Christal Ann Rice Cooper

Christal Ann Rice Cooper
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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Professional Tarot Card Reader & Poet JULIA GORDON-BRAMER: On "FIXED STARS", Sylvia Plath, & Decoding The Truth

Christal Rice Cooper


Article 2,856 Words
Photo Descriptions & Copyright Info at the end of article.

Julia Gordon-Bramer Connecting 
To Sylvia Plath:
Fixed Stars Govern A Life:
Decoding Sylvia Plath 



Tarot card reader, poet, and author Julia Gordon-Bramer laughs at the Lincoln-Kennedy Coincidence-like events in her life with Sylvia Plath
“I was born nine months after her death on November 26, 1963.  My grandmother’s name was Sylvia. Our parents were first generation immigrants. She was American and moved to Britain. My mother was British and came to America. Her father and my grandfather both lost their left legs. I lined up all the letters in my name and hers, whether using maiden names or first marriage or even with my second marriage, and they all evened out to the same amount of letters. Weird stuff like that.”


Gordon-Bramer now feels more connected with Sylvia Plath with the publication of her book Fixed Stars:  Decoding Sylvia Plath, Volume I ((http://www.amazon.com/Fixed-Stars-Govern-Life Decoding/dp/1622880641/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1426530171&sr=8-1&keywords=Julia+Gordon+Bramer published by Stephen F. Austin State University Press (www.tamupress.com)  in 2015.


In Fixed Stars, Gordon-Bramer reinterprets Plath’s work, as understood through the Tarot’s major arcana, and examines the first 22 poems of Plath’s Ariel, The Restored Edition, Forward by Frieda Hughes


Bramer-Gordon is private about her childhood, teen years, and upbringing, but does reveal her first experience of writing, at the age of six, when she wrote to her grandparents who lived in Britain on the same thin blue airmail paper she came to work with so often in the Sylvia Plath archives.


Around the same year she began writing, she and her family moved to Maryland where she lived for the next 12 years, and, where, at the age of sixteen, she first read Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, with Plath’s poem “Mad Girl’s Love Song” (http://allpoetry.com/Mad-Girl's-Love-Song) printed in the back of her copy (http://www.amazon.com/Bell-Jar-Modern-Classics/dp/0060837020/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1426531492&sr=8-1&keywords=the+bell+jar).


It was also the same age she bought her first deck of tarot reading cards in a magic shop.  That day in the magic shop at the age of 16 with her first pack of tarot cards changed her life, and for the better.  


“I was captivated by the artwork. They were just the most beautiful things I’d ever seen. For the longest time I used the little book that comes with the set, and I wasn’t reliant on my imagination or my intuition. I suppose I’ve always known I was intuitive. I’ve always known that I could walk into a room and sense if there’d been a fight or someone was in love. I’m tuned into emotions. I’ve just figured out what that meant over the years. It took some time. There is no rule book for psychic energy.”
Gordon-Bramer has been reading tarot cards ever since, but did not become a professional tarot card reader until 2007.  Before she became a tarot card reader, she worked in a variety of career fields:  marketing, advertising, public relations, technical writing, newspaper writing, and the health fitness industry.


She and her first husband moved from Washington D.C. to St Louis to later divorce; and Gordon-Bramer started an alternative music magazine in 1995 called Night Times, where she met her second husband Tom Bramer, who was the lead guitarist of a band called Radio Iodine.  She’s written a memoir about her experiences with Night Times and plans to publish it soon.



In 1999, after shutting down Night Times, she graduated from Webster University – St Louis with a degree in Literature and Language with an Emphasis on Writing as a Profession, and a minor in Communications. (http://www.webster.edu/arts-and-sciences/departments/english/)
She taught English at St. Louis Community College-Florissant Valley (in the heart of the Ferguson riot area) from 2007-2010. (http://www.stlcc.edu/FV/)
It wasn’t until she attended the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where she earned her Master of Fine Arts In Creative Writing with a focus on Poetry and Fiction in 2010 that she became a Professional Tarot Card Reader.
“I was in graduate school, and I would bring my cards into class sometimes just goofing around. We had a Christmas poetry party, and it was hilarious because you get a bunch of poets together and a couple bottles of wine, and I had the whole party in tears. It affected a lot of people on a very deep level. My professor saw this and said, ‘You need to be doing this professionally.’ He brought me into some of his other classes to read for them at different events. Then I started having people ask me to do their parties, so I thought, “I’ll have to come up with some kind of price for this stuff.” It just grew from there.”


