Michael S. Howard
Mike Howard lives in Portland, Oregon, USA. He and his wife Ela enjoy traveling in North America and occasionally Europe, most recently in Italy in Oct. 2014.
Mike began contributing to tarot forums in 2008, with the name "MikeH" on Aeclectic Tarot Forum and "mikeh" on Tarot History Forum. He can be contacted by way of Personal Messages at either site.
His main interest has been in reconstructing, by means of historical documents and images, how educated people during the 15th-18th centuries might have interpreted the cards in terms of various wisdom traditions known then, including Christianity, Christian Kabbalah, ancient Greek and Roman writings (in religion, history, literature, and philosophy), and alchemy. His view is that the cards were seen by some as hieroglyphs, i.e. images with meanings hidden from the ignorant (see his posts on ATF starting at the Tarot History Forum; to unravel their meanings was to unlock the wisdom held therein. He also writes about the history of tarot as a game and the history of cartomancy, again focusing on the 15th-18th centuries.
Besides presenting documentation and arguments for his views on the two internet Forums, he has turned some of his posts, or combinations of posts, into stand-alone essays; links to them and other essays are at http://michaelshoward.blogspot.com.
Mike's professional background is in academic philosophy and clinical psychology. After a B.A. degree in philosophy from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, he studied at the University of Birmingham, England, on a Fulbright grant. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in philosophy from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, in 1975, with a dissertation on Wittgenstein. He taught philosophy at the State University of New York at Albany, Western Oregon State University, Portland State University, and other institutions. In 1989 he began studying Jungian-based psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, California, where he earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1996. He has published in the San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal and Religion. He worked as a mental health counselor for many years until retiring at the end of 2010.
Mike's psychology dissertation used the Corpus Hermeticum, Ficino’s writings on the planetary gods, and alchemical imagery to analyze Shakespeare’s Hamlet as a process of spiritual initiation. Mike later added Renaissance art to the interpretive mix. (For a visual essay version, see http://hermetichamletslideshow.blogspot.com). Inspired by this exploration and that of other Shakespeare plays (see again http://michaelshoward.blogspot.com), in 2007 he started examining the tarot as another Renaissance journey of the spirit using traditional themes in new ways. His main focus has been the tarot ever since.
Michael started his explorations with a comparison of Pico's 900 Theses, published Dec. 1486, and the Boiardo Tarocchi poem, which according recent researches possibly was made for the wedding of Lucrezia d'Este in Jan. 1487. The highest trump in the poem considers the Roman Lucrezia. Boiardo had been the older cousin of Pico de Mirandola.
Around the same time a series of 3 pictures was produced at the D'Este court presenting noble suffering women, between them one with the Roman Lucrezia.
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