Portable Fortitude Playing Cards

I’ve been using the Portable Fortitude Playing Cards on my daily card blog, but one of the reasons I bought it was to explore different authors.

I already had Lynda Barry’s book What It Is, and when I saw her in this card deck it convinced me there was something deeper to this deck. After receiving the cards I purchased Barry’s latest book Picture This which is similar but talks about art and creativity rather than creative writing.

After seeing Eduardo Galeano, a Uruguayan author, in this deck, I received a used copy of the book Mirrors: Stories of Almost Everyone by Galeano, and several people he discusses in that book are depicted in the Portable Fortitude deck. As well, he covers Hildegard of Bingen, one of my favourite people in history, and the Roman healer and philosopher Galen who had some interesting things to say about wellness.

From page 64-65 of Mirrors Eduardo discusses Galen’s advice to patients who were ill by nature to change their habits. Health and illness are ways of life and your habits can often decide that. I found that a revelation. I might type that out and put it up on one of my walls.

Another interesting fact that came to light on page 243 of this book is that Heinrich Göering, the father of the infamous Nazi Hermann Göering, operated a concentration camp in Namibia in 1904 where two men did medical experiments on black captives. These two men were responsible for training Joseph Mengele, so the precedent for concentration camps was far deeper in German culture than one might realize; it didn’t just pop up in the mid-thirties.

Hypatia is discussed on page 74 and also pops up in the Portable Fortitude cards as does Walt Whitman (page 230.) There are too many details and asides to note here and the book really needs to be read from front to back so that you get the connections as he’s written them, but it is worth a read. I’m going to try and find affordable copies of the three books in his Memory of Fire trilogy. I have The Book of Embraces on order from my library so am keen to get that too.

Considering how frivolous people sometimes view collecting card decks, I wanted to point out how interesting another person’s world view through art and literature can be, and how that can positively affect your life. Card decks are always worth a look-see, and this one has fuel for the eye with beautiful artwork plus fuel for the mind.

You never know what the impetus will be for new discovery and excitement in life.

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4 Responses to Portable Fortitude Playing Cards

  1. Shaheen Miro says:

    I want this deck so bad. I have been eyeing it for some time. I think when I return home I will get it! Could you please explain your method of using books with decks?


    • JJ ColourArt says:

      Hi Shaheen! Sometimes I simply buy a book that is related to a deck, like I bought several Eduardo Galeano books when I saw him in the Portable Fortitude deck. That’s one way, one way of learning and opening up to knowledge through a card deck.

      I started out using tarot decks in relation to what I call “random passages” from books. So I would pull a card and then randomly open up a book or dictionary and pick a sentence or paragraph and then try to relate it to a card. Some strange things come up sometimes, it’s a way of being open to meaning. Books are my life so to use them with card decks comes naturally to me.

      Another way I like to use books with cards is specific to art decks like the Lo Scarabeo decks pertaining to artists like Bruegel, Klimt, Botticelli, Giotto. You buy the deck and then buy a biography or art book related to that artist and learn every time you pick a card about a certain painting or piece of art, the time period, the impetus for the art. So as well as having the conventional tarot archetype to work with for the card, you have an art history lesson as well. With the Dante Tarot I read Dante and learned about both the Comedy and his Vita Nuova.

      Sometimes I choose random words from the dictionary or random words from my word tickets (explained in the book Poemcrazy by Susan Wooldridge) and using those words I write poetry in relation to a card I have drawn. Any way I can relate books or art to decks is what I enjoy. No rules, just what I feel like at the moment.

  2. Shaheen Miro says:

    Wow. thank you so much for sharing this with me. This is great information. I have to try this. I have always opened books up randomly… but never with the cards! Puts a whole new meaning on picture book 🙂 …i think that is a powerful way to take in their message. I love art history too… so it would be fun to go that direction. I love the Klimt deck and I love his work. My mom bought me that one a few years ago and I pull it out now and again… it has a very distinct feel. I will have to look up this book Poemcrazy too… that sounds amazing.

    Thanks again 🙂

    • JJ ColourArt says:

      I use two books with the Klimt deck: Klimt by Frank Whitford which is one of the books in the Thames and Hudson World of Art series. I like those books because they are comprehensive but not expensive.

      The other book I bought is a used hardcover: Art in Vienna 1898-1918: Klimt, Kokoschka and their contemporaries by Peter Vergo. It deals with painters, architects, all types of artists involved in the Vienna secessionist movement. Because of the emphasis on both Klimt and his contemporaries and contemporary society, it makes the card deck really open up, furthering your understanding of art and archetype.

      For me, it’s not so much if a deck can be read with right out of the box, but what I can learn from it in other ways. I know you understand this!

      Poemcrazy is a terrific book. It’s out-of-print now but I’m sure in London you could hunt up a used copy somewhere.
      ISBN-10: 051770370X
      ISBN-13: 978-0517703700

      As well as word tickets, I also use paint chips from the hardware store–they have interesting names that you can mix into poetry too. It’s so interesting to work with words that way in conjunction with card decks.

      Here are some examples from my card blog–this gets me so excited.


      I think you would enjoy this process.

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