Creating the "Pirate Tarot of the Mystic Bootye"
Bruce Hersch, PhD
This paper is an account of how the "Pirate Tarot of the Mystic Bootye" came into being. I created this version of Tarot as a means of presenting my research on pirate psychology and explorations of the Pirate archetype. Both subjects are underrepresented in the research literature. I revised the cards to show pirate-derived ideals and interests. They reflect our widespread individual and social involvement with pirate culture. The Mystic Bootye describes the ultimate personal goals and fulfillment of seekers drawn to the way of the Pirate. The Pirate Spread reveals a path of attainment and a map to the Treasure that all pirates seek. Interpretations of sample cards are offered to develop the emergent field of pirate psychology and the Pirate archetype.
"What is the use of a book," asked Alice, "without pictures?" In her naive way Alice expressed a profound universal truth that even children appreciate. Pictures and symbols are containers, allowing knowledge and experience to be acquired and shared. In developing my doctorial dissertation I utilized both pictures and symbols to convey truth beyond words. The major arcana of the "Pirate Tarot of the Mystic Bootye" was developed to illustrate aspects of the Pirate archetype and as a tool for examining our relationship with the archetype in contemporary life. My rationale for adding a visual component to my dissertation was simple. Symbolism and imagery are the language of the soul. A psychological treatise, being the study of the psyche or the soul, ought to use the recognized language of the soul. My goal was not to change the psychology or the philosophy of Tarot, which is widely believed to convey something of the Western esoteric tradition, but to creatively re-illustrate it so that it would make the Western engagement with the Pirate archetype more fully apparent.
Parley with the Unconscious
As a student in clinical psychology with an emphasis on Depth Psychology I was challenged to choose a topic for my dissertation that would explore an area of human experience and contribute something new to the literature. This would necessarily include both a pathological and therapeutic polarity. I was inspired to study pirates by the work of psychologist Dr. Carl Jung (1875–1961), who wrote:
What we from our point of view call colonization, spread of civilization, etc., has another face—the face of a bird of prey seeking with cruel intentness for distant quarry—a face worthy of a race of pirates and highwaymen. All the eagles and other predatory creatures that adorn our coats of arms seem to me apt psychological representatives of our true nature.
Jung is pointing out that our "true nature" is that of a race of pirates (and highwaymen). However, when I did a literature search I found that there were no entries for the topics of pirate psychology or the pirate archetype. I was then confronted with how to do a research project on a topic that had no prior recognition.
In psychology, the term the shadow refers to those parts of the self or areas of consciousness from which one would prefer to distance oneself, shut off, or deny. These characteristics do not simply go away, but come to reside in the unconscious. These shadow elements, which are unconscious and unknown, can inform behavior, thought, and feeling. Although the presence of real and imaginary pirates seems ubiquitous, the absence of literature in the field of professional psychology addressing this fact is a strong indication that this is an area that has been relegated to the personal and cultural shadow.
Initially the apparent lack of research literature to form a foundation for my topic presented a major stumbling block. However, with the encouragement of my classmates and an unrelenting inner daimon I persisted. I knew that I would be searching for knowledge in areas that have been denied to awareness or are considered to be unknown. If we knew what it was, then, the Unknown would not be that. I set course for terra incognita.
I had a great sense of adventure associated with encountering the unconscious, like the ancient seafarers did when undertaking voyages of discovery. The quest was taboo, dreaded, and a risky and uncertain path to follow. But, as Joseph Campbell (1988) points out, we are drawn to it because "it is mysterium, a mystery, tremendum et fascinans—tremendous, horrific, because it smashes all of your fixed notion of things, and at the same time is utterly fascinating, because it's your own nature." For inspiration I recalled that if one begins to build a path to the unconscious, the unconscious will build a highway in return.
It did. I found direction from Plato who taught that if a philosopher observed many instances or objects, and reflected on the matter, that suddenly the pure, eternal, and authentic reality behind the appearance of the phenomenon would be unveiled. This is the idea or archetype of the thing. The psychological component of my research was guided by studying the complex surrounding the image of the Pirate.
The complex is a psychological structure composed of psychic representations and associated feeling tones that congregate around an archetypal "core." An archetype is an inherent potential structure for experience, a pattern of apperception, common to all humanity, analogous to the potential structure of a yet to be formed crystal.
I began my research by studying and experiencing as much as I could about pirates. In order to grasp the Pirate archetype and reveal pirate psychology I opened myself up to assimilating everything associated with pirates. I read all of the pirate material that I could get my hands on. I sought out pirate movies, pirate tales, attended pirate theme events, traveled to pirate sites on the World Wide Web (internet), and conversed with people regarding their connection or interest in the subject of piratry. I immersed myself in the study of all things piratical and opened myself to absorb the psychic impressions of piratedom. The goal was not to write a more comprehensive history of pirates or catalog pirate lore, but to reveal the essence of the pirate—the Pirate archetype.
