Monday, 30 March 2015

Tarot Discs Reading

This week, I am using something a little different.  These are wooden discs painted with simplified images to represent the 22 Major Arcana: tarot discs (2015), created by Caroline Black. 

Now: The Fool

This image certainly encourages the interpretation of diving into something, being willing to take the plunge!  This can be risky, or just a bit scary even if you know there's no danger involved.  As so often, I simply hope I have the time to plunge into something, Little One willing...

Don't: The Star

The Star is normally such a positive card.  In this position, though, it makes me think of a song lyric from Rocky Horror: don't dream it, be it.  I know I can sometimes get lost in a daydream, wishful thinking.  Something to be aware of, this week.

Do: The Sun

Look at this sun filling the disk, with its rays swirling about.  It's full of energy and movement.  Combined with the Fool and the Star, it says to me to pour my energy into something new, taking action rather than just dreaming about it.

To see journal prompts inspired by these cards, click here.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Beautiful Creatures Tarot Overview

The Beautiful Creatures Tarot (Schiffer, 2015) is Jasmine Beckett-Griffith's first foray into tarot after four oracle decks.  Must say, I would love to know how this deck came about... 

Based on the images and the companion book, I suspect that the images were taken largely from pre-existing artwork, with one area of exception: the Courts.  Perhaps a few other images were created specifically, to plug perceived gaps.  Mostly, though, it feels like art was taken that could be made to fit the archetypes, rather than vice versa.

One result of this, one reason I suspect this, is that if you removed the card titles you would often be very hard pressed to know which card was which.  They don't have standard imagery, and they don't have recognisable suit elements of any kind, never mind in the requisite number. 

Still, for me this isn't a deal-breaker, as I love the artwork enough, and don't mind the titles.  It does mean I'm unlikely to use this deck for professional readings, though, as I prefer those decks to be clearer at first glance.

Another reason this deck disappoints a little is because it is published by Schiffer.  I have heard some people like Schiffer card stock, but for me it is always a sticking point with their decks.  For my tastes, the card stock is too thick, making the deck clunky and difficult to shuffle. 

My second issue with the deck concerns the editor at Schiffer.  The book, while visually stunning, would have benefited from a closer eye to grammar, spelling and needless repetition.  J.R. Rivera's writing is clear and knowledgeable, but is brought down by silly typos and poor proof reading.

On the upside, though, there is the packaging.  The deck comes in a lovely, sturdy box, with a ribbon to help open the magnetic catch.  The companion book, too, is beautifully laid out, with gorgeous monotone versions of the cards, as well as plenty of additional artwork to liven up the pages.  The layout is clear and pleasing, with a little speech from each card at the top of its page, a short, illustrative story, and then upright and reversed card meanings. 

The only gripe I have with the design element is that the spreads (of which there are ten), are all illustrated with just a straight line of cards.  To my mind, one should be a cross (it's called a cross spread), one should be an inverted pyramid (family inheritance), and one could have been a V (vice versa spread).  This would have made for more interesting pages, as well as easier to read spreads.

While the stories are sometimes a little simplistic, this fits with what Americans always seem to see as Jasmine Beckett-Griffith's target audience: young goths.  And there is a certain charm and playfulness to both the images and the stories.  Still, I could wish for something a little less twee in places, and more true to the images' symbolism.

For instance, in the Lovers card we see a woman and a man (the only 'regular' guy in the deck, actually).  The story talks of a princess having to choose between a foreign, handsome prince and the love of her own people.  Now, first off, the guy isn't particularly handsome in my eyes.  More importantly, though, this seems quite clearly to be an image of the dragon slayer St. George.  We have the halo around his head, denoting sainthood, the flag of St. George waving behind his head, and the dragon at his feet.  Surely a story of a choice involving a dragon slayer could have been written?

In a similar vein, the Five of Airs shows what seems to me to be Alice involved in painting roses red to pacify the Queen, from Alice in Wonderland.  I base this on the look of the girl compared to a named Alice card in one of Beckett-Griffith's previous decks, as well as the presence of the grinning Cheshire Cat, the maze, and the red paint brush and roses (click the link to see a clip from the Disney movie - she's even wearing a similar blue dress with white pinafore).  Yet, the companion book talks of a girl losing a painting competition to a cat who bribed the judges!?

Still, these are two slip-ups, as most of the cards and stories connect well.  And though simple, they have a warm playfulness while remaining true to the tarot archetypes.

One section which is very innovative and well thought out is the Courts.  There is a Nymph for each of the renamed suits: Fires, Waters, Airs and Earths (the last two plurals, in particular, really don't work well for me).  Then, the other twelve Courts are represented by the twelve astrological signs, named to suggest the zodiac sign and its elemental association. So, we have the Lion of Fires for Leo, and the Crab of Waters, for Cancer. 

These astrological cards seem to be ones created as a whole, either specifically for this project or for another astrological project.  The artwork is simpler and more cartoon-like than the other imagery, while still beautiful and still clearly showing Beckett-Griffith's 'signature'.  As for the use of these for the Courts, I think it works very well.  The book gives meanings for each sign/card, both in terms of personality types, and describing situations they could express.  It's a very different and yet useable approach to the Court cards.

The Aces, like the other cards in the deck, are not necessarily obvious at first glance.  Each does show a female character holding a single item, but that could be said of many other cards, too.  And the item they hold is not then repeated on other cards as a suit symbol.  So, while they work as Aces, that is only because of the titles, once again.