Gordon-Bramer defines the tarot as a set of symbols and archetypes that work across every culture, without excluding anyone based on race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual preference.
“Everyone has a wise man, everyone has lovers, everyone has mother figures. These things represent the story of life and tarot breaks that story up into little pieces. I liken it to dream interpretation. The human brain wants to make connections. The brain wants to find meaning in everything. So when I put your tarot cards down, and I explain what I see, you’re naturally going to look to how that fits and make it work for you.”


She now has clients worldwide (including Hong Kong, Germany, and the Netherlands) with whom she connects everywhere from meetings at the local St. Louis coffee shops to Skype sessions, phone conversations, and email readings. 


Since then, Gordon-Bramer has been listed as one of St. Louis’ Top Ten Psychics, made television appearances on MTV, Nickelodeon, many local TV and radio programs, websites, magazines and newspapers. 


Around the same time period she became a Professional Tarot Card reader, Gordon-Bramer identified Sylvia Plath’s intentional alignment with the tarot. 


“I saw the relationship to the tarot clearly. At that time, I did not know anything about Qabalah. But I’d lined up all 22 of the major arcana poems, and knew that Plath was too much of a perfectionist to have just thrown in another 18 poems randomly.


In the tarot there are 56 cards in the minor arcana, however, so it wasn’t very clear at first.  Then I realized she had used a poem for each rank: the ones, the twos, and so on.  There are four suits, four cards in each rank, followed by the court cards of Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings.  I had four poems left, Plath’s famous Bee Poems, and these represent the suits themselves: the Pentacles, Wands, Swords and Cups."


In fact Fixed Stars, Gordon-Bramer builds the case that it was Plath’s intention to deliberately write the Ariel poems in this way, each line of all of the Ariel poems revealing and corresponding with the six mirrors of Qabalah – in other words, each poem can be read six different, yet-related ways: Tarot/Qabalah mirror; Alchemy mirror; Mythology mirror; History and the World mirror; Astrology and Astronomy mirror; and Arts and the Humanities mirror.  


“Qabalah is an umbrella term that covers all the occult sciences, and tarot is just a way to understand oneself, others, and where your energy is going. I am lately calling Qabalah “God’s Social Network.” Think of God at the top of the tree of life, the Big Brain with the messages, and each path and point of the Tree might be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email, etc. Only we’ll call them Astrology, Alchemy, and the like. Different styles for different audiences, but related messages with the same overall intention.”


"I do remember the moment when it all came clear for me: I was teaching English at St. Louis Community College. It was final exam time and I was working on Plath while the students tested, quietly noting the correspondences and matches Ariel had with tarot cards and symbols. The room was empty by the time the truth of the final Bee Poems hit me. I was so happy I began to cry. It was too beautiful. I had no one to share it with, and yet I knew this would change my life.”


She read and re-read all of the Ariel poems, feeling each word, and trying to understand all of its meaning; though sometimes this was difficult, she still was able to feel the poem.
“I think that feel and understanding are two different, yet complementary, things. Certainly the feel helps with the understanding. We all feel Plath’s “Lady Lazarus” (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178961) to be a feminist poem, for instance. You can’t read that last line, “And I eat men like air” and not feel female power. 


But it’s not until you have the Qabalistic structure that you can see it’s a poem aligned with the Lovers card, which prominently features the goddess Aphrodite. Aphrodite has many other names:  Venus and Lucifer, for example.


And then we can read the Plath poem and understand that in “Lady Lazarus” she is talking about the planet Venus, the only planet named after a woman in our Solar System, and a planet that turns in the opposite direction from the others.



This planet was named after the goddess Venus, who is sometimes called Aphrodite or Lucifer. Venus/Aphrodite/Lucifer’s alchemical element is copper, also in Plath’s poem, and Plath has also woven in the story of that very famous copper-plated statue of Lucifer standing in the harbor of New York City, the Statue of Liberty.