I utilized hermeneutics to understand individual and collective connections with the cultural consciousness of a race of pirates. I searched for the psychological underpinnings in the human traits that characterize pirates. I soon began to see my culture in a different light, as a few examples of my altered understanding of classic elements of Western culture will show.
Bible: God creates Man in his own image. By plundering the tree in the Garden, our biblical ancestors fit the definition of pirates. This act precipitates the whole history of mankind. Violence appears rampant. Joshua leads the people to the Promised Land and takes it, as instructed, with aggression. Jesus, the Son of God, is outlawed and executed. In this light, those who follow the traditions of the Bible may be seen as guided by stories about a "race of pirates."
Myth: Many mythological beings are admired despite demonstrating piratical characteristics. In giving the gift of fire to people, Prometheus could be cast as a pirate. Then, all of mankind must also be considered, by definition, to be pirates because they share the plundered booty. Other popular heroes of myth include Hermes, the thief, and Dionysus, who is known for drinking wine and wild lovemaking. Jason's focused determination to acquire the Golden Fleece is an example of an early expedition of adventure whose goal is to acquire some great mythical treasure of another land.
History: The examples are too many and too obvious to list. Consider the maxim: Piracy has existed since a man crossing a river on a log saw another man with a better log, and decided to take it from him. The imperialistic approach to exploring the world; discovery followed by exploitation, and the use of force as a means of accomplishing social and political goals is well documented. Even the seminal history of the United States of America is connected with pirates considering that the founding father, George Washington, was a confirmed member of a brotherhood of pirates that was heavily involved in its inception.
As my research continued I created a section to collect observations on the presence of the Pirate image in contemporary culture. These range from indoctrination in formative childhood fantasies, such as Peter Pan and Treasure Island, to alignment with school and team mascots with a pirate flavor, predatory themes in military operations, environmental concerns, cyberspace, and the thrust of space exploration, among others. The imprint of the Pirate on the individual in our society is pervasive. Now I realized that instead of a dearth of material I had a plethora: the Pirate archetype is so prevalent that it is practically invisible, like water to the fish. Similar to the unconscious and the unknown, it is everywhere and yet nowhere present. I now felt swamped.
The Pirate Tarot as an Artistic Component
I was looking for a way to present the abundance of observations about pirates when I hit upon the idea of utilizing the systematic framework provided by Tarot. The Pirate archetype consists of more than merely one image. It exists in a multiplicity of incarnations, including the bad as well as the good, the inner and outer, above and below, young and old, male, female, and more. Tarot offers the benefits of being a well-established platform for exploring a diverse spectrum of physical and metaphysical concerns. Tarot addresses a similar realm as that of interest to the psychologist; the range between the mundane and the spiritual. Since a picture is worth many words, and the use of picture series as a teaching aid is well established, the idea of illustrating the imaginal adventures of the eternal wandering Fool experiencing life in a pirate culture, as a metaphor for the self, had great appeal. My idea was to artistically recreate each of the major arcana cards so as to illuminate different facets of the greater Pirate archetype.
In my research I had encountered numerous visual images that revealed and concealed the life of the Pirate. I collected a variety of these to use as visual quotations. Then, using Photoshop I combined these and my own original artwork to form collages to represent my interpretation of each card. My task was to meld the archetypal Pirate with Tarot and a Depth Psychology explanation. The actual creation of this artistic component was more abstract and had to be allowed to emerge in unexpected ways through visions, dreams, and artistic inspiration from my unconscious. I proceeded by keeping a running personal journal and making sketches that eventually evolved into the finished product. In the cards of the Pirate Tarot I sought to depict in a symbolic way as much as I could regarding my study of piratology, while simultaneously preserving their established meaning and value.
In my dissertation I present the results of my exploration of the Pirate archetype and describe how, by using a hermeneutic method with an artistic component, I created the "Pirate Tarot of the Mystic Bootye"and offered the Pirate Spread and the Pirate Tarot Mandala as tools for exploring Pirate psychology. They are meant to serve as a new depth-psychological tool by calling forth the projective facets of the viewer's unconscious. Since they are symbolic and archetypal they will never be fully described with words. Additionally, the cards may mean something different to each person, while shifting in reference to specific life situations, or change as an inner understanding of the symbolism evolves. This polymorphous quality is by design an essential element of the art.I have since become aware that the cards, the spread, and the mandala hold in a symbolic way more information than I initially realized and continue to learn from them.
