Friday, 26 December 2014

Bohemian Gothic Reading

This week's reading was done with the app that uses the Bohemian Gothic Tarot (Magic Realist Press, 2010).  As such, it is a Past-Present-Future reading, as that is the only three card spread the app offers (more on that this Friday...)

Past - The Magician

Christmas week is over, and certainly required a certain amount of channeling of a higher power to get things done.  We were all sick with the flu, and it took us three days just to open Christmas presents (and not because there were ridiculous numbers of them).   As for Christmas dinner, sadly much of that went on the compost, as no-one had an appetite to speak of.  Ah well, it manifested at least...

Present - Nine of Pentacles

Fingers crossed that I can take some ease this week, and perhaps turn my thoughts once again to the exciting projects I have for 2015.  If not, at least to have some time to go out for a walk, and see the big picture, beyond snotty tissues and neti pots.  Love the latter, hate the former!  However, a nine month old is not (yet) capable of using a neti pot, sadly ;)

Future - Ten of Wands

Ack, this doesn't look great for the coming days!  That's one thing I hate about this limited spread.  Hmm, I shall interpret it as what I need to keep in mind for the future...  Look carefully before I take on any responsibilities, as they may weigh far more heavily than I expect!

I hope everyone out there in the blogosphere had a lovely Christmas, and if you had a cold or flu, too, my thoughts for healing go out to you.

And if you'd like to read some journal prompts based on these cards, please click here.

Dondorf Lenormand App Review

Intro Screen Shot
The  Dondorf Lenormand app from The Fool's Dog is an absolute gem!  They have taken all their tarot app savvy and applied it to Lenormand cards, creating a very complete, beautiful and user-friendly app for those who read, or would like to read, Lenormand.

The app uses a version of the Dondorf cards, with the original printer's mark.  The Dondorf images may also be familiar to some from the French Cartomancy deck published by Lo Scarabeo (2005), from the Königsfurt edition (Lenormand Orakelkarten, 2007), or from one of several smaller, self-published print runs of various versions. 

Not only have they used a well-known, traditional deck which is easy and clear to read, there are also two sets of instructions.  One is a translation of the traditional meaning sheet originally printed with the Dondorf deck.  The other is a more modern take on Lenormand interpretations, based primarily on the work of Rana George and Caitlín Matthews. So, there is plenty of material here for someone new to Lenormand, as well as enough to interest the more experienced reader.

The app continues this theme of offering both traditional and modern takes on the cards in its spreads section.  This is incredibly comprehensive, offering one, two, three, four, and five card draws, with three different approaches to the five card pull (two simple lines, one with a theme card and one straight up, and a cross spread). It also offers an eight card choices spread, a themed or unthemed nine card square, a free form spread, and both a 9x4 and an 8x4+4 Grand Tableau.  There is a short explanation of how to read each spread, including a brief overview of Houses for the Grand Tableaux, though knighting and mirroring are not discussed.

Grand Tableau, Spreads Screen, Four Cards on Acqua Cloth
The functionality is exceptional!  It is easy to access information on the cards and spreads, both in the Explore section and from within a reading.  Not only that, you can choose how you want the cards shuffled (riffle/wash etc) and drawn (face up/down, from top or bottom of the deck or from a fan), or whether you want to skip all that and go straight to the reading (my personal preference for a GT).

You also have a large choice of reading cloths (30, including the possibility of uploading your own image to use as a backdrop).  Not only that, but you can use alternate Man and Woman cards in a variety of ways: two men, two women, or man and woman facing in a variety of directions (depending on your past/future preferences and how you like them to face in relation to each other).  While this isn't a function I would use often, it's always nice to have options.

Nine Square on Blue Swirl Cloth
Then there is the journal and send functions. You can make your own notes on a reading very easily, with no apparent limit on how much you can write (I got bored after about twenty lines of text).  And you can send a reading via Facebook, email or Twitter, with a choice of sending just the spread, the spread with a title, or with the card meanings and your own journal entry.  While I wouldn't send any of these unedited or on their own to a client, with some very simple editing or an additional email interpretation it could easily be used for professional readings.

Altogether, this is an exceptional app that could be used by anyone from a novice to a professional reader.  As well as being amazingly comprehensive, it is very affordable, too.  Definitely five stars!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Dondorf Lenormand App Reading

This week's deck is actually an app: the Dondorf Lenormand app from The Fool's Dog.  I like the slightly off straight depiction that the email function sent through, makes it feel less "automated"...

Clouds, Woman, Key, Bear, Bouquet
Passivity and depression are solved through finding a creative mentor. 
A woman turns her back on ambiguity, finding security in an invitation from her mother. 
Intuitive uncertainty is resolved through insights around creative mothering. 
A woman's worries are resolved by creative food choices. 

Several of these feel relevant to me in one way or another.  Last week was tough, as my elder son had some really painful health issues.  We felt at a bit of a loss about what to do.  While we seem to have found an acceptable compromise, there is still some uncertainty around what the problem/s is/are.  My mum is coming over for Christmas, and it's true I often look to her for good ideas: she has a different, creative perspective on things.  And the gift of being a mother to a normal child, has made this easier to bear: that every day has smiles and achievements as well as pain and uncertainty. 

Another aspect is that I've been worrying about Christmas.  Will I be able to stick to my sugar free diet, which I've done for three and a half months, now?  And do I even want to, or would I like to allow myself a Christmas treat?  We'll see...

To read journal prompts based on this line, click here.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Christmas Crackers

Christmas Cracker Spread
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Welcome to this Yuletime Tarot Blog Hop, where one post leads to many more.  What's a blog hop?  Well, here you'll find bloggers from around the world writing about the same subject and the same time, from very different perspectives.  So, let's go!

Our topic this time, from the lovely and inspirational Arwen, is the Joy of Gifting.  What sprang to my mind for this is the joy of spending time with family (I like mine, which helps!).  I thought about the gifts we offer one another round the table when we come together.  These go both ways, giving and receiving, though sometimes with more seeming to fall on one side than the other, depending on your perspective.  And yet, things seem to even out eventually, rather like the shared crackers at Christmas dinner...

My mother
Christmas Cracker Spread

For this, I drew two cards for each person who will be sitting with me this Christmas:

1)  The gift I offer them
2)  The gift they offer me

Obviously, this could get pretty big, if you have lots of family over, but mine is quite compact.  Still, another thought if you have a tarot-friendly family is that you could go round and have people draw cards for the person next to them, each one saying what they see in "their" card for the other.  The focus is on looking at their relationship and giving thanks....