And who’s the poet who wrote the “Give Me Your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…” poem on the plaque at the bottom? Oh yes, the Jewish feminist poet, Emma Lazarus. It’s all there, and so perfectly done.”


Gordon-Bramer shared her new revelation with her professor, Dr. Steven Schreiner from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.   In fact, it was Dr. Schreiner’s urging that Gordon-Bramer decided to write about her revelation as her semester-end project.
She taught Humanities at Lindenwood University from 2010 to 2012, and will teach a course titled “Sylvia Plath and the Tarot,” based on her book, for Lindenwood’s graduate writing program in spring of 2015. (http://www.lindenwood.edu/acceleratedDegreePrograms/writing/index.html)
       Gordon-Bramer wrote her own poetry during this time as well; and was named Voted Best Local Poet in St. Louis in 2013 by The Riverfront Times. (http://www.riverfronttimes.com)


Studying “Ariel”

Bound calm torpor, in this cozy cell
and drugged, woozy with weight
from twenty sentinels stacked;
their musty smell, bodies’ black
blood and hard spines cracked.
Found notations, little atom bombs
from others fallen; prisoners like me, held
within the magnanimous shifting
of gray library afternoons.
Listening to the seductive multitudes
within you, post-Tokyo Rose.
Twenty-two to my zero
in a system rigged by God
where obstacles are air,
not mushroom clouds;
the body, only thought. Talk
to me of secrets higher than
the sweet grief, Mother Japan.
Your dew tears rise to burn
from their water sign, then turn
toward my arrow. Fixed disintegration.
We fly together, solo kamikazes
the savage, true suicide ride
toward the flagging red eye,
a greater fire.

*Poem first appeared in Women Arts Quarterly Journal
Copyright granted by Julia Gordon-Bramer


       Gordon-Bramer continues to write poetry and likes to describe herself as a modernist poet who has learned everything from Sylvia Plath, and is in the process of learning more about poetry from a personal friend of Plath and her husband Ted Hughes’, Zulfikar Ghose.


     “Zulfikar Ghose is a genius writer of poetry, fiction, and essay, was a personal friend of theirs back in early 1960s London, and he is one of my favorite people on the planet. If you have not read his work, you must. I am on a mission to read and review all of his books. You can find my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads."


      One of the benefits of doing a project such as Fixed Stars, which took Gordon-Bramer over seven years to complete, is that she got to know the work, published and unpublished, of Sylvia Plath on such an intimate level. As a result, she has been able to dispel numerous myths about Plath, her life, and her poetry.


      One of those myths is that since Plath was a proclaimed atheist, she was not spiritual:  “Atheism does not mean a person is not spiritual.  Atheism denies a God, gods, or angels. It does not deny energy, or the Jungian collective unconscious, or any number of occult endeavors Plath and her husband Ted Hughes actively pursued.


      Over the last eight years I’ve been in the Plath archives reading all her diaries, calendar entries, journals and scrapbooks since childhood. She has always been into various forms of mysticism.
       Plath’s Sunday school homework in the Unitarian Church, which she said was a part of her right until her last days, included study of myth and astrology! She carved a Hermetic Caduceus in high school. Her mother studied the famous alchemist Paracelsus for her master’s degree. And that is just some of the influence on Plath before she met Ted Hughes, who pushed her further into Ouija, crystal ball scrying, bibliomancy, Kundalini yoga and meditation, visiting witches, and so much more. She worshiped Hughes up until their marriage fell apart, and his work has been widely examined for occult leanings.


      It makes sense that Plath hid her interest in the occult: she had been institutionalized, after all. She wanted to be taken seriously, she was a young mother, and witchcraft laws had just been taken off the books as a crime a handful of years earlier."




       Another misconception of Plath, according to Gordon-Bramer, is that she was a confessional poet.  
     “Ted Hughes said she was a mystical poet. From 1956 on I have evidence she consciously built mysticism into the structure of her work to give it more resonance. I have published her 1956 poem interpretations on Plath Profiles, and my decoding of her 1957 poems is about to be published.”