The Mystic Bootye as a symbol for The Treasure
Engaging in the study of the Pirate archetype and Pirate Psychology represents reclaiming a part of myself that until then had resided in the unconscious. I was previously oblivious or marginally aware of my connection with pirates. By uniting the conscious with the unconscious in this way one becomes more of a whole person. Wholeness is a great treasure and a healing function. The Treasure has been called many things. Jung called it individuation anddescribes it by analogy with the alchemical process of makinggold. This is the gold of the philosophers. Joseph Campbell called it the Hero's Journey and relates how this occurs throughout time and in various locations around the world. I have called this process of seeking for the Treasure by developing self-awareness, creating consciousness, and wholeness, the Quest for the Mystic Bootye.
Booty is a word that pirates use for treasure. I have added an "e" at the end as a unique stylistic spelling to indicate the word's special application here. It is mystical because it goes beyond the ordinary notion of things. The Mystic Bootye is a symbol for knowledge of the self and individuation. The alchemists regarded self knowledge as equivalent to knowledge of God. In as much as the Holy Grail represents a quest to obtain something that will make one feel whole, it is a symbol for this Treasure.
The Mystic Bootye has been many things to different people. For example, in the Wizard of Ozeach one of the questing characters desires something unique to them; one wants a brain, one a heart, another courage, and one simply to be at home. Likewise, everyone has something that they feel they need to make them happy or life more complete. The Mystic Bootye represents that special something that each one feels drawn to achieve or acquire. The path is simple: "Follow your bliss." Pursuing this provides meaning in life. It is intended that the reader will identify with their own desire when mention is made of the Mystic Bootye. Only you know what that means for you. By casting my dissertation as the quest for a mythical treasure, I was able to accommodate many levels of consciousness and a range of subjects beyond everyday concerns, including dreams, visions, meditation, fantasy, metaphysical concerns, and psychic realities that are part of the practice of depth psychology.
Psychotopography: The Pirate Spread
The twenty-two cards of the major arcana correspond to things that lie deep in the psyche and are often likened to a way of initiation. Through reading Tarot cards people often seek to comprehend the mysteries and unfathomable forces of the universe. One key to understanding Tarot may be found in the cabbalistic glyph known as the tree of life. A pirate's treasure is usually buried near a landmark. For this and similar tales "the tree of paradise" serves as the landmark's prototype. In the Bible the tree is a sign of the separation of Man from God. He sets an angel with a flaming sword to keep the way to His special treasure, the tree of life. But, in the final book of the Bible, Revelation, it is told, "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Here, the tree represents, in a symbolic form, the esoteric philosophy of a Fall, or descent from heaven, into material incarnation, and the eventual re-ascent, or return of consciousness back to Spirit.
The fall from an original state of unity into a state of conflict and multiplicity with the possibility of return to a lost paradise is the hidden knowledge that is at the innermost core of religious philosophy. It is about the path of life and death. This is the underlying theme in common at a deep level relating Tarot, Cabbala, and the secret of Alchemy with other forms of Ancient Wisdom and modern philosophy. Solve et Coagula is a succinct summary of this process in alchemical terms.
If these two words are too brief and unphilosophical for you, I will speak more broadly and comprehensively. Solve is to convert the body of our magnet into pure spirit. Coagula is to make this spirit corporeal again, according to the philosopher who says: "Convert the Body into Spirit and the Spirit into Body. Who understands these things will posses everything and who does not understand them will have nothing." To the solve corresponds the symbol of ascent; to the coagula corresponds the descent.
Historically, Western psychology has taken for granted that psychotherapy basically proceeds from a grounding in the "real" world of physical experience. It is assumed that the basic condition is unwhole. There is an omission or failure to consider that a descent has already occurred. Depth psychology redefines the realm of psychology to include the whole spectrum of experiences that exist between Spirit and matter, including the transpersonal, collective unconscious, archetypal and the imaginal. As Jung wrote:
Our age has shifted all emphasis to the here and now, and thus brought about a demonization of man and his world. The phenomenon of dictators and all the misery they have wrought springs from the fact that man has been robbed of transcendence by the shortsightedness of the super-intellectuals. Like them, he has fallen a victim to unconsciousness. But man's task is the exact opposite: to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious. Neither should he persist in his unconsciousness, nor remain identical with the unconscious elements of his being, thus evading destiny, which is to create more and more consciousness.
In order to reclaim the unacknowledged or lost content that lies deep within, like buried treasure, I have included a map that will provide the seeker with a more comprehensive view of the domain of consciousness. The Pirate Spread (Fig. 25.1) is designed to serve those who are interested in engaging in the Quest. It is a form of Psychotopography: a map of consciousness, similar to charts that reveal the journeys of the soul (psyche) by those who have traversed the labyrinth before us.
