I was grateful to spot a recent ‘Anatomy of an Artwork’ in the Guardian Guide on ‘The Tower’ from the 1982 “Neuzeit-Tarot” (“New Age Tarot”). It provided some interesting background to the deck I was given in 1984. Initially I used the cards a lot, mainly for others (as one should). Below is the cover of the book that I used to help me make sense of the cards. Please note that the deck in the book is not the Neuzeit one, but the Raider-Waite deck).
But let’s get back to the Neuzeit, or rather, its creator!
Walter Wegmüller (February 25, 1937 – March 26, 2020) was a Swiss painter and recording artist. According to the Guardian’s Skye Sherwin: “Wegmüller’s sensibility was steeped in 1960s and 70s counterculture. Of Roma heritage and based in Switzerland, he was an intriguing figure in a local hippy circle that included the acid guru Timothy Leary, in exile after fleeing prison in the United States, the mystic Sergius Golowin and the artist HR Giger, who created the visuals for the film Alien.
All of them were drawn into the krautrock scene when the head of Ohr Records, Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser, showed up looking for prescient voices for a new label, Cosmic Couriers. It birthed a string of seriously cult albums, with of-the-moment ideas chanted to far-out jams by German prog rock’s finest. Leary aired his thoughts on Ash Ra Tempel’s Seven Up, for which Wegmüller created artwork. Wegmüller soon followed suit. As a student of tarot, he mined his cultural heritage to create a Gypsy pack and he describes each card on the album Tarot. It featured contributions from the likes of Ash Ra Tempel and Wallenstein.”
Here are some more cards – and I think all of the above makes sense:
I have to admit that even though I am German, Krautrock was never my thing – still, I have to confess to a bit of hippie-ness in me, certainly a light-hearted interest in finding out what the future holds.
Much easier to interpret than Tarot are ‘Kipper’ cards. This German fortune telling system dates back to the 19th Century. The deck traditionally has 36 cards, many are people in various roles and relationships. Major life events and common situations are also clearly designated in the cards, for example: Marriage, Work, Worries, Illness, Good Fortune. So they are quite literal, the images and titles indicate exactly what the card means, e.g. ‘Success’ or ‘A Journey.’ You will usually know exactly what kind of person you are dealing with, for example, ‘the thief, ‘a false person’ or ‘ a person from court’. So, altogether, much more sedate and cosy.
Again, I have had these cards for quite some time but these days I just like looking at them for the lovely Biedermeier illustrations. Even ‘Death’ has a certain beauty. Do you use cards to get a sense of what might come next? If yes, it would be great if you could share your favourites – do get in touch!
I never wanted to be a professional card-reader – maybe I did miss my calling?