriate for the illustration for this Trump.

Trump XIII, Death. This Trump is associated with the sign Scorpio and mid-autumn -- Scorpio rules the second month of autumn The ghouls would make a wonderfully appropriate illustration for this Trump, as they signify both death and resurrection, a return to life after death, though in an altered form. Alternate: Terry Pratchett's Death of the Discworld. Alternate: the Greek God Hades, with His wife, Persephone. (There should be hints of Persephone in Trump IX, The Hermit, for She is associated with Virgo as well as the rejuvenating and regenerating power of Scorpio -- it is She Who decides which souls are to be released from the Underworld and returned to the land of life and light, while Hades, Her husband, determines the section of the Underworld to which a newly-dead soul will be assigned. Also, Hades is the one who brings great mass extinctions to an end before they prove terminal to all complex life on Earth, or *any* life on Earth, while Persephone is the one Who helps life after a mass extinction to begin radiating into new species, restoring biodiversity of Earth's life; He is the Salvation of Living Worlds, and She is the Restorer of Life's Fertility, coming well before even the Goddess Shub-Niggurath in this respect. This divine couple have been present since the dawn of life on Earth and will be present through its end, and may be present in all universes, on all worlds and other cosmic objects, where there is life of any kind. Their marriage is symbolized by the Lichen, which is associated with Libra and Trump XI, so hints of both of them should be present in that Trump, as well.) If you want to be canon,though, go with Herbert West, Reanimator.

Trump XIV, Temperance, sometimes titled The Great Work (alchemy). This Trump is associated with the sign Sagittarius and the final third of autumn; its ruler is Jupiter, so it is a usually a benign and helpful placement for celestial bodies and the things they rule. An alchemist hard at work on his Magnum Opus would be appropriate here. But so would an illustration of DNA within a living cell, the paired molecular coils that provide the blueprints for the form and function of a living organism. So would people enjoying a great feast -- after all, Thanksgiving falls within this time of year.

Trump XV: The Devil. This Trump is associated with the sign Capricorn, the first month of winter, beginning on the Winter Solstice. Capricorn is ruled by Saturn, named for Saturnus, the God of the Golden Age in Roman mythology; Saturn can be terribly harsh, at times more akin to the Greek God Kronos, but it can also bring about manifestation, give structure to things, and bestow the wisdom of old age by which entire communities are nurtured and educated in all the things necessary for their survival. One appropriate illustration, associated with Saturn's nasty side, would be of the Man of Many Faces in Robert R. McCammon's breakthrough 1987 novel Swan Song, a truly Satanic being if there ever was one. And a scene from H. P. Lovecraft's story "The Festival" would fit here, too. But Saturn does have a benign side, too, and perhaps Good King Wenceslas might be appropriate for an illustration for this Trump. A split illustration having the Man of Many Colors or a scene from "The Festival" on one side and Good King Wenceslas on the other might fit. Let us give the Devil his due and have both for the illustration for this Trump.

Trump XVI, The Tower. This Trump is associated with the planet Mars, and with Ares and Martius, respectively the Greek and Roman Gods of War. Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second smallest planet in the Solar System, after Mercury. Mars is often described as the "Red Planet" because the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, having surface features reminiscent both of the impact craters of the Moon and the volcanoes, valleys, deserts, and polar ice caps of Earth. Alchemically, Mars is associated with the metal iron, and signifies fire in astrological charts. Perhaps an illustration taken from the fall of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 c.e., would be appropriate for this Trump, showing that guilty and innocent, commoner and king, we are all mortals and subject to the unpredictable forces of life and time. A Japanese war-God (kami) overseeing the destruction at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 might also be appropriate, for the same reason.

Trump XVII, The Star. This Trump is associated with the sign Aquarius, the second month of winter and, in the Northern Hemisphere, a time of great cold. Uranus rules Aquarius, which in turn rules much the same things that Uranus does. The illustration of the Goddess Ishtar used for this Trump in The Necronomicon Tarot would be appropriate for this Trump.*

Trump XVIII, The Moon. This Trump is associated with the sign Pisces, the last month of winter and the end of the astrological and astronomical year. Pisces and its ruler, Neptune, have a lot of spooky or sinister things associated with them: sabotage, guerilla warfare, hidden matters, child abuse, wife-beating, hidden crimes, poison, nuclear submarines, submarines of any kind, etc. However, they also rule hospitals, ashrams, monasteries, and other places of quiet retreat and, perhaps, healing. Albert Einstein's natal Sun was in Pisces; so was that of Mikhail Gorbachev, who presided over the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. But Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin, probably born during the astrological month of Capricorn, a Russian peasant, mystic and private adviser to the Romanovs, is also associated with Pisces because of the mysteries surrounding him and the dissatisfaction of the Russian people with his influence on the Tsarina, which finally gave rise to the Bolshevik Revolution of 1918. Still, the illustration of this Trump provided in The Necronomicon Tarot, is also appropriate, and is canon. So keeping it as the illustration for this Trump is probably the best thing.*

Trump XIX, The Sun. This Trump is associated with our day-star, the Sun. The illustration provided for this Trump in The Necronomicon Tarot, of a whirling tornado of sand, wind, and fire crowned by the Sun and a traveler trying to cross the open wastes of Arabia's Empty Quarter, is probably the most appropriate for this Trump.

