04-emperor

Star Wars Tarot: Emperor

…I am your Father.

–Darth Vader

We left off with The Empress, and what’s interesting about the Major Arcana from II to V, is that there’s almost this bell curve from spiritual feminine (The High Priestess) to material feminine or mother (The Empress) and then material masculine (The Emperor) to spiritual masculine (The Heirophant). The Emperor, is in some ways, the opposite of The Empress. Where The Empress is free and abundant, The Emperor sets rules and creates limitations. He is the father figure: the leader, the master. Now, Emperor Palpatine is the most obvious character for this Major Arcana. But only expresses the negative side, the Dark Side, of the archetype. So I’ll have to site fatherly behavior from characters who don’t express the archetype of Emperor as well.

I personally think that being a father is the highest form of masculinity. That is to say, everything we associate with being macho has everything to do with being a father. Unfortunately, this machismo can become negatively unbalanced and being the leader and man of the house may express itself as domestic abuse. But when being the man of the house goes right, things are taken care of and probably taken for granted. A strong man can physically protect his family. A rich man can financially provide for his wife and children. A sexually viral man can get you pregnant. Personally, I take mental notes about child development because I want to be a good father.

A true man takes care of his woman, his family, his friends, the people he gives service to (or his career). And like the Jedi he is chivalrous. He may take what he wants, but he will do so under the agreements he lives under. He takes up his sabre and fights the mundane beasts of putting food on the table and saving up for your college fund. He caries his cross and drops you off at soccer practice and mows the lawn. Unlike mom who hugs and takes care of you, its your dad who teaches you how to drive.

He can be a stern and patient teacher, like Father Time. Or he can set limitations and rules like the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God. Where your mother will kiss your boo-boos aways, your father will tell you to stop crying and shake it off.

 

When George Lucas was putting together this space epic, all the big wigs didn’t understand what a Wookie was or if this thing would even make money. But the top studio executive, the Emperor, at 20th Century Fox (forgot his name and I’ll have to correct this part after some internet research) said that he might not understand the script, but he believed in George Lucas.

 

So, like I said, Emperor Palpatine is the most appropriate character for this card. He is the political leader of an inter-stellar fascist government. Everything he says goes. He is the lord and master of Darth Vader and was a father figure to Anakin Skywalker.

Obi Wan Kenobi was a positive male role model to Luke Skywalker. Where Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru wanted to shelter and protect him, Old Ben Kenobi wanted to teach him how to stand on his own two feet so he can protect himself. This is what he attempted to do with Anakin, but ended up more like an older brother. This is what Qui Gon Jinn wanted to do. In fact he took Anakin away from his mother.

This reminds me of some of the initiatory rituals in New Guinea, where boys are taken from their mothers. Their mothers will cry and act sad as part of the ritual. But the boy has to be taken away from safety and security. Anakin had to leave. Luke had to leave. So they can be men. So they may be fathers themselves.

 

 

May the Force be with you.

 

Next, The Heirophant (But I haven’t done that, so the next is The Hanged Man>>

More resources on the Empress:
learntarot.com

03-empress

Star Wars Tarot: The Empress

Mother is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children.

–James O’Barr

The Crow

Our last card, we were at number two: The High Priestess. The mysterious, secret side of the Divine Feminine. Now we are at number three, The Empress. The mother. With two, you just have a couple. With three, you have a family. In geometry, three points define a plane: the material world, space. Three is the birthing of true wisdom, it creates a very stable and pleasant shape.

There is something special about the mother archetype.

I once knew a girl who I was willing to give my heart to. But deception and drama were involved and I never saw her again. Google being google, about a year or two later, I found instagram pics of her and her new baby. Whatever remaining malice I had toward her fell away. It’s as if her path of love was now complete. I was just an unnecessary detour. (If you’re reading this, congratulations.)

The role of mother is truly sacred. Tibetan Buddhist Monks wouldn’t dare hurt a worm because it might have been their mother in another life. The Virgin Mary is blessed amongst ALL women and has been venerated (or worshipped, if you will) among Catholics. As much as I’d like to be an independent grown-up, it’s nice to visit the parents and have mom cook me something. And since we’re talking about my mother, she has sort of become a matriarchal figure, an Empress in her own right, to her family and clan back in the Philippines. In fact, she founded a library in her hometown, giving knowledge and fun to the local children.

This sort of abundance and giving is what mothers do. They give their bodies and about nine months so you can be born. They give their time and energy and money for you. They care. They worry. They love.

So does the more abstract mothers, Mother Earth and Mother Nature, they give. They give their resources because we’re part of her. And to be a bit of an environmentalist, maybe we should clean up after ourselves like Mom raised us to.

