Monday, 31 December 2012

Caroline's "What Are You Most Afraid To Say About Your Life" Spread

©Vanessa Decort
Okay, so the name isn't exactly catchy, but this spread is a good one, nevertheless :)

In one of the Facebook groups I'm a part of, Alison Cross asked "what is the thing that you're most afraid to say about your life and what are you going to do about it?"  Caroline Blackler promptly came up with a spread to look at this.  

First off, you have to actually decide what it is you're most afraid to say about your life.  For me, at the moment, it's that my life feels totally out of control :(  When I say that, in part it seems ridiculous.  In many ways, I live a very regimented, organised life.  I workout pretty much every day and blog fairly punctually.  I have most of my meals about the same time every day (and for the last three months or so my breakfast has almost always been porridge with fruit, though I do sometimes vary which fruit).  This is not a chaotic life!  

However, where the problem comes, I guess, is the fact that my life's direction isn't very clear to me right now.  A year ago, I was certain I would finish my Masters, move on to the Advanced Diploma, keep seeing clients, and become a UKCP Registered Psychotherapist within at most four years.  Now, I'm not sure whether I'll do my dissertation, I've stopped seeing clients, and my focus is on creative pursuits (mainly Lenormand-based).  

Is this some kind of denial, a childish retreat into fun rather than hard work?  Or is this acknowledging my creativity and choosing a fulfilling life path?

Anyhow, having made your statement, then you draw four cards.  I decided to use the Sun and Moon Tarot (U.S. Games, 2010).


©Vanessa Decort
1) What does the tarot have to say about that - IX - The Hermit

It's a great reminder just how beautiful this deck is!  This is one of my favourite cards.  I love this hermit, dressed in orange and pink, with wild, dreaded hair, standing under an Om and other sanskrit writing. 

I guess this says I need to take some time to stop and look inward to find what it is that I really want to be doing.  This isn't something that I can just rationally choose, I need to meditate on it, to really understand my motivations.  

I also need to think about what I can offer the world - what is the light that I can shine for others?  How can I best serve?


©Vanessa Decort
2) What am I going to do about it - Prince of Wands

Eek, his wheels are on fire!  Still, I love the lion pulling his chariot, so full of strength and self-belief.  

I am going to look to what I am passionate about, to see where my energy lies.  Then, I shall move towards that with vigour and faith!


©Vanessa Decort
3) What am I too scared to admit to myself about my life - Eight of Swords

Isn't this a charming, if somewhat harsh, version of this card?  Not only is she surrounded on all sides by swords, with no obvious way out, but she is also trussed up like a puppet!

What this says to me, is that it's only my own thoughts and expectations - all those should's and shouldn'ts - that are stopping me from being happy with whatever comes.  This brings me back to one of the points I started with: I have quite an organised life.  That probably makes this area of uncertainty all the more scary for me.  


©Vanessa Decort
4) What am I going to do about that - Nine of Pentacles

What a lovely card to end the spread with, the Nine of Pentacles really is one of my favourite cards!  Though this is rather an unusual version, with a man instead of a woman.  Still, I like the way he sits in a cut-off circle within a wall.  Safe in his garden with his lovely sunflowers, but still able to see out into the wider world :)

This suggests to me that I take time to give thanks for what I do have, to appreciate what I have achieved, my creativity and strength.  It calls for a bit of perspective, and a bit of self-appreciation.  I shall certainly give it a try!

New Year's Rituals and Joys

©Choi & Shina
What a lovely card to pull for New Year's Eve!  This King of Pentacles, from the Dreaming Way Tarot (U.S. Games, 2012), sits on quite a plain throne, with a cute, green-roofed, turreted castle behind him, and other green-roofed houses in the distance.

Despite the plain throne, his robes are rich with grapes on the vine, and he holds a large, golden pentacle, as well as wearing a large, golden crown.  There are spurs on his brown boots, and his hair is curled in a fancy style.  He also has a thick beard, and rather red cheeks, as though from overindulgence.

He makes me think of enjoying good food and good company - he's definitely someone who is happy to party!  And that's certainly the order of the day today :)

His grape-encrusted robes remind me of one of my favourite traditions from Spain for this celebration.  The Spanish eat 12 grapes with the 12 strikes of the clock in the central plaza in Madrid - la Puerta del Sol.  Each grape represents one of the months to come, and it's said if you don't eat them all, not all your months will be good.  I have to admit, I always used to de-pip my grapes before I started ;D

I really enjoy NYE parties.  Not that I drink much, or am a wild party animal any more!  It's more the traditions and rituals I like.  For example, for a while when I lived in Madrid I celebrated every NYE with one of my closest friends and her family.  Another tradition in Spain is to start the new year "on the right foot".  So, people generally sit with their left leg tucked up under them for the chimes, and only their right foot on the floor.  As my friend and I were both yoga teachers, we decided to eat our grapes in tree pose, so we not only started the year on the right foot, but in perfect balance ;)

Of course, as a child I generally celebrated the New Year in Germany.  There, one of the old folk traditions is to "throw lead".  In the stores between Christmas and New Year you can by "lead" forms in shapes like lucky pigs, top hats, and horseshoes.  You melt them, then pour the metal into a glass of water, and "interpret" the shapes they make - one of the earliest forms of divination I learned :)  These days I tend to do the same using candle wax, which works just as well!

Whatever you do this evening, I hope you take the time to enjoy it, to make the most of the simple pleasures available :)

I am grateful for good friends and fun traditions.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Shopping/Boomerang

©Choi & Shina
Today's card from the Dreaming Way Tarot (U.S. Games, 2012) once again has a strange edge to it.

In this Seven of Pentacles, we see a young, somewhat disgruntled-looking woman, red in the face from carrying shopping bags.  As if that weren't unusual enough for the Seven of Pentacles, there's a pentacle flying in the sky above her.  Is it floating around following her?  Or is it, boomerang-like, swinging back round to smack her upside the head?

