Monday, 27 April 2015

Mucha Tarot Reading

This week, my reading is with a fairly new deck, the Mucha Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2015).  I'll be using it again next week, and reviewing it on Friday of that week, as this Friday there's a Tarot Blog Hop for Beltane.  There will also be an extra post this Wednesday, looking at the journey that brought me to magic.  For now, though, let's take a look at the cards.

Now: Justice

I'm not sure about this depiction of Justice.  She seems a bit too sensual and worldly.  Add to that the fact her sword is held at an angle, which symbolically speaks of biases rather than a pure connection to higher truth. 

Still, I take the message that it's a week for being fair, for looking at situations in an unbiased way and acting for the good of all.

Don't: Five of Wands

There's little playfulness in this image.  These men wear helmets, and look to be in a full-on battle!  I guess they could be training, but it's pretty hard core if so.

Looks like a week when battles are best avoided.  As Justice said, time to pull together for the good of all, rather than getting into backstabbing or infighting.

Do: The Lovers

This last card reinforces the message from the previous two.  A man and woman cuddle close, presided over by an angel with arms outstretched above them, as though blessing them.  The woman's breasts are naked, making her seem more open and willing to expose herself.

Allowing some vulnerability and being willing to find ways to get closer to others, rather than competing, seems to be the overall recommendation from this reading.  I'll try to keep that in mind this week!

To see journal prompts based on these cards, click here.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Ancestral Path Overview

As mentioned on Monday, the Ancestral Path Tarot (US Games, 1996 and 2014) was the second deck I ever bought.  I was entranced by the artwork and enticed by the multi-cultural theme. 

Within the Majors, there is a broad mix of cultures represented.  A beautiful African woman tames a lion in Strength.  A modern blonde (based on Tracey Hoover, who wrote the companion book) reads tarot cards at a table in the Fool card. A Roman warrior rides his Chariot, while a shaman in a Paleolithic cave wears ancient Egyptian robes as the Magician.

This cultural variety continues in a more structured way in the Minors.  The suits are named Staves (Wands), Cups, Swords and Sacred Circles (Pentacles).  Each set of pips from Ten down to Ace explores a different cultural myth. 

So, Staves look at the Egyptian Book of the Dead through the dynasty of Ramses II, while Cups explore the story of King Arthur through the eyes of Morgana Le Fay.  Swords take us to the samurai culture of Japan, and the tale of Repunnot-un-Kur, who dreamed of the breakdown of traditional feudal society and tried to do something about it.  Finally, the Sacred Circles lead us through the Native American Winnebago Medicine Song.

Due to this structure, the cards aren't always totally traditional in meaning.  Still, they largely follow the RWS meanings. 

Taking a closer look at some of the cards, Death features an almost surprisingly beautiful image, which retains a feeling of discomfort.  While the setting sun creates a beautiful colour palette in the sky, an owl flies past, symbol of wisdom and also harbinger of death in many cultures. 

The dark, cloaked boatman with his black-sailed vessel harks back to the ancient stories of the River Styx, as well as many more cultures.  In Arthurian Britain, a corpse would be set adrift in a burning boat, and in Native American culture, too, there is a boatman who transports souls to the Afterworld.  All these tales speak of death as a transition, rather than an ending.

In the foreground, a child explores the eye socket of a skull, a first introduction to mortality.  Yet the reminder that death and life are intertwined is not only represented through youth and bare bones, but also in the fungi growing from a rotting tree's remains, and the roses that bloom in a graveyard, fed by the bodies of those buried there.

Moving on to the Court cards, these echo the cultures of their suit.  The titles are Princess, Prince, Queen and King.  In all but the suit of Cups, they are images of deities.  The Staves court, for example, is made up of Nepthys, Horus, Isis and Osiris.  The Cups, on the other hand, represent Morgana, Lancelot, Gwenhyfar, and Arthur. 

And here in the King of Swords we have Izanagi, a Japanese creator deity.  He towers above the sea of chaos, which he churns with his lance to create form: the islands of Japan.  Included in his meanings are: 'the ability to envision and then manifest those visions... action following thinking and planning.'

The Aces are traditional in their depiction of each suit's 'object' in the foreground.  However, they also offer a culturally appropriate background: a pyramid, for instance, in the Ace of Wands.  And this Ace of Sacred Circles shows a medicine drum in red, blue and yellow, with black around the outside, the traditional colours of the quarters in Native American thought.  There is also a bison and a medicine drum in the snowy landscape, all nods to the culture around which this suit's story arc is based.  I love the Sacred Circle as a representation of Pentacle energy, highlighting both the physical and the spiritual in this suit which speaks to the healing of body and soul!