       Gordon-Bramer also would like to dispel myths about the tarot, one of which is that she, as a tarot card reader, is trying to conjure up sprits, when in reality that is not the case.
       “The tarot is just a tool to examine the subconscious and to show connections, belief systems, and the direction of one’s energy. I compare it to dream analysis, and it can be really helpful when one wants direction, understanding, or advice.”
       Another myth of the Qabalah and tarot is that it is a belief system, and therefore would require conversion.   Gordon-Bramer also states that one can certainly be a Christian and use tarot at the same time.
       Tarot and Qabalah are not belief systems and would only support whatever greater energy one wants to believe in.  Tarot is a tool that yes, some people laugh at, but others, like the famous psychologist Carl Jung, have taken very seriously. Plath and Hughes were very into Jung, by the way. Now, a fundamentalist Christian will probably tell you differently, because they are generally against all forms of divination.


       My spiritual life is more Buddhist than anything else, but even so, not with a temple or a sect. I study A Course In Miracles (http://www.amazon.com/Course-Miracles-Original-Schucman/dp/0976420074/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426531629&sr=1-2&keywords=a+course+in+miracles) I read all the major religious texts, and some of the more obscure ones, and try and find the unity.  My religion is peace.”


       There are three different types of Qabalah:  Kabbala, Qabalah, and Cabala, with various other spellings.  Kabbala with a K is the Jewish and oldest brand; Cabala with a C is the Christian version; and Qabalah is the Hermetic version, from the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, of which the famous writers W.B. Yeats and T. S. Eliot were associated.



       Perhaps the most difficult and painful lesson to learn was of isolation Gordon-Bramer encountered along her seven-year journey of writing this book.
     “I am glad that I didn’t know when I began how far down the rabbit hole I’d be going with this work. I probably would have run away screaming. I’ve had to give up so much, and have had almost no social life for almost a decade. There is so much to learn and to read. In my journal the other day, I wrote that I feel I am the Cliff Notes version of Sylvia. That’s the best I can do for now. I try to read deeper and more widely every day, but it is a challenge with having to make a living in the meantime.”


        She’s also experienced rejection, discouragement and skepticism along the way, specifically from the academic world:  “Academia decided long ago that Plath was only a confessional poet, merely depressive, and feminist at best. They are also viciously competitive and quick to diss a tarot card reader without a PhD. Because of this tunnel vision, no one thought to look further into Plath, and the main themes and points of her poems have gone unnoticed for over fifty years.”
       Gordon-Bramer has two adult sons and presently lives in St. Louis with her husband, Tom Bramer.  She is currently working on Fixed Stars Govern a Life: Decoding the Sylvia Plath, Volume 2; is in the process of editing The Magician’s Girl, a biography of Plath’s’ and Hughes’ mysticism; and working on Plath’s earlier poems, which may or may not become a book.



      *Excerpts from Fixed Stars Govern a Life: Decoding Sylvia Plath may be found at: https://lindenwood.academia.edu/JuliaGordonBramer

Photograph Description and Copyright Information

Photo 1
The wandering cat Julia Gordon-Bramer found in England when she was walking through the village of Heptonstall, where Ted Hughes grew up.
Copyright granted by Julia Gordon-Bramer

Photo 2
Image of President Lincoln and President Kennedy
Public Domain

Photo 3
Jacket cover of Fixed Stars:  Decoding Sylvia Plath Volume 1
Jacket cover art attributed to Amy Bautz
Public Domain

Photo 4
Jacket cover of Ariel, The Restored Edition, Forward by Frieda Hughes
Public Domain


Photo 5
Sample letter to Sylvia on the thin blue paper from the Sylvia Plath archives
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law


Photo 6
Jacket cover The Bell Jar
Public Domain

Photo 7
Julia Gordon-Bramer at the age of 16
Copyright granted by Julia Gordon-Bramer


Photo 8
Julia Gordon Bramer in 1994
Attributed to Loy Ledbetter
Copyright granted by Julia Gordon-Bramer


Photo 9
Tom Bramer and Julia Gordon-Bramer, 1997
Copyright granted by Julia Gordon-Bramer

Photo 10
Tom and Julia Bramer’s wedding day on May 1, 1999
Copyright granted by Julia Gordon-Bramer



