Collecting: A Confession.

Alright. Those of you who have followed this blog since it’s early days will possibly recall that I used to have a strong aversion to having more than a small number of Tarot decks in my collection.* It’s an idiosyncrasy of mine that hasn’t entirely dissipated; as my collection steadily grows (this includes books as well as decks), so too does an unsettling thought in the back of my mind that something’s wrong with me.

I don’t know how to explain it, yet I feel compelled to try to justify both my collection and my uneasiness about it.

Collecting isn’t new for me. I’ve had the impulse as long as I can remember, collecting things like coins or sharks’ teeth when I was a child. As a high schooler, I tended to spend all of my money on rock n’ roll CDs and electric guitars, which I didn’t view as collecting at the time, but I know better now. Throughout college, it was my book collection which began to bloat (it had been in the making for a long time, but it wasn’t until college that it really took off), especially books about mythology.** In fact, it is my personal library which continues to be the primary object of my compulsive collecting, and I am half proud and half ashamed to admit that I have more books than most people I know. Lately, my shelves have been swelling with the addition of new books on the Tarot (my cards also reside on my bookshelves, but the majority of them are hidden from plain view).

Collecting isn’t just about having a lot of stuff; I get a deep satisfaction from organizing and categorizing, ordering and reordering that stuff. I get a certain thrill out of laying out all of my Tarot decks side by side, and then attempting to place them in categories, even if I do nothing else with them before I put them all away again.

I can’t deny that having multiple decks adds a depth to my understanding of the Tarot as a concept, and not just a pack of cards. My multi-part series on the Hermit is proof that I can glean much from variations between different versions of the same card. The more variations I become familiar with, the deeper my understanding of the Tarot becomes (and of course, the more I hunger for more variation and depth).

The thing is, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve felt an increasing pull towards spirituality, and learning to use the Tarot has only strengthened this pull. But learning to use the Tarot has also reawakened the collector in me, and collecting is an undeniably materialistic hobby. My tendencies for materialism and spiritualism are at odds with each other, and so I’ve struggled since the beginning with the urge to collect.

Anyway, the point of this post is that I’m coming (trying) to accept collecting as just another aspect of my Tarot hobby. Most of the time, I write about interpretation, or spirituality, or divination, or some other aspect of using the cards. I want to own the tendencies that would otherwise embarrass me, and so this post is just a means of acknowledging that, yes, I am a Tarot collector.


*Which, as of this writing, isn’t even a year ago yet. I don’t know if I feel like it’s flown by or crawled by, but either way, it seems strange to say that my blog has “early days” – and yet, my thinking has certainly evolved in that time in many ways, including that of the subject of this post. By the way, when I started this blog, I had five Tarot decks, and genuinely thought at the time that was all I’d ever want. HA!

**I actually prefer to call these books simply “myth” books. There are two basic types of myth books in my collection: mythography, which includes both primary and secondary accounts of the myths themselves (primary being something like Hesiod’s Theogony, and secondary being something like Bulfinch’s Mythology); and mythology, which includes methods of the study of myth (literary, historical, psychological, anthropological, etc. etc.). It’s a distinction that may be splitting hairs, but it’s important to me. Not that any of this has anything to do with the subject of this post, but I felt compelled to talk about it anyway. Despite the fact that this is a Tarot blog, a fascination with myth underlies my fascination with the cards, and sometimes I just like to ramble about it for a bit.