`tarot-doc` is a Debian package that provides information about the Tarot and various Tarot decks as `man(1)`-formatted documentation, further integrating "the Tarot" into "The UNIX and GNU/Linux Manual," thus making the esoteric and magical origins of computing more explicit.

The Tarot is a tool used for divination, meditation, and spiritual focus; it can be used to sharpen one’s awareness of the present, bestowing impressive clarity and sharpness of mind upon the querent. A Debian package is an archive of accumulated knowledge or enhanced capabilities that can be recalled or invoked at will by a technical user of a GNU/Linux computer system. The relationships between these two tools are already strong. tarot-doc makes them stronger, offering gnostic guidance through cartomancy and tarotology to technoderatic programmers or, inversely, an opportunity to hone one’s skill in the technomagical arts.


tarot-doc was first conceived as a stand-alone package in early May, 2017 during one of Woodbine’s Sunday Dinners when Nelsonian was sharing his idea of a “Tarot journal” to maymay. Some years prior, in 2013, maymay had independently envisioned a similar tool along with a fellow rolequeer theorist1 named “R” (aka “unquietpirate”) as a joint project called “Tarot Notes” that never materialized.2

Nelsonian wrote the first manual page for tarot-doc beginning with the start of the Major Arcana, The Fool, card number zero. The process of learning the arcane traditions of the UNIX manual surfaced a number of opportunities to highlight more organic ways of thinking about computing knowledge. For example, Nelsonian wrote of his experiences:3

All of these manual pages follow a similar formatting, with shared sections and ways they describe things. This is because there is the concept of “The Manual” which is a universal, expanding codex of all information around computer commands. When you are in the command line, and you intuitively type in man ls to better understand the ls command, you are supporting (and being supported by) this concept.

What this means is that when someone is “Writing a Man Page”, they are not writing a manual page to be used for their specific language or command. Rather, they are writing a page about their specific language or command to be included in “The Manual”. I make this distinction because it means, metaphorically, that folks are not writing instruction manuals to be folded up and placed on top of their creation. Instead, they are placing a leaf of paper that details some knowledge into the exact right part of a gigantic universal codex. And that just deliiiiiights me.

Practically, this means that if you want to write a man page then it should follow specific typesetting formatting and writing conventions, so that it does not stand out too badly from the rest of the “great book”.

Our goal is to write up manual pages for all cards in the major and minor arcana. In this way, tarot becomes ingrained into the THE MANUAL, and the esoteric/magical origins of computing are made more explicit.

Truly delighted, other Tech Autonomists joined in. In mid-May 2017, maymay created a GitHub repository by the same name4 to jump-start development of the package in a manner more familiar to Debian maintainers.

About manual page formatting

Our Reference for man page formatting

External References


1 Rolequeer theory - Rolequeer Theory and Practice (Crabgrass group)

2 Tarot Notes on GitHub

3 Early version of "General Man Page Template" page background

4 tarot-doc on GitHub


I love this updated page a loooooooooooooooot