When I was 16, I decided to drop maths and take up the French intensive course in year 11 and 12 at high school. I was so numeric-dyslexic that Mrs Shustov and the whole maths department breathed a huge sigh of relief just to wave me goodbye.
My French teacher was a middle-aged Estonian woman with a very long side-plait, and dark yellow-tinted horn-rimmed glasses. She only ever wore ski pants to school, and on cold days she carried a fur muff to keep her hands warm. She was such a heavy chain-smoker, she had to duck out of the classroom several times in a lesson to top up her nicotine levels – but hearing her speak French in that gravelly voice was perfection.
I was the only student in her class, and it was a very weird and lonely encounter with the French language. Whenever she ducked back in to check on my grammar, she smelled like an ashtray from the men’s bar of an inner city boozer, circa 1945.
Being the only student in the class, I came first!! And consequently I was awarded a prize. A book prize. The school packed me off to Angus & Robertson with a book voucher and instructions to bring in my selection so the principal could hand it back to me in the usual tedious assembly format that the school deployed for awarding the nerds with their books.
So, I wandered all around the bookshop and quickly realised that all the cool books were way outside my voucher’s reach. There was nothing cheap in there that I wanted. It seemed so dumb to buy a book that may as well just go straight to landfill. I looked and looked and looked. Kid’s books, grimy fiction, bodice-rippers, sporting magazines, crossword puzzles, sigh…
And then I spied with my evil eye, a pack of cards. Tarot cards. French tarot cards. $24.95. Perfect. I didn’t know anything about the tarot, but the images were so fascinating. Was it a game? Was is something woo-woo and spooky? I didn’t know but it was so ‘right’ and I bought them with my voucher. Problem solved!
… until the school admin lady behind the counter totally freaked out.
‘No… you cannot be awarded a set of French tarot cards for taking out the prize for coming first in French. Not on my watch. Es-tu fou? Take them back immediately’ she glared, with that death-stare of utter disdain that only really emanates authentically from school admin ladies (or their beloved Mother Superior, the Hon Julie Bishop).
But by now, the cards had suddenly captured my whole imagination. I was a teenager, and I wanted them and the school could take a flying leap. So I went home and scanned all the books on our family book-shelf for the least worn picture book about anything bland. An unread gift to my dad on ‘Sailing and Yachts’ looked exactly right. My dad’s a landlubber, so the book was in very good nick.
The principal smiled as he shook my hand and gifted me with a handsome coffee-table tome on boats (yawn), and by now, I was in deep with the archetypes and trying to follow what Jung had to say, and reading about arcane mysticism and symbolism and I caught buses to the city so I could hang around the Adyar bookshop and poke my nose in the theosophical society meetings at Glebe. There was no internet then, so my sudden interest in exotic forms of Eastern and Western philosophy was forged on real books and ferry trips across the harbour and an open mind – hungry for contact with other kooks like me.
The tarot is all about the Fool’s journey. The fool sets forth to discover the world and on the road, meets with a host of characters, some that give and some that take. Angels, Heroes, Heroines, Rascals, Villains, Lovers, Wise-guys, Witches, Wizards, Used Car Salesmen, Lawyers, Shrews… the whole kit and caboodle.
In order to succeed or even survive in her mysterious quest, the Fool must pay full attention. If she doesn’t pay full attention, she pays with pain.
I don’t use tarot as a tool for divination, I use it as a mirror for meditation, for inner reflection, for stepping back from the chaos of the daily grind, to read the symbols, learn from the archetypes, consider how to proceed and which path leads to the source. Water, food, shelter, warmth, love and compassion is the source.
Each of my fragrances is devoted to an archetype. If this aspect of the fragrances interests you. let me know and I’m happy to shed light on the inner worlds of the scented archetypes. It’s actually a really beautiful resource to help you make your scented way through the dark valleys of life’s challenging shadows, back out into the light.