Thursday, 28 August 2014

Penny Dreadful Overview + Giveaway

Ah, the joys of buying a deck pretty much sight unseen!  I had high hopes for the Penny Dreadful Tarot (Showtime), and the first few cards (the Majors) didn't disappoint.  Simple line drawings on a purple background, a creepy take on tradition.  Like the skeleton roaming free under a spiky Sun, the images are clear, spooky, and work very well both intuitively and archetypally.

The Courts, too, are surprisingly good.  For instance, in this King of Pentacles we have a mature man in a crown and draping cape.  He holds an antlered skull on a wand, with an inverted pentacle etched into its forehead.  Grounded, perhaps too materialistic, as well as domineering, he is a strong figure.

Even the Aces are interesting, if not totally traditional.  In this Ace of Wands we have a panther licking a big wand.  Very phallic, with all the pent-up energy of a great cat to boot!  Something appealing, that energises and inspires us, that we can't stay away from, even if it isn't always good for us :D

However, then we come to the bulk of the Minors, all the cards 2-10.  These generally have a central "theme" or image.  So, the Seven of Wands builds up from the two of wands, which had the foregrounded wand with a skull and one other wand on it, to what you see in the image.  At least they show the correct number of suit objects.  Other than that, though, I find them very disappointing.

It's strange, for me these cards are worse than non-illustrated pips.  For instance, if we look at the Six and the Nine of Cups, the central image is the same, and catches the eye.  The difference between the number of cups and their placement seems minimal.  The situation gets worse the higher up each suit we go.  As you can imagine, the Ten of Cups has nothing of family or joy to it, just even more cups and the still-hooded figure. 

Imagine if you got a number of cards from the same suit in a spread.  There is no colour variation, and little image variation.  These are the worst of both illustrated and non-illustrated pips: a central image which attracts attention, yet has nothing to say; and then suit objects that you cannot easily count or distinguish.  The image distracts me from straight-up numerological and other traditional readings, while not adding anything useful to an intuitive interpretation.

All that being said, I am sure there is someone somewhere who would get on with these cards.  With that hope, I offer an unopened deck as a giveaway - postage paid to anywhere in the world.  I bought two decks, as I have a friend who loves purple, and loves the Bohemian Gothic Tarot, so I thought this might please her.  Looking through my own copy, though, I realised it wouldn't (partly as there are spiders on a lot of the Majors, of which she is terrified, and partly because of the pip problem).  So, if anyone is interested, just leave a comment.  I will announce the winner (if there's more than one person interested) next Friday, 5th September :)

Monday, 25 August 2014

Penny Dreadful Tarot Reading

This week's deck comes from the Showtime store, and is a deck created for the TV series of the same name: Penny Dreadful.  I had never seen the show, but when I heard there was a deck to match, I decided to check it out.  The series seems to be a horror show of sorts set in Victorian London.  As for the deck, it is in a brash purple, with quite minimalist artwork.  For more details, check back on Friday!

Situation - The Hanged Man

An androgynous figure dangles upside down from the tentacles of a giant squid (or is it an octopus?)  Is the squid rescuing them from the depths, or dangling them there until they are ready (to be eaten, perhaps)?  Either way, there seems little the person can do.

Don't - Two of Cups

A hooded, cloaked figure stands with water pouring to either side of them from two cups.  In this deck, the pips have the same main element, with just added suit objects.  So, all the cups pips show this cloaked figure, with more and more cups pouring around them.  This really doesn't speak to me of partnership, or seeing eye-to-eye.  Far more, it might indicate a situation where we have emotion coming from two different directions.  That could indicate a relationship, I suppose, and one where both people involved are willing to express their emotions...  As what not to do, it suggests not getting into messy emotional territory.

Do - Knight of Cups

The Courts in this deck are quite well drawn, with simple lines and clear symbolism.  This Knight's steed steps forward elegantly, his cup raised high, yet the man's head is somewhat bowed.  While he is clear about his feelings, he knows his may not always be the easiest path to follow.
The weekend certainly felt pretty Hanged Man - waiting and more waiting in hospital with my elder son, unable to help him other than to be there for him.  Everything went smoothly, though, and he's home now, albeit still in need of some recuperation.  Perhaps, then, it speaks more to the fact that I've been somewhat powerless to do things that need doing, and that I want to do. 

For one thing, U.S. Games have sent through the final proofs for the box, card backs and companion book for the Celtic Lenormand (yes, I did a little happy dance!)  That's definitely high on my list of priorities, but may take a little while.  Then, there are other less exciting tasks: some legal documents to work on, accounts and other paperwork.  Yet, making sure my son heals well takes higher priority, and with school still out, on top of a Bank Holiday, well, I'll get to things when I can.

As for the other two cards, they remind me that my Dear One is going away for a few days.  I know he needs the break, and so supporting him to go becomes a loving gift, Knight of Cups style.  Still, I'll miss his presence, and our mutual flow of emotions. 

Friday, 22 August 2014

Tarot of the Angels Overview

The Tarot of the Angels (Lo Scarabeo, 2008) may be an old deck, in a market segment that is constantly seeing new additions (just like the cat- or pagan-themed decks).  Still, it's one that is worth a closer look.

This is not a sugary-sweet love-and-light deck, yet it remains uplifting.  The angels are there, it suggests, all around us and always willing to lend a hand or a wing to help.  Yet, traditional tarot ideas remain strong in this deck, and life is not always easy or perfect.

