My guest of this week is LA based scholar, tarot specialist, practicing astrologer and the author of ‘The American Renaissance Tarot’, Thea Wirsching. Calling herself ‘Pluto babe’ on her website, Thea will shed some light on the origin of this nickname and on her upbringing as an atheist who turned a Born Again Christian at age 14 spending hours in prayer, and meditation. She will tell us how this time in her life ultimately led her to Wiccan studies and a trip to Egypt and then to Munich, Germany, where an intense communication happened between her and a statue of an Egyptian goddess culminating in the decision to study astrology an hermeticism within an academic program.

In our conversation Thea will take her time to explain the way she practices astrology and what looking at a chart from an evolutionary point of view requires from clients in terms of carmic/cosmic lifetime homework assignment. She will also go into detail on the more common ideas and preconceptions of people regarding astrology, elaborate on the role of newspaper/pop astrology and the internet as a phenomenon itself and how these are in direct opposition to the sophisticated part of a serious astrologer.
As one of the main topics of our discussion will be the American Renaissance Tarot Thea created, we will talk about how she came to study the tarot herself and how two novels played an important role in this process. The American Renaissance in the beginning of the 19th century needs some explanation as well so Thea will introduce us to the key characters of literature of that time period including Melville, Hawthorne, Whitman, Poe, Emerson and Thoreau and analyse what exactly they were interested in, what ideas of the Western Hermetic Tradition were revived in terms of a ‘Renaissance’ that bears some parallels to the Florentine Renaissance and how their reception took place.

Finally, we will explore Thea’s American Renaissance Tarot deck and go into detail on her choices (or not so much) regarding the personalities of the American Renaissance Movement who ended up representing certain cards. We will also have the opportunity to listen to the whole story how Thea was inspired to create the deck, why she renamed some of the court cards and reveal her intention behind the whole creative process including the very specific role of Edgar Allan Poe.

The American Renaissance Tarot is a traditional 78-card Tarot deck written by Thea Wirsching and illustrated by Celeste Pille. The project pays homage to America’s most talented writers and the iconic figures who inspired them in the years 1825-1875. Though the term “American Renaissance” was originally conceived by a literary critic to describe a very narrow but spectacular period in American literature (the years 1850 through 1855), Thea has chosen to extend the parameters of America’s literary flourishing to include the Transcendentalist movement of the 1830s and 1840s, as well as some notable postbellum achievements. Short but detailed chapters accompany each card and are rich with quotations from the thirty-six writers included in the project.

Music played in this episode

This week’s music is again by one of our listeners and friends!

Joshua Kirch is a musician and composer who started with guitar, and he soon moved to classical guitar and performing in a guitar trio – really enjoying the range of repertoire and especially the Renaissance pieces available. This eventually led him to start learning the lute and cello.

His compositions often mix electronic elements with classical and early music instrumentation and themes, as well as more standard rock and folk elements. He’s been practicing magic through the Quareia course for the past couple of years, and finds that the mysticism blends well with his music, as both are very subjective and they often inform and inspire each other.


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Intro and Outro Music
especially written and recorded for the Thoth-Hermes Podcast by Chris Roberts

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