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SURVIVAL PENDING REVOLUTION: The History of the Black Panther Party by PAUL ALKEBULAN

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Active Japanese Novelist of Broad Interests

Ralph Ellison

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THE EQUINOX CELEBRATION TAROT


Special for THE NEW TIMES HOLLER!
From the Occult Arts Desk by
Amir Bey, 2009
MAY 3
All photos by Amir Bey unless specified
The Equinox Celebration Tarot, which I began in 1976, may be the only tarot that is based on sculpture, unlike most tarots which are two-dimensional or with Salvador Dali?s deck which was in collage. For the Celebration tarot?s ongoing process, visual and conceptual evolutions have fed each other. The Equinox Celebration, African Wonderstone, Indian Boxwood, Cedar burl, 1980, ht. 9" w. 20"
Photo by Chris Tellez
THE EQUINOX CELEBRATION


My journey with The Equinox Celebration Tarot began with the kind of form that I used for astrological charts at the time. The form was used after the Middle Ages that represented a platform shaped like a truncated pyramid that was thought to have been an ancient observatory used in ancient Egypt. Supposedly ancient astrologer/astronomers observed the movements of celestial bodies for religious and calendrical purposes.

Here?s an example of one that shows the musician Jackie MacLean?s chart
Early Astrological Chart


I wanted to carve a 3D concept of this form out of African Wonderstone (my favorite stone) and created what I called a Pyharam, or ?House of Pi?, since a true pyramid was said to have been based on the mathematical equation of Pi.

Originally those observatories didn?t have a pyramid on top, but for the Pyharam I added one:
Pyharam
African Wonderstone, Amir Bey, 1978
After cutting and carving the Pyharam, the remaining stone was left in four bars. I decided to carve 36 figures for the 36 decans or weeks of the Egyptian calendar (the Egyptian calendrical system is far too complicated to go into here folks!!) to represent entities that had come to celebrate the Spring Equinox. I completed this project in 1980 as The Equinox Celebration and exhibited it shortly after.

Amir Bey with the Equinox Celebration, 1980
Photographer unknown
The Equinox Celebration
Less than a year later, during the night of June 30, 1981, a 58 pound ebony carving I was working on slipped off of the stand it was on and hit The Celebration and shattered most of the pieces. Fortunately I could epoxy most of them neatly together. Since the stone they were carved in was fragile, and I wanted the images to endure, I decided to have them cast in bronze, which was completed in 1987. In 1990 I redesigned and gave the Pyharam different dimensions and added the bronze Celebrants in and around the Pyharam, thus combining - or reuniting the two concepts. This was The Equinox Celebration at the Pyharam. I wonder if this accident didn't happen, would the piece have evolved as it did. I honestly don't think so! In this case creation and destruction, joy and pain were equal parts of the process of growth.

The Equinox Celebration at the Pyharam, 1990, bronze, ht. 19" w. 36"
The Equinox Celebration at the Pyharam
I had wanted to create a tarot deck for sometime, and after the bronzes were cast, I began to explore them first as a game, then as tarot. I photographed them, and then xeroxed them onto card stock. Questions may be asked about how one assigns meaning to tarot or any imagery to be used in readings and oracles. Several concepts are at play: A. Most but not all tarots are based on numbers, astrology, and the imagery used; of those three the latter is the most defining. B. When someone is familiarizing themselves with a tarot deck, while the accompanying book is a guide, the most important understandings of the cards is gained through using them and taking note of what circumstances they appear in. C. Numbers carry certain properties that have specific meanings. Any sole object or entity is the One, or the number 1, which is unity, self, a beginning; that object or entity divided by 2 represents or has the properties of balance, contrast, polarity, result. Each number has a meaning, and the 36 Celebrants of the Equinox tarot have the meanings of 36, a number that has many numerical ideas: 4x9, 6x6, 3x12, 4x3x3, and so on. Astrologically, each Celebrant (card) represents 10 degrees or approximately 10 days of the year?s circle.

The Indicators
After determining the numerical structure of the Celebrants based on the order of their being carved, symbols called Indicators were developed. They include categories of three suits, Sun Moon and Star , using the hieroglyphic symbols for them were given. Symbols were also used for their numbers? for suit numbers 4 or 8; for suit numbers 3, 6, ,9; for suit numbers 12 - which are the last numbers of a suit; and , which are suit numbers that are only divisible by 1 or 2. These numbers are derived from the order that the Celebrants were carved in. Because the order - the evolution of carvings of the Celebrants is essential to their meaning, the indicators symbolize not only the individual numbers within the suits for each Celebrant, but also the numbers that precede and follow it. The middle symbol represents the number of the Celebrant, the symbol to the right is the number that preceded it, and the symbol to the left is the oncoming number. Thus, is the indicator for the 11 of Moons the number for The Flying Swimmer- 11 is a number that is only divisible by 1 or 2, so it has a ; the symbol to the right, also a , is the preceding number 10, and the symbol on the left is a 12, the oncoming number. This way the evolution of the images, or their cycles or phases are included in their numbers. While this may seem complicated, the images and titles are the most important "indicators", along with a user's intuition, and in time the siginicance of the indicators can be used to fine tune their meanings.

