Welcome to the Tarot Blog Hop! Our wrangler Maureen Aisling Duffy-Boose of Tarot Witchery asked us to create a tarot card. She was inspired by the concept of the Maninni Tarot Deck. “Maninni” means “many little hands” and it is popular for tarot decks to be created by groups of artists, tarot workers, and photographers, each individual contributing one or several cards to the project. Morgan Drake Eckstein, Tarot Blog Hop Administrator and Denver Tarot Convention attendee, shares his Tower image from the Tarot Field Trip event that was part of TarotCon Denver.
Finding the Perfect Tower
Hi everyone! I am Mad Uncle Morgan; and for the next three minutes, I get to bore you. (What?! Oh. I see.) I have just been informed that this post is supposed to be witty and educational. Uh…no, that’s not going to happen.
Earlier this year, I attended the Denver Tarot Convention. I went just so I could shake Lon Duquette’s hand, and max out my credit card. (What?! Oh. I see.) Umm, I went to convention to learn stuff. And to network. And to become more enlightened. (Is that better? Well, I don’t care if it is not better. Who is telling this story? Me or you? Yes, just give me a facepalm and move on.)
When I arrived at the convention, the person at the sign-in table handed me the convention program, and had me draw a Tarot card out of a pile. I drew the Tower. “Gee, I hope that this is not an omen for tonight.” Yes, I said that; I had an Open Full Moon ritual to conduct that night, and I really did not want things to go sideways there. Then I stuck the card in my bag. I assume that it amused the door attendant that I failed to ask the proper question.
Yes, that is exactly how much thought I initially gave the card. I never said that I was the sharpest tool in the shed, or capable of deep thought. The card sat in my bag for two days, unthought of, unloved.
It was at the dinner Saturday night that I finally learned what the card was for. One of the organizers was talking about the Tarot field trip where convention attendees would be set loose with cameras to take photos that represented Tarot cards. And I had to raise my hand and say, “Gee, I am stupid. How do we know what card we are hunting for?” Ok, maybe I did not say the first part of that out loud; it is always hard to remember what actually comes out of my mouth, and what only happens in my head.
The organizer managed not to roll her eyes at how totally clueless I was. We have to give her points for that. After all, I was the only person who did not ask what the purpose of the card was when it was given to me. “It is the card that you drew when you signed the sign-in sheet.” To which I responded, “Oh!” which translated as “Oh. Failure to ask proper question—ten points for appearing confident, minus several million for not plugging your brain in. And what card did I draw again?!” This was followed by me digging fanatically though my bag to find the card, hoping that my cat had not walked off with it the night before.
The field trip was divided in three groups. One was going to visit the zoo; another group was going to the Botanic Gardens; and the final group was going to go downtown. Given the card I drew, I knew exactly what group I needed to go with. I imagine that their hearts were filled with overwhelming joy at the prospect of having me in their group. The Black Death probably would have been more welcome.
Not only did I know what group I needed to go with, I also knew the exact place that I needed to go. For a decade I worked downtown, followed by a decade of riding the light-rail to the local college. Therefore, I knew exactly what building I wanted to take a picture of. After all, when you see it twice a day, five days of the week for twenty years, even someone of my questionable intelligence can realize the perfect building to represent the Tower card.
While there were other options, in my mind, the Holy Ghost Catholic Church built on the triangular block of California, Broadway and Nineteenth was the perfect building to take a picture of for the image of the Tower card. Started in 1924, designed by architect J. B. Benedict, the church was only one third finished until the 1940s when Helen G. Bonfils donated the money to complete the church in memory of her parents.
Now, I can hear you thinking, “Ho hum, a church, churches are a dime a dozen. Surely, you could have found a more interesting choice for the Tower card.” Well, I will admit that if it was just a church, you would be right. My second choice for the Tower card was the Daniels and Fisher Tower, which was built in 1910 as part of the Daniels and Fisher Department Store. The interesting part about Daniels and Fisher Tower is that when the department store was demolished in 1971, they chose to save and renovate the tower.
In a world, where we tear down the old to make way for the new, often the historical buildings that remain are the most interesting, being reminders of what once was. In my mind, this ties into the standard image of the Lightning Blasted Tower, typically with only part of the Tower being destroyed, leaving the foundation intact.
So what makes a church that has never been torn down a better choice? Well, the very fact that it wasn’t torn down. In the 1980s, another building was built on the same block as the Holy Ghost Catholic Church. A forty-six storied skyscraper, designed and completed by Curtis W. Fentress, the building is the fifth tallest in Denver. Today, it houses offices of a petroleum company, a consulting firm, a phone company, and part of the Internal Revenue Service.
Again, you say, “Ho hum.” And you would be right, if it wasn’t for a design decision made by Fentress. Instead of tearing down Holy Ghost Catholic Church, Fentress designed his skyscraper in a V shape, with a bowl at the back of the building to accommodate the church. Part of the skyscraper is built on pillars placed right next to the back section of the church, and overhangs above the roof of the church.
From the time I first laid eyes on these two buildings, I have been fascinated by this design decision. Here the old and the new are cheek to jowl, the religious to the secular, the combined work of two architects who lived and worked in different eras. I have walked around these two buildings on a couple of occasions, admiring how they have been fitted together, separate but yet a single unit.
Without this knowledge, the picture that I took loses some of its impact. Fortunately, the Tarot Gods smiled on me the morning of the Tarot fieldtrip to make up for the loss. My timing was just right, and I managed not only to capture the image of the two buildings with the new towering over the old, but to also capture the sun with its beams creating (what I consider to be) a very nice effect.
Having done the artwork for a few different versions of the Tower card, I must admit that this is my favorite version that I have created. Not bad for a lad that completely forgot to be concerned about the Tarot card that he was tasked with finding.
About the Author
Morgan Drake Eckstein is a novelist and occult writer living in Denver, Colorado. He writes everything from science fiction and urban fantasy to erotica. He graduated from the University of Colorado with two Bachelor degrees (History and Literary Studies). Besides writing, Morgan does photography, book cover and Tarot art, and cartooning. In his spare time, he is an officer of Bast Temple, a small local Golden Dawn lodge in Denver, Colorado (BIORC in the Inner), and writes a monthly newsletter column for the Hearthstone Community Church (“The Open Full Moon People”). Check out his blog at Gleamings from the Golden Dawn where he sometimes even makes sense.
© 2015 by Morgan Drake Eckstein. All rights reserved.