Fig. 25.1 Bruce Hersch. The Pirate Tarot Spread showing a pattern of descent and ascent. "Pirate Tarot of the Mystic Bootye." © 2009 Bruce Hersch. Further reproduction prohibited.
One way of reading this layout tells the story of the wandering Fool dropping into the bones of existence, progressing down from above (Cards I-X) to Card X, The Wheel of Fortune: X marks the spot (clue to where the treasure is found), representing full incarnation of the Spirit in matter.For reasons that are beyond the scope of this manuscript to explain Card XI rests at the crossroads of the crossed bones. It is centrally located, and encountered in both an ascent as well as a descent. The ascent begins in a path leading from below and progresses up to the heavenly heights (Card XII-XXI). The ascent is the way of overcoming. This is the path of healing, redemption, and fulfillment.
Description of the Cards: More like guidelines
I realized that for each card of the major arcana of the "Pirate Tarot of the Mystic Bootye"I could easily write a chapter, or book, and it would still never be complete. In order to finish my dissertation I decided that a single page should be devoted to describing each one. My doctoral committee challenged me about this decision and about how comprehensively I was addressing the topic. I have included (below) some excerpts of this dialog to demonstrate the rigor of the process. I will use the Fool (Fig. 25.2) and the High Priestess (Fig. 25.3) as examples. First I present the explanation that accompanies the Card, then, the backstory related to this particular Pirate card.
0 The Fool
The Fool represents a traveler—the Self. He is an archetypal Hermes figure. He experiences both the physical (animal) and the angelic (spiritual) energies of life. These qualities are represented by his animal companion and the presence of an angel who seems to be looking on from above. The two colored spheres on his headgear represent the two ends of the spectrum of the psyche (red—the physical, blue / violet—the spiritual), which is the realm of the soul. The travels of the Fool illustrate, in a symbolic way, the archetypal soulful journey of the Hero on the eternal Quest.
[Card 0 - The FOOL See references for visual quotations in the Card below]
Fig. 25.2 (Plate 24) Bruce Hersch. "Pirate Tarot of the Mystic Bootye." © 2009 Bruce Hersch. "Earth from Space" photo courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. Further reproduction prohibited.
The Fool is dressed in motley. He has a staff and a rod with which he carries his bag. The star indicates the presence of the Deity who precedes him and shows the way. The Fool is motivated by the power of Eros (an anagram of rose)—the erotic force that drives the individual to do what they "love" or to seek that which they love. It appears that the Fool is drawn toward the planet (Earth from space) whose circular form symbolizes the goal of life, which is to fully experience the self. Attaining this objective is to find a Treasure, which has been called many things. The ship represents a vessel which will carry us across the brim between this world and the other world, through the distances of time and space, to earthly embodiment, and "to the Universe and beyond [. . .]" For the Pirate, the ultimate goal is the Mystic Bootye.
Re-viewing The Fool in the Pirate Archetype
Although it may seem that the explanations are the "least developed part" of my dissertation, I will make the case that the opposite is true. It was necessary to distill the words to signify an archetypal experience—a task that will never be complete. The trick, of course, is to be able to speak or interpret the symbolism. In the future, I plan to follow-up with additional analysis and hope others will join in this endeavor. As the saying goes, "A picture is worth ten thousand words." I feel that the cards are my greatest contribution to the field and the words comprise a relatively minor part. For now, in the interest of containing a work that is potentially limitless, I present what I have submitted.
You specifically ask: What makes the Fool in the Pirate Tarot different from the Fool in other decks? What does Pirate infused Foolishness mean to the psyche?
The obvious answer is that every Tarot deck is unique in some way, as is the Pirate Tarot. As a projective tool, this Tarot card raises the question, "How or in what ways am I foolish? Or, what is foolish about the situation that I find myself in?" Remember that the Tarot (rota, wheel) is often called a Fool's Journey. The quote I use as the epigraph for Chapter 4 to explore the "story" of this journey reminds us that we really do not know how this journey has come about, or how it is going to end, only that it is already complex. This card represents complexities in which we are immersed. Symbolically, we see that the Fool is entering the picture from the left and moving toward the right. This directionality represents moving from the sinister, dark, unknown unconscious elements and taking steps, moving toward the right, suggestive of developing consciousness. He is shown stepping forward with the right foot, indicating volition or intention. The explanation of this card starts out simply, "The Fool represents a traveler—the Self."
The purpose of engaging in the game of Tarot is to become more aware of our experience (consciousness raising) and to get to know the Self (Know Thyself). The Fool of the medieval court was often the only one who could reveal or speak the truth with impunity. In this card he is carrying a rod and a staff which the Lord's Prayer indicates provides divine protection. In our quest for individuation, or the Mystic Bootye, the truth is revealed by a guiding light, represented in this card by the star. The relationship of this element may be amplified by analyzing the card entitled The Star. As with other elements in each card there is an interrelationship with other cards in the deck that further serve to clarify the curiosity of the seeker.
