PART 1: RECOGNIZING MEANING IN DRAGONFRUIT
Dragonfruit Alchemy uses the symbolism of the cards, board, and dice of Anthromancer to generate meaning in different ways. This guide explains these components in a graduated process, beginning with the cards, then integrating the board, and lastly, introducing the dice, as one complete oracle. Each component changes the complexity of the process, adding or removing possibilities to your creative arsenal. We encourage you to experiment with your own combinations as you deepen your understanding of the system.
THE ANTHROMANCER DECK
In Dragonfruit readings, we will incorporate all of the Anthromancer cards in one deck (as opposed to the separation of hymns and non-hymns in Mercenarium) and will be referring to this deck as the Anthromancer deck. There are 4 types of cards in the Anthromancer deck: Hymns, Materia, Courts, and Lords. Each of these card types generate meanings in slightly different ways.
The Hymns are the most significant cards; the meanings of all other cards in Dragonfruit are determined by the meanings of the hymns. Each hymn’s core meaning is drawn from archetypical themes of experience. When trying to understand a hymn in a reading, you can simply refer to its listed meaning to decipher it. Hymns have a one-word core meaning, three secondary themes, and an altered meaning, which will come into play when we discuss Alchemy later in this chapter.
As an example: in the case of hymn II. Meatwar, the core meaning is ‘Sacrifice’, and the secondary themes are ‘Ritual, Suffering, Necessity’. Through these simple terms, we can begin to understand the underlying ideas represented by Meatwar.
The hymns’ meanings are outlined on the Dragonfruit side of the Anthromancer quick reference cards; in the chart below labelled ‘Simple Dragonfruit Meanings’; and in expanded form in Level 3 of the Codex (titled ‘The Hymnal Protocol’). These meanings and themes are associated with the hymns’ illustrations, their musical compositions, as well as their function in the Mercenarium Arcade, so the more of Anthromancer you experience, the more intuitive your understanding of the hymns will become.
The Materia (or ‘non-hymn cards’ with a face value between 2 and 9) arrive at their meanings by virtue of the hymn that they share numerical value with. Each materia shares its numerical value with a hymn (as with the 2s and hymn II, or the 9s and hymn IX); These cards take the meanings of the hymn that shares their value, and apply it to a more specific sphere of experience, based on the minor card’s suit:
Claws relate to SOURCE: health, money, nutrition, resources, and foundation.
Souls relate to PULSE: dreams, urges, fears, romance, and emotion.
Gears relate to PATH: goals, motivation, plans, passion, and direction.
Blades relate to VIBE: platonic love, attitude, tribe, communication, and connection.
The core meaning of a materia card comes from its numerical value, which is then applied to a sphere of experience based on its suit. If you know each of these variables you can recognize the meaning of materia cards quite easily. As an example: imagine you’ve drawn the 9 of Souls. The value ‘9’ is tied to hymn IX – The Shade – and The Shade’s core meaning is “Solitude”. In addition, the suit of Souls represents the sphere of experience called ‘Pulse’, which is concerned with matters of the subconscious, such as dreams, emotions, fears and romance. At its simplest, then, the 9 of Souls would represent ‘Solitude in dreams, urges, fears, romance, or emotion’. You may choose to interpret this in many ways.
Courts (Aces, 10s, Jacks, Queens, and Kings) work similarly to materia, with one key difference. They still pull their core meanings from the hymns that share their value (Aces are ‘low’ in Dragonfruit and correlate with I. Fireyes, 10s with X. Arcanum, Jacks with XI. Visionaire, Queens with XII. Druid, and Kings with XIII. Zodiac), and they still belong to the sphere of experience dictated by their suit, but they have the added possibility of representing character archetypes – in other words, personalities. If a court appears (such as the Ace of Souls or the King of Blades), translate its core meaning and themes, and reflect on who you know that may embody these qualities. It may represent you or someone you know; it may be a public figure or a celebrity that you are aware of; or it may represent a more generalized energy form – such as the appearance of a need for leadership, or an impending catalysis. Each rank and title in the Courts represents a different personality archetype:
Aces are ADEPTS (LEADERS): Authorities with access to the influence or resources needed to affect change.
*10s are CATALYSTS (REBELS): Iconoclasts who subvert established trends to catalyze new possibilities
Jacks are STUDENTS (BEGINNERS): Hopeful souls starting a journey, embodying both courage and arrogance.
Queens are SOLDIERS (SUPPORTERS): Defenders who are devoted to protecting people, places or ideas.
Kings are SAGES (TEACHERS): Guides with useful knowledge, who seek to nurture those around them.
*NOTE on 10s: 10s occupy a peculiar place in the Anthromancer deck. As the highest number card, they function as Materia in the game of Mercenarium; that is to say, they cannot be bought by enemy players. However, in Dragonfruit Alchemy their themes and symbolic weight make them stand out as the Rebel archetype, and they are clearly distinct from the non-personified qualities of the other Materia in the system. This refusal to easily mesh with the system as a whole is perfectly in character for ‘The Rebel’. When 10s appear, they can represent an impersonal and sudden change (as a ‘catalyst’), but they can just as easily represent a human personality that prompts such a change.
Court cards are not gender-specific; women can be kings, men can be queens and non-binary or genderfluid people can be aces. What’s important is not the title or illustration on the card as much as the archetype that the card represents; and these archetypes are present in all of us.
Lords (L) embody the archetype of the Fool and the duality of spiritual growth. By default, they take their meaning from 0. The Fool, but in certain contexts (see Part 2: Alchemy, Alterations and Contextual Meaning) this changes to 00. The Fox. Both represent points along a path of awareness.
The ‘L’ on the Lords cards can represent both ‘Lessons’ and ‘Laughter’, the core meanings expressed by The Fool and The Fox. The intention here is to help us realize that the depth of our suffering is dependent upon our ability to accept and learn from it; when we embrace lessons as they come, we are led to laugh at ourselves, our situation, and the whole of the universe. In this sense, The Fox is simply The Fool with self-awareness.
A Lord’s appearance is meant to prompt reflection on the suffering or struggle we feel within their specific sphere, and how we can learn from it. For example, if you draw the Lord of Claws (Claws represent Source, which is concerned with matters of physical health or financial resources), this may lead you to notice that you’ve been ‘The Fool of Claws’, ignoring your health to the detriment of your other life goals. In its altered state (which will be explained later), this would represent ‘The Fox of Claws’, a person having mastered a more foundational lesson. This more positive manifestation offers you a moment to appreciate how learning that has served you.
The Lords are the most nuanced cards in the Dragonfruit oracle. They affirm the idea that we are here to learn, and it is up to us to decide what exactly they are trying to draw our attention to.
The simplest interpretations of cards are defined in the table below, and on the Dragonfruit side of the Anthromancer Quick Reference card. However, basic meanings of the hymns, minor cards, court cards and lords can be elaborated considerably as you become more familiar with the system. We’ve provided in-depth definitions of each card within their relevant Hymnal Protocol entry.
TABLE: SIMPLE DRAGONFRUIT MEANINGS
Sample Spread 1: Card of the Day
This is a great beginner spread that only requires interpreting a single card. Try doing this in the morning and see how your awareness of these themes affects your day.
Shuffle the deck several times.
Cut the deck.
Take a few slow, deep breaths. Focus on your breathing and return your awareness to the present moment. This will give you more clarity when interpreting your card of the day.
Turn over the top card of the deck (1). Set the deck aside.
Translate the card’s meaning. Focus your attention and consider these themes.
When you feel satisfied, return the card to the deck and begin your day.