My Mother - Queen of Cups/Two of Wands

When I first saw these cards, I thought they were the wrong way round.  After all, she is far more the Queen of Cups than I, how can that be what I offer her?  And yet, I give her recognition for her compassion and intuition.  And in my own way, I try to follow that path.

My stepdad
The gift she gives me, the Two of Wands, is to accept that the path I choose to express that Queen of Cups-ness may be very different from hers, yet is still an honouring of this inheritance: an expression of emotional nurturing and healing.

My Stepdad - Five of Pentacles/Knight of Swords

Originally, when I was trying to decide on how to do this spread, I thought to include my father here, as my family who has given me much, at least genetically.  Then I realised that I wanted to honour those with me, and that is my stepdad, who I don't believe I have ever included in a tarot reading before!

And that realisation is expressed perfectly in this Five of Pentacles, showing the Our Lady of Guadelupe watching over day labourers, people at the outskirts of society.  I can offer him loving acceptance, hospitality, and express just how much I feel he is a part of my family now.

As for what he offers me, it took me a moment to recognise him in this Knight of Swords.  Often, he will sit by silently, then suddenly offer a flash of insight, or a witty jest.  Like this Knight of Swords opening the way for a ray of sunshine, he brings good cheer with his sharp intelligence.

My Dear One - The Hanged Man/Nine of Pentacles

My biggest gift to my Dear One has been a willingness to put myself in limbo, and to make physical sacrifices.  My plans seven years ago, five years ago, even three years ago, did not include having a second child.  I absolutely dote on both my boys, and yet it's also true that I had to put a lot of things on hold to have another child.  And as a woman in my forties, it is also somewhat challenging at a physical level (though I'm pretty fit for my age).  I wasn't sure I really wanted to do it, but I knew my partner wanted another baby, very much.  And I'm glad I did, it has definitely made our family life more joyful.  As for my career, I'll start getting back into it slowly next year...

As for his gift to me, I see in this Nine of Pentacles his total support of all my projects, no matter how strange they may seem to him.  Not everyone would be so tolerant, or supportive of someone going off and doing their own thing.  I really value that loving fallback, which allows me to go off and explore and create!

My elder son
My Elder Son - Five of Swords/The Emperor

What I gift my elder son is the Five of Swords, hmm...  I'm fairly confident in saying that my DO and I have never made our son feel like the child in this image.  We may not manage the idyllic perfection of the Ten of Cups, but we don't argue in front of him, and we don't ignore him.

I think I'll go with a different, more intuitive reading of this card.  I see the woman standing between her child and a judgemental man in a suit, an authority figure.  I always stand for my son, defending his best interests in the face of the medical establishment and educational authorities.

And he gifts me the Emperor, well, that surely resonates!  The Emperor came up quite often after he was born.  For one thing, he can be a bossy little dictator ;) However, that has meant that I have learnt to be more structured, more disciplined, and more of an Emperor myself, to give him healthy boundaries.

My younger son
My Younger Son - The Magician/Six of Cups

With my baby, I gift him the feeling of being a Magician.  With every little squeak or yell, he has the power to manifest miracles: milk from mummy, food for his tummy; a clean nappy to keep him happy; smiles and hugs and toys, delights for little boys :)

And oh, that last card is so true!  His gift to me is a reminder of the simple joys of childhood.  This is exactly why my DO so wanted another child.  It has been a miracle to see how easy and fun it can be to have a "normal" child.  We can just enjoy his mad rampages around the living room, his drumming on whatever he finds, and eating everything, and exploring the world!

Now, I wish you much joy exploring the other posts in this hop, and a wonderful Yule time however you celebrate it.  And if you should happen to try out this Christmas Cracker Spread, either for yourself or in a group, I'd love to hear how it goes!

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Friday, 19 December 2014

Bohemian Animal Tarot Overview

The Bohemian Animal Tarot (Rockpool Publishing, 2014) is the creation of Scott Alexander King and Sharon McLeod.  It is an interesting mix, with very standard RWS Minors, and largely renamed and reimagined Majors.  And of course, all the cards feature anthropomorphised animals (real and mythical) in human clothes.

An example of these Majors can be seen here in Judgement.  This card hasn't been renamed, yet the image it shows is a strange medley far from the traditional.  In the foreground, we see a jackal-headed Anubis in Egyptian garb, Lord of Death.  To one side, a Phoenix rises from an egg, another symbol of endings and renewal.  To the other side, we have a fox in a box (the Innocent/Fool rising up from a coffin, the book informs us).  Further back is an angel-winged black cat, the Angel Malachi offering intuition, creativity and protection.  And finally, on the pillars between a set of arches we see creatures representative of the four elements (a winged fairy, a mermaid, a dragon and a green woman - yeah, I couldn't tell it was a woman, either), with a human figure in the centre.  Certainly, the RWS concept of being called to a new way of life, of releasing the old, can be seen here.  Yet, there is more available, if you want it.  The notions of spiritual balance and integrity also spring to mind.

As I mentioned, twelve of the Majors have been renamed.  For instance, the Empress and Emperor become the Goddess and the God, represented by a bee dressed like Marie-Antoinette (to represent Aphrodite and Demeter) and the Horned One. And the deck also adds in two extra cards.  The World is replaced by the Earth Mother, and is followed by the Universe and the Afterlife.  Whether or not you choose to use these cards, though, is up to you. 

Looking at the Courts, in many ways these seem traditional.  The Queen of Fire, while a dragon, still has a black cat beside her.  And not only does this Page of Water hold a fish in a cup, his being a dolphin on a lily pad gets the message across, too.  However, there are some choices which rather surprised me.  For example, the King of Earth shows a winged creature (an emu, according to the book), and the Knight of Earth is a rooster - two birds for the Earth Court!

The Aces surprise a little by often not having a single creature.  Here, on the Ace of the Air, we have a single sword, but three ravens.  The Ace of Water has a jaguar and a mermaid, and the Ace of Earth has a bull and a couple of leprechauns.  Only the Ace of Fire is "simple", showing a cobra-headed female figure a la Egypcienne, with a flame in one hand and a wand in the other.  I also find it weird that the suits are "of Fire", "of Water", "of Earth" and "of THE Air"...

A theme which perplexed me in many of the cards is the choice of animals.  For example, having a goat for the Ten of the Air is not an obvious call.  And there are birds on three of the ten Water cards.  The love-doves on the Two of Water make a lot of sense, though I am less impressed by the theory behind the songbird on this Eight of Water.  The book connects it to Navajo ideas about new beginnings...