The Fool is attired in motley, which also happens to be one of the pirate's favorite modes of dress. In the old days fancy clothes had to be created by a tailor or seamstress and could only be afforded by the nobility. When pirates would plunder they took great pleasure in picking out the gaudiest garments to wear, even (especially) if they did not match; thus the term "motley crew." Of course they should not appear in town where anybody wearing such clothes that were not from the royal family was likely to be identified as a robber. Metaphorically, this garb represents the individual who displays a conglomeration of habits, behavior patterns, and personality traits acquired on their travels. Like the Fool we can be unaware of how actions, attitude, and appearance affect others.
A unique aspect of the Fool in the Pirate Tarot deck is seen in his headgear. The original of this image is found in the Marseilles deck. The headgear was cut off at the level of the red ball by the frame of the card, thus leaving an upper portion unknown. I used my intuition, and a trick from Gestalt psychology, to create what I thought might be the whole. I therefore added the blue sphere. This is representative of "giving back" or reintegrating the spiritual element to contemporary viewers as it relates to Jung's exposition of psychology as traversing the color spectrum from red (physical) to blue-violet (spiritual). The red-blue spectrum is also seen reaching from the organic reds of the rose design at the bottom of the card, below, to the subtle blue in the reaches of space above.
The Fool is erotically drawn to take the next step (off the ledge?) even though he is warned by his animal companion. We see the circular form of the destination in the planet that beckons to him from a "global" perspective. This is the Earth from space. It is an extraterrestrial perspective, portraying the expansive view of an out-of-body-experience. In the Card it is difficult to determine if the vista is up or down. In any case, Jung speaks of "dropping-in," which establishes a basis for identifying the process of exploring the psyche as entering "the depths," now called depth psychology. The journey of the Fool will be from this outer space (spacey) / cosmic point into embodiment in the mundane (earthy) life where the boxes are seen forming (See "the box" analogy in the Prologue). This is where the life of the Pirate as we know it will occur. The ship (vessel) provides the transportation to the mundane where the Pirate archetype will be manifest.
The angelic figure reminds us of the idea that we are not alone on our journey. In the modern day, the Age of Aquarius, much is said about the presence or influence of angels. This Fool presents an image that incorporates this dimension for current readers. Here we are reminded of the heavenly presence of a guardian angel, a soul-companion or daimon guiding our destiny. The book is a record of that journey or perhaps (both / and) the divine adventure that we live, the "story" of our life. The angel is deliberately depicted as not being confined to the "frame" of the card to convey that it is not constrained by ordinary concepts such as frameworks or "the box."
The Fool is one of the most enigmatic cards of the deck. He reveals and conceals all of the qualities of the Pirate. As a vehicle of projective identification, it is important to remain open to every potentiality. I realize that my writing and explanation is also a projection of my own psyche. Everyone will have their own way of making-up or explaining what is perceived as occurring in the image presented in this card. That is part of the art.
Within the context of the Pirate Spread I offer a means to enter more deeply into piratedom. Through the imaginary adventures of the Fool (the Self) the reader is invited to engage in various aspects of a piratic life. An overview of the pattern of the Pirate Spread is seen to be an ellipsis, an infinity sign, a hermeneutic circle—swinging back and forth. The Fool offers the consciousness a resting place, a moment in time to abide. It could be asked, has the Fool already taken the (pirate infused) journey? Does he have plunder in the bag? Is he going on the account, or going again? The beauty is that the answer is a mirror and a journey. It would be foolish to depict it otherwise.
Like the naive reader who views this card and questions if the Fool has any qualities of the Pirate, I used to look at myself and my culture and not comprehend the identification of the white man as a race of pirates. My view has changed: I get it now. I challenge those who doubt to engage in the Fool's Journey through the map provided by the cards of the Pirate Tarot and the Pirate Spread. I offer this work as a means of self-discovery. The words of T.S. Eliot seem particularly applicable: "The end of all our explorations will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."
II The High Priestess
The High Priestess is the mythic Mother of all there is, the primordial Deep, and the sacred Waters. Here is seen the vesica piscis, the womb of existence, represented by the swirling pattern of blues and greens. This is the source of the waters of life, and of all the water seen flowing in the other cards of the Pirate Tarot. Here, in the archetypal realm, mystical beings exist—the Mermaid (mer = sea) and the sea serpent (the snake); which the ancient seafarers perceived to be magical creatures of the Unknown. In Pirate psychology the depths contain the mysteries of the Unconscious.
