Lauren Buckingham Over

Art + The Unconscious Mind:  Pictures & Words | Astrology & Tarot | Hypnosis (2021)

Street Tarot: Etteilla + The Found Language of Plants

I recently completed a set of images incorporating playing card elements with botanical illustration and symbolism, based on the Old Farmer's Almanac information. They were designed to be posted on the streets of Paris, alongside Etteila Tarot cards- a deck created by the Parisian occultist Jean-Baptiste Alliette in 1791. He was the first to teach and popularize the Tarot as a divination tool (as opposed to merely a game), and the first to make his living around it. He mother was a seed merchant, and he began his life in the same occupation. I find his connection to the world of plants intriguing, as well as the idea that even in this time, people sometimes underwent dramatic transformations in their interests, identities and the work they did in the world. This was inspired in part by the site-specific project of Mark X. Farina.
Mark was a resident at Cité International Des Artes. During April, I posted a series of Tarot 'readings' for locations around Paris, in honor of Etteilla. This is a sort of Tarot version of Astrocartography, which provides birthcharts for geographical places. It's based on the idea that places, objects, plants/animals can be interpreted and participate in a symbolic conversation based on their unique energy, just as humans can. This is also related to the concept of mundane 'magic,' to be found and utilized in everyday life, as I'm reading about in Sabrina Scott's graphic novel, Witch Body.


An excerpt from Wikipedia:

'Etteilla' is the pseudonym of Jean-Baptiste Alliette (28 August 1738 – 12 December 1791). He was a French occultist who was the first to popularise tarot divination to a wide audience (1785), and therefore the first professional tarot occultist known to history who made his living by card divination. Etteilla published his ideas of the correspondences between the tarot, astrology, and the four classical elements and four humors, and was the first to issue a revised tarot deck specifically designed for occult purposes (1791). which was created by Jean-Baptise Alliette (the Book of Thoth/Etteila Deck). (excerpt from Wikipedia)

Etteilla's father was a caterer and his mother was a seed merchant. Etteilla himself made his living as a seed merchant before later becoming a consultant around metaphysical subjects, writer and teacher.