I guess I can see the traditional idea of putting in work and hoping it'll pay off over time, in her bag carrying.  Perhaps that randomly flying Pentacle is a reminder that we can never be quite sure what will come of our hard work - we have to wait and see whether or not the harvest is good...

At a more intuitive level, this card makes me think of the hard work involved in going shopping.  Not that I'm planning to do much of that today.  Rather, we placed an order that will be delivered to our door - takes the stress and hard work out of grocery shopping :)  Still, it's true we need to stock up before the New Year, closely followed by Big Boy's birthday.  That's a large part of what today's shop is about - preparing for family to come over to celebrate on the second of January :)

In terms of perseverance, this morning I started thinking again about how to restructure my dissertation protocol.  I'm still not sure if the effort doing the dissertation will take is worth it to me, though...

I am grateful for on-line shopping.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Pure Justice

©Choi & Shina
This week, it's back to tarot, with the Dreaming Way Tarot by Rome Choi and Kwon Shina (U.S. Games, 2012). 

When I first went through this deck, this card grabbed me straight away.  So, I was glad to see it pop up in my very first draw ;)

A young woman with long, dark hair stands in a pouffy-sleeved white shift dress.  Her bare legs, with knock knees, show beneath the hem.  In one hand she grasps the blade of a sword, just below the hilt, while in the other, twisted upward, she holds a scales.  Her eyes are bound with a white ribbon, under which blue make-up seems to leak, and her lips are also painted blue. 

What is it about this image that I find so intriguing?  I think part of it is the juxtaposition of this innocent-seeming girl with the idea of justice - bringing purity to the weighing up of all that has been.  There is also something about the way she holds the sword - not ready to strike with it, but rather holding it as though making a pledge, taking an oath to see justice done.  She seems less wise, less Goddess-like, than many traditional Justice depictions.  Yet, for all that, innocence may also be a good quality to look for in justice, a willingness to look for the best in any situation.

I haven't done anything on my 2013 workbook this week, between all of us being ill, and having people round, as well as Big Boy being off school.  Still, today I would like to take some time to weigh up the past and decide what I want for the future.

I am grateful for some time to assess where I've been, and think about where I want to go.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Lennie Week 2 - Chronata's Minute Lenormand

For this last day of Lennie Week, one more lovely self-published deck!  This time it's the turn of Robyn Tisch-Hollister's Minute Lenormand.


Today's cards are Paths, Clover and Fish.  

Fortuitous choices lead to money.
Lucky decisions lead to things multiplying.
A stroke of luck is a turning point in business.
Some small luck guides you to greater freedom.

One of the things I often wonder with luck is how much we make it, and how much it just comes to us?  Then there's the question of whether it will whisk us towards something, or whether we have to actually grab the opportunity?  I'm rather more of the make your luck and seize the day inclination, overall... 

Certainly, this reading seems to suggest that it is through our choices that the most can be made of any opportunity that comes today.  And whether it leads to a good shopping choice, an improvement in a business, or just a greater sense of freedom, the outcome seems pretty favourable. 

I don't have anything in particular planned for today - a bit of writing, a bit of drawing, answering some emails.  What I take from this reading is the sense that if something does come up, I should seize the opportunity with both hands, not just think "I'll do it tomorrow..."

I am grateful for the reminder that opportunity is nothing without acceptance and dedication.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Lennie Week 2 - Off-Center Lenormand

For this Thursday of Lennie Week, we have one of the delightful creations of Marcia McCord, the Off-Center Lenormand, available only through the Tarot Garden.

Birds, Rider, House

So, the cards for today are Birds, Rider, and House.  Don't you just love these quirky cards?  Budgies, a rider on a camel, and a charming, misty, country house.  Anyway, riffing on the keywords gets me:

Dynamic conversations lead to a sense of homecoming.
Active talk makes for a happy home.
A quick chat about a house.
Moving nervously around family.

What seems most useful to me today is the reminder to be active in starting necessary conversations with my Dear One.  As many people have said, a good relationship requires a certain amount of maintenance.  And part of that is talking things through.  Whether that's a chat while taking a stroll, pillow talk, or a more formal conversation, as the ad says "It's good to talk!" ;)

I am grateful for the reminder to communicate (with) my love.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Lennie Week 2 - Gilded Reverie

It would be hard to deny that one of the most stunningly beautiful, independently published Lenormand decks to come out is Ciro Marchetti's Gilded Reverie.  Not surprising, then, that it's about to enter into its third print run!  And a number of lucky TABI members got in on a group order, to reduce costs and lay their mitts on this beauty in time for Christmas :)

Gilded Reverie Lenormand
Today's cards are the Rider, Dice (one of the additional cards Ciro created, based on other decks made around the same time as what has come to be known as the Petit Lenormand), and the Tree.  Sentences inspired by these are:

Daring action brings health.
Fateful movement leads to a sense of rootedness.
Gambling enthusiastically with your inheritance.
Choosing movement aligns us with our spirituality.

After a few days feeling more than a little peaky, I see in today's draw that taking a chance on working up a sweat through exercise might do me some good.  Or perhaps just moving a bit - getting outside for a walk.  Let's hope so!

I am grateful for good health.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Lennie Week 2 - Palimpsest

The idea behind today's deck is an innovative one.  The Palimpsest Lenormand by Bertrand Saint-Guillain, now in its second edition, takes the idea of a palimpsest - a scroll where you scrape off the original text in order to write something new - and applies it to the creation of a Lenormand deck.  So, a regular playing card deck was taken and tippexed/scraped, then the Lenormand symbols were drawn onto the deck.  It gives the whole thing a vintage feel which is appealing and interesting.