Card II - The High Priestess [See references for visual quotations in the Card below]
Fig. 25.3 Bruce Hersch. "Pirate Tarot of the Mystic Bootye." © 2009 Bruce Hersch. Permission to recycle the mermaid and serpent images from artist Richard Becker. Further reproduction prohibited.
* * *
Being emerges out of the lips of the Unconscious. There is a wordless word that expresses this process. Only those who already know it will understand. The word is the preverbal expression, associated with pirates: RRRrrrr! Like the mantra AUM, it starts with the intake of breath and can mean many things, depending on how it is expressed. This is a metaphor for life. Today anyone can get a sense of it in the modern word "are," which has come to mean the very reality of existence. The Mystic Bootye is to be found in the space between being and becoming; it is the RRRrrrr [are] between You and yourself (Self). The High Priestess serves and protects the sacred way of the Quest.
Allow your daemon
To draw you in
To lead the way.
III The Empress
Card III -The Empress [The High Priestess: The image for this Card came from a comic book by R. Becker, Bloodthirsty Pirate Tales # 8 (California: Black Swan Press, Summer 2000). It has been colorized and placed within an original vortex. The words are added to amplify the role of the High Priestess and the central part of the language of RRRrrrr in piratedom.
Card III, the Empress shows us an iconic pirate wench ensconced on a tropical isle. She stands waving alluringly in front of a closed pirate chest. At her feet are smaller treasures: sacks of gold, an open jewel chest and the alchemic representation of coniunctio. Behind her we see the ocean in motion. The trade winds blow through the palms and the sea moves responding to the moon and current.
The smiling, long legged Empress part of the treasure, but the dagger at her waist reminds us she protects herself and the sacred union, even as she draws us closer. She is a pirate beauty. Desire is awakened by viewing the Empress. Her allure beckons; even as her wave may be a signal of departure or welcome. She represents the confounding desire for fulfilled beauty.
The Empress [See references for visual quotations in the Card below]
The Empress is the offspring of the union between the creative power of God, shown in Card I as the Magician, and the primal nurturing energies of the High Priestess (Card II). Like Aphrodite, who emerges fully formed from the sea, this is a sacred event, as indicated by the angels who look on from above. The symbol of the yin and yang illustrates that when two get together a third space, a whole new entity, is created. In life, this alludes to consciousness which is made complete by experience. The real Quest is for an experience that will fully satisfy the desire to be a whole person.
The Empress is seductive. Her attraction is highlighted by the treasure chest (booty) and the tropical island paradise. The island is a symbol for experience. She waves invitingly with her left hand, a gesture that alludes to her emotional and intuitive nature. She points to the ground, where can be seen embedded in the sand of the beach a picture of the coniunctio. Her symbols include the pink rose within the golden light of a vesica (vulva). Pink is a combination of the red of passion (physical) and the white (spirit). The sign of Venus, the Goddess of Love, is seen inside of a six-pointed star which is created by the interlaced triangles of Above and Below. Thus she is an embodiment of eros—the anima. Her promise is fulfillment. Her seduction is: "Seek ye the Mystic Bootye!"
Re-viewing The Empress in the Pirate Archetype
You ask: What is Pirate-infused Empress look like? I can only direct you to take a look at the Empress in the Pirate Tarot and remind you that this is original work. I know of nowhere else that these two psychic dimensions (Empress x Pirate) have been juxtaposed in this particular way. I can tell you that my method of arriving at this image was to observe as many other decks as I could and then present the qualities that I felt embodied the essence of this card—the archetype of the Empress set in a pirate-friendly environment.
As to, how does it show up actually in some one's life experience and individuation process? My answer is that the pirate Empress plays the same role in piratry that the Empress has always played throughout history in mind, soul, and the mythology of other cultures. Others that represent this energy include the Great Mother, Goddess, Earth Mother, maternal, nurturing, fertility, sexuality, female warrior; such figures as Isis, Demeter, Aphrodite, Inanna, and Mary. She shows up as the promise of fecundity, harvest, a great treasure and new life. She is the heroic consort of the Hero. The Empress is an anima figure. It represents the deep mystery of the female as partner in the hierosgamos, an active participant in the sacred marriage, a passionate divine act; a powerful image of wholeness and completion
You write that, each card needs to be a specific manifestation of the Pirate archetype. Otherwise you are just rewriting and redrawing already existing decks.
Creating the cards to reflect archetypal aspects of the Pirate archetype was the challenge when I undertook my dissertation in this manner. I submitted myself to be open to the archetype that subsequently inundated my consciousness. The artistic expression, presented here is what emerged from that experiment. I take exception to the idea that recreating the deck as viewed through the pirate "lens" was merely redrawing an existing deck.
