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Annancy Stories by Pamela Colman Smith

Annancy Stories by Pamela Colman Smith

Annancy Stories by Pamela Colman Smith

A collection of Jamaican folktales about Annancy the Spider as told by famous Tarot artist Pamela C. Smith with a foreward by the publisher.

List Price: $ 13.50


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One comment on “Annancy Stories by Pamela Colman Smith

  1. 10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Pixie’s Lost Treasure Trove, May 22, 2007
    Ernest Gill (Hamburg Germany) –

    This review is from: Annancy Stories by Pamela Colman Smith (Paperback)

    Pamela Colman Smith, known to her friends as “Pixie” or “PCS,” is one of the most remarkable yet most underrated artists of the 20th Century, and “Annancy Stories” is a must-have book for anyone interested in mystical/fantastical art.

    Pamela Colman Smith is best known as the artistic genius behind Arthur E.A. Waite’s Tarot cards. Inspired by her artwork, Waite commissioned her to do the design and artwork for his Tarot. The result was a revolutionary new deck of cards which featured stunningly vivid images on all 78 cards, not just the 22 Major Arcana.

    Thanks to Pixie, the Waite Tarot has become the most widely known Tarot deck in the world and has inspired millions around the world for generations.

    Pixie’s mother was Jamaican and her father was “a sensitive and rather eccentric” traveling salesman from Brooklyn, New York. Pixie heard of the spider spirit Annancy as a child in Jamaica and never lost her love of Caribbean colors and folk lore populated by spirits and sprites.

    After her mother died when she was 10, her unorthodox father placed her in the “care” of a troupe of traveling actors in England who looked after her (more or less) until she was 15 at which time she joined her dad in New York. Being the “sensitive and rather eccentric” sort that he was, he enrolled her in the Pratt Institute of Art. The Pratt Institute is long gone now, but in its day it raised eyebrows by propagating an avant-garde philosophy of teaching art that we would nowadays call “holistic” — stressing the intuitive talents of students over rote memorization of traditional art techniques. It promoted the short-lived “Symbolist” style of art which permeates Pixie’s work, including her Tarot cards — and of course the “Annancy Stories.”

    Returning to England, where she felt more at home, she used her theatrical connections to get jobs as a set designer on the London stage and made quite a name for herself. It was in London’s West End theatre district that she met literary giants such as William Butler Yeats (for whom she did illustration work) as well as Bram Stoker the author of “Dracula” whose book was being adapted for the stage. Stoker introduced her to occultists who also preferred the Bohemian atmosphere of the theatre district around Leicester Square. A popular meeting place was Watkins Books, which had just opened its doors to the public. The world’s first book shop openly specializing in occult literature, Watkins became a popular meeting place for the London esoteric community. Madame Blavatsky, Aleister Crowley, Bram Stoker — they all passed through these portals in Cecil Court off Leicester Square.

    It was probably here, or nearby, that Pixie made the acquaintance of Arthur E.A. Waite. She had few male friends (preferring the company of women) but she and “Arth” as she called him got on very well, unlike Crowley who couldn’t cope with headstrong women. Pixie was very headstrong, devoting much of her artistic talent to painting political activist posters demanding the right of women to legal abortions and the right to vote.

    It was weird enough for men to live on their own in a big city like London or New York. Imagine how shocking it was for Pixie to have her own apartment near Victoria Station in London. She painted the walls black and put up orange curtains — as always, she was about 70 years ahead of her time. She would invite the Yeats literary crowd to her flat and would regale them with Jamaican fairy tales and voodoo stories — told in Jamaican patois.

    Which is why “Annancy Stories” should be read aloud for full appreciation of the beauty of the spoken language. In no way was Pixie making fun of Jamaicans. On the contrary, she was proudly celebrating the land of her childhood, so full of magic and beauty.

    She was very much into fairy lore and was not nicknamed “Pixie” for nothing. She was a true believer. She knew all about Tinkerbell since “Peter Pan” was a bestseller at the time and was adapted for the London stage.

    She was very spiritual, very mystical. Pixie could “see” music and her artistic specialty was translating the music she “saw” into images.

    Waite loved her art and so much that, when he decided to devise a Tarot of his own, he naturally turned to Pixie to illustrate it. It is unknown how much of the result is Waite’s influence and how much is Pixie’s own inspiration. But from an artistic standpoint, it appears that the Major Arcana cards must have been drawn to Waite’s stringent specifications reflecting the official Golden Dawn principles.

    But no one had ever illustrated the Lesser Arcana cards before. It seems likely that Pixie proposed that idea and that Waite gladly went along with it. Like many who commission an artist to do work, he probably had only a general idea of what the Lesser Arcana cards ought to depict and no doubt gave Pixie great leeway in…

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