In 1910-11, Rider published a deck of Tarot cards devised by Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman-Smith which quickly became (and continues to remain) the most popular Tarot in the world. Although his Major Arcana was innovative, much of the appeal of his deck stemmed from his incorporation of evocative imagery into the number cards of his Minor suits, so that the pip cards would conjure emotional responses in querents and allow them the opportunity to incorporate themselves into an evolving narrative shedding light upon areas of their lives that had been hitherto obscure or disconcerting to them.
As this is an introduction, I should state at this time that I do not believe in oracles for purposes of discerning the future. This is not to say that I have closed my mind to the notion that such a possibility exists: there is far more to this universe (or multiverse) that is unknown to us than is known, just as there is far more to each of us that is unknown than known. Rather, the most troubling aspect of fortune-telling (for lack of a better term) is the necessity for interpretation. Even were a spread complex enough to accurately divine future occurrences, there are so many variables in play that the individual reading that spread would have to possess something akin to the mind of God to properly decipher it.
That being said, I believe the Tarot is an excellent tool for opening an internal dialogue and presenting us with avenues of exploration not otherwise available to us. When we spend time with Tarot cards, consulting the hexagrams of the Yi Jing, or delving into astrological charts, we are forced to broaden our perspectives. Without such aids, our thought processes tend to flow through recurrent channels, yielding familiar results, but the introduction of unpredictable elements outside of our conscious control leads us away from the tried-and-true into surprising pathways, down strange rabbit holes, and into remote territories.
I should also state at this time that I love rabbit holes, and my thinking process incorporates a great deal of leaping around even as I attempt to zero in on my subject, which, brings me back to my opening paragraph. Just as I believe that it is the innovative Minor Arcana that led to the overwhelming popularity of the Waite-Smith Tarot and spawned countless other decks, it is the highly abstract quality of the Tarot de Marseille (TdM) Minor Arcana which puts many tarot readers and querents off, and I confess that when I first began my studies of the cards, I absolutely did not want to see any of the TdM number cards in my early spreads: I simply did not know how to approach them. To my eyes, they looked little different from a deck of playing cards, and I could not fathom how such commonplace imagery could produce any meaning, especially in comparison with the corresponding cards from Waite-Smith and others which display such relatable images; but I became fascinated with them nonetheless. I began searching for books that would provide me with the key I needed to unlock their meanings, and I discovered that disappointingly little was available in this area. Most books on the market are focused on more modern decks, those following in the wake of Waite-Smith; of those that do concentrate on the Tarot de Marseille, several address only the trumps, and of the remaining few that devote any ink to the minor suits, it is readily apparent that the authors did not devote the time or energy into fully exploring these images. They provide a few sentences, render something slightly more impressive than the little white booklet interpretations for readers to go by, but to this point, I have found nothing that satisfied my desire to truly understand these magnificent cards which continue to captivate me in ways more modern decks do not.
So this is the Tarot on the Trackless Way, at least to start. It is a study of the TdM minor suits that I hope will evolve into a dialogue that will not only rescue these magnificent images from the void of indifference to which they have been mostly consigned but also to present a way of interpreting them that is both vital and meaningful to readers and querents who chose these decks for their spreads.