birth of hope, disconnection, crisis, seed
This is the very beginning of Hope’s journey, the zero point of the Major Arcana of the Tarot. In Greek mythology hope is connected to Pandora, the nosy maiden that got tricked into opening the box that contained all the miseries of the world, and in doing so set them free to roam the Earth: sickness, death, poverty and greed. Slamming the box shut in horror, she inadvertently confined hope in the box. The only remedy left to deal with the unleashed powers of misery. The state of the world in this card is the outcome of her indiscretion. The small city in the left corner is under threat of being swallowed by the waves. The skies are looming darkly, and the birds are fleeing the scene. Only the watchful eye of providence is looking on from a safe distance, but the inhabitants of the city cannot share in its rational magnanimity.
In this opening card of the Tarot of Hope all symbols of the Major and Minor Arcana’s are represented. The crumbling city shows us the implosion of the global economy as we know it: goods are distributed unequally leading to an ever increasing gap in income levels between rich and poor. Resources are getting scarce, enterprises have taken on monstrous proportions and the governing bodies more and more start to resemble corporations. All in all politicians have become managers, citizens consumers. And all have forgotten about their primary responsibilities: to take care of the world and its resources, as a good ‘oikonomist’ would do.
In this city the inhabitants have lost all sense of togetherness. They have become each other’s rivals in a constant struggle for power, for fuel, for credit. All values have become virtual credit and speculation and the city is imploding under the weight of debts and poverty. In other words: this city has forgotten how to live in the now. Its inhabitants live with their heads in a ‘better’ future, speculating on the good(s) to come, ignoring the bad done now in favor of the pay-off later. This deliberate forgetfulness of the life-at-hand is eroding the city walls. In the image it is not clear if the houses have already collapsed, or if they will be swallowed up by the waves. But it seems apparent that this city has made itself small and insignificant, by allowing fear of the future to replace hope in the now.
The birds stand for the organization of the people, the way they construct a sense of togetherness, of community and solidarity. In this case the birds have fled the city and they no longer have a place to land: the sea is rampant, and the city is falling apart. They also seem to have lost their ability to form a swarm, and one bird is drifting off all by himself. This card shows us the confusion of the people in failing to find a place to settle down in the city (the economy) or at sea (emotions). They have forgotten the route to the south and are now mechanically performing endless circles above the city.
The waves are wild, almost tsunami-like. Water in the Tarot of Hope stands for the unconscious, the affective, the intuitive side of ourselves (which is also expressed in the suit of waves Waves). In this case the water is taking revenge on the city. From the tranquil dormant waters of the lake, the unconscious has been teased into fury. Tired of getting abused and exploited by advertising strategies, false prophecies and smart politicians, emotions have turned self-destructive. The economy of emotions has collapsed, the unconscious will devore the city. This image of the giant wave indicates a powerful change, possibly also a destructive one.
The eye stands for justice, harmony, clarity of thought. This figure is always connected to the ordering mind, the mind that puts things in their right place, that observes things from a distance. The eye is the objectifying voice of reason as represented by the justice system, the universities and the sciences. But in this image the eye looks mournfully down on the chaos underneath. Its gaze is soft and compassionate, but lacks the power to interact.
The bag is hope, just born out of the chaos. It is the most unimportant of all objects, a waste product of the economy, an empty sack with no other purpose than being filled up. At the start of its journey hope has emptied itself out, and this is what saved it. Its emptiness made it light enough to be picked up by the wind and dance in the air. It didn’t make that decision consciously and it has no clue to where it is going. It might get lost in the waves, or caught in the pupil of the eye, in search of safety. But right now it just escaped the chaos for a moment, and is carried away by the wind, a pure outside, all lightness.