This is a painting by Frank Auerbach. He paints his models over and over again for years. This is the head of Stella West, his companion. He painted her regularly at her home, sometimes three evenings in a week, in a period from the 1950s till the 1970s.
The heads Auerbach paints are shocking somehow. Chaos and dark emotions are shown. His paintings lay bare layers which normally remain hidden. They show what we, what I, do not want to know, they make me uncomfortable.
The heads by Auerbach remind me of an experience I had last week in one of my tarot-classes. We needed to do a spread as an example. Since there was very little time left (me wanting too much as always). To do it with an individual student would cost probably too much time so I proposed: “Well let’s do a reading about who we are as a group, what we do, and may be should do.” We divided the shuffling and each one draw a card. Oh dear... We had Death as our theme and Judgement as the underlying theme. Wow! Five of Cups was the card that showed what we could better not do and Three of Wands showed what we should do (loved that). Eight of Cups was the outcome. Doing this together was a great experience, and each of us could recognize our processes in the cards.
But, by the time a came home I was shocked about it. It felt if I had overstepped a boundary here, laying bare layers that ought not to be revealed. I grabbed in heaven and stole there our parts away, helped to reveal secrets of the High Priestess that we should not know.
Today I have pulled a card to get a grip on what we did. What did we accomplish with this reading?
I received a very light-hearted Page of Cups from the Fey Tarot as answer to my question, looking content at what she shows us. Her hear-beads stand out to heaven, she is not stealing from heaven she seeks contact, and she is getting that. She is receiving a gift: a cup with a fish in it. She holds the cup as something of great value.
This card helps me to see our reading in perspective. Cards often help to do that, when we are stuck in a rut. We did get in our reading a glimpse of our inner worlds, we saw a bit of what is going on there, and that helps us to put us on our way of change. That is in fact a gift of great value.
I can see now also the heads of Auerbach in that way. Revealing processes that are hidden as he does, is something of value; he shows what is there and what is true, although it is not always comfortable to look at.
Painting: Frank Auerbach, Head of E.O.W. IV, 1961.