Child, Coffin, Cross
As for today's draw, we have some difficult cards in there.  Brainstorming on this I get:

New beginning ends in sorrow.
Sick child is a burden.
Death of a new project brings sadness.
Death of an opportunity challenges faith.

I know which one resonates with my recent experience.  Over the weekend Big Boy had a really bad time, and consequently so did we.  Yet what comes up for me today is actually "new sickness is a burden".  Perhaps due to the stress of the weekend, my Dear One and I now both seem to have what Big boy had.  It doesn't affect us as badly, as we don't get the side effects he did.  Still, being sick is never fun, and this is a doozy.  I also see the idea that, for some, suffering seems to bring them a greater sense of faith, while for others it makes them question.  I wonder where the difference lies?

I am grateful for my spiritual beliefs, which help me pull through hard times.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Interview with Kendra Hurteau


Under the Roses Lenormand
Hi Kendra

Thanks so much for agreeing to answer some questions about your decks and creative process.  You will have brought out three Lenormand decks in the course of this year. That’s a phenomenal creative output! Could you say a little about what inspired you? 
Katrina and I had thrown around some ideas for working together for some time, including the possibility of her illustrating a picture book I’ve written.  Originally, I had an idea for a tarot deck but the deck I’d written up was very detailed and seemed a huge undertaking.  I belong to the Detroit Area Tarot Guild and there I was introduced to Lenormand by a friend.  It was love at first sight.  As my love for Lenormand grew it seemed a natural fit.  In addition, I love old mysteries and secrets, so the theme emerged.  After the first draft and images were created for Under the Roses we started discussing creating decks for the holidays.  We both enjoy the fall and winter holidays and they are a big part of our family traditions.  After all that we’ve accomplished, that tarot idea doesn’t seem so overwhelming now. 

Katrina loves art.  She is now a mother herself, but she has been drawing since she was young.  As she grew up her pages were filled with designer dresses, faeries, and animé.  She has a degree in computer animation and currently works as a graphic artist doing both graphic design and animation.  The idea of creating something people would love was enough to bring her joy and inspiration. 

Our decks were released in September, October, and November.  When I reflect, I can hardly believe it myself.   The Tarot and Lenormand communities have embraced us with so much warmth and we are very grateful. 
Under the Roses Lenormand
Under the Roses is a quite traditional Lenormand, very appropriate for beginners with its keywords. Your other two decks, though, seem to challenge tradition as much as possible, renaming every single card and representing them in very different ways. Can you tell us a bit about the choices behind that?

Under the Roses Lenormand was designed for everyone, while our holiday decks are geared toward collectors and/or holiday enthusiasts. 

Our intention with Under the Roses Lenormand was to make the images vibrant while making the keywords available.  The keywords were chosen from various traditions and styles.  Seemingly random, they were laid out so that the novice could select which words make the most sense to them or the experienced reader might feel challenged. 

While we wanted the traditional Lenormand to stay intact, we did change some card titles to enhance the theme and understanding of Under the Roses.  For instance, the traditional Heart card has become The Locket. 

After our first project was underway, we gave a lot of thought and discussed several ideas for our next adventures.  We knew we would have to dedicate a lot of time to put out the holiday decks in short order but we really wanted to put out Lenormand-like decks for the Holidays. 

Whether we could produce holiday Lenormand decks and still be true to the traditional style was a question we took seriously.  I pondered if we could remain true to the Lenormand simplicity and still make it work.  However, that would have only lead to cute borders and color appropriate backgrounds.  It came to a decision between creative license and not doing the projects at all.  In fact, there was a public discussion at the time we were working on the Halloween Lenormand that mostly argued against taking such liberties.  While I agree that the original idea of a deck still needs to remain intact, I also think that some evolution happens with divination decks.  Our holiday decks aren’t meant to do that, they are meant for holiday enjoyment.  The images do seem very different in the holiday decks but there is something in every card that relates to the original image and meaning, for instance the Witch card being the Whip and Broom card.  In order to make the cards work we found images that had the same sort of meanings and characteristics as the original symbols.  The decks still read as Lenormand decks do with the meanings the same or similar.  The images are suited to something more appropriate for the holiday. 

Halloween Lenormand
Our shenanigans with the Halloween Lenormand deck were in the spirit of the holiday.  It was meant to be a parody and downright fun in that cheesy sort of way Halloween can be.  That being said, research was not neglected, the images (loosely based on Lenormand) were not selected at random.  Personally, I was nervous about how the community would receive the deck and whether they would take it in the spirit it was intended.  As I shared images for the first time I remember saying out loud, “Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m sharing this.”  We’d seriously considered skipping the Halloween deck because, frankly, we were worried about how it would make us look.  It also caused time restraints with the Yuletide deck and we weren’t sure we could get it done in time.

The Yuletide Lenormand has many renamed cards as well.  In addition to the traditional card titles that wouldn’t work for us, we were faced with making a universal holiday deck.  Can you imagine four-leaf clovers sprinkling the holiday dinner table or a Snake in the snow?  Incorporating traditional cards into this project just didn’t make sense for us.  Hopefully, you all will find the images appropriate when you see them. It was actually a complicated process to put it together as a whole. 

For the most part, with some exceptions, people have embraced us and understood the spirit in which the holiday decks were intended. We in no way want to disgrace the Petit Lenormand or upset its readers.  We only wish to provide a variety and some holiday enjoyment. We hope the holiday decks bring more fun to card reading.  One of the great things about Lenormand is that it can be read lightly, such as at parties.  People might ask things like “If I buy that boat…”  Their questions may not have life altering answers.  I love that about Lenormand, it can answer the serious and mundane. 

Under the Roses Lenormand
With these decks, you worked together with Katrina Hill, who is your daughter. What was it like working together, and how did the creative process actually look?

