The Tarot and the New Age marched hand and hand through the Sixties and Seventies. Like other alternative tools and practices with a little magic, a little occult, and some human potential, the use and the creation of the cards expanded through out this time, appealing to all ages. By the 1980s, the Tarot had become a significant industry and practice.
In looking at the Haight-Ashbury in the 1960s, few recall ever seeing Tarot cards. One issue of the Oracle features an article on the New Aquarian Tarot Deck and one on the card “The World” (Volume 1, Issue #9, 1967 August). Only a few decks were available at that time: Smith-Waite, Marseille de Tarot, some from magic stores, and some decks from occult organizations. Similar to the personal practices of using I Ching and astrology (daily horoscopes in newspapers began in the 1930s), curiosity and use of the tarot became less rare. In the United States, artists, writers, visionaries, and those interested in personal development or the occult, worked on the use and design of the tarot, reinterpreting its look and use, but mostly following the Smith-Waite cards.
Mary K. Greer traces the modern Tarot renaissance to 1969. See her insightful blog.
Eden Gray’s books were readily available and the main source for further understanding of the cards. Illustrations were from the Smith-Waite cards. The Tarot Revealed, Bantam, 1960.
Stuart Kaplan authored this instruction book to accompany the 1JJ cards that U.S. Games Systems published in the United States. Tarot Cards for Fun and Fortune Telling, 1969.
“In the late sixties I began to handle the cards again. Whether using them in a mixture of divination and covert advice giving to friends or meditating on individual cards, I found they stirred my imagination and often provided imagery that would enter my work. For me they are rich and disturbing and provoke many levels of responding, feeling and knowing.”
All my life I have been a prisoner under the Tower.
Some say that grey lid is the sky. Our streets our
Grey is the water we drink, grey the face I cannot love in
grey is the money we lack, the itch and scratch of skins
Grey is the color of work without purpose or end,
and the cancer of hopelessness creeping through the gut.
In my bones are calcium rings of the body’s hunger
from grey beard that turns to ash in the belly.
In my brain schooled lies rot into self-hatred: and who
can I hate in the cattle car subway
like the neighbor whose elbow cracks my ribs?
The Tower of Baffle speaks bureaucratic and psychologese,
multiple choice, one in vain, one insane, one trite as rain.
Military bumblewords, pre-emptive stroke, mind and body count and
Above in the sun live those who own, making our weather with
Their neon signs instruct us through the permanent smog.
Rockefellers, Mellons and Du Ponts, you Fords and Houghtons,
Who are you to own my eyes? Who gave me to be your serf?
I have never seen your faces but your walls surround me.
With the loot of the world you built these stinking cities
The Tower is ugly as General Motors, as public housing,
as the twin piles of the World Trade Center,
tallest, biggest and menacing as fins on an automobile,
horns on a Minotaur programmed to kill.
The weight of the Tower is in me. Can I ever straighten?
You trained me in passivity to lay for you like a doped hen.
You bounce your gabble off the sky to pierce our brains.
Your loudspeakers from every television and classroom
And your transistors grafted onto my nerves at birth
Shout you are impregnable and righteous forever,
But any structures can be overthrown.
London Bridge with the woman built into the base
as sacrifices is coming down.
The Tower will fall if we pull together.
Then the Tower reversed, symbol of tyranny and oppression,
shall not be set upright.
We are not
turning things over merely
but we will lay the Tower on its side.
Marge Piercy, from Laying Down the Tower, using the Smith-Waite deck. “The tower struck by lightning reversed; the overturning of the tower” from CIRCLES ON THE WATER by Marge Piercy, copyright © 1982 by Middlemarsh, Inc. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.