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The Fool’s Message

Antonio Briceño

Since I was a child, I’ve felt a great attraction to nature. When I was 7 years old we moved to a house with a garden where I still live part time. I’ve seen countless plants being born, growing, reaching their splendor and dying. This is what nature is all about: an unstoppable cycle of births, growths and deaths. The atoms are passing from one being to another, they are part of a chain that began at the beginning of time.


A garden is changeable, in it different characters appear and disappear according to time, trips, gifts, loves and chance. Some have managed to remain, to resist the changes, and they still accompany me. Others I remember very well. All of them fulfill their life cycles.


Animals, on the other hand, having mobility, appear and disappear at their own pace, and on rare occasions it has been my will that has brought them to the garden. But their presence is a complement that gives meaning and turns this small space into an ecosystem full of relationships and flows. They are the messengers, the connectors.


In March 2020 I was visiting Caracas —I also live in Barcelona, Spain— and the world-wide irruption of the Covid-19 caused me to be confined in my home town. I am a hermit gardener, and it was not uncomfortable for me to stay in my favorite place. I set out to photograph the plants by isolating them from their surroundings, thinking about their lighting, their location, their poses. I devoted myself to portraying them.


How different they are from each other! Each one requires special treatment, an approach designed to exalt their powers, be they flowers, textures, shapes, transparencies, defenses or attitudes.


Each plant represents an archetype, fits one of the archaic images we have had of ourselves since our origins, in all cultures. There are so many in the garden to suggest a Tarot. A representation of the path of the Inner Garden, of that realization that comes from having full consciousness of oneself. Know yourself, preaches Apollo. Be yourself, says Dionysus.


The 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot of Marseilles represent what Jung postulated as Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, ordered in a sequence that can be interpreted as the process of individuation: the stages of consciousness up to plenitude, knowledge, acceptance and the realization of oneself as a completed work.


This sequence, which begins with the indetermination and potentiality of The Fool and ends with the perfection of The World, passes through various stages and polarities that encompass all the possibilities of our path, with its ups and downs, successes, failures, loves, sadnesses, illusions and disappointments. Each Arcanum adds a learning process that leads to the final goal: to reach the world. To be The World.


The Tarot of the Quarantined Garden that I propose here, in addition to the 22 Major Arcana, adds 18 Auxiliary Arcana, which are recommendations: 11 plants and 7 animals. This second sequence begins at number 23 with The Roots and closes with The Message, a card of good omen related to the willingness to listen and grow. These Auxiliary Arcana can help guide the reading of the Major Arcana or encourage reflection on their meanings in our lives.


40 Arcana will be our guides through a natural epiphany in the garden that lies beneath our spirit, at the margin of the movement of the Universe and its unlimited expansion.


May this journey serve, above all, for the contemplation of the strange and amazing world of the plants and animals that precede us, surround us, sustain us, domesticate us and are the vehicle of the metaphors that unite all the creatures of Nature in this garden in quarantine. May this encounter help us to internalize what they say and may it be a mirror and image for the understanding of the ascending spiral that, finally, gives The Message to The Fool.

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