We communicate within the process.  Any hiccups are due to lack of communication, usually on my part.  We both have roles, Katrina’s is mostly art (she’s the one with the pencil, pen or tablet in her hand) but she has a say in all aspects of the deck.  I write, present, research, network, give the intuitive input, and guide the images and theme.  Throughout the process we discuss what is working and what isn’t.    We keep a schedule to get hours in and a spreadsheet to tell us where we are at in the process - boring but it provides workability for the project when we already have full lives.  We were blessed enough to see two visions become one and then actually manifest into something tangible as a result. 

Yuletide Lenormand
Which card/s was/were the hardest to give birth to, and why?

The Whip, The Mountain, and The Grave.  We found that during the process of creating the Under the Roses deck that the meanings on some of the cards were manifesting in our work and relationship.  We get along well, but every time we’ve done the Whip card there has been tension between us.  Every time we’ve done the Mountain it has hung us up for hours when we’ve thought it should be an easy process.  Fortunately, the positive cards have had similar effects, especially the Stars. 

As far as artwork goes, The Gentlemen were the hardest for Katrina to create because they required her to grow as an artist.  Most of her work has been of women and she actually did some studying while doing the Under the Roses deck to improve in this area.

In the process of creating, it was definitely the first two cards of Under the Roses Lenormand.  It took some effort to get both our visions of the deck to blend.  We started with The Lady and The Gentleman but as the deck evolved those first images did not get included in the finished product. I cherish those first images because it was watching our vision become reality when they were made.  We’ve put them in The Lenormand Shop at http://undertheroses.wix.com/undertheroses if anyone would like to take a gander. 

Yuletide Lenormand
Which card/s do you have a special fondness for, and why?

As difficult as it was, we both love The Whip from Under the Roses.  It was a big challenge and turned out better than we had expected.  Personally, I think the woman in the picture is probably my favorite character that Katrina has created to date.    

It’s hard to choose favorites in the Yuletide Lenormand; we are both fond of so many.  Father Time is high on the list; I love how mischievous he looks.  The Child has to be one of our all-time favorites because she is actually Katrina’s daughter.   She is older than that now but the joy that she expressed when I took that picture compelled us to pull it out and use it as a reference.  It reflects her personality and her personality reflects the Child card.

In both the Under the Roses and the Halloween Lenormand, you have renamed the Tower the Clock Tower. What is it about this card that you wanted to highlight with that?

I typically read the card as perspective or a structure.  When we created the first one the idea was to enhance the possibility that the card could speak of perspective (the deck theme is about things hidden after all).  It seemed the perfect structure for Under the Roses Lenormand when we designed the card.  We liked it so much in Under the Roses that it found its place in both of the holiday decks. 

Your Yuletide Lenormand should be ready just in time for Christmas (http://yuletidelenormand.wix.com/yuletidelenormand). What plans, if any, do you have for after that?

We plan to take a creative break over the holidays and then select from a list of projects we’d like to accomplish.  We still need to narrow down our options as we have several to choose from.  We’ve been throwing around ideas for another Lenormand, a tarot deck, an oracle deck, a picture book, and a greeting card line. Yep, we’ve got some decisions to make.  Where’s The Crossroads card?

Under the Roses and the Halloween Lenormand are now OOP. How do you feel about the way they were embraced by people, and do you think you will reprint them in the future?

The second edition of Under the Roses Lenormand is now available both with and without keywords.  There is also an option to purchase a custom Lady or Gentleman card or our original Concept Art cards until December 10th.  I don’t know if we will issue a second edition of the Halloween or Yuletide decks, if so I imagine it will be a small batch. 

Clearly, to have dedicated so much of your energy to creating Lenormand decks, these are something you feel passionate about. What is it that makes these cards so special?

Divination cards of any kind are magical to us.  Lenormand is pin-point accurate and it brings a tremendous amount of clarity.  Its simplicity allows the beginner to pick up the basics in one sitting.  I am usually showing people how to use it as I give them readings.  It’s amazing to watch the resurgence of the Petit Lenormand and we wanted to be part of it. 

What else would you like to share with us?

Creating Petit Lenormand decks has been an amazing and rewarding experience.  We encourage others that use divination decks to explore creating their own, even if it is only for personal use. 


I'd like to thank Kendra for taking the time to answer these questions.  I love this insight into three amazing decks!

Lennie Week 2 - Yuletide

Today is the day my family and I celebrate Christmas, as my mother is German.  So, as we prepare to roast a goose and enjoy red cabbage and our brightly lit tree, I chose to draw from the Yuletide Lenormand.  This is another fun collaboration between the mother/daughter team of Kendra Hurteau and Katrina Hill, who also brought us the Under the Roses and Halloween Lenormands (all published in 2012).

Stork, Polar Bear, Goldfish
This is a lovely combination for today.  Brainstorming keywords:

Dietary changes cost money.
Nurturing changes bring wealth.
Managerial transitions disperse wealth.
Strength in movement brings increase.

Well, I doubt I'll have time for a workout, with all that cooking to be done.  Nor is it a day for work, so managerial questions can be left behind.  However, the food we have today will definitely be different and more plentiful than on a regular Monday, so I guess that's the main message I see here.  However, from my perspective a reading isn't much use if it just tells me something I already know.  So, what I take from it is that I may need to change my perspective on food, and on how I nurture myself and others, to get the most from today.

I am grateful for good food, good company, and the reminder to take time to appreciate them, without excess.

P.S.  Pop back later to read an interview with the innovative and creative Kendra Hurteau!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Lennie Week 2 - Alice in Wonderland

Today's cards are drawn from the Alice in Wonderland Vintage Lenormand by Pepi Valderrama (The Gamecrafter, 2012).  Here we have the Lady, the Letter and the Scythe. 

