The Tarot Reader (Bridget Tichenor and Jean Patchett) by Irving Penn, New York, 1949.
My skills as a fashion and cultural historian have allowed me to work on many different types of projects in many different fields. While I am in the midst of pre production of a film I am producing on Thea Porter (more on that soon!), I have also co-developed a 40-day program that brings together cultural icons and the tarot. Alongside Sherene Vismaya Schostak (a Jungian psychoanalyist and astrologer) and Katelan Foisy (an artist, witch and tarot reader), we are launching "Tarot Images and Icons: A 40-Day Journey through Sex, Glamour and Rock n’ Roll" on March 7th, for a forty-day program of emails filled with histories, questions, rituals and magic. Sherene has led over thirty of these Project 40 programs, but this is the first time we have brought together our differing skills. As someone who has found both the tarot and psychoanalysis incredibly valuable in my life, it has been a rewarding experience matching icons from fashion/art/music/literature with the Major Arcana and doing the intense research on each celebrity. Tying everything back together, Thea Porter was notoriously superstitious (a fact she blamed on her childhood in Lebanon: "When I was growing up in Damascus, I always had my coffee cup read and I still believe in the stars" ) and would not make any business decisions without consulting astrologers and tarot readers—unfortunately, not always to her benefit. Letters between Thea and her good friend, the famous Irish author Edna O'Brien, include long discussions of the different tarot cards and their symbolism within the two women's lives and love affairs.
Thea Porter receiving a tarot reading from Frederick Davis during a film on her, broadcast on the BBC's Tonight program, October 21st, 1975.
Please see the Project 40 website for more information and to sign up:
The journey of the Tarot is an archetypal journey of the soul—from the innocent emergence of the Fool through the sobering confrontation with Death, shadow work of The Devil, and the full circle nature of karmic cycles with the World.
The 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot reveal keys and insights along the soul's passage through the complex layers of Self—the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful… and most importantly, the unknown.
As universal archetypes we can see the cards reflected not only in our personal journeys, but in those around us and especially highlighted/exaggerated in the lives of iconic figures (rock stars, artists, and legends) who live on the archetypal dimension in waking life.
For this Project 40 we have paired icons from the worlds of art, music, fashion and literature with the corresponding Tarot archetypes. We will work with these Major Arcana icons to channel the archetypal energies into our own lives through a mix of writing, ritual, and other psychoanalytic/ esoteric techniques. Drawing on Sherene’s Jungian psychoanalytical and astrological background, Katelan's wealth of knowledge as a tarot reader, mystic and artist, as well as Laura’s career as a cultural and fashion historian, this P40 will amp up the glamour while also diving deep into the psyche.
The 22 cards of the Major Arcana are split over 40 days, with all but three cards receiving two days of focus each. The sequential sojourn through the cards presents us with a path where we will encounter the stars of western culture, acting as guides and teachers at each stop. By looking to others we learn about ourselves. Just as David Copperfield begins with, “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show," so you have the choice through this forty day journey to become the hero, or icon, of your own life.
Susie Bick photographed by Ellen von Unwerth for Vogue Italia, June 1992.