Friday, 28 February 2014

Marseille Cat Overview

The more I use the Marseille Cat Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2014), the better I like it!  As cross-pollinations go, I think this is a very successful one.  It has all the traditional Marseille colouring and imagery, yet adds in cute thematic touches that make it more intuitively readable.

The traditional side shows up clearly with the High Priestess and King of Pentacles who, other than being cats, demonstrate purely Marseille-style colouring and symbolism.  Lo Scarabeo also chose to remove their usual multi-lingual titles and just go for the traditional French and more international English (sorry, France, c'est la vie!)

Art by Severino Baraldi
On the Ace of Swords we once again have absolutely standard Marseille fare, from the crown and sword to the two different branches draping to the sides.  However, a themed RWS element is added with the cat's paw lofting the sword.  Then, on the Eight of Cups, we have the added vignette of a cat at the centre of the card, looking back over his shoulder.  A wink to the RWS idea of leaving behind an emotional situation, unsure of what lies ahead, though without the suggestion of determination and seeking a higher truth.

Marseille Cat Tarot
However, not all the Majors are purely traditional.  Death takes quite a leap away from the Marseille version, with a skeletal figure laying down his scythe to tickle a ginger cat's white tummy.  Behind them is an atmospheric sea and skyscape, with churning waves and a dark horizon torn by lightning.

The Minors, too, add variety to the RWS vignettes.  For example, on Monday we saw three trepidatious kitties in a boat for the Six of Swords, and here in the Eight of Swords we have a male cat suspended by his arms, rather than a female hemmed in by swords in the ground.  So, the deck honours tradition while also opening up new possibilities.

Monday, 24 February 2014

BMS with the Marseille Cat Tarot

This week, I'm using a new, very fun deck from Lo Scarabeo, the Marseille Cat Tarot (2014).  This takes the basic Marseille imagery and colour scheme, as well as the non-illustrated pips, and adds a catty twist to them all.  Most of the Majors are very traditional, just with a cat instead of a human.  And the pips have the traditional Marseille shapes and colours, but have added in little vignettes to express the more traditional RWS reading of the card.  Overall, I think it works well, and is a lovely deck to add to your collection if you are a cat fan!

Body:  Six of Swords.  I just love those three little kitties in their boat.  Not quite sure where they're going, a little trepidatious, but moving forward nevertheless.  There are a lot of changes going on with my body, that's for sure, with less than three weeks to go til my baby is due.  Still, this being a Swords card reminds me that what we think affects our body, too.  So, time to find some mental calm, even if I can't be sure of where I'm going.

Mind:  The Lovers.  Should we choose the elegant and alluring, or the more stable and enduring?  Seems like it's all about thinking through choices this week.  And there are certainly plenty of those to be made, with a house move next week.  Do I keep this book or give it to charity?  Do I need to pack these bits myself, or can I leave them for the moving men?  What should go first, and what do we need right up til the last minute?  The little Eros-cat in the sun reminds me to follow my heart, not just my head.

Spirit:  Ace of Cups.  The RWS dove plunging downward has been incorporated into the intricate cup, with a cat looking up towards it.  While the cat may be thinking how tasty a dove snack might be, I see a hunger for connection with spirit.  So, despite all the busy-ness, a reminder to take time to feel connected, to meditate, and to honour the love in my life :)

I am grateful for the reminder that both head and heart are important in all aspects of my life.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Overview of the Tarot of the 78 Doors

This week's deck, as I mentioned before, has been out a while.  Still, the artist is one I like a lot: Antonella Platano.  She also drew two of my personal favourites - the Gay Tarot, and the Wheel of the Year Tarot - as well as the Witches Tarot (Hip Witch) and the Universal Goddess Tarot (also fun decks).

In the Tarot of the 78 Doors (Lo Scarabeo, 2005), the content of the cards is traditionally RWS, though the actual imagery and symbolism are not.  For instance, in the Lovers we have a gypsy telling the fortune of a young man, as his lady love stands by.  Is she predicting a different choice for him, or helping confirm the path he has chosen?

I also really like that the Knight of Cups in this deck seems female (there is also one female Page, though not of Cups).  This Knight of Cups is a confident woman in blue armour, who turns her horse to pass through the cloak of a waterfall, into a dark cave.  A cleansing outpouring of emotion, powerful though sometimes superficial, and a willingness to face the depths of her unconscious.

