This is the twelfth and final post in a series on the creation of Divination’s setting and magical universe as defined by the tarot. The first post in the series is Making a tarot-defined setting, and you can find the entire series linked at the bottom of each entry.
I think of the world of Divination like this:
About a hundred years ago there wasn’t much magic in the world, for whatever reason. There were Artists, but they were few and far between, and thought of themselves as occultists, sorcerers, priests, etc.
Then, Pixie drew the deck in a period of Esoteric inspiration, and provided a means for people to start opening their Third Eyes and interacting with magic—which they began to call “the Art.”
What followed was a hundred years of the slow spreading of the Art amongst secret groups, all desperate to keep their understanding safe from one another. It was critical that they do so—the knowledge of the Art is dangerous. If everyone has it, everyone is in trouble.
And yet, while only a few have it, a great gap is forming, between those who subvert the limitations of the world, and those who are forced to operate within it.
But that age is coming to a close. The population of Artists is growing – and quickly – as more and more people open their Third Eyes. What will happen when there are too many Artists to govern? What will happen when the crowd of young new Artists confront the old elites and all the power they’ve been able to amass over the last hundred years?
I call it a Renaissance, and I think it’s more than just a nice sound given the language of “artwork” in Divination. I see a flourishing of the Art—not because of patronage or culture, but because of the spreading of a secret outlined in a deck of tarot cards.
Ours is a world where we’re constantly learning about the passions and successes of distant “others.” Ours is also a world of constantly escalating crises. I don’t know how much of that to place stock in—there are some ways in which I’m terrified for the future, and other ways in which I feel optimistic.
I think Artists would feel the same way, that they’re approaching an oncoming crisis: the moment there’s too many Artists and too much Art for any of the culture they’ve built over the past century to last. And some Artists are readying themselves for it, amassing power and preparing.
All our world issues might be real to them too, to some extent. Climate change, escalating political tensions, want, violence, anger. Would they speculate that it was Artists themselves causing tension in the Apparent world? Would they be doing something to influence it or fix it?
This new Renaissance promises power for each entrant into Artistic society, but the effect of this writ large is that Artistic society gets harder and harder to monitor and protect.
Like in our world, cooperation would be profitable. But there would always be those who choose thievery over community, and those whose cooperation would come with costs. Everything would be heightened horribly by everyone’s ability to mess around with reality. Trust would be rare. Paranoia would be high. Cliques would run this hidden world.
It’s all of our world, if not our world, exactly; turned up in volume.
But I find myself asking, how would I know the world I was creating wasn’t real?
It feels like more and more is out of control, and that there are more and more paths to freedom and ruin than there were before. There are paths to individual success and collective failure, paths to enlightenment and health, paths to fame, paths to wealth.
All of them fighting and competing and overlapping. Trust is hard in this new world of magic.
And through all of it is the sense that while you toil, out there, some are getting away with murder and some are getting punished for choices they didn’t make and for things they can’t control. There is the sure sense that some folks have hoarded their magic and fear newcomers, and a simultaneous sense that an angry mob is somewhere getting larger and angrier, seeking to tear down every hoard and make every prophecy of self-fulfillment true.
I grew up in the 90s, playing fantasy games in Tolkien-esque worlds, and Darkness Worlds, looking forward and seeing misery, and looking backward and seeing magic. That’s how these things tend to go.
Today I embrace the fact that both fantasy and misery exist in the future and in the past, and that somehow that chaos never diminishes, it only grows and swells until it changes shape.
That’s the new Renaissance of Artists, and I’ll be damned if it isn’t the Renaissance humanity is experiencing in real life right now, online and in person every single day.
It’s loud and noisy and frightening and glorious and maybe it’s going to kill us all, but all you have to do is open your phone to see how much art is getting created right this second.
It’s a chaotic world where you can’t possibly know what’s going on, only that things are escalating, changing, and coming to tipping point after tipping point.
(Our world, but more Artistic)
That’s it for this series! I hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip through the Esoteric world with me. Maybe it opened some of your Third Eyes. If you made it all the way here, maybe it did. If you’re the type to hear a calling and know what to do: seek the Lotus online. We left the Door open for you.
Find the rest of the series here:
- Entry 1: Making a tarot-defined setting
- Entry 2: The Roads and Sources
- Entry 3: This game will teach you tarot
- Entry 4: The Road of Two Lands
- Entry 5: The Unwritten Road
- Entry 6: The Shivering Road
- Entry 7: The Crooked Road
- Entry 8: The Garden Road
- Entry 9: The Road of Scale and Blade
- Entry 10: The Road of the Infinite Loop
- Entry 11: Itinerant Artists
- Entry 12: The Esoteric Renaissance (this post)