These strange choices do encourage me to stop and think, which can't be a bad thing!  And the RWS nature of the Minors, and concepts in the Majors, do make the deck easy to read out of the box.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Bohemian Animal Tarot Reading

This week, it's back to a straight-up tarot, and an RWS clone, at that.  The Bohemian Animal Tarot (Rockpool Publishing, 2014) puts animals in place of the traditional figures in the Rider Waite Smith Minors, at least. 

Situation - Three of Water (Cups)

A time to connect with others, it would seem, and to take time to celebrate.  I do have a couple of social engagements planned for the weekend, in the run up to Christmas.  However, I also see this card as being very much one of mutual support, and that's something that came up with last week's reading, too.  So, more opportunity to network and connect with others.

Don't - The Carousel (Chariot)

Look at those carousel creatures coming off the carousel to go their own way.  I'll take this as don't willfully follow your own path!

Do - Ten of the Air (Swords)

A goat lady stabbed through on the floor, hmm.  For me, the Ten of Swords can be about closure, accepting that something really is ending.  Combining that with the last card, it suggests finding an end to something before plowing into something new, and perhaps needing some support from friends with it.

Overall, I think this is about starting to tie up loose ends before the New Year.  I have lots of plans for 2015, but I can't get moving on them unless I cut down on some other things.  Maybe I can find someone else who wants to take on some of those.  Or maybe I just need to let go of some of my ideas about how those things need to be...

Friday, 12 December 2014

Lojong Cards Overview

Human arrangements
The Lojong Cards by Beverly King (2014) are absolutely gorgeous.  The card stock is flexible yet sturdy, nicely laminated, and they shuffle really well.  The cards are about tarot size, and just have simple numbers, rather than any distracting writing on them. 

Although the lack of text means you do need the companion material, or to find another source for the Lojong slogans, the images are also very expressive.  In that way, you can use them to reflect on nature and life, even if you don't incorporate the slogan meanings.  For example, the images evoke ideas about the cycles of life, about beauty, impermanence, nourishment of body and spirit, and of growth and change.

If you are also interested in Buddhist thought, Beverly gives wonderful, brief explanations of the slogans, bringing them into a simple, modern context.  This is a great way to explore these ideas from a non-dogmatic source.  I've had some negative experiences with 'fundamentalist' Buddhist thinkers, rigid or male-centric.  However, the messages here are accessible, down-to-earth and heart-filled.

Fungi, Ladybird, Flower, Tree
As for the photographs, these show a mix of plants, animals, insects, and other natural objects such as shells, stones and twigs.  There are also a few that incorporate human objects, such as statues.  Going through the cards, I separated them into a number of categories: fungi, flowers, plants, living creatures, human artefacts, and human arrangements of natural objects.  However, these categories are my own, you could easily differentiate them some other way, and I only really did so to show a cross-section of the photographs.

All the cards have a beautiful simplicity to them.  The colours are sometimes dull, sometimes bright, but always natural.  And that, I think, is one of their greatest charms: the zen-like way they connect us to the natural world, the cycles of life, and the beauty of existence.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Lojong Cards Reading

Something rather different this week, in the form of Beverly King's Lojong Cards (self-published, 2014).  These feature beautiful photography, and a handy little booklet to help explain the Buddhist Lojong slogans, as well as giving insight into the imagery chosen.

I wasn't sure how appopriate my regular spread would be, so decided instead to ask "This... and also this..."

This... 44 - Train in the three difficulties

The difficulties are the kleshas, and in this slogan it's about getting mugged by your emotions, and then putting yourself back in the exact same situation!  The image is of three ant lion sandtraps.  What a great way to illustrate this, as emotions can certainly feel like quicksand!

So, a warning to look out for situations where I get myself in an emotional trap, and the advice to use these difficulties to become more aware of my emotional blocks.

And also this... 57 - Don't be jealous

In the image, a cactus leans away from a begonia, jealous of its beauty, perhaps?  As Beverly explains in her description, jealousy leaves us feeling prickly, and closes our heart.  Instead, there's a recommendation to practise 'sympathetic joy'.  "When we celebrate their happiness as if it were our own, we cultivate loving-kindness and weed out jealousy."

It's not very pleasant to think of myself getting trapped in an emotional morass of jealousy.  However, no matter how fortunate I am, nor how much I try to be an open-hearted, generous person, it's true that we all have our sticking points, our emotional patterns.  This card asks us how much of what we do is driven by a desire for recognition?  And if we do good to have it recognised, does that detract from the good we do?

I think it's almost impossible to entirely avoid the desire to be seen for what we do: we are socially interdependent creatures, who see ourselves through the eyes of others.  The point is to accept that we want others to value us, and in the same way know that others want us to value them.  Generously giving our attention and appreciation to others takes the focus away from just ourself.  So, while I'm working on some things for next year that I hope will garner a degree of success and recognition, perhaps this week I can focus on how I can applaud and encourage others...

And if you'd like to read some journal prompts inspired by these cards, you can find them here

Friday, 5 December 2014

Spirit Tarot Overview

This week's deck, the Spirit Tarot (AGMüller, 2007) surprised me when it came.  I have to admit, I was a little nervous about it, because of the difference between the Majors and Minors.  The Majors are painted, while the Minors are a collage of nature photographs with fairy paintings.  Yet, this actually works very well, and is often quite subtle.

The Tower is an example of the painting style of the Majors.  I love the fluid feel of these, the energy and movement they contain.  This Tower is something between a woman and a tree, with a lake behind.  She has become stuck, rooted to the spot.  Her back is to the water, not examining her emotions.  And she is unwilling to look at her situation, hands half over her eyes.  This is when we most need a shake-up, when we are detached from our current reality, and from our own emotions.

In some ways, the Court cards are almost the most extreme of the Minors.  The fae shown here are more force of nature than cute fairy.  Even so, they represent their 'roles' fairly well.  Take the Queen of Cups shown here, which mixes nature photography with painted elements.  We see an ephemeral cup tipping its water within a waterfall.  It speaks to this Queen's emotional generosity , but also to how she is so deeply immersed in her element that she may not recognise how overwhelming it can be for others.

An interesting choice, too, in the Ace of Swords.  A wolf stands on a plain, silhouetted by the moon.  Another wolf, its head raised and mouth open to emit a deep howl, is superimposed on the moon itself.  There is something here for me about speaking your truth, making yourself heard, and whether or not we have the courage for that.  Perhaps, too, something about how an idea is bigger than the reality...