The Ace of Pentacles is another card I can get behind, though it wouldn't be how I would choose to portray this card's energy.  We have a jolly, plump woman wearing a sumptuous, green dress and gold jewelry.  She sits before a fine house, to which she holds the keys.  Suggestions, then, of material plenty and a degree of luxury.  For me, the Ace should hold a little less actuality and a bit more potential.  I also see Pentacles as being about connecting with the physical, not just overindulging it.  Still, the symbolism is appropriate, especially if we see this as someone just moving into a new house...

Finally, we have the Three of Pentacles to represent the Minors.  Plenty of craftsmanship here, with a joiner making a variety of different yet beautiful doors.  Not so much of teamwork, though, unless you take a broader perspective: what is a door without a house around it? :)

Monday, 17 February 2014

BMS with the Tarot of the 78 Doors

This is an older Lo Scarabeo deck, and one whose premise and artwork I really like.  As the name suggests, the Tarot of the 78 Doors (Lo Scarabeo, 2005) features a door of some kind on every card.  And while the deck is clearly RWS-influenced, it is far from a redrawn clone. 

Once again, for this Monday, I drew three cards to look at Body, Mind and Spirit.  

Body:  The Five of Chalices (Cups) often suggests a sorrow based on something in the past.  In terms of the body, this could be a reminder of all that we hold in our bodies: the sore neck connected to a fear that was triggered the day before, or deeper muscular and organ complaints.  This version is interesting, with it's burning door and panicked woman in a window.  Those past mistakes or issues can trap us, if we let them. 

Mind:  This is a rather unusual Queen of Swords!  A mature woman sits back in a comfy armchair, her eyes either closed or glassy.  Her mouth hangs open, and from it a ghostly girl emerges.  I think I recall from the LWB this being the woman's own child self, the part so often pushed aside by the trials of life.  Yet, staying compassionate towards that inner child, in ourselves and others, can be an important way of stating open to understanding the mind's inner workings. 

Spirit:  I like this Nine of Cups, which not only shows a man surrounded by traditional suggestions of emotional plenty, but also him sharing that with his loyal dog/companion.  For me, that acknowledgement of others is a vital part of feeling emotionally satisfied.  It is not a purely selfish thing, but one that embraces those around us.   
I know I hold a lot of fear around how things will go with the birth of my second child, due in the next month.  Yet, those fears and the related tightness in my shoulders and lower back are positively unhelpful.  This baby has been lying breech, and part of that may be due to my pelvis being held tight.  And my uterine muscles will have to release a lot for him to come out smoothly.  So, the Five of Cups acts as a reminder that I should do things to help release those fears and relax the muscles - a two-pronged approach aimed at both the body and the emotions.  The Queen of Swords encourages me to be compassionate in my self-talk, and the Nine of Cups suggests I should give thanks for the good in my life: both the emotional support I have available as well as the forms of nurturing I can access.

I am grateful for the encouragement to self-nurture.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Lunatic Tarot Overview

For this week's second post, I thought I'd take a closer look at the Lunatic Tarot (Evan Yi Feng, 2005).  In fact, there was quite a nice cross-section of cards in Monday's reading: a Major, an Ace and a Minor.  Still, for today I've drawn one card from each of the four parts of the deck.

In terms of positives, I like the sepia tones of the images and their prettiness.  The deck is clearly RWS-based, despite most cards being fairly close-up on an individual and without much of the more traditional symbolism.  That makes it quite easy to read straight out of the box.

For example, the Moon is very obvious, though the pretty girl may distract a little from ideas of a dark night of the soul, and the unconscious.  However, I can see her suggesting uncertainty, in her youth, and shadow work, with her strangely dark eyes.

Likewise, the Ace of Cups works for me, with its large, overflowing cup, even if it is held by another pretty girl.  And it also has a nod to the traditional dove :)

The King of Swords brings in some sumptuous, Klimt-like fabrics, and a rather Asian-looking King.  I like the suggestion of rationality in the geometric patterns on his clothes.  He also has a firm, almost stern expression, and his hand rests easily on his perfectly straight sword.

However, this deck is not for the prudish, with its sometimes very sexual, bondage-based imagery.  The Seven of Cups gives a perfect example of this (as did the Eight of Swords on Monday).  Is she the one with emotional choices to make, constrained until she picks one of the cups behind her?  Or is she someone's fantasy, a choice they daydream about?

