Circumcising Tarot Cards—Why The Border Hatred?

Leisa ReFalo cuts into the artwork on one of the Thoth alternate Magi, to "round the corners". Without the borders,  one is struck by how little the Thoth cards actually are. While the wimmin are always demanding smaller and less in Tarot, the art lovers might actually speak up to demand a BIGGER Thoth deck, maybe with a set of giant hairy balls and a tail. Then any trimming can address the real problem, instead of what must be a dissatisfying metaphor.
I have noted here, that among the missions Mary K. Greer had with her first posting on Usenet, back in 1995, was to suggest to everyone that taking a knife to the Thoth deck was a liberating experience:
"By the way, if you don't like the words on the cards simply cut off the borders. The images are much more powerful."
Exactly why you should not like the "words on the cards", i.e. the titles of the cards, Greer did not say. She implied it was pretty common to dislike them, and that one should not be held up by Crowley just because THE MAN thought he knew how to name his cards.

Greer pointed to Angeles Arrien as the person who had inspired Mary to loosen up concerning Greer's anxieties over what could or could not be done, and take a girls gone wild approach to Tarot.

Now, the idea of liberating oneself by cutting up and coloring all over Tarot cards (called "personalizing" the deck) is widely accepted as a means of making a commercial pack of cards feel like one's own.

For example, Leisa ReFalo recently did a Tarot Connection episode entitled "Modifying Tarot Decks", wherein she showed how to cut off the borders of a Thoth deck, and then round off its sharp edges—meaning cut off part of the artwork to make it bend to ReFalo's personal needs. While Leisa balked at smearing her silver and gold markers all over Frieda Harris' paintings, she did mark up a pack of Universal Waite cards, which of course come already marked up and defaced. This cutting up and scrawling on is called by Leisa "trimming and embellishing".

One wonders if she knows the meaning of "embellish".

I have been struck by the widespread zeal with which so many women, particularly, love to cut off Thoth Tarot borders. I thought I would sarcastically refer to the practice as circumcising the cards. ReFalo notes here her husband made that same observation to her a couple of years ago when she whacked a Thoth deck's borders.

We should note ReFalo said about that border-cutting (September 12, 2011):
"For the record I don’t dislike the [Thoth] borders and feel like the titles of the cards including the esoteric attributions of the minors are very important and helpful in readings."
Yet, in the new video, ReFalo speaks contemptuously of the "ugly gray border" on Thoth, and that Thoth "benefits the most from the trimming process".

While there is a practical consideration respecting downsizing large Tarot cards such as Thoth, because women's hands are generally smaller, this fact gets blended into the general cartofeminist antagonism about how everything is made harder, sharper, or bigger than women want it. In spite of the fact that the industry long ago responded with a mini-Thoth deck, much easier to use, but not as impressive-looking (obviously), many women are incensed that borders continue to be used on Thoth or any Tarot cards.

You even get threads like this, where the hive-mind of Tarotforum.net is focused on figuring out that head-scratcher: why do these card makers put borders on cards!

As Yve complained back in 2004:
"I just don't understand why tarot decks have borders at all! It just downsizes/minimizes the images/graphics and symbols on the cards."
Well, you know, it might have something to do with the fact that cards are not made out of metal, but thick paper, and eventually with much use the edges of the cards are going to wear down and away.

So, one thing the border does is PROTECT the artwork.

But that implies a respect for authorship that is inimical to the cartofeminist worldview. They don't want authors—though they pretend respect for women artists—they don't want borders, or people telling them what to do or to think about anything.

Cartofeminists believe that any experience with Tarot that is not self-defecated is inauthentic, and of value only as a border-setter against which to conduct rebellious whackings off.

A border may be useful as a protector of something. But, recalling Greer's comments about the Thoth titles, the other thing a border does in Tarot is identify a card, as a particular entity or set of ideas. And this again is contrary to the cartofeminist notion that it is the ignorant projection of feeling onto a card (interpreted as a Jungian eruption) that should define its meanings, not the pre-packaged (in other words, authored) specifications from all those awful, women-hating male occultists, like Aleister Crowley.

In spite of the fact that cartofeminist alternative texts on Thoth, which brush Crowley aside, are not helpful, as anyone can tell contrasting the writings of Crowley and Arrien on Crowley's deck, this border-hating bias, and all the cartofeminist assumptions that provide its moral (really hysterical) basis, are well established in modern Tarot cultures.

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