Finally, we have a Minor, the Seven of Swords.  An unusual image, with a fairy seeming to gather birds under the light of the setting sun.  It makes me think of the interpretation of this card as being about research: this fairy might be gathering information from or on these birds.  Of course, it could also be open to very different interpretations: from environmental activism to a message about not putting all your birds on one branch :D

Altogether, this is a beautiful deck, with a lovely whimsical feel.  Whether or not you can deal with the difference between the Majors and Minors, though, may well be a sticking point for many.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Spirit Tarot Reading

Last week, I posted a link to Lynda Cowles' Tarot Chest site, which encouraged me to go there myself.  Dangerous stuff, I happened upon a couple of AGMüller decks I hadn't seen before...  The Spirit Tarot (AGMüller, 2007) is an interesting mix, with painted Majors, and then Minors which mix photographic and painted elements.  This difference between the Majors and Minors is not something I normally like, but it actually works rather well here.  These cards have a gorgeous naturalness, coupled with a playful edge of whimsy.

Situation - The High Priestess

A woman holds a hand to her belly, as though listening to something within.  Yet, she does not look pregnant.  Rather, her gaze is turned inward, though her head faces left towards a crescent moon and a tree in the background.  She is naked, with just her hair streaming down over one side of her torso, the other breast bared to us.

I see myself clearly here, half willing to reveal myself, half hidden.  And pregnant with something, listening to an inner voice. 

Don't - Ten of Swords

A fairy lifts her arms skyward, seeming to emerge from the depths of the sea.  Above her flies a bird, silhouetted by the sun just rising above a layer of cloud.  There is clarity here, if we reach for it, a new day.

For me, though, the message: don't rise up out of the immersion I have been in, don't reach for clarity and the exposure of the sun.  That time will come, but not yet.

Do - Three of Wands

Sunlight spills through branches and leaves to brighten a forest path.  A wispy fae holds a staff, ready to walk that path.  Where that trail leads is as yet unknown, yet it beckons.

A time to assess the way forward, and though it may not be entirely clear, to choose to follow in the direction I have begun.  Momentum, that is what I see here.

There is something stirring, fostered by inner work I have been doing.  Already, I have made steps towards bringing this into the light.  Yet, for the time being the main focus remains on a silent, inward journey.  I shall keep planning my path out of the dark stillness of the woods, without yet taking that next step.

If you'd like to read some journal prompts inspired by this reading, click here.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Shaman Tarot Overview

While very far from traditional RWS symbolism, the Shaman Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2010) still offers the potential for traditional interpretations in most cards.  Yet, it also offers very different, intuitive readings.  In this way, its structure echoes the images, which blend modern living with shamanism through the ages, and which are filled with spirit animals.

The deck also renames all the suits.  Wands become Skulls, Cups become Crystals (a little confusing at first, but they are blue crystals), Swords are changed to Bows, and Pentacles are represented by Drums.  The cards buck the old Lo Scarabeo multi-lingual practice, just having Roman numerals for the Majors, and numbers and symbols for the Minors. This gives them quite a clean feel.

Moving to specific cards, Death shows what I see as a shaman dancing on the path to the Otherworld.  He knows that everyone must walk this path eventually, and while he will protect the souls he can, he will act as psychopomp or guide for those he can't.  And in that case, he will also be there to support those left behind through their grieving process.

The Page of Drums (Pentacles) is a far gentler character.  Just starting out on his path, he practises drumming his way into an altered state of awareness.  The ruins about him suggest his modernity, despite his dress, and also point to the long tradition of shamanism in many parts of the world.  Our Page is just the latest in a long line.

The Ace of Bows (Swords) shows us a nocked arrow drawn back from a tightly strung bow, ready to take flight.  It is aimed up into the dark sky, over mountains.  Our ideas and words can travel far, and clear confusion and uncertainty with their passage.

As for the Four of Bows (Swords), here we see the mix of Western and traditional imagery.  A man lies abed, with two older men seeming to tend him.  His face is filled with fear, and over him we see spirits, fiery and awful.  Is this the man's shamanic vision as he fights through his own sickness to be initiated as a healer?  Or does he simply need to rest before taking up his everyday battles again?

I want to take a look at the Courts in a bit more detail, too, as they can sometimes make or break a deck for a reader.  Personally, I think they work well.  Here, for example, we have the whole Drums Court.  Pages are represented by a single feather, Knights by a simple horse carving.  Queens 'wear' a bone and tooth necklace, while Kings have a multi-feathered headdress.  The Pages are all male, men rather than boys, though youthful, while the Knights have three women and a child of indeterminate gender riding a snake for the Knight of Skulls.  As for our Knight of Drums, she rides her white buffalo with rather more verve than we might expect of this sometimes stodgy archetype.  Still, it is a buffalo, rather than some fleet-footed thoroughbred. The Queen is accompanied by a bear and her cub, an association also found in the Wildwood.  And the King looks suitably powerful and grounded, wearing a buffalo head mask and holding a peace pipe.

Overall, I find this a very readable deck.  The Courts work well, and the artwork is attractive.  I also find it a useful deck for those interested in shamanic practices, for meditating and pathworking, and for readings around healing. 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Shaman Tarot Reading

Here's another deck I've had for a while, the Shaman Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2010). I was reminded of it because an online store I sometimes buy, Tarot Chest, from sends out single cards as teasers, and so I've been using the Queen of Cups from this deck as a bookmark :)

Situation - Ten of Skulls (Wands)

At the front of the card, the man looks pensive, yet calm.  Further back, we see the same man, with a lion pouncing on him.  Still, he doesn't look panicked, and I wonder if this is him absorbing the lion's spirit in order to deal with the burdens he faces with calm.

Don't - The Moon

A man with a spirit drum looks on as female sprites rise up from the deep waters.  Has he purposely called them, or are they there to bamboozle him?  Under the light of the moon, nothing is certain.

Do - Five of Drums (Pentacles)

In the centre, a man and a leopard seem to fall into darkness, while around them five wicked-looking faces laugh.  Are these those demons we carry around with us: fears, doubts and resentments?  Recognising that these demons are part of us, rather than something outside of ourselves, can help us deal with them appropriately.

This reading makes a great deal of sense to me this week.  My Dear One is going away for a couple of days R & R.  It's well-deserved, and at the same time it leaves me with the responsibility of both kids, running the household and my regular work.  While I'll have help, it still feels a little daunting. 

The Moon reminds me that night time is the worst.  A time when I may react to small noises with fear, and when loneliness might send me to the 'treats' cupboard for company.  Meanwhile, the Five of Drums reminds me that all these fears and temptations are my own demons, nothing to do with reality.  The leopard reminds me that I can change my spots: I haven't eaten chocolate, biscuits or cake for ten weeks, and I don't plan to start again now!  The Ten of Skulls reminds me that I have the inner strength to deal with all this, so long as I stay calm and focused.

