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Ithell Colquhoun's Taro at the College of Psychic Studies

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The photos at the top and bottom of this post show cards from Ithell Colquhoun’s fascinating tarot deck, Taro as Colour, on display at the College of Psychic Studies as part of the Creative Spirits Art Exhibition. It’s in a room dedicated to tarot and divination. Here’s the information given beside cards:

“In 1977 the Newlyn Gallery in Cornwall exhibited a series of 78 taro designs quite unlike any other. Artist and occultist Ithell Colquohn’s bold project sought to dispense with the figurative narratives of the traditional taro and reimagined the forces behind each card as pure colour. 

“Drawing on the pioneering work of Samuel and Moina MacGregor Mathers and Florence Farr in the 1890s, Colquhoun integrates the esoteric teachings of the Golden Dawn with surrealist semi-automatic techniques to produce a design for a taro deck that remains unique in western esotericism. 

“Each card is signed with Ithell’s monogram devised from her magical name: the letters S.V., Splendidior Vitro: “More sparkling than crystal.”

“Ithell’s was originally reproduced in 2009 by Adam McLean and more recently in 2022 by Fulgur Press.”

I have to say I was so fascinated by the unusual deck that I treated myself to the Fulgur set and the book about it published a few years ago and I’m looking forward to trying the cards out. You can see my copies in the picture to the right. I very much recommend going to the exhibition, which is on at the College of Psychic Studies, 16 Queensberry Place, London, SW7 2EB, until early December. 

The college is hosting a Zoom talk called Ithell Colquhoun: Symbols of the Magian World, by Dr Richard Shillitoe tomorrow, Tuesday 8 November, at 7pm. Tickets are £16. Starting Friday 18 November the college is holding a three-day event with a series of talks called Tarot for Dreamers and Visionaries: A Dialogue of Self and Soul. You can find out more about all of these at the college website: Copies of this tarot deck, and others, are available to buy at the college shop.

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