Each Tarot deck is anchored in the experience and culture of the artist / author who created it. When I initially acknowledged my interest in exploring the psychology of the Pirate, I was as clueless as the catalogs are vacant on this topic. My approach began as the insight that we are immersed in a pirate nation. To get in touch with our collective pirate heritage called for submitting to my own individuation process. This included: facing the shadow, withdrawing projections, relativizing the ego, and experiencing the effects the Pirate had exerted on my unconscious.
This work got me in touch with an archetypal level of awareness, normally unavailable to waking consciousness. Exploring the unconscious is the job of the depth psychologist. The result of this exploration was the discovery of something valuable. That something is a new myth; a story in the form of an illuminated manuscript called The Quest for the Mystic Bootye. As it turns out, you could say that I am just rewriting a story that has already been told many times. Joseph Campbell has called this the monomyth, in which case you could say that all stories are the retelling of one tale—the Hero's Journey, and that all heroes are the same with simply a different mask. So this is a rewriting of the story with a "fresh twist," as needs to be done. In this way a new generation of readers can read the story, and understand how it reflects another unique facet of our culture—that of the Pirate—as we like to do.
The basic unit of understanding in psychology is a story. Stories give one a feeling that some sense can be made out of the multitude of experiences in which we are immersed. The cards of the "Pirate Tarot of the Mystic Bootye" offer a basic system of reference points, like numerals or the letters of the alphabet. They can be used as an aid in identifying, defining, and creating stories that give meaning to life. The pirate represents a unique presence in the psychological landscape. As natural forces work to form the matrix of a crystal, so the psychological elements relate to define the archetype. However, to look candidly at the many facets of the archetype can be painfully self-revealing. To look at the Pirate is to look in the mirror and beyond. These concepts lay a foundation for the emergent field of Pirate psychology. Getting to know the Self is a daunting challenge, but potentially the most rewarding: a great Treasure. Seek ye the Mystic Bootye!
Banzhaf, H. Tarot and the Hero's Journey. New York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser. 2000.
Campbell, J. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. New York: Pantheon, 1973.
_____. The Power of Myth. New York: Doubleday, 1988.
Carroll, Lewis. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. New York: Garden City, n.d.
Evola, J. The Hermetic Tradition: Symbols and Teachings of the Royal Art. Trans. E. Rehmus. Rochester, VA: Inner Traditions International, 1971
Hersch, B. "Pirate Therapy: Quest for the Mystic Bootye."Diss. Pacifica Graduate Institute, in progress.
Hommaker-Zondag, K. Tarot as a Way of Life: A Jungian Approach to the Tarot. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1977.
Jung, C. Alchemical Studies. Trans. R. F. C. Hull. 1948. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1983.
_____. Memories, dreams, reflections. New York: Vintage, 1961.
_____. Mysterium coniunctionis: An inquiry into the separation and synthesis of psychic opposites in alchemy. Trans. R. F. C. Hull. 1952. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1977.
Ogilvie, J. The Imperial Dictionary of the English language. Ed. C. Annandale. London: Blackie and Son, 1883.
Rives, C. "The Vampire: An Image of Destructive Narcissism." Diss. Pacifica Graduate Institute, 1995.
Robinson, J. Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry. New York: M. Evans, 1989.
Tarnas, R. The Passion of the Western Mind. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1991.
References for Visual Quotations in the Cards
Card 0 - The FOOL: Source of images - The figure in the bottom left hand corner, The FOOL, is rendered after the Fool in the Tarot of Marseilles. It is widely dispersed by J.M. Simon/Grimaud, France. In Jung and Tarot: An Archetypal Journey, Nichols (1980) New York, ME: Samuel Weiser, Inc. The “rose” that morphs into a flying bird (silhouette of an eagle) that expands into the cosmos with violet colored spiral design relates to eros (an anagram of “rose”); the energy of Love that affects being. From a design in: Berkus R. (1992) The Consciousness of Deserving: Awakening the Treasures within the Mind. Illustrated by Salerno, J. Santa Monica, CA: Red Rose Press. It appears to begin to bridge the gap between the red (physical/material) to the blues of the space/depths/spiritual realms. The planetary sphere, which is now a familiar view of the earth from space, was downloaded on the internet from the NASA website: http://www.nasa.gov. Source for the ship is: R. Platt (1994) Pirate. Photographed by T. Chambers. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. p. 20. Star (generic) unknown (note: this is the same five-pointed star seen in Pirate Tarot card XVII.). The angel and geometric patterns are original. Card II - The High Priestess The image for this Card came from a comic book by R. Becker, Bloodthirsty Pirate Tales # 8 (California: Black Swan Press, Summer 2000). It has been colorized and placed within an original vortex. The words are added to amplify the role of the High Priestess and the central part of the language of RRRrrrr in piratedom.