By the way, if you'd like to read some journal prompts inspired by these cards, check out the all new TABI Tarot Blog :D

Friday, 21 November 2014

Esmeralda Lenormand Overview

The Esmeralda Lenormand (Karla Souza, self-published) is a lovely little deck from Brazil.  And little is the word: although not a mini, its cards are slightly smaller than standard bridge size.  They are extremely vibrant, and have some fabulous partial lamination effects, such that certain elements in the cards really pop, an effect that is totally lost in the scans, unfortunately.  Might have to dig out my video camera to do this deck justice...

While the standard Lenormand people and objects are very clear on the cards, there are also lots of additional elements and symbols layered in.  For one thing, there are little graphic elements intended to help people learn or remember standard meanings.  So, on the Storks we see a stock market style graph pointing upward, for work prospects looking up, and a suitcase, for moving abroad.

The cards also give standard Lenormand timings, for those that consider these useful.  As far as I'm concerned, predicting something in ten to twenty years is an exercise in futility, but each to their own.  Another addition which strikes me as not very useful is that of alchemical elemental symbols at the top of each card.  Basically, all cards with Hearts as their playing card suit are associated to water, Clubs with earth, Diamonds with fire and Spades with air.  Therefore, knowing these very standard associations, you don't need the extra symbol.

Far more innovatively, there are also chakra associations on seven of the cards, and the Sun has a mini-title of Prana.  Interestingly, I have been thinking about chakra associations, and we picked five of the same cards out of seven, though Karla and I used the same cards in different places in three instances.  As well as giving the Sanskrit chakra name, she also includes the bija (seed) mantra for each, as well as their mandala.

Pagan influences are clear in the images, too, with Pentacles showing up on the Man and the Book.  The Whips, with its broom and black cat, is a cute nod to pagan iconography.  And the Coffin, with its Día de Los Muertos skull, is colourful and acknowledges alternate cultural, spiritual beliefs.  Another non-traditional aspect of this deck that I like is its use of corvids on the Birds card, the only deck I've seen with this.

Altogether, the deck is readable, attractive and practical.  It has a nice combination of traditional elements with innovations to help the beginner.  And it also has more pagan and new age associations, which are non-intrusive enough that you can take them or leave them.  For its sheer prettiness and shininess, it gets a big thumbs-up from me!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Esmeralda Lenormand Reading

This week, it's the turn of another self-published Lenormand: the Esmeralda Lenormand (Karla Souza, date unknown).  A vibrant little deck, there's much to say about it, but that can wait til Friday...

Today's reading gives us: Tree, Stars, Moon, Bear, Fox.  I feel inspired to take a slightly looser approach to interpreting them than usual, so here are my riffs:

Reputation is improved by connecting with your roots and using your skills with strength.
Emotional well-being flourishes with spiritual insights, healthy-eating, and being willing to take off your mask.
Look to nature to help deal with strong emotions caused by deceptive diet.

I will admit, I've been fighting some sugar cravings over the last few days.  So, the advice to go out into nature and let the cold air breathe through me feels like a good one.  And hopefully, with that will come a little more emotional well-being.  Nature is wonderful for connecting to spirit, too, and there's no need to hide when it's just you and the elements...

Friday, 14 November 2014

American Civil War Lenormand Overview

Card Back
The American Civil War Lenormand is one of a number of decks self-published by Bridgett Trejo.  Although it's not a period I'm especially familiar with, there's something about this deck that appealed to me.

I think it may be a combination of Gone With The Wind romance paired with a kind of quaint, homely reality.  This isn't a deck dedicated to the generals and fine ladies, but something altogether more mundane.  This is history through the eyes of regular folks. 


House, Ship, Bouquet, Moon
The Two Families :)
For instance, the Bouquet shows a square jar holding simple flowers, rather than a fancy vase.  The Ship is an iron war horse, not a fancy cruise ship or speedy trade vessel.  And the House is a slightly rambling ranch, not an elegant mansion.

Although some of the cards in this deck are clearly oldified, sepia-toned modern images, such as the picture of the Moon, others are clearly authentic images from the era.  Photos or postcards of folks in the garb of the era, either posed somewhat rigidly, or in more natural action shots.

Another thing worth commenting on is the extra cards: there is a choice of two Men, Women, and also Children.  For some reason, this last is one that I've always liked.   Perhaps because I have two boys while so many Lenormand's show a girl, despite the associated playing card being the Jack of Spades.

Doesn't that little chap look stiff and uncomfortable in his mini uniform?  Though Christmas approaches and I've already received a reindeer costume for my eight month old, I can still laugh at the foibles of parents dressing their kids up for a photograph!

Altogether, this is a nicely put together deck. I kind of wish more space had been given to the photos, rather than quite so much being the associated playing card, a little civil war tribute, and agified card.  Still, I like the quaint, historical feel of it.  And on a side note, the deck is dispatched from Printer Studio, with branches in Europe, the States and China.  So, I didn't get hit with extra custom charges, which is always good to know before buying a self-published deck from overseas!

Monday, 10 November 2014

American Civil War Lenormand Reading

Today, I wanted to pull out some Lenormand cards again.  This week's deck is a self-published one by Bridgett Trejo, the American Civil War Lenormand.  

As for the cards, we have Rider, Woman, Moon, Ring.  Riffing on these, I get:

Intuitive information about an emotional commitment.
News about a woman's work contract.
A woman receives news about an engagement that affects her reputation.

A combination of these feel useful to me this week.  I received some news about someone I work with, who has given in her notice.  There's a part of me that feels I should have realised this was going to happen.  Aren't I supposed to be intuitive?  Yet, sometimes things really are a surprise to all involved.  Still, it makes me question the reputation of the recruiter who found her in the first place.  And maybe that's where I need to trust my intuition and recommend we don't use that recruiter again in the future...

There's also a big meeting at work this week, where a couple of people's reputations are on the line (not mine, thank goodness).  So, I'll try to keep my intuition flowing smoothly, and hope I can pick up on what's needed to get the contract we're hoping for. 

Friday, 7 November 2014

Chrysalis Tarot Overview

I loved the sound of this deck, the Chrysalis Tarot (US Games, 2014) before it even came out.  Both the artwork by Holly Sierra and the ideas and structure created by Toney Brooks live up to expectations: it is lovely and fascinating in equal measure.  However, it does challenge some traditional understandings of the cards. So, if you like your decks to be pure RWS-influenced, be warned.