Photo 11
Julia Gordon-Bramer conducting a tarot reading card session in St. Louis.
Copyright granted by Julia Gordon-Bramer  

Photo 12
The Hermit (otherwise known as the Wiseman) card from the 1906 tarot card deck.
Public Domain


Photo 13
Juila Gordon-Bramer with her tarot reading cards
Attributed to Michael DeFilippo
Copyright granted by Julia Gordon-Bramer


Photo 14
Julia Gordon-Bramer holding her cat and with her tarot reading cards
Attributed to St Louis Magazine


Copyright granted by Julia Gordon Bramer

Photo 15
The Qabalah Tree of Life with tarot cards applied to its pathways and stations
Attributed to Julia Gordon-Bramer
Page 14 of Fixed Stars
Copyright granted by Julia Gordon-Bramer

Photo 16
Diagram of the Qabalah Tree of Life with both major and minor arcana tarot cards laid over their corresponding paths, widely known to qabalist, matched with Plath’s Ariel poems as they fit upon this structure.
Attributed to Julia Gordon Bramer
Page 15 of Fixed Stars


Copyright granted by Julia Gordon-Bramer 

Photo 17
Tarot Reading Card deck - 56 cards 
Public Domain

Photo 18
Otot, a painting of the illumination of the Hebrew letters in creation
Oil on canvas
Attributed to David Rakia
CCASA 3.0 Unported License

Photo 19
Julia Gordon-Bramer writing.
Copyright granted by Julia Gordon-Bramer


Photo 20
Illustration from an 11th century medieval handbook on health and wellbeing
Image of beekeeping – tocuinum sanitatis casanatensis


Public Domain

Photo 21
Close up of Botticelli’s Venus
Public Domain

Photo 22
Lover’s Card, Rider-Wiat Smith deck 1909
Art work attributed to Pamela Coleman Smith
Public Domain

Photo 23
The planet Venus in real colors processed from clean and blue filtered mariner images
Attributed to NASA’s Ricardo Nunes
February 5, 1974
Public Domain

Photo 24
Painting of Venus on a seashell from Casadi Venus, Pompei
Before 70 A.D.
Public Domain

Photo 25
Statue of Liberty
Public Domain

Photo 26
Engraving of Emma Lazarus (07/22/1849 – 11/19/1887)
Attributed to T. Johnson in 1872


Public Domain

Photo 27
Julia Gordon-Bramer
Copyright granted by Julia Gordon-Bramer

Photo 28
Zulfikar Ghose in February of 2010
Public Domain

Photo 29
Jacket cover of 50 poems by Zulfikar Ghose 
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 30
Julia Gordon-Bramer at Sylvia Plath Hughes’ gravesite

Copyright granted by Julia Gordon-Bramer

Photo 31
Julia Gordon-Bramer placing a deck of Tarot cards on Sylvia Plath’s gravesite.
Copyright granted by Julia Gordon-Bramer

Photo 32
Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath – from the jacket cover The Other Ariel by Lynda Bundtzen

Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law
This book NOT endorsed by Julia Gordon-Bramer

Photo 33
Sylvia Plath with her two children Frieda and Nicholas Hughes
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright law

Photo 34
Frieda Hughes 
GNU Free Documentation License

Photo 35
Nicholas Hughes’ obituary photo (01-17-1962 to 03-16-2009)
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 36
Ted Hughes on March 9, 1983
Attributed to Rob Lycett
Photograph taken at the Calder High School Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire


CCASA 2.5/2.0/1.0 Generic

Photo 37
Hand colored photograph of Carl Jung in 1910
Public Domain

Photo 38
Jacket cover of A Course In Miracles

Photo 39
William Butler Yeats in 1923
European and American Public Domain

Photo 40
T.S. Elliot in 1934
Public Domain

Photo 41
Julia Gordon-Bramer in her office
Copyright granted by Julia Gordon-Bramer

Photo 42
Jacket cover of Fixed Stars 





2 comments:

  1. I did Course in Miracles, too, a while ago. Thanks for reminding me.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Timeless wonders of people and events. This is amazingly set out and done in such a creative way. Well done I enjoyed this very much.

    Dennis

    ReplyDelete