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Monday, 11 November 2013

Lusty Ligeia

Looks like I got my wish for a court card to show you from the Vampire Tarot by Robert Place (St Martins Press 2009). This is the Knave of Stakes, or Page of Swords, and the character is Ligeia, from the Edgar Allan Poe story. 'Ligeia' was always one of my favourite Poe stories. It was first published in 1838, and is really quite sick! Poe was a bit obsessed with the notion of a beautiful young woman dying and awakening in the tomb, having been buried alive, or in some way rising from the dead. You can read the whole story here, and I do highly recommend it. But if you just want the low-down,  Shmoop is a wonderfully funny tutorial site which has provided this summary. Basically, the narrator of the story was once in a relationship with the beautiful and mysterious Ligeia; she dies, he marries again (opposite in every way to Ligeia), the new one dies, and he is sitting at her deathbed high on opium when she rises in her shroud and the body has been transformed into Ligeia! (Cue spooky music).

For some reason, Place's companion book calls 'Ligeia' a poem, but it most assuredly is a short story, and one which I taught back in the olden days, when I was a teacher of American literature.

 In the short story, Ligeia is portrayed as a statuesque beauty, with glowing black eyes, wild black hair, pale skin, brilliant teeth, a very sharp intelligence and willful spirit. Her dying words are of overpowering death. Apparently, she finds a way - by reanimating the dead body of her lover's blonde-haired, blue-eyed wife. In the Knave of Stakes card, we see Ligeia moving toward us, unwinding Rowena's burial shroud as she advances. Her skin is so pale it is lavendar, her eyes rimmed in red, her lips and her sharp pointy fingernails are brilliant red. Her face looks a bit dewy and sweet compared to my image of the lusty Ligeia. Place says, 'This card represents someone who is beautiful, passionate, and possessing a strong will.'

Now, I like to compare court cards to fictional characters, and I usually associate Page of Swords with Lisa Simpson. Thinking about it, I suppose Ligeia does have some things in common with Lisa. They both are very bright. They both think outside the box. They both latch very passionately on to their causes, are tenacious in that respect. Just Lisa doesn't tend to come back from the dead to reanimate another woman's body, but then she's only 8.

I wonder in what capacity I will need to call upon my inner Ligeia. Will I need to play devil's advocate? Will I need to find the most expedient means to my own ends, even if they go against the norm, or even what the average person would consider within the realm of possibility? I hope not. It's Monday, for goodness' sake. I'm not ready for that kind of aggro.

(By the way, if you don't know how to pronounce the name, it is 'Lye - JEE - ah.')

1 comment:

  1. Hey, if any 8 year old could do it, it would be Lisa :D

    As for Ligeia moments, I've been swotting up on tax law - I think I'll count that :o