So a pretty deck, an interesting and readable one, but not without its challenges...

Monday, 10 February 2014

Lunatic Tarot Reading

Having decided to just post twice a week, my plan is to do a three card Body-Mind-Spirit reading on Mondays, for the week ahead.  This week, my deck of choice is the Lunatic Tarot, by Evan Yi Feng (published in China 2005, possibly available through the Tarot Garden).

Body:  On a physical level, the Fool says there is a world of opportunity open to us, and that wolf advises us to listen to our instincts.  Mind:  The Ace of Pentacles suggests there may be financial opportunities that we should think about, and reminds us to consider new choices in terms of food and exercise.  Spirit:  The Eight of Swords implies being spiritually limited by our own thoughts, tieing ourselves up in knots with our ideas of what we should and shouldn't do, or just with self-limiting beliefs.

To me, this reading speaks of considering new possibilities related to the body, and how my self-limiting beliefs might stop me from trying something.  It recommends being open to new ideas, and recognising where I am stuck in my thinking.  I'm expecting a new exercise DVD to arrive today, so that's certainly something to try out this week.  And perhaps I need to think about branching out - doing something new in terms of exercise.  I've been feeling a bit stale, a bit blah, about both Step DVD's and working out on the static bike, and I definitely don't want any Tabata-style workouts - far too high impact for my chronic shinsplints to cope with.  So, time to hop over to Collage Video and see if anything new and different jumps out at me. 

As for the Eight of Swords for my spirit, that could just be me dismissing new types of exercise because of my preconceived notions.  However, I wonder if it goes deeper than that.  I haven't been doing much lately on the spiritual side of my life, besides the occasional hypnobirthing meditation.  That's largely been because of limited time, but then, that just says that I don't give spirit as high a priority as I might.  Maybe I need to change that this week...

I am grateful for the reminder that being physically fit is important, but so is spiritual freedom.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Greta Garbo

It's the last day with the Bonefire Tarot (Gabrielle West, 2013), and it's been quite a week.  Overall, this deck is definitely one I'll be using for regular readings - it has an interesting twist on most cards, and plenty of symbolism to get your teeth into.

Take today's card, the Queen of Wands.  At first glance, I don't like her all that much.  Her face looks very hard, whereas I associate her with being dynamic and driven, but also sensual and kind.  Her cat, too, looks a bit mean, whereas I love cats, seeing them as fiercely independent, but also fiercely loving.  Yet, when I look at what she's wearing, and what is around her, this Queen does speak to me.  She has a glittery, orange dress on, colour of the second chakra, associated with sexuality.  She has a sunflower on her top hat - a symbol of reaching for the sun, as well as bucking tradition, giving her a bit of a Greta Garbo feel.  Behind her, a volcano is exploding - plenty of fire and ability to bring change and new growth here.

Rather surprisingly, she has a flaming tattoo of two fish on her arm - mixing Piscean symbolism with the fire of transformation.  I wouldn't generally associate this Queen with the sign of Pisces, and when I checked with a blogger whose astrological knowledge I respect (Alison of Alison's Alembic), she associates the Knight of Cups to Pisces.  Still, Pisces and Aries (which I associate with this Queen) do sit next to one another, so maybe it's one of those Golden Dawn decanate things...

That Greta Garbo association feels rather apropos today.  I mentioned a while back that I wasn't sure what to do in terms of blogging and maternity, but I've now come to a decision.  I'm going to withdraw a little: not as dramatically as Garbo did, but then, I'm not a famous movie star :D  So, some decisive change that will hopefully bring growth potential for me personally, and for this blog.  Recently, I haven't had time to answer comments, or to read other people's posts, and feel like I've barely been managing to post myself - not conducive to feeling creative or relaxed!

My plan is to drop to two posts a week, on Mondays and Fridays.  If the spirit moves me, I might post something on a Wednesday, too, we'll see.  And if there is no post on a Monday or Friday, odds are good that I've gone into labour, so wish me luck!

I am grateful for over three years of daily posts.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Battered By Life

Well, the Bonefire Tarot (Gabrielle West, 2013) is certainly being generous with the Majors this week, this is our fourth out of six.