For instance, in the Hanged Man we have someone who is going through a trial, a time of hardship from which they can learn.  The message, though, is that we can also receive a little succour, some spiritual support, through this challenge.

The Knight of Swords makes me laugh.  Look at this figure careening into whatever is ahead of them.  Definitely going "where angels fear to tread".  Yet, the angels look on from above, and will help and support the daring knight, whether he suceeds or fails in his quest.

The Minors are equally interesting.  In the Ace of Swords we have the traditional sword pointing up through a crown.  Here, though, there is the addition of angel wings - this is a spiritual truth, a way of communicating that will uplift.

The Seven of Pentacles is less traditional, and works on a number of levels.  Instead of a man hoeing plants, we have someone tending a fire.  Is he trying to melt down those Pentacles, in order to do something new with them?  Is the angel at his side helping him to assess whether the work he is doing is likely to be successful, or does the angel whisper to him about doing it for the greater good?  Does the man even see those Pentacles above the fire, or is he simply focused on the task at hand, not realising the value he is storing up for the future in doing what he does?

I love that these cards can lead to so many questions about how we are supported by spirit, and how we can bring a more spiritual approach into our everyday lives.  Yet, they can also be read as straight-up tarot images giving a simple message - the choice is ours.  An angel deck that isn't too in your face, then, and one which is not overly simple or new agey.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Tarot of the Angels Reading

Last week, I was reminded of this angel tarot which I've had for a long time, the Tarot of the Angels (Lo Scarabeo, 2008).  Looking through all my angel decks, I think this is my favourite tarot, and second favourite over all.  It isn't overly sweet, and offers lots of original interpretations, while still being readable according to standard meanings.

Situation - Six of Pentacles

A seeming mix of the Five and Six of Pentacles, here. A figure in tattered clothes and with bare feet huddles in a doorway.  Above him, six coins shine out from the door, while a grey-winged angel reaches down, offering the man a helping hand.  Is this really an angel, or could this angel be any of us, offering help to someone in need?

Don't - The Hermit

A cloaked and windswept figure walks away through a barren landscape, towards a beautiful sunset.  This person holds a lamp in one hand, and a walking stick in the other.  Above them, an angel peers through dark, boiling clouds, holding a mirror.  When we walk away from the everyday, we see ourselves in a different light.

Do - Ace of Coins

A huge, golden coin floats above a heavily-laden apple tree at the front of an orchard.  On the coin is a great snake, held in the claws of a double-headed eagle with wings outstretched.  Not only material abundance here, then, but also joy in nature and strength.

This week, my elder son goes into hospital again, for a somewhat complicated operation.  That is foremost in my mind, and so I see it in this situation card.  A time of hardship for us all, stress and worry.  A time when others are lending a hand to make this situation less hard.  And also a time that gives me the chance to offer kindness and empathy to my son, who needs it the most. 

Nevertheless, when something like this comes up there is the temptation to hide away from it, to bury my head in the sand.  It never helps, as no matter where I turn, there I am with my worries.  What may help, though, is to focus on the practical: on what I can do for him.  And perhaps also on the physical: exercising always improves my mood and relieves stress...

Friday, 15 August 2014

Sacred Isle Tarot Overview

This week's deck has a real fantasy feel, I can just imagine it illustrating Marion Zimmer Bradley's Avalon series...  Yet, there is something more elegant about these cards from the Sacred Isle Tarot (self-published, 2014).  Probably connected with the fanciful, almost dainty architecture of the palaces it shows.

The Emperor is a good example of this, with his fairytale castle in the background, more whimsical by far than the German castle it is based on.  He looks appropriately solid, on his pillar-flanked throne and holding a golden ankh and a blue globe that matches the turrets behind him.  There is a majesty to what he has built, or what he holds responsibility for.  His slightly fierce expression reminds us that he takes his work seriously.

Another serious man, though with a rather less extravagant castle, greets us in the form of the King of Pentacles.  His sumptuous robes are richly decorated in golden thread, and the colours about him are autumnal.  On his table are a golden pentacle, but also the abundant fruits of his harvest.  Elementally, he combines the red of fire with the brown of earth, a strong yet grounded leader.

At first glance, the Ace of Cups is very traditional: a spiritual being (here an angel rather than a dove) pours water into a cup which overflows into a beautiful sea or lake.  The swans hint at beauty and love, and the lotuses further suggest spiritual connection.  Yet, the clouds that boil around the angel are fierce, with lightning piercing the sky in the background, belying the calm of the waters.  Spiritual connection, overflowing emotion, and yet with the risk that an emotional storm could also come from these powerful feelings!

Finally, the Eight of Pentacles adds a nice touch to the apprentice working on his skills.  There is the suggestion of burning the candles at both ends, yet also the promise of what that effort can achieve: the impressive cathedral behind the young figure.

A quick word about the cards themselves.  The cardstock is a nice thickness, flexible and not too bulky, but seeming sturdy enough to last.  The cards are a little larger than most (8.5 x 13cms) and laminated only on the front, which lends them a slightly unusual feel.  Altogether, a charming deck, though not one for those who are put off by nudity.  Although not gratuitous, there are more naked, female pictures than in a traditional deck (for instance, in the Three of Wands), as well as both male and female full-frontal nudity on the Devil card.