Woman, Letter, Scythe
Keywords give the following sentences:

I receive a painful letter.
A superficial woman is cutting.
I need to let someone know about a separation.
A sudden end to a correspondence with a woman.
A woman writes about making a break.

This one has me a little stymied...  For these blogs, I like to try and find the empowering message in the reading.  I suppose this could suggest taking action to write something that will make a clean break with the past. Writing it like that, I am reminded that I have yet to finish the 2012 closing ceremony part of Leonie Dawson's "Your Incredible 2013 Workbook". Best get to it before the year is over!

I am grateful for the opportunity to let go of the year that's ending.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Lennie Week 2 - Lenormand Revolution

This week I will once again be drawing three cards each day from different Lenormand decks.  And this time, they are all lovely self-published offerings.  Today, we start with the Lenormand Revolution, by Carrie Parris and Roz Foster (2012).  It's a beautifully put together deck, which also has a lot of depth.  It unites themes from the French and American Revolutions, and is extremely well-researched.  It has also just started it's second print run, so get them while they're hot ;)


The cards I pulled are Ship, Anchor and Mice.  Brainstorming quickly from keywords gives:

A business trip brings losses.
Travel brings eroded stability.
Work on my soul's journey is tainted.

Overall, it doesn't look like a great day.  That being said, I have no business trips, no trips of any kind in fact, planned until 2013.  So, what is happening today?  My Dear One is going off for a cycle, which involves a car journey (ship can be traveling by any motorised means).  That may mean I'm left feeling a bit less stable, without his support there to rely on.  What, then, can I do to support myself?  Well, make sure I get enough sleep, that I make a bit of time for exercise and meditation, and don't try to work too hard...  Sounds like a plan :)

I am grateful for the many forms of support in my life.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Yule Blog Hop

Courtesy of wpclipart.com
Yep, it's that time of year again - Christmas, Hannukah, Yule, depending on your tradition :)  And so, it's time for another Tarot Blog Hop.  As ever, if you haven't already, maybe jump back to Jaymi at a Tarot Inspired Life, or check where you want to go on the Master List, or follow on to the next post by the ever-amazing Christiana Gaudet.

Alison Cross, our generous wrangler this time, gave us the title "Christmas present".  She suggested we go with it wherever it might take us - present as in now, or as in gift, or anything else we could figure.  What came to mind for me is the picture there of a Christmas tree with a star on top and presents around it.  And so, I created a spread based on this - Chloë's Christmas Present Spread.

1) What is the greatest gift I can give this year?
2) What is the greatest gift I can receive this year?
3) What grounds and supports me at this time?
4) What light guides me at this time?

As I have on several other blog hops, I decided to use the Wheel of the Year Tarot (Llewellyn, 2011) which I feel fits these seasonal posts beautifully.

©Caratti & Platano
1) What is the greatest gift I can give this year?  Princess of Cups

The Princess of Cups has a cup full of flowers, and more at her feet.  Even the trees behind her are pink with blossom.  There is an abundance of fragrance here, which could suggest giving that old favourite, perfume. 

However, at a deeper level, what I see in this Princess of Cups is someone open and charming, with a loving and generous attitude.   She is willing to help out, and prioritises peace and harmony.  So, whatever I give, whether  in terms of actual presents, food, or just my company, should be given with generosity and love.

©Caratti & Platano
2) What is the greatest gift I can receive this year?  Four of Pentacles

First impression: jewellery, a nice necklace, maybe :)

Seriously, though, I see here a reminder of the ill-fated Scrooge, and of the relative unimportance of the material gifts offered by this season.  Returning to the previous card, it is far more about the emotion and sharing than about the actual gifts we give or receive.  I am given the chance to be generous with what I have, along the lines of “a pleasure shared is a pleasure doubled.”

©Caratti & Platano
3) What grounds and supports me at this time?  Queen of Pentacles

The Queen of Pentacles is a practical and resourceful lady, quite entrepreneurial.  She nurtures material projects, and is long-sighted.  This suggests, then, that I am supported by having prepared for the season of giving by buying presents early, spreading out the costs. 

I see, too, that staying grounded and making the most of what is to hand should help see me through any difficulties.  For example, the shops are all shut over Christmas, so we’ll have to be organised in shopping before hand, and then make the best of what we have.  I always try to use up all the leftovers from the Christmas roast - making stock and soup, maybe some goose sandwiches, even potato cakes. 

Finally, acting as the “mother” for Christmas - both my Dear One’s family and my own are coming to us - is a role I enjoy.  Yet, having my own mother there is also a support, a second set of hands that I know will always be willing to help :)


©Caratti & Platano
4) What light guides me at this time? Queen of Wands

Huh, another Court card?!  Okay, sociability is definitely called for during this holiday season, which is a forte of the Queen of Wands.  More than that, a willingness to nurture other people’s ideas and beliefs, as well as my own.  For example, I have always celebrated Christmas on the 24th, German-style.  This year, though, we agreed to have Christmas on the 25th, as some of my Dear One’s wider family (an aunt, uncle and two cousins with girlfriends) were meant to come, too.  That didn’t work out, due to health issues.  Still, I shall remember to do something for my Dear One on the 25th, and maybe keep back a few presents for Big Boy to open then, in honour of his English heritage.

Thanks for dropping by here, and I hope you enjoyed this little spread.  Now, why not pop on over to Tarot Trends?  And have a wonderful holiday season!

Cyborg

©C&J Matthews & W. Kingham
For this final day with the Steampunk Tarot: Gods of the Machine (Connections, 2012), we have yet another Major.

Titled Cyborg, this is an interesting take on the Devil.  In the foreground, we have the Cyborg, a clockwork creature with gears showing at his neck and spikes protruding from his skull.  He holds a mask with goat horns just in front of him, while a tear rolls from the one blue eye we can see.  In the background is a red-headed woman, naked and bound to a wheeled chair, with a chain attached to it that leads to the Cyborg.