All the Majors, for instance, have been renamed. And while most retain a decipherable connection to more standard archetypes, they also open up lots of additional possibilities.  Take Herne the Hunter (the Chariot): the LWB connects this with following our will.  Yet, Herne can also suggest tapping into our inner wildness, and point to shamanic practices.  And as the leader of the wild hunt, I must say I think it's a shame he wasn't shown with two different (coloured) beasts.  That would have brought the card closer to traditional iconography, while staying true to what Brooks wrote...

Next, we come to the Court cards, in this deck titled the Troupe.  For me, this is the section I find hardest to read.  Each card is given a description - the Healer, the Visionary, the Poet - while still being associated to a rank and suit - Page of Spirals, King of Stones and so on.  Yet I mostly find the description doesn't seem to match the rank and suit.  Here, for example, we have the King of Stones (Pentacles) as the Minstrel.  Now for me, the suit of Stones is one of practicality, materiality, groundedness and presentness.  Whereas being a minstrel conjurs up something far more emotive or communicative.  I could see him as the King of Mirrors (Cups) or the King of Scrolls (Swords), but Stones (Pentacles)?  The LWB says: "As your official or unofficial financial advisor, the Minstrel is a reliable source of knowledge."  Even though this does give him a more King of Pentacles feel, this still feels more like the King of Swords if he were to turn his mind to finances.

Similarly, some of the other images challenge my associations at a deep level.  Here in the Ace of Spirals (Wands) we have a goat, which I associate with Capricorn, and earth, rather than fire.  Still, the goat is certainly a force to be reckoned with, nimble and able to scale heights as well as being quick to change direction.  So, I enjoy many of these cards, once I manage to turn off my 'jumping to associations' brain.

However, it's not just in the objects, titles and people that these challenges come, sometimes it's in the very structure of the picture.  This Two of Spirals (Wands) with its two bird's nests straight away pushes my pattern-forming mind to see the Two of Pentacles in the shape the nests form.  While I can see the Wands interpretation of choices or looking out at the world to decide whether or not a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, it once again takes a moment to turn off my immediate connections.

Despite all this, or perhaps because of it, I feel this deck is worth persevering with.  Firstly, because it's so beautiful.  Secondly, because it opens up a wonderful world of myth and symbolism.  And thirdly, because it causes cognitive dissonance, making me do double-takes, becoming aware of my assumptions and prejudices, and opening me to new understandings.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Chrysalis Tarot Reading

This week, it's back to a reading on Monday and a review on Friday, using the Chrysalis Tarot (U.S. Games, 2014).  The artwork in this deck, by Holly Sierra, is absolutly lovely: colourful and joyful.  And the inspiration and writing of Toney Brooks is full of myth and mystery - delightful!

Situation: Golden Flower (Temperance)

The companion booklet links this card to meditation, rather than more traditional ideas of getting the right balance of ingredients, moderation, or balancing different elements.  Though, it's true, meditation helps in finding inner balance...

Don't: Ten of Mirrors (Cups)

Rather than domestic bliss, this card shows the dove of peace carrying mirrors that reflect happiness.  As the card for what to avoid, I see it saying not to idealise emotional situations or family, not to choose peace over what your inner voice tells you is right.

Do: Ten of Scrolls (Swords)

I love the description Brooks gives of tiger energy that battles through the negativity of thought patterns that lock you in: 'strong-willed, confident and resolved'.  That definitely sounds like a good mix to overcome the sometimes overly dramatic emphasis of this card, with those thoughts that we allow to stab us in the back, to lay us low, and which we face again and again until we break free of their hold.  In terms of what to do, it's a clarion call to roar in the face of adversity!

Well, I am hoping to make meditation a focus of my week, it's true.  I'm writing some meditations for workshops I will be running next year!  And so, I shall make sure not to focus too much on emotions in these, but rather to highlight how people can be confident and resolved.  On a more personal level, I have been meditating daily, and it has definitely helped me find greater emotional peace, and to focus on my own ability to deal with negative self-talk :)

Friday, 31 October 2014

Across The Veils

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Please use the links at the top or bottom of this post to hop around the other sites taking part in this round of the Tarot Blog Hop.

Our wrangler this Samhain, Louise of Priestess Tarot, asked us to use the opportunity provided by this time of year to commune with someone from across the veils.  My first thought was to take the chance to talk with my grandmother who died eighteen years ago, just two days before Samhain.  She was an amazing, feisty woman, who trained as a doctor and taught sex ed classes after she retired.  She never let her husband see her without her dentures, and she was a wonderful cook and biscuit maker.  I loved her dearly.

What, I thought, could I ask her?  What might a spread look like to speak with someone on the other side?  Here's what I came up with:

1) What are you most proud of?
2) What do you most regret?
3) What couldn't you see from this side of the veils?
4) What are you most proud of in me?
5) What do you most regret about the choices I have made?
6) What can you see from that side that you want to share with me?

Once again, I decided to use the Tarot de St. Croix (Lisa De St Croix, 2014) to explore these questions.

1) What are you most proud of?  Six of Cups

"The family I created, the warmth, the happy memories."

It's funny, see that flame-haired funny doll at the top centre of the dollies tea party?  In German, there's a figure called Pumuckl, a red-haired Kobold.  You can see the credits for the TV show here.  My grandma used to record these to VHS videos and send them to me.  Mostly because I loved this show, and also to help me improve my German.  Her lessons, then, were always fun and loving - that was how she dealt with family and friends alike!

2) What do you most regret?  Page of Swords

"I regret not having had the opportunity to exercise my mind as much as I would have liked, not having explored and studied all that I might have."

My grandmother trained as a doctor, and always had an inquisitive mind.  Yet, she never had the opportunity to complete a Ph.D, nor to study many other things she might have enjoyed.  Family (four kids by two different husbands - she was a forerunner in the divorce stakes), home and the responsibilities those bring stopped her studying more.  I don't think she would have changed her choices, but everyone is allowed to have a "what-if" thought every now and again.

3) What couldn't you see from this side of the veils?  Eight of Swords

"The thoughts that trapped me, my own assumptions about how life had to be."

German society was (and to an extent still is) quite narrow-minded.  At one point, my grandma ran a clothes shop.  Not because she was especially interested in fashion, but because that was seen as an appropriate career for a married woman, rather than messing around with sick people and working strange shifts.  I wonder what her life would have been like had she not felt that need to conform...

4) What are you most proud of in me? Three of Wands

"I'm so glad you've let yourself go out and explore the world.  Trying things, taking up projects and ideas, taking a chance with things that enthuse you."