Still, despite being artwork chosen, rather than created, to fit, mostly the cards do work.  Some take a little getting used to, and some open up wonderful new perspectives.  I love the Japanes high-tech angel as the Eight of Waters, realising the meaninglessness of all that tech and glitz, and going out into the world to discover what truly matters to her.  Or the Eight of Earths with a sad maid trying to learn to understand the working of the universe through her practical experiments.

The bottom line for me is that it's a tarot with Jasmine Beckett-Griffith's artwork, and that alone would make it worth getting for me!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Beautiful Creatures Tarot Reading

As a huge fan of Jasmine Beckett-Griffith, I've been waiting on tenterhooks for this week's deck, the Beautiful Creatures Tarot (Schiffer, 2015).  The artwork lives up to my expectations, but as for the deck as a whole, well, you'll have to come back on Friday to find out...

Now: the Star

Who can complain when the Star comes to represent the current situation?  Hope and guidance are always welcome!  And I smiled at this version, with her funky socks and the bright stars around her. 

I could do with a little hope at the moment.  Having uploaded the re-edited version of the Wings of Change Lenormand, my fingers are tightly crossed that this one will look brighter and more cheerful than the last.

Don't: the Transformation

Surrounded by skulls, things can feel a little dark!  Yet, as the title says, it is through these dark times that transformation comes about. 

Still, as the card representing what not to do, this suggests not throwing out the old, not crying over spilt milk.

Do: Two of Fires

A beautiful creature sits in a garden with a hummingbird at her side.  There is great potential here, though she has not decided yet which flower she wants to drink from, metaphorically.

A time to recognise options and make a choice.  We can only act once we have a goal in sight.

This reading feels quite cohesive: a time to take some guidance and then move forward with something already started, rather than giving up and having to start from scratch.

For journal prompts based on these cards, click here.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Spring Fling Blog Hop: Out With The Old?

Radiant Rider Waite
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Our wrangler for this hop, Ania, creatrix of many, many beautiful things (if you don't believe me, go check out her site - I especially love her tarot bags!), challenged us with the following question: which tarot cards do you think need to be updated, removed or added to reflect our modern society?

I really struggled with this.  Basically, I feel like the archetypes are broad enough to allow modern  understandings, without having to go chucking any out or making new ones up.  This may just be because I am happy to have very different takes on cards.

Let's take a look at the Temperance card, as an example.  If we look at traditional images - in this case from the Radiant Rider Waite (US Games, 2005) we have an angel standing with one foot in water, the other on the ground, wings rising up behind him.  He pours liquid from one cup into another, and has the alchemical symbol for fire on his chest.  A crown shines above the path behind him, indicating this is the path to greatness.  We have here a divine balancing of different elements to try to get the exact right mix to achieve something wonderful, something healing.

Gay Tarot
Now, looking to more modern depictions, at first glance, they are completely different - a reimagining that seems equivalent to chucking the old out.  For instance, one of my all-time favourite versions of Temperance is from the Gay Tarot  (Lo Scarabeo, 2004).  This totally modern take shows a chef in his kitchen, cooking up some delicious meal.  Yet, it gets right to the heart of what I see in the Temperance card: the need to get the right balance and mix of ingredients, in a way that might seem divinely guided.  And healing through the food we eat is another good message.

Vanessa Tarot
The Vanessa Tarot (US Games, 2007) version is slyly deviant, using a barmaid with little wings in a card titled Temperance.  A stark juxtaposition between the connotations of abstemiousness implied by the word and the sexy, cheeky image.  Yet, that perfect cocktail takes a delicate balancing act.  And staying balanced, not going to excess, is certainly harder but also necessary if you are to act professionally when working in a bar.  This card could also be seen as hinting at the need for moderation in matters of sex, and how this is an aspect of life that can also feel divine...

Spirit Within The Shadows
A similar balancing act on the middle path can be seen in the Spirit Within The Shadows version (Steven Bright, as yet unpublished).  I absolutely adore this DJ mixing from two different coloured record decks, with a yin-yang-type balance to the background colours.  It is both old-school (in terms of modern mixing from mp3's) and modern.  DJ's also have to find that middle ground, in amongst all the excess of drugs and alcohol, and the high of being on stage.  On top of that, the card makes me think of the Alanis Morissette song: So Pure.  Dancing can be such a powerful force for healing, as well as self-expression!  Here, the balance is felt and heard, a physical force rather than an intellectual understanding.

Tarot de St Croix
And moving into the New Age, we have the Tarot de St Croix (self-published, 2014) which returns to the symbolism of an angel.  Here, though, there is a human woman pouring liquid into a fire.  She is naked, and behind rises up a handsome angel.  This brings the human, the everyday, and vulnerability into the card, for it can feel exposed when we try to achieve a balance in our lives, neither excess nor moderation, a fine line to toe.  Yet, the image also speaks to a sense of being diviniely supported, to a belief in spirit, if not in religion, and to that feeling of connectedness when we flow with what we are doing.

With all this, what need for a new card to express any of this, Temperance holds within itself such a variety of possibilities...

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Video of All Four Suits From the Prisma Visions Tarot
In case I haven't tempted you sufficiently, following on from last week's video of just the suit of Pentacles, here is a video showing all four suits from the Prisma Visions Tarot (James R. Eads, 2014).  Although you're unlikely to see them all fall like this in a reading, I love seeing this interconnectedness, and how well each card sits with the others, as well as being its own entity!