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10 of Swords and the Origin of Tarot

Rush and Tarot

Beyond_the__Lighted_Stage__RushCanadian trio RUSH have been thrilling fans for over 30 years with their unique blend of prog-rock and cerebral lyrics.

In a year's time, drummer and lyricist Neil Peart suffered dual tragedies: in 1997, his only daughter, Selena, died in a car wreck on her way to begin college; a year later, his inconsolable wife, Jackie, died of cancer.

Many RUSH fans wondered if Neil would ever go back to making music--and if RUSH would continue.

Fortunately, Neil returned in 2002--penning both a memoir detailing his healing journey and the lyrics to the CD Vapor Trails.  In his memoir Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, Neil relates his 14-month, 55,000 mile trip on a motorcycle in search for a reason to live. Interestingly, Neil describes an accurate Tarot card reading he received in California, even using Tarot himself while reading Tarot for Dummies--with equally good results.

The liner notes to the Vapor Trails CD features thirteen Tarot card images--one card to each song:

VT1 • One Little Victory - Knight of Wands
• Ceiling Unlimited - The Star
• Ghost Rider - Wheel of Fortune
• Peaceable Kingdom - The Tower
• The Stars Look Down - The Chariot
• How It Is - The Hanged Man
• Vapor Trail - 6 of Swords
• Secret Touch - The Hermit
• Earthshine - The Lovers
• Sweet Miracle - Ace of Cups
• Nocturne - The Moon
• Freeze (Part IV of Fear) - 8 of Swords
• Out of the Cradle - The Fool

Peaceable Kingdom is especially replete with Tarot imagery, as you can see with these lyrics:

PeartGhostRiderJustice against the hanged man
Knight of Wands against the hour
Swords against the kingdom
Time against the tower

All this time we're shuffling and laying out all our cards
While a billion other dealers are slipping past our guards
All this time we're hoping and praying we all might learn
While a billion other teachers are teaching them how to burn

Dream of a peaceable kingdom
Dream of a time without war
The ones we wish would hear us
VT2 Have heard it all before

A wave toward the clearing sky
A wave toward the clearing sky

The Hermit against the Lovers
Or the Devil against the Fool
Swords against the kingdom
The Wheel against the rules

I found it odd that the liner notes attribute all "art direction, paintings, and portraits" to Hugh Syme (the artist who has done all of the RUSH album covers except one)--especially since Pamela Colman Smith's initials are still imbedded in the images! (Don't tell Stuart...)

Vapor_Trails One of the Vapor Trails tour shirts features a large image of the "face in the Moon" (found on the Rider-Waite-Smith Moon card) encircled by T-A-R-O-T (Wheel of Fortune card) . Fortunately, I snagged a red one a few years back--and it's a good thing I did, because I can't locate these T-shirts anywhere on the web right now.

I don't believe I've ever heard Tarot references in RUSH's other CD's (I have 15 of their CDs and 3 DVD compilations), but I will say one thing: every time I listen to their music, Tarot cards dance in my head! I've been known to spend hours writing in my Tarot journal while listening to their music, specifically correlating lyrics/songs to the cards.

What Tarot cards do you "hear" in Rush lyrics? Has Rush inspired or informed your Tarot practice? Have you gotten into Tarot because of Neil's experience? I'd love to hear about it!

-- Janet

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