Finally, we have the Seven of Staves, where a figure enters a temple, loomed over by statuary of the Gods.  Here, then, it is not other people attacking us, but what we can do about it - seeking strength from spirit, or to bolster our own spirit, and also seeking insight to see what part of the problem may be of our own making.

Altogther, I continue to love this deck, all these years on.  It is beautiful, vibrant, and multi-cultural, and speaks to me on so many levels.  It is absolutely practical, and also deeply spiritual.  And as it has been re-released, it is now once again easy to find.  So, what are you waiting for? ;)

Monday, 20 April 2015

Ancestral Path Tarot Reading

This week, it's back to tarot, and the second deck I ever bought!  The Ancestral Path Tarot (1996) was Julie Cuccia-Watts' first deck, and has recently been reissued by US Games (2014).  It is a stunningly beautiful deck, with a multi-cultural approach.  More details in the overview on Friday...

Now: The Chariot

Doesn't this guy look like he's in charge of his own destiny?  His red cape billows out around him, full of passion and power, as he rides through the starry night, pulled by a dark and a light lion.  No chasing after toddlers in dirty nappies for him! :D

Okay, with the Easter holidays over, it's time to get back to choosing my own path, rather than focusing on the kids

Don't: Five of Swords

According to the companion book by Tracey Hoover, this young samurai is performing a fishing ceremony.  However, the same paragraph describes him as sitting with two swords balanced behind him, so we can perhaps ignore that.  Still, I quite like her suggestion that this can indicate youthful idealism... 

Overall, in the image, I still see someone holding swords while others lie discarded on the floor.  A samurai would never willingly be parted from his sword.  And so, without any other figures here, we still have the traditional suggestion of defeat and humiliation.

Yet, losing a sword, or an ideal, isn't really the end of the world.  So long as we carry on, things can be regained and we can create new ideals.  The message I get is "Don't let small setbacks knock you off your Chariot!"

Do: Seven of Cups

Once again, this card has a slightly different emphasis.  We see Morgana Le Fey and her brother King Arthur.  She is using these cups for scrying, seeing all that will befall Arthur.  Yet, how can he tell if these visions are real, if there is any way around them?

As someone who believes that we have some ability to affect reality, to me this joins up with the traditional meaning to assess your choices wisely.  Things are not always as they seem.  It's necessary to look more deeply to see if something is as good as it seems.  Contemplating a couple of important business decisions, this makes a lot of sense to me!

To see journal prompts based on these cards, click here.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Wings of Change Courts

Everyone who reads Lenormand has their own take on whether or not they want playing card inserts on their cards.  While I recognise the usefulness of having another layer of symbolism to add to interpretations, I prefer cards that are pretty and where the artwork is the focus.

Still, in the decks I've created I always include the playing card associations on the cards in some way.  And with the Wings of Change Lenormand (self-published, 2015), I planned in another level of symbolism for the Court cards. 

One of the design concepts for these cards, because of the faery theme, was that each card included a faery creature on it, while still making the 'subject' of the card clear.  So, for the Court cards there is always a person on the card who can be taken as the playing card Court.  Seeing which way they are facing can add extra depth to a reading.  For instance, if the Queen of Hearts is facing away from the rest of the spread, perhaps there is a level of disinterest or emotional blindness there...



In this example, with three Courts, we might say that progress away from a negative situation , addiction or an argumentative relationship, comes through moving towards greater harmony.  The advice from the directionality of the Courts links closely with the interpretation - the Queen of Hearts (Stork) faces the King of Spades (Lily) and away from the Jack of Clubs (Birch Rods).   You could also note that the King of Spades on the Lily card does not look to either side, he focuses inward, on the present moment.  That is good advice if you are trying to find a more harmonious way of responding to something!



Another example, with just one Court card, shows Book, Fish and Anchor.  Getting into the flow of research might be feeling like hard work.  Perhaps we could look to the playing card association for some suggestions.  The King of Diamonds (Fish) is facing towards the Book and away from the Anchor.  A need to focus on the joy of what can be learned, or perhaps its financial benefits, rather than on how much time and effort it will take :)

Another aspect of the fae on the Court cards is that I therefore made the Kings and Jacks male fae.  In a spread, they can be spotted quickly, acting as a reminder of the 'person' interpretations, as well as giving the additional playing card and directional symbolism.  For instance, the House is associated with the King of Hearts, and can represent a father-figure, a househusband, or a man who's handy to have around the house :)

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Artist's Perspective

Elisabeth Arena, the artist who created the illustrations for the Wings of Change Lenormand (self-published, 2015), recently blogged about the experience from her perspective.  For anyone interested in the technical details behind these images (type of paint and sketch pad used), or just a different viewpoint on the creative process, it's an interesting read :)

Elisabeth has also started posted some videos on how to create specific projects, such as an art tag.  So, this is definitely a blog to follow if you're interested in making your own art!