Certainly, most of my family have little knowledge or comprehension of the choices I have made in my life.  Reading tarot, designing a Lenormand deck, practising yoga, training as a psychotherapist: none of these fit with my family's ideas about life.  Yet, I believe my grandma might approve.  She would see the aspect of service in these things, the focus on health of body, mind and spirit.

5) What do you most regret about the choices I have made?  Seven of Swords

"I regret you didn't gather all the ideas you could, didn't take the opportunities you had to do research."

My grandma regretted not doing a Ph.D, and it's true I won a research grant including tuition and living expenses to do a Ph.D back in 1996, following on from my Masters in Social Anthroplogy.  Instead, I moved to Spain with the man I was living with then. 

And just last month, I was awarded my Postgraduate Diploma in Psychotherapy. However, this acknowledges my decision not to do my Masters dissertation given my current circumstances (a severely disabled child of nearly seven, a baby of seven months, and various esoteric projects in the works).  I am exploring, learning and creating, but I am not following traditional patterns in the process.

6) What can you see from that side that you want to share with me?  Eight of Cups

"Follow you bliss!"

Despite my not getting a Ph.D., the final message from my grandma is one of loving acceptance.  She tells me she can see that the path I'm following brings me joy, and that I seek emotional and spiritual understandings.  The source of life is love, ever flowing, constantly renewed.  Divine love, romantic love, mundane love, love of tarot cards.  Be it connecting to higher truths or to our nearest and dearest, bliss comes through opening to the flow of life as it is, letting regrets wash away, and reaching for that source.

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Monday, 27 October 2014

Geomancy Spread

Last Friday, I wrote a bit about the Geomancy talk at the UK Tarot Conference, given by Les Cross.  As well as explaining about geomancy, his intuitive system for reading with geomes, and offering some very handy cards for the purpose,  Les suggested a really interesting way of using a tarot reading itself to also create a geome reading. 

In each 'position' you draw four cards, one for each level of the geome.  For instance, you can draw four cards for now and four for where things are headed.  Then, if the card number is odd, it counts as one tap (constriction), and even is two taps (expansion).  Courts are treated as being numbered eleven through fourteen, so Pages and Queens are one tap, and Knights and Kings are two taps. 

Here is a reading I did using this system, with two geomes for now and where things are headed.  So we see that currently, others are being offered their due for their ideas and suggestions (6 of Pents, two taps in the external mental zone), but there's a need to narrow your focus: to use the ideas from others that you already have to hand (Magician, one tap).  Time to stop researching and put that knowledge into practice.

On the internal mental level, there's a feeling that all these ideas belong to others, not to you (7 of Swords, one tap).  Now, putting those ideas into practice with the Magician means you'll have to wait and see how things go (3 of Wands) before planning your next step.

In terms of internal physical resources, these are currently being studied (Page of Pents, one tap).  However, this is an area where action needs to be taken, to get things moving and actively progressing (8 of Wands, two taps).

Finally, it seems there's nothing currently being done to reach out to others physically, due to painful experiences from doing so (3 of Swords).  While reaching out may not be on the cards for a while, that pain can be healed through Faith (the Hierophant) that others will help when needed.  This might be fostered by finding some institution that is willing to help, even if they are not yet called for.

It's true I've been doing some research over the past week or two, so I guess this reading tells me to stop listening to others and get down to some of the work this research has been for.  As for my physical and material resources, now I should make use of them for more than just studying.  It's time to use some software I've had for a while to move things forward.  As for the last part, I have a few ideas about people/firms to reach out to who have the material resources to move this project forward as and when it's ready to go...

P.S. Friday's post will go live a bit later than usual, 4pm to be precise.  It's part of the Samhain Tarot Blog Hop :)

Friday, 24 October 2014

Les Cross and Geomancy & Giveaway Result

Four Levels model for Astrogem Geomancy
Another of the workshops from the UK Tarot Conference that I wanted to share about in a bit more detail was Dr. Les Cross' approach to Geomancy. 

He explained that this is based on a 3000 year old practice of divining from natural elements.  A bit like the I-Ching, you create a shape through four yes/no or odd/even throws.  So, it's possible to create geomes (the equivalent to the I-Ching hexagram) using anything that has two sides or ends: a business card, a coin, a smooth stone, a twig, whatever!

Les Cross has also developed his own system, which associates gems and astrological notions to each geome.  And he has published some lovely cards which can be used for this system, with images on one side and explanations on the other.  Being a sucker for cards, I got a set :)

The geomes, courtesy of Astrogem Geomancy
As for actually reading the geomes, while Les encourages people to study the traditional names and meanings, he has also come up with a more intuitive system.  Each geome has four parts, which can contain one tap or two taps (dots).  One tap indicates reduction or constriction, two taps indicate expansion or increase.  Of course, neither of these is inherently good or bad: a reduction in your workload might be good if you're feeling overwhelmed, or bad if you need to increase your income.

In terms of the four different levels of the geome, his intuitive method equates the top two with mental/spiritual elements and the bottom two with physical/material elements.  The outer levels are associated to the external, while the middle two are internal.  So, the second level from the top is about internal mental aspects: our own thoughts and beliefs.

As for how to read with this system, the basic idea is to see the flow that is currently taking place. A base reading would draw two geomes to see where you are and where you are headed. 

For example, I did a reading around a work question, using his cards, and got Via and Laetitia.  Currently, then, this project is full of potential, but with nothing actually happening (a fairly accurate description).  Moving it forward, I need to activate my own thought processes, planning and strategy (level two), to bring to bear my own resources at a material level (level three), and to also expand my outreach to others at a practical level (fourth layer).  What I don't need is to be worrying about what others think of this project (top level), I just need to trust and get on with it.  Makes sense to me!

And no, I didn't forget the giveaway.  The Numerology Cards will wing their way across to:
***Harpa Luthersdottir***
Congratulations, and I'll contact you for your address :)

Monday, 20 October 2014

Richard Abbot's Tattva Spread

Tattva symbols
As I said last week, I really enjoyed Richard Abbot's workshop at the UK Tarot Conference.  He explained a bit about the Sanskrit approach to the basic elements of life, the 'that-ness' that underlies existence (that's the translation of tattva).  This system recognises Akasha/Spirit, Tejas/Fire, Vayu/Air, Apas/Water and Prithvi/Earth as the fundamental elements of existence.

From this, Richard derived a spread with positions/associations which are somewhat different to the way I generally approach the elements.  He also had the interesting idea to use only the cards of the associated suit in drawing a card for each element's position in the spread.

