Welcome to my world of visual language, cards, Zen, art, and analog photography delivered from Denmark with a Transylvanian touch.
I have a passion for seeing the obvious. I read cards like the Devil, they say. I tell fortunes from a martial arts, Zen perspective. In other words, I work with questions that cannot be ignored and the contemplative arts.
I’m interested in language and its oracular power as expressed through words and visual imagery. Oracles give us access to the present, which most people don’t live. Oracles give us access to spontaneous knowledge.
Cards are like a Zen master’s stick. They whack you over your head, pointing to what attitude is seated in you. Maybe you want to change that.
After retirement from my professorship, I also had more time to create art in the form of calligraphy, talismans, and film photography. You can find my art, limited edition tarots, gelatin silver prints, and other talismanic creations at the Read like the Devil shop, where you can both buy a piece of original magic and book a reading under the Read like the Devil signature.
I was born in Arad, Romania, in 1968. I came to Denmark in 1990, and since then I have embarked on a reading career.
I consider myself a reader. I read for a living.
Until my retirement I was a tenured professor of literature and chair of American Studies at Roskilde University. After I quit the academia mainly because I got tired of dullness, I expanded my cartomantic enterprise and launched into all sorts of fine art projects, from photography to book design.
In the academic world my credentials are two doctorates (PhD and Dr.Phil, habilitation). In the cartomantic world my credentials are the ability to prompt exclamations marks: ‘This reading has changed my life! This teaching has revolutionised my readings!’
I combine consciously my academic training with the idea of being inspired. I write about inspirited states and perform acts of deconstructing what we take for granted when we read a visual text or, generally, when we read ourselves in context.
As for analog photography, when I inherited unexpectedly a Leica M2 from 1963, my emotional fortune was made the minute I stepped back into the magic of the darkroom after some 40 years of amnesia. As I was obsessed with this art in my younger days, I found my heart flooded with all sorts very un-Zen emotions. I gave in and started working on it, even though I hardly have the time for it.
There’s nothing like reading. There’s nothing like reading yourself, another person, and your place in the world in relation to what you think you know of the world.
Reading is mirroring and through mirroring we learn the significance of reflection. Reading teaches us how to tell good stories.
I read everything that allows me to derail my sense of cultural reality, a sense that is too often contaminated by dictations.
In this sense I draw a line between being respectable – which I have no interest in – and respecting the arts – which I practice. I experiment with photography, short film, ink calligraphy, sigils, and suminagashi and suimonga in the tradition of Takaji Kuroda.
In everything I do I apply martial arts principles to my essential reading and art techniques, being forever inspired by fencing and Japanese swordsmanship.
The Butoh master Hijikata Tatsumi has been instrumental in sharpening my awareness of how the body relates to the mind in figuring out where exactly my place is, or where my foot is. I find that knowing my place is the most crucial knowledge to gain, and the highest of the arts. Related to where my foot is, I also like to step on it, and there’s no end to how much I can fantasize about racing a fast car against Ayrton Senna – even though I’m in my 50s, alas…
Others have picked up on my philosophy of reading life and cards like the Devil, and describe what I do quite accurately. In the words of Jeff Silverstein:
“Come be seduced by a real life Bond villain with her magical direwolf and invisible henchman. Camelia Elias trains her minions of tarot assassins with tough love and arms them with glowing red pitchforks, samurai swords and emptied minds that penetrate the unseen. Go see Camelia, if you dare and be damned to Read your cards like the Devil for all eternity… The only thing to fear is missing a class signup deadline. I went from zero to competence in five weeks. Marseille Tarot without tears.”
– Jeff Silverstein, film and broadcasting