Card II - The High Priestess. Source of Images - The (colorized) image of the mermaid, sea serpent, fish and bubbles is from: Becker, R. (Summer 2000) Bloodthirsty pirate tales #8. Redwood City, CA: Black Swan Press. Moon: source unknown. Vesica design: original, are actually a digital distortion of the palm trees in Card III.
Card III - The Empress: Source of images - The female pirate with wooden chest and sand is from a work by Unknown (ca. 1930) “Treasures from the Deep.” The red box of treasure and bags of coins are by Unknown (ca. 1930) “Fair as Her Jewelled Treasure.” Both found in Artist Archives (2001) Pirate & Gypsy Girls. Portland, OR: Collectors Press, Inc. Coniunctio: Figure 5. The Conjunction, reproduction of a woodcut from the Rosarium Philosophorum, Secunda pars Alchimiae de Lapide Philosophica (Frankfurt, 1550). Palm trees and island: clip art, source unknown. Pink rose in the golden vesica after the reverse side of The alchemical tarot cards (1995) by R. Guily and R. Place, London: Harper-Collins Publishers. Venus emerging from the sea and angels: from “The Birth of Venus” by S. Botticelli (c.1485). Astrological sign for the planet Venus: source unknown. Yin/Yang (Tao): source unknown.
Bruce Hersch earned a PhD in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis on Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, an MA in community / clinical psychology from Pepperdine University, Malibu, and a BA in psychology from UCLA. His explorations of the Pirate archetype and research into pirate psychology have led him to develop the "Pirate Tarot of the Mystic Bootye"as a method for revealing our shadowy relationship with the image of the Pirate. In his dissertation entitled, "Pirate Therapy: Quest for the Mystic Bootye," he emphasizes the necessity of getting in touch with the inner pirate as a means of personal and social adjustment. He brings over twenty-five years in the mental health field and experience with Tarot to his understanding of human nature, contemporary culture, and this endeavor.
 Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (New York: Garden City, n.d.) 51.
 B. Hersch, "Pirate Therapy: Quest for the Mystic Bootye,"diss., Pacifica Graduate Institute, in progress
 I now call it this to distinguish it from other decks that are emerging.
 C. Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (New York: Vintage, 1961) 248-49.
 J. Campbell, The Power of Myth (New York: Doubleday, 1988) 38-39.
 R. Tarnas, The Passion of the Western Mind (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1991) 6-10.
 C. Rives, "The Vampire: An Image of Destructive Narcissism," diss., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 1995, 1.
The Bible (King James Version) Luke 22:37.
 See definition of piracy in J. Ogilvie, The Imperial Dictionary of the English language, ed. C. Annandale (London: Blackie and Son, 1883) 450.
 Upon initiation a Freemason is told that this (third degree) "will make you a brother to pirates and corsairs." J. Robinson, Born in blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry (New York: M. Evans, 1989) 166.
 Themes include how to outpirate the pirate, better the bad pirate, or in some way be a good pirate.
 All visual components utilized in this student project are considered to be fair usage.
 C. Jung, Mysterium coniunctionis: An Inquiry into the Separation and Synthesis of Psychic Opposites in Alchemy, trans. R. F. C. Hull (1952; Princeton: Princeton UP, 1977).
 J. Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (New York: Pantheon, 1973).
 Jung, Mysterium coniunctionis 499.
 Campbell, The Power of Myth 120-21.
 K. Hommaker-Zondag, Tarot as a Way of Life: A Jungian Approach to the Tarot (York Beach, ME: Samuel Wieser, 1977) xv.
 C. Jung, Alchemical Studies, trans. R. F. C. Hull (1948; Princeton: Princeton UP, 1983) 199.
 Genesis 3:24
 H. Banzhaf, Tarot and the Hero's Journey (New York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 2000) 6.
 J. Evola, The Hermetic Tradition: Symbols and Teachings of the Royal Art, trans. E. Rehmus (Rochester, VA: Inner Traditions International, 1971) 157.
 Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections 326.
 The cards follow the same order and numbers as the Rider-Waite deck.
 A minor arcana for this deck is a work in progress.
 "We are a psychic process which we do not control, or only partly direct. Consequently, we cannot have any final judgment about our lives. If we had, we would know everything—but at most that is only a pretense. At bottom we never know how it has all come about. The story of life begins somewhere, at some particular point we happen to remember; and even then it was already highly complex. We do not know how life is going to turn out. Therefore, the story has no beginning, and the end can only be vaguely hinted at." Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections 4.
 See Card XVII.
 Prologue to my dissertation. Pirate Lesson #1: Thinking out of the Box / Light.
 Because the card (arcana) is purposely meant to correlate with other depictions of the same archetypal energy which is approached in other incarnations, the reader may benefit in their understanding of the pirate Empress by reading the explanations of this card as presented by other authors and in other Tarot decks.