Trump XX, (The Last) Judgment, or The Aeon. This Trump is associated with the Element Fire and the planet Pluto, which some believe is fabled Yuggoth of the canon. Pluto is associated with the actinide metal plutonium. As far as the illustration goes, my own preference would be one showing astronomer Michael E. Brown being bitten by a pack of Disney's Pluto dogs while lightning rains down on him from above, and Hades and Persephone are enjoying an all-out belly-laugh at Mr. Brown's expense, Hades saying, "You told people I was *what*?" It wouldn't exactly be canon, but it would definitely say something about idiots who a) slander the Gods, b) make fun of the general public, and c) try to perpetuate a lie in the face of the fact that the lie is absolutely ridiculous Laurel's Pluto Blog, and see also Alan Stern). Alternate: the mushroom cloud created by the explosion of Tsar Bomba, the 50+-megaton hydrogen bomb tested by the Soviets in 1961 next to a typical home computer, the logo of America Online, and an inset of astronaut Neil Armstrong stepping out onto the lunar surface on July 20, 1969, all to signify the many mixed blessings of the 20th century, the first century of the Age of Aquarius / Aeon of Horus. Uranus, ruler of Aquarius and of the metal uranium, obviously features prominently in this new age, but uranium is used to generate plutonium in nuclear reactors, and plutonium is both an element used in the Bomb and a power-source for artifacts used in the exploration of space, such as Curiosity Rover on Mars. Uranus, of course, rules the exploration, settlement, and exploitation of outer space, but its use as seed-stock for making plutonium also associates it with Pluto, ruler of chemical element 94, plutonium. This new age will determine not only the fate of humankind, whether we will become truly extinct or leave descendants into the far future, but also that of Earth life as a whole, which has been horribly impacted by our activities over the last few centuries and will be thus impacted on into an uncertain future. Here, too, Hades and Persephone sit in judgment on humanity and Earth as a whole. Will there be a future for us? For Earthly life? Or will we and our world go down into the dark without heirs to carry on whatever legacy we and the Earth have created?
It's up to us. As H. P. Lovecraft himself said at the beginning of "The Call of Cthulhu,"

"The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age."

Will we still, however grimly, seek the light and its fruits, or will we turn away from our achievements and the opportunities presented to Earthly life by outer space and let our world finally perish for lack of pioneering visionaries and brave explorers? Trump XX, The Aeon, should show life, especially human life, in the balance, awaiting the judgment of the relentless passage of the aeons and Earth's evolutionary history.

Trump XXI, The World/The Universe. This Trump is associated with the planet Saturn, the Element Earth, the Earth Plane, the planet Earth, and the Part of Fortune in the horoscope (the latter is calculated as the position of the Sun subtracted from that of the Moon, the difference then being added to the Ascendant of the chart, the point due east at the time, date, and place for which it's calculated). Saturn is associated with the metal lead. I can think of no better illustration for this Trump than one of the famous photographs taken of the Earth from space: our living world in all her glory. And perhaps an inset of the Greek Goddess Gaia should be included in that illustration. Alternate: A recent photograph of the planet Saturn, golden and beautiful, surrounded by his enormous family of moons.

*The original illustration for a given Trump in The Necronomicon Tarot


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 31st, 2014 06:18 am (UTC)
This makes me wish I had the cash and the connections in the art community to order up the David Drake/Delta Green expansion set for MYTHOS, the CCG from Chaosium. Drake wrote quite a few Mythos stories, some of them set during the Vietnam War, and I thought the New Aeon decks would have been nicely enhanced with some more modern Mythos authors, texts, artifacts, and weapons. Maybe I've just been reading too much Delta Green lately.
May. 31st, 2014 10:24 pm (UTC)
I should check that out -- I wasn't aware of them before now.

Imay someday design -- just for fun; I'd be dealing with copyrighted material and would get in trouble, otherwise -- a MAD Magazine Tarot pack. Alfred E. Neuman and his girlfriend, Moxie Cowznofski, would turn up in all the cards in one form or another, but maybe the cards would be in different styles as per MAD artists. Too bad artist Don Martin, "MAD's maddest artist," is dead -- he could have illustrated an entire Tarot pack, and the results would have been hilarous.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


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