 

When I have an idea, I’m like a pregnant woman. I just have to deliver. 

–Abdolkarim Soroush

Giving birth is a creative act. A person is created. My sister just had a baby and this is perhaps the most delightful person I’ve ever met. (I’m sure my own yet-to-be children will be more delightful.) And you just want to be with them. You want them to turn out right. You want them to be President of the United States, or Valedictorian, or Head Quarterback. As George Lucas gave birth to Star Wars, he nurtured it with everything he valued. You can see his love for Joseph Campbell’s work, old Flash Gordon serials he grew up with and World War II dogfights. He gave birth to it with all of his awe and wonder of childhood. He gave that part of himself, that very special part of himself, an entire generation and generations to come, understood. He gave birth to a mythology, a child made up of imagination. He nurtured it. He re-wrote it. He got concept artists to draw and develop it in this sort of primordial womb of developmental creativity. And when it was time to push, it was time to push. A long and painful birth of filming in Tunisia and going over budget.

Leia, do you remember your mother? Your real mother?

– Luke Skywalker

So, here we have Queen Amidala, sitting on her throne. She isn’t wearing her more iconic fanciful headdress. But the last dress we see her as Queen. That is to say, the most developed and mature version of Padme’s role as the Queen. (Also, Bernice Gordon did it first and I wish she would continue with her Star Wars Tarot deck. I mean, just to go on a tangent here, all the other Star Wars Tarot fanart I’ve seen out there are either too pretty/distracting to use for a reading or are lacking in skill and symbolism. Gordon’s Tarot deck is beautiful and minimalist, but has just enough information to be useful. Anyway…)

She is pregnant with Luke and Leia. Now, we all know she doesn’t get pregnant until she retires her role as Queen, but this is more about iconography and symbolism than retelling the Star Wars Saga pictorially. She loves them so much, that she gave her life for her children. Among the Aztecs, fallen warriors are given a special place in heaven. Women who died in childbirth go there to.

In the background, we see the abundant, natural setting of Naboo. This version of nature is different from, say, The Forest Moon of Endor. Endor is wild, where Naboo is beautiful. Endor is dangerous, where Naboo is safe. Its this kind of Mother Earth where crops grow, as opposed to the type of Mother Nature where you have to forage and hunt. We see abundant amber waves of grain at our Empress’s feet, further strengthening this theme. And we see a waterfall in the background, related to emotion.

Leaning to the side of the throne is the emblem of Naboo. This deck, mainly being a Rider-Waite Clone, I felt like something needed to be in that spot. In the Rider-Waite Empress, we see a heart with the symbol of Venus. Venus, as you know signifies love an relationships. Naboo, being the place where Anakin and Padme fell in love, it seemed appropriate. Also, the shape of the emblem reminds me of the medical diagram of a Uterus.

On the Khabbalistic Tree of Life, The Empress is associated with the path between Chokmah, or Wisdom, and Binah, or Understanding. She’s sort of that path between being a sparkle in your father’s eye, to being a kick from inside mom’s belly. Thought on the path to Form. An Idea on the path to being a full fledged pitch to some rich studio executives.

I feel like the Empress is the first step in the practical, material world. That is to say, a Fools are fumbling and free, Magicians can be idealistic weirdos, and High Priestesses held up on a pedestal. The Empress, however is the one that gave birth to you, made sure you had clean underwear, and saved up for your college tuition. She also loves you unconditionally, unlike that fever-pitched Tinder kind of love. It is so magical and utterly mundane. Its something easily taken for granted: to be a mom and to have a mom. But as much as your mom might nag you about settling down or whatever psychological issues you have with her, she was the very first person you loved.

…Even if she died giving birth to you as your estranged cyborg father mourned for her in the most unintentionally humorous way.

 

May the Force be with you.

 

Next, The Emperor >>

More resources on the Empress:
learntarot.com

biddytarot.com

tarotteachings.com

08-staves
two, dominion, staffs, wands, staves,

Star Wars Tarot: Two of Staves

When you’re going from here to there, you can’t do it with one foot… net very well at least. You’d be like a maimed Anakin Skywalker on a Volcano planet, screaming “I hate you” and trying to do his best with the woody dialogue he memorized in his trailed. Or maybe you’d hobble around like a humanoid droid holding your other foot, shortly after you’ve been rebuilt by your astromech counterpart.

You need at least two feet to make the first step.

Early on in any journey or endeavor, we don’t just need to know our goal, but we need to make plans for that goal. In “A New Hope” Luke wanted to be a Jedi but the only person he knew who could train him was died at the end. Then he went to Dagobah, met Yoda and now we have a plan to confront Vader.