Triangle Spread
Three card spreads ? the Triangle Spread - are used for readings in The Celebration Tarot, and are based on a triangle (the number 3), the first two celebrants are placed on the bottom and the third and last is placed at the apex of the triangle, and is called the apex, or result Celebrant. The first Celebrant placed on the bottom left, is the question and the circumstances surrounding it. The second Celebrant?s position is placed on the bottom right and represents what works for or against the situation. Together they show what the current state of the situation is. The third card placed at the top of the first two as the apex of the Triangle, can show either the direction, result, or answer to the question or situation is, depending on what or how the question is asked
This Triangle Spread shows Carver, She Brings The Gift of Music in the first and second positions with The Pact in the Apex position
The Triangle Spread


The presentation for The Equinox Celebration Tarot took place on December 11, 1993 at Skoto Gallery in New York City. Rapheal McAden on wood flute and the bassist William Parker created wonderful vibrations to introduce the Celebrants for those in attendance. The Equinox Celebration at the Pyharam is visible to the right.
The Presentation for
The Equinox Celebration Tarot

Variations of the Celebrants
Visually there are many variations of the images, from stone, bronze, woodcuts, sheet metal mobiles, from the original small figurines, to large free standing sculptures. One am is to create a sculpture park from the bronze Pyharam and figures.
The Support Celebrant image used in the tarot, the 6 of Moons
SUPPORT


The bronze version of Support is the 1st installment of a series that will eventually become a sculpture park devoted to The Equinox Celebration.
Support, bronze, 2010 ht. 28" w. 20" d. 10"



Aside from the long term goal of the sculpture park, individual versions have been created for exhibitions, such a version of The Pact in 2001, the 6 of Suns, which appeared in a group show "Chrono Zones", at the G Spot Co-Lab in New York City:
The Pact Celebrant as it appears in the tarot



The Pact, copper, brass, papier mache on foam core, 2001 ht. 5' w. 3'



Here is a video of an installation of six of the Celebrants as mobiles. This is series is presently in progress, and some of them will be exhibited in an exhibition "X-Treme X-teriors" at Duarte Square on May 16th in New York City. The Celebrants as they appear in the video (not in the photo) are from left: Flying Swimmer, Spirit of Joy, La Danseuse, Speed, The Supreme Juggler, and Strength of Woman in copper and galvanized steel. Click on the title to view.
EQUINOX CELEBRATION
MOBILES


Mac users who may have problems with this video's .wmv file can download
Flip Mac

The book for them is written in English and Japanese; the English version is being revised, and each Celebrant?s meaning is delineated into five categories: Love and Relationships, Career and Work, Business and Finance, Education, and Health. The latest version has more detailed explanations and reflects the insights gained after 16 years additional use. However, some people prefer the earlier version because it allows for a more ?open? interpretation in their opinion; both are in print.

THE CELEBRANTS
In the order they were carved and in the deck
POWER OF WOMAN
POWER OF MAN
MARTIAL
STRENGTH OF WOMAN
RECLINE
SUPPORT
SPIRIT
POWER OF THE KI
SHE BRINGS THE GIFT OF MUSIC
SPIRIT OF BIRTHS
FLYING SWIMMER
CARVER
SPEED
FATHER AND SON
STRENGTH
IN FLIGHT
LOVERS IN STATE
SENSORY
FACE OF ETERNITY
DETERMINATION IN MOTION
UNICORN
MONKEY
KEEPER OF THE LIGHT
TOUGH MAN
COGNIZANCE
LOVERS KISSING
THE MESSENGER
IN DEFIANCE OF DEFINITION
THE SUPREME JUGGLER
THE PACT
THE SPIRIT OF JOY
KING
KING IN HIS STUDY
HEAD-TOE-CHI
SPIRIT OF THE EQUINOX
LA DANSEUSE
For further information see The Encyclopedia of Tarot by Stuart R. Kaplan and Jean Huets, Volume IV, pgs 320, 324, Published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc., 2005

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