For Spirit, the question is 'What is the lesson here?', and a card is drawn from amongst the Majors.  Fire is seen as hot, burning, forging, expanding, so the question is 'What is growing?' and is answered by a card from the Wands suit.  Air is invisible, colourless (though represented by a blue circle!), and odourless, so Richard's question is 'What is hanging in the air?'  Water is wet, cleansing, purging, and as something being washed away the question is 'What is receding?'  And Earth is solid, fixed, heavy, dense, and his question is 'What is fixed/stable?'

Finally, Richard suggested that we draw another Spirit card to answer 'And if I learn this lesson, what next?'  He also said we could draw another for if we don't learn the lesson.  However, my belief, which he also expressed, is that we will keep being presented with opportunities to learn a given lesson until we do get it, so I decided to skip that card.

As you can see, the questions end up being quite different from those we might expect with more Western, tarot-based associations.  For example, following those ideas the question for Water might be 'What emotions are being felt?' and for Earth might be 'What is involved at a practical level?'  It's also interesting to only answer each element's question with a card from that element, rather than from the full deck.  While the latter approach can be insightful in noting whether or not a card from the associated suit falls in 'its place', Richard's idea brings a different set of possibilities to the table.

To explore this, I asked the cards about the lesson offered to me by the Conference itself.  Here is my answer, from the Mosaic Dream Tarot (Bridgett Trejo, 2014):

1) Spirit - The Tower

My lesson was to cope with having my fixed ideas challenged and shattered.  Mary Greer did some challenging, with her recommendation to seek cognitive dissonance - to try to challenge our own assumptions.  And she helped this along by showing how much we jump to conclusions, and by getting us to look at tough ethical questions like "Is it acceptable to tell a querent what they SHOULD or SHOULDN'T do?"  Richard's workshop challenged my normal elemental associations and preference for pulling from a full deck, but the results were really interesting.  Les Cross' talk challenged my assertion that I don't want to learn any more systems of divination.  Yep, plenty of shake-ups :)

2) Fire - Nine of Wands

What is growing is my ability to push on in the face of these kind of challenges, to not let them put me off.  As one book title famously put it, to Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!

3)  Air - Five of Swords

What is hanging in the air, there but not spoken, is the question of whether I will let these challenges leave me feeling defeated.  Whether I will take them as destroying my understanding of things, or pick up and dust myself off, richer for the changes.

4) Water - Seven of Cups

What is receding is my sense that I have to choose one thing or another, to make a firm choice.  As Mary had us say in one exercise: "Yes, and... Yes, and..."

5)  Earth - Ace of Pentacles

What is fixed is the potential that is there, the seed that is always available to be planted and to grow in the rich soil left after the Tower has been razed.

6) Spirit - Justice

What next?  Well, I hope I can be fairer, jump to less rushed judgements, and give credit where it's due.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Pagan Lenormand Overview

Box, deck and booklet
Gina Pace created the Pagan Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2005), so authoring the Pagan Lenormand (Lo Scarabeo, 2014) was a clear step along the same path.  Though in terms of artwork it is closer to the Silver Witchcraft Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2014) by the same artist.

Lo Scarabeo are really breaking the mould this year.  Once again, this is a borderless deck, with no international titles.  And the box, too, is a nice, solid contraption with a lift-off lid and a ribbon to help get the cards and booklet out. 

As for the booklet, it is most definitely not a LWB.  Rather, it is nice, has greyscale images to show spread layouts, as well as some decorative images.  There is a page devoted to each card, with keywords and an explanation of the Pagan Lenormand image, as well as the Lenormand interpretation.

Gypsy Heart Spread
The spreads offered are interesting and thematically appropriate, though some may complain of their single card positional meanings.  They are a ten card Gypsy's Heart Love Spread, an Elemental Square of Nine Spread (a nine square with alternate positional meanings based on the four elements), a six card "U" for Universe Spread, a six card Fork in the Road Spread, and a Pentagram of Five Spread.  However, traditional reading methods are left out for the most part - there is no explanation of how to combine card meanings, and no explanation of the Grand Tableau, either.

Multi-cultural People Cards
The only thing that came as a slight disappointment here is that the booklet is only half the length it seems, as it comes in English, Italian, Spanish, French and German (though the foreign language sections are condensed and don't give the spreads or some additional information).  Overall, though, Gina has made thoughtful choices to represent Lenormand ideas in a modern, pagan context.  From a labyrinth walking meditation to candlelit spirit guide quests, via a trip to the mountains and pagans in a regular suburban house, she achieves her aim well.

Another aspect I like about the deck is the people cards.  As has become frequent practice, there are two man and two woman cards, facing in different directions.  These allow same sex readings if desired, but also have two other uses.  Firstly, they offer a good cultural balance, with a Native American, an African American, a Caucasian and an Asian figure.  Secondly, each wears different colour robes and holds a different object (smudging sage, an incense burner etc), so together they represent the four quarters of a sacred circle, and could be used as such on an altar.

House, Dog, Garden, Mountain
In terms of the cards, the artwork is accomplished, though not everyone may feel comfortable with the robed figures (an issue also raised with the Silver Witchcraft Tarot).  Although there are vignettes of modern pagan life on many cards, the Lenormand object or person is still mostly very clear.  One slight exception to this is the Dog, which is represented by a spirit Wolf (wild ancestor to the dog).  In fact, the Fox, Bear, Stork and Dog are all "spirit guides", which means they rise up ethereally from meditating people.  I guess there aren't many real wild animals in most modern, urban pagans' lives, so there is certainly a logic to this.

Pagan Lenormand (large) and French Cartomancy
Each card also has a playing card insert.  These are taken directly from the Dondorf Lenormand, which Lo Scarabeo issued as the French Cartomancy deck (Lo Scarabeo, 2005).  At first, I found this a little jarring - having an old-fashioned, hand-drawn card insert on these modern, CGI images.  However, as it is basically a card from a separate deck, the lack of consistency between the two styles isn't as strange as having Majors and Minors by different artists in a tarot deck.  And it makes a good deal of sense to have something which readers will already be quite familiar with, given how different the images are generally.

Pagan Lenormand (centre) and Silver Witchcraft Tarot
Overall, my only complaint about this deck, and unfortunately this is a big one, is its size.  The cards are huge, bigger than many tarot decks (well, they are tarot deck height, but more square).  They are nearly twice the size of a regular Lenormand deck!  So, it comes as no surprise that the companion book doesn't talk about any spread larger than ten cards: you'd need a huge table or a bed to lay a Grand Tableau.  Even a line of five won't fit on my scanner, and for a line of three I had to turn them sideways and then rotate the image.  These are unwieldy, and though I enjoy the theme and the imagery, I sadly won't be using them very often.