That tear rolling down an otherwise expressionless face is striking!  Is the Cyborg holding the woman captive, or is he her mechanical slave in a twisted play?  Or could he be someone else's tool in this game of cat-and-mouse?  Who is trapped, and what binds them?

What I see in this card today is my son.  Firstly, because he is a cyborg, dependent on technological implants in order to survive.  Although that's not unusual these days, his implant is less subtle and less common than a pacemaker or hearing device.

Secondly, I see my own pain and demons around him.  I'm going to the first birthday party of one of my goddaughters today, but Big Boy isn't going with me.  That's because it's his last day of school, and he'd rather be there saying goodbye to his friends and teachers (plus we can't just take him out of school for a party).  However, it means I will be at a party with lots of normal children, and without being able to see my lovely boy and give him a cuddle to stave off the demons.  Perhaps this card is a reminder that I can use technology to help in this case: looking at a picture of Big Boy to remind myself how much I love him, in spite of his differences and difficulties.

I am grateful for technology.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Blue Lotus

©C&J Matthews & W. Kingham
Another interesting Major from the Steampunk Tarot: Gods of the Machine (Connections, 2012) greets us today.

Here we have the Horologer, equivalent to the Hierophant in traditional decks.  He stands in front of two huge spheres that dangle from a contraption attached to the ceiling, which makes me think of the mechanism of an old grandfather clock we had when I was a child.  Above that, three clocks tell different times, while further in the background are a huge variety of clocks, both wall-mounted and on pedestals. 

In front of the Horologer is a glowing, blue, multi-petalled flower, which seems to be part of a smaller clock, judging by the bits and bobs scattered around it.  He studies it through a pair of tinted goggles with various lenses and attachments.  There is also a small hourglass to one side, its sands slowing draining down.

This reminds me of the fact that the Industrial Revolution introduced clocks as a means of controlling people, institutionalising how we live by controlling when we do things: get up, go to work, have lunch, clock off...  That same kind of rigidity and control is something I often see as the dark side of the Hierophant.  However, the more positive side is, I guess, a striving to understand time, the nature of the universe, and our role in it.

I shall have a couple of opportunities today to wrestle with philosophical and even spiritual questions, as well as some more mundane ones.  I'd like to do some work on the Celtic Lenormand companion book, which won't write itself.  I also have therapy this afternoon, and afterwards a call from one of Big Boy's specialist consultants.  He's been having a lot of issues over the last month, and we couldn't get an appointment anywhere, so close to Christmas, but at least we can have a phone consult.  Trying to figure out what's causing the issues, and then what to do about them, is definitely like trying to piece together a complicated mechanism without any instructions...

I am grateful for the spiritual strength to carry on.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Stricken Tower

©C&J Matthews & W. Kingham
Ha, after having done a reading on the Tower as my stalker card, here it is again!  This version, from the Steampunk Tarot: Gods of the Machine (Connections, 2012), shows a very interesting perspective. 

We look down on the Tower as though from a helicopter flying above and to one side of it.  From here, not only can we watch as the Tower is struck by lightening and two figures are flung from it, but we can also see the base of the Tower.  Which in this case is a glowing circle of purple energy, with pale spokes leading to the outer circle.

This suggests the Tower was almost defying nature, setting itself up for the shock that came.  The very way it was constructed led to this situation...

For me, I see this once again as connecting with the stories I tell myself, about being able to do it all.  Yesterday afternoon, I owned up to the fact that I can't do it all, at least where the Celtic Lenormand is concerned.  So, I have signed a contract with U.S. Games to produce the deck.  Although I still feel uncertain, rather shook up, overall I think it was the right choice.  There is definitely a sense of relief - my to-do list just got a lot shorter!

I am grateful for the willingness to surrender control.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Grounded focus

©C&J Matthews & W. Kingham
Today's card from the Steampunk Tarot: Gods of the Machine (Connections, 2012) is another Court card, and another card from the suit of Leviathans!  The Universe must have heard me saying I found them a bit tricky, so it's giving me a chance to work at improving my understanding ;)

This Lady of Leviathans pores over some rock plants she has uncovered, the lights on her goggles illuminating her discovery.  She seems very intent, wanting to understand what she has found, perhaps to find a practical use for it, or simply to nurture a new species.  Behind her we see the Leviathan, which has brought her to this spot.  It's unclear to me whether she is underwater.  She has no obvious breathing apparatus, but the Leviathan is theoretically a waterborn vehicle, and the way it's parked, screw up, suggests it is half floating, resting on the seabed. 

Still, I can get behind the idea of the Lady of Leviathans (Queen of Pentacles) being someone who is focused and loves nature and the environment.  Someone willing to explore and nurture these things, and with the staying power to do so.

As for how this relates to my day, I guess I see it in two aspects.  Firstly, the need to nurture myself, as I've been feeling a little peaky.  Secondly, the need to nurture others.  We have friends coming around this afternoon, and staying for dinner.  It should be pretty fun, though I need to balance taking care of Big Boy with making sure the other kids have a good time.  And finding time to chat with the grown-ups!  Well, that might have to wait til Big Boy, at least, is in bed.  And not staying up too late, given the early morning start that Big Boy prefers :/  So, I'll use this Lady's energy to stay focused, shining a light to find the most nurturing approach for all involved :)

I am grateful for good friends, and good food.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Crash & Burn

©C&J Matthews & W.Kingham
On this rather cold and cloudy Monday morning, the card we have from the Steampunk Tarot: Gods of the Machine (Connections, 2012) is the Four of Leviathans (Pentacles).

This suit had me rather confused when I first went through the deck.  After all, these Leviathans (originally a sea monster or large aquatic creature) seem to be a means of transport across water, so, Cups were my first thoughts.  However, it is less the location and more the size and the approach of those in the Leviathans that seem to count. 