Today, we see the Hermit, though I'm not sure if he sees us, with his battered face, red and broken nose and slitted eyes.  A man with a bearded face and dreaded hair appears in the lower righthand side of the card.  Around him, as is the pattern in this deck, are lots of symbols.  There is a wolf, red tongue hanging out.  A circle in a square in a triangle in another circle, all burning.  Lots of pink flowers, and a couple of cherries.  An owl, cut off at the side.  Stars, including a large, six-pointed one with a number 9, burning.  A large hand holding some kind of gold circle.  Burning bones.  Ants walking over leaves, and an eye in a blue triangle, also burning.

Some of the symbols seem obvious, others a lot less so.  Looking at the cherry blossom, this is often a symbol of transience.  Which is fairly appropriate to a card sometimes linked to "Father Time".  The owl I get, and likewise the illuminati-type eye/triangle symbols, suggestive of study, wisdom and enlightenment.  The lone wolf is also unsurprising (he also appears in the DruidCraft Tarot's Hermit).  However, I'm not sure about the ants.  To me, they symbolise a pre-eminently social species, the opposite of the Hermit moniker.  They are also industrious and practical, not adjectives I'd use for him either...

I keep coming back to that battered old face, and the idea that we can learn a great deal through experience.  Yet, it also takes its toll on us.  That's something I guess I've been noticing recently.  I've been working on an in-house training programme, to share some of the learning that many of us have accumulated over the last few years, and it's been interesting to note just how much we've learned, that isn't commonly available in this field.  Yet, that learning certainly came with a price, in time spent learning something without many resources to help, through trial, error, and practice.  It's good to appreciate what we've gained, and also to make it easier for others to follow in our footsteps.

I am grateful for the chance to teach some of what I've learned.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Safety Net

Aha, today we meet one of the Courts from the Bonefire Tarot (Gabrielle West, 2013): the Page of Swords.

The Pages in this deck are all shown as young women, which I personally like.  And this particular Page has gotten herself in a bit of bother.  She floats up above the ground, higher even than the kites around her, up amongst the branches of a tree.  Now, though, she has suddenly realised where she is, and looks down to see the drop beneath her.  She is exploring up above the humdrum of life, but she has no safety net and no plan for how she's going to get down again.

I can see in this both the idea of getting ourselves into trouble through speaking without thinking things through first, or in exploring ideas, perhaps taking them to the extreme.

It's funny, I've been thinking about phrasing and wording a lot, recently.  Partly because I've started reading a book on hypnotherapy called Wordweaving (The Quest Institute, 2003).  Partly, too, because I email so much, and as a "cold" form of communication I'm very aware of the pitfalls of what I write potentially being misinterpreted.  Hopefully, I am sufficiently careful. 

I also see in this card something I wrote an email about this morning: Big Boy's communication.  As he is non-verbal, it's always a bit tricky, yet I feel he can communicate far more than his Speach and Language Therapist gives him credit for.  Is that me understanding him better, him not communicating as well as he could, or something else? 

I am grateful that I can communicate with my son.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Marked By The Past

For this fourth day with the Bonefire Tarot (Gabrielle West, 2013) we have another Major, that's three out of four so far...

A woman looks up at us, mouth open as though taking a deep breath in.  Her skin is covered in tattoos, images of herself in the past, perhaps, as well as the bonefire symbol, a St. George's Cross (state badge of New South Wales, where the deck creator is from, as well as being the "English" flag - lol), and a six-pointed star.  Other symbols are also dotted around her: burning dice, a burning clock, a burning flower, a judge's gavel, some more red flowers, and a trumpet.

I like the idea of us being marked by our past, and yet still able to hear the clarion call of something new.  Able to throw the dice and see what life has to offer us now, and to embrace with passion the possibilities that arise from letting go of the old, even as it has shaped how we embrace the new.

That being marked by the past is something I'm very aware of, yet I do also try to embrace new possibilities.  It's interesting, I just received some books on hypnotherapy.  While I'm a trained psychotherapist, and that training will always be in my mind and approach, it's interesting to think about different ways to approach similar issues.  And the hypnotherapy side of things also dovetails nicely with the meditative and visualisation practices I have long embraced.  Something new for me, yet with a lot of history...

I am grateful for new opportunities that build on past experience.

Monday, 3 February 2014


Today's card from the Bonefire Tarot (Gabrielle West, 2013) is a bit of a strange one. 

Three flaming pentacles dominate the centre of the image, so at least it's very clear what card it is.  However, The diamond at the centre of a lotus underneath the flaming pentacles is less obvious, as are the carrots in the bottom corners, and the huge ears of wheat in the top corners, