Ethnobotany and Tarot

Posted Jan. 23, 2012 by Maja Kuzmanović

FoAM in Brussels is working on Borrowed Scenery, an Alternate Reality Narrative that explores human-plant interactions through technologically-enhanced storytelling. With Borrowed Scenery, we'd like to infuse people's imaginations with an alternate reality where relationships between plants and humans go beyond eating, decoration and herbal medicine. Can we imagine a culture in which plants inspire more holistic and sustainable lifestyles, reducing pollution and exploitation of the earth? We'd like to deploy a softer, more seductive approach that bypasses confrontational sermonizing and instead looks at stories and experiences that inspire a "vegetal" imagination – one of slowness, freshness, shared commons, transforming waste into nourishment…

In order to reach people from different cultures and backgrounds, we'd like to start with the arguably universal and archetypal story of the journey of personal transformation, as depicted in the evocative Tarot cards. The story of the transformation of the Fool and his eventual dissolution in the World has a plot that all of us can recognise and identify with.

What do Tarot and plants have in common? Beyond the floral motifs that appear on almost every card, perhaps it is stories that are the connective tissue between them: stories of divination, oral histories and ethnobotanical writings on human-plant relationships; recipes, myths and science fiction. We will explore these questions in the Ethnobotanical Tarot tutorial at the end of February.