Here, for example, the leviathan sails blithely past a downed airship, distress flare blazing bright blue in the foreground.  The Captain of the Leviathan would rather look out for his own people, resources and profitability than help out strangers.

I've certainly been taking care of myself this weekend, with spa time away, meditation and exercise :)  Still, I also finished off my Christmas shopping, and some of the wrapping, too.  In amongst all the relaxing and the Christmas chaos, I hope I can still keep an eye open to see if someone could do with a helping hand.  This card reminds me that last year I donated food to a homeless shelter.  Will do the same this year.

I am grateful for the reminder to be open to others.


Sunday, 16 December 2012

Spirit Gauge

©J&C Matthews & W. Kingham
Today's card from the Steampunk Tarot: Gods of the Machine (Connections, 2012) is one of the Majors, the Spirit Gauge (Temperance).

We find ourselves in a huge room.  In the lower half, two brick arches look out onto a rainy, blue, cog-filled landscape on the right and lightning in a dark sky on the left.  Above the arches, two figures stand on a walkway. One is a person, the other a robot. Between and below them is a metal wheel, while above them is a far larger, red wheel, both reminiscent of the wheels you see in submarines to open and close air locks.  Above that is a circular window, through which we see two intertwining flows of both white and blue light or energy.  There is also a gauge, like a pressure gauge, below the red wheel, and springs above the window where the energies combine, ready to harness and channel that energy.

In the companion book it says: "The Spirit Gauge...maintains the balance of nature with the man-made world and the mechanical... When you learn to adapt and negotiate, you can find the balancing point."

As so often with Temperance and its variants, I see a message not only of needing to combine and balance different elements or aspects, but also that this balancing is multi-dimensional, an on-going process.  The gauge seems designed to assess how the balance is doing, so a wheel can be turned to alter the mix, or release some of the pressure.  It is not just about the mix itself, but the timing of when we add this or that, or when we let things carry on without any additional input.

Today, the mixing I see is getting the right balance of productivity and rest, of family time and me time.  My plans include wrapping Christmas presents and writing Christmas cards, exercising, meditating (which I have only done twice so far this week), and spending time with Big Boy.  He was so cute when we got home last night, playing and giggling, a delight to be with.  It helped that he had a new toy: a full-length mirror.  He found it hilarious, watching himself and others in it, trying to catch his reflection out by moving quickly, stepping away and then back into frame, and waving at the person in there :D

I am grateful for a healthy balance, and the ability to assess priorities.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Tower Stalker Reading


©Jennifer Galasso
Lisa, over at Tarotize, created a reading to try to understand stalker cards.  You know the ones, always popping up, plaguing and terrorising us!  For her, it was the 10 of Swords, for me it's the Tower.  In Lisa's spread, the first five cards are taken from the tarot deck of your choice.  You shuffle the deck, find the Tower, and look at the two cards to either side of it.  The sixth card, for guidance and comfort, comes from an angel deck.

I decided to use the Crystal Visions Tarot (U.S. Games, 2011), and Cheryl Richardson's beautiful Grace Cards (Hay House, 2005)

1. Why I have to have this lesson - Five of Pentacles
2. What I will have learned by the end of it - Queen of Wands
3. Stalker card - XVI - The Tower
4. How I am doing right now - Five of Swords
5. Pass or fail? - Eight of Pentacles
6. Angelic guidance and comfort

©Jennifer Galasso
1) The Five of Pentacles in this deck represents exactly where I most feel the Tower in my life - in relation to my son.

What I see here is the suggestion that hardship makes us pull together with our loved ones, and can encourage us to get in touch with spirit.  So, perhaps I needed this lesson to be less complacent, less demanding, less materialistic, more spiritually connected.

Having a child with special needs makes me appreciate being able to communicate at any level.  I have had to learn sign language to communicate with him, after having spoken to my bump in four languages.  It makes me appreciate his ability to giggle uncontrollably, and to have his own opinion about things.  I no longer take for granted the ability to travel at will, or to have good health.  And I have become more attuned to the spiritual side of life, to the importance of giving thanks for all the gifts life offers us.

©Jennifer Galasso

2) The Queen of Wands is a beautiful card for what I will learn from this experience.  She is strong and passionate: she believes deeply in things that are meaningful to her, and acts accordingly.  She nurtures her own light, and that of others; she can be fierce, yet also loyal.

These experiences will make me stronger, will clarify for me what is truly important in life, and will help me shine my inner light, for myself and others.

3) Arwen recently described the Tower as "the lies we tell ourselves".  Perhaps one of the lies I told myself was that I could control most everything in my life.

My mother brought me up to have a can-do attitude, and there are a lot of positives in that.  Yet, it leaves out the fact that sometimes we have to struggle, sometimes we fail, and sometimes we have to surrender any pretence of control.  That's definitely something I'm still trying to learn: helplessness does not sit well with me!

©Jennifer Galasso
4) How am I doing right now?  The Five of Swords agrees with what I just said: I'm still struggling with this lesson.  I often feel defeated, hopeless as well as helpless. 

And perhaps my Dear One and I could do with supporting one another a little better in this.  Although I think we do pretty well for the most part, it's true that we both tend to look for distractions from this lesson.  And we don't always talk enough about how we feel about it all.

©Jennifer Galasso
5) I'd say the Eight of Pentacles in the position of Pass or Fail suggests: "could try harder" :/ 

This is something I continue to need to work at, but it doesn't feel like a total fail, more like a "try again next year".  It doesn't feel like I'm on the wrong path, just that I need to put a bit more time and energy into this...

©Cheryl Richardson
6) My angelic guidance tells me to look for support.  I connect this at a mundane level with what I said about the Five of Swords, and my Dear One and I needing to give and receive more support to and from each other.