Senator Palpatine had a plan. It involved starting a war, becoming the head of Senate and killing all the Jedi. And all this can be seen visually in the holographic plans of the Death Star.

To have a plan doesn’t simply mean creating a list or directions and then following those directions. It’s actually kind of rebellious because you’re subverting the natural order, the given system or someone else’s plans. There is a boldness to it. You’re going to piss someone off, and in the case of galactic conquest, kill a lot of people.

But I got side-tracked here. This card isn’t explicitly about making plans, but it is about having power. Having respect, dominion and authority. Wielding the Force for your goals.

This card is about power and power can be seductive. In the case of the Emperor, he wielded power for its own sake and not in the service for others. Something a Jedi should watch out for.

May The Force Be With You.

You are not neglected

So, personally it’s been a busy year. And like a lot of people out there, I got to get my act together.

But if you need to see new stuff from me, follow me on instagram.

Check it out:

Self portrait for vol.79 #sketchbook #ink #watercolor #art #selfie #drawing

A photo posted by Elan’ + + + (@toecomics) on

 

 

Modern Courtship
000-staves

Star Wars Tarot: Ace of Staves

One of the first things I noticed about the Rider-Waite Ace of Wands card is how much the wand resembles a penis with a leaf growing out of it. This would make my inner-twelve-year-old giggle, which isn’t a very suppressed part of myself. A friend called it “The Ace of Dickweeds”. I mean, its made out of wood!

 

But since we’re on the subject of phallic symbols, let’s talk about The Sword again. The sword was the first known weapon specifically created to kill another human being. It cuts down. It destroys. It destroys lies with truth and logic. It upholds justice with force, or in the case of the Jedi, THE Force. It is severe masculinity. Remember Space Balls when they had their lightsaber fight? It was pretty much a contest of whose Schwartz were bigger. Who was a more man? Who was dominant? Who had a bigger dick?

 

The Staff, or Wand, isn’t a tool of destruction (at least that’s not its main use). If you put some bristles at the end of it, you can make a brush. And the brush can paint a beautiful masterpiece or put a coat of paint on a newly constructed house. And that home is made out of Staves or staffs or wood refined for human use. Where Swords are the masculine’s severity, Staves are its mercy. It creates, rather than destroys. It builds up, rather than takes apart.

 

The staff is also associated with fire. You can burn wood. Yes, fire is destructive, but if used properly, you can make a good meal, a porceline plate, even a sword. Unlike the element of air, which is assoiated with thoughts and logic, fire is associated with creativity, passion, intuition, excitement, and spirtuality. It can be a light of inspiration, the burning one feels for those they want to kill, those they want to make passionate love to, or for those in complex relationships, both. It can be the Bodhi tree that the Buddha sat under. Or it could be the cross that Christ died on, a symbol of faith. Both trees gave light to both men.

 

The Tuskin Riders are a firey people, wouldn’t you agree? The first time we see one, it attacked Luke Skywalker, holding its Staff over its head. Yelling in rage like a cross between a wild animal and a broken tuba. Do you think you can logically talk your way out of an attack by Sand People? They’re savages! Not like the noble savages of the Wookie or the adorable savages of the Ewoks. They kidnapped and tortured Darth Vader’s mom. They didn’t have a reason, either because they’re that savage or that under developed. They are more like a natural force than a band of nomadic people. Stormtroopers tried to frame them by destroying the Jawa transporter. An easy scapegoat because you know they’ve attacked Jawas before. They randomly shoot Pod Racers. And most importantly, their savagery ignited Anakin’s hate and anger and pushed him ever so closer to the Dark Side of the Force.

 

The design of this card is based on that first time you see a Sand Person but I added distant smoke to further emphasize the wild and firery personality of the Tuskin Raiders.

 

But enough of Sand People. We can find Staves among the Ewoks and the Wookies. They represent another side of the Staves. These creatures CAN be reasoned with. Your intuition and passion and creativity can be an ally and be used to bring down the Dark Side or the evil Empire. It can help you take down your own personal Dark Side… or as C.G. Jung would call it, your Shadow. Actually, all the tarot cards can help do that, even the scarey looking ones.

 

When I see this card in a reading, it means that your intuition or creativity of fire is just below the surface ready to erupt. Its a plant, the North American Dickweed, just about to grow out of the ground. Its a reset buton. Your will and faith and sense of adventure are renewed. And its hard to say what that really means. Because the Staves don’t represent things, but how things are done.

 

May The Force Be With You.

13-death

A Break-up Letter to San Diego Comic Con

Dear San Diego Comic Con,

When I first met you, I just graduated from high school. You were so cool. We would hang out all day and talk about what we wanted to be when we grew up. But around that time, you also started to hanging out with the popular kids. They were all wrong for you. They didn’t really care about you or comics. They just wanted to use you. Your attitude started to change. You got all conceited. I mean, you were still cool, even sexy with all that cosplay and sh!t. We still had some good times!

Remember that booth we rented? Or that table? Remember that magical night we watched Warren Ellis talk? Or that Tenacious D concert? Or when I was nominated for that award?! Or remember just simply, staying up late watching movies and cartoons? You always managed to blow my mind and show me something beautiful and new. You always seemed to inspire my creativity and my soul.

Those were good times, San Diego Comic Con. They were great, in fact. Those were times that, more than anything, I wanted to be inside you. And I wanted to stay inside you for a long long time. But now, everyone’s inside you: the press, Hollywood, people who’ve never even read a comic book. We just don’t have that special connection anymore and I can’t imagine sharing you like that.

Now I hear that you’ve become a Goldigger lately so more people can be inside you. So more people can use you and throw money at you. You’ve lost sight at what’s important, San Diego Comic Con. It sickens me a bit, but I’m not here to judge you. You’ve meant so much in my life: those fourteen or fifteen years we spent with each other are priceless.

The sad thing is, most of those people, those new people in your life, will never understand you like I do. Most of those people don’t love you like I do. They just want to have their way with you, maybe for the weekend or just one day, but I wanted you all the time. If I had you all year long, I’d be a very happy man.

It’s been over between us for a while now. Ever since that argument we had at the Portfolio Review section in 2010. What the f#ck were you thinking!?

Anyway please, please, San Diego Comic Con, please have some dignity! Or at least hold onto the dignity that you have left. You deserve so much better. You used to be so smart and charming, but now its like all of your intelligence has left the room.  {You see, that was a metaphor for all the smart and interesting panel discussions like the Comic Arts Conference or Spirituality in Comics… which was a panel discussion I was on one year…. its a metaphor for those types of events being moved to the Marriott instead of staying in the Convention Center.}

Anyway, I’ve been seeing other conventions. I started seeing Comikaze, probably because we live in the same neighborhood. Although we don’t have as long as a history like you and I. WonderCon Anaheim is really cool, but I had to admit, the first time we met, it was really rocky and the parking sucks because there’s that weird cheerleader thing going on. What’s up with that? AnimeExpo is awfully cute, and you know I have that thing for the Japanese, but… I never had deep, thoughtful, inspiring moments with AnimeExpo like I had with you.

I’ve never had a convention like you before and I’ll never have a convention like you again.

Here’s Looking At You Kid,
—Elan’
PS. But if I’m ever nominated for an Eisner Award again… I. will. SO. WRECK YOU!

—and you’d be all like, “say my name! say my name!” and I’d be like, “that’s how you LIKE it you naughty naughty convention!” And I wouldn’t give a f#ck whose watching!

Originally published here.

An Excerpt From That Novel I’ll Never Finish: Red Line

Last week, I took the Red Line, the subway here in Los Angeles, to Downtown. The train was filled with neutral, silent faces except for a father and his three very young children. He sang to them songs, the type you’d learn in Pre-school and Kindergarden. He kept them entertained as a means to keep them seated. A lesser man would yell at them and bark commands, but he sang to them and made them laugh. He made sure they were safe and behaved.

 

So, of course, I chose the empty seat across from him.

 

The father noticed my bag. My bag is one of a kind. It is an ornate and metallic Tibetan scroll holder attached to an East German Map bag. He pointed at it and told his kids that that’s the magic scroll from Kung Fu Panda. The children were in awe.

 

The train’s speakers announced that my stop, 7th & Metro, was coming up. So I showed the kids the metallic scroll holder. They asked to touch it and I let them. It is a mysterious looking thing that I traveled as far as Echo Park to attain it. I have two of them, each one cost me about forty bucks. Although I’ve seen some on eBay selling at 80.

Anyway, the kids wanted to see what was inside. I opened the cover and all there was were pencils and pens. “This is magic.” I whispered. The kids looked at me with confusion. “This is real magic. I use these to control words and pictures. Kings have ruled with art and pictures. And those kings have been brought down with words. Master the words that come out of your mouth, your heart, and the ones you craft with your pen. Ask yourself what the pictures are telling you, or more likely, what they’re selling you. Go to school, and sharpen your tongue like you sharpen a fine and dangerous weapon. Study art and understand the designed world. For some day, you may bring down a corrupt king or become a just one.”

 

My stop came up and the doors slid open. Instinctively, I threw a smoke bomb onto the floor and disappeared from the three children and their father. As I left, like a ghost, I said, “You’re an awesome dad!”

True story.