At a more spiritual level, this brings me back to the card that started this reading: the Five of Pentacles.  I need to learn to "let go and let Goddess", to trust in the support of the divine.  To learn that I don't need to control everything, and that surrendering to the vagaries of life may lead to magnificent discoveries.

Captain of Leviathans

©J&C Matthews & W. Kingham
This week I'll be blogging with the recently released Steampunk Tarot: Gods of the Machine (Connections, 2012).  Although it is a standard, 78 card tarot, and follows RWS notions, all the suits (leagues), the Courts and the Majors have been renamed.  So, we find Engines for Wands, Submersibles for Cups, Air Ships for Swords, and Leviathans for Pentacles.  And for the Courts we have Messengers, Navigators, Ladies and Captains.  Today's card, then, is the equivalent to the King of Pentacles.

The Captain stands, legs akimbo, part way up a red staircase.  He wears a brown jacket, boots and hat, black-tinted goggles, and tan trousers.  In front of him mill some people, also in Steampunk costume - plenty of flying goggles and hats to be seen here! 

The companion book says this stalwart chap is giving a rousing speech, practical and inspiring, to the crew of the leviathan.  With the bright skylights above him, this card feels a little less grounded than I would expect for this suit, normally associated with the element of earth.  Still, the Captain himself does seem strong and determined, and has an earthy feel to him in the colour of his clothing.  Someone who can get things done, and keep others calm, focused and working hard :)  He won't stint on the work himself, either, willing to shoulder whatever job needs doing, in a pinch.

As for me, today we spend the morning in the spa, then head home.  There are a couple of things I need to get done this afternoon, workwise - no rest for the wicked!  Still, there'll also be time to relax, and maybe a chance to delegate some of it... ;) 

I am grateful for the determination to get things done.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Nurse

©Celestae
For this last day with the Tarot of the Wyrd (The Game Crafter, 2012) we have a card from the suit of Watches (Pentacles).  I found this a very strange change to make.  I suppose that clock-watching is very much a work attitude, practical and rigid.  Clocks were first brought in for things like train timetables, and of course "clocking on and off".

Here, then, we have the Six of Watches (Pentacles).  However, there is no traditional image of a merchant dispensing alms to the less well-off to be seen.  Instead, we have a bespectacled nurse with a nun-like headdress and a watch pinned to her pure white apron.  Around her float five more pocket-watches.  A nurse as archetype for caring and compassion, of tireless work for others, has a rather different feel to it than the normal depiction, it must be said.

The keyword for the card is Selflessness, which doesn't quite jibe with my normal take on this card, either.  For me, there's an aspect of give and take, of generosity maybe, but also the ability to receive.  Perhaps, too, a suggestion of getting what we deserve, and giving what we can.  Selflessness, on the other hand, seems to suggest giving beyond what is necessarily healthy for us.  And I think we see that with the high rate of burnout suffered by people in caring professions, and the institutionalisation which can lead to a loss of human kindness, if we aren't careful.  Maybe that leads us back to give and take - we have to make sure to take care of the carers, if they are to continue caring...

Today is my Dear One's birthday, and to take care of both him and myself we are going away to a spa for a night.  We have massages booked, and plan to take things easy, and enjoy some nice food.  Hopefully then, we'll return home tomorrow with more energy to deal with Big Boy's dreadful sleep and consequent bad temper.

I am grateful for some respite.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Foundation

©Celestae
In the Tarot of the Wyrd (The Game Crafter, 2012), the suit of Wands retains its name.  Still, many of the cards in this suit show alternative kinds of sticks.

We see that in today's card, where the three  Wands are in fact parasols.  A young woman stands before the ocean, her sun dress blown by the sea breeze.  She holds a parasol, as she gazes out across the sunset-reddened waters at the numerous boats.

The keyword given is Foundation, which I associate more with the Four of Wands. Still, after the choices of the Two, by the Three a basic foundation has been built, and our lady watches to see what will come of the projects already begun, the seeds sent out into the world.

Most of my day will be taken up with a school visit, a couple of doctor's appointments, and a meeting to discuss Big Boy.  Still, I wonder, based on this card, whether to expect an email from the publishers I'm in negotiations with over the Celtic Lenormand...

I am grateful for the chance to watch my project start to take root.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Slice of Life

©Celestae
Today, we explore another of the Majors from the Tarot of the Wyrd (The Game Crafter, 2012). 

An interesting take on the World, this.  At the centre we have a photo of the earth taken from outerspace.  Around it, there are a number of different creatures and people.  In the bottom right we have a whale, highlighted in blue.  Further around to the left is another type of fish, a tuna maybe.  Right above it we see a barn owl, it's heart-shaped face turned towards us.  Over that, a wolf looks out at us from the shadows.  In the top left corner we see a drawing of a female acrobat doing an intense backbend, wearing pink tights and golden ballet shoes.  More acrobats swing around the top of the card, leading us across to another acrobat in the top right corner.  Above the world itself, in the centre, we have both an elephant and a golden eagle.  Then, over to the right, there is what might be a wren, as well as a couple of butterflies.

Altogether, it is a quite busy, detailed card, which acts as a reminder of the wonderful diversity of the world we live in.  From the deep seas to the soaring heights, through night and day, and in amongst the extremes of human capabilities, we see a slice of life.  This is the World in its current state of completion.  It will change again, develop, evolve, but for now, what a wonder!

Today, both my Dear One and I are fasting, though his is far stricter than mine.  I just do 13 hours to his 36!  What I see here is how much we appreciate the world, seeing it through a different perspective, one where we don't get instant gratification.  A reminder, too, to take some time to appreciate the marvel of this planet - hopefully we'll be able to get out for a walk on the local heath.

I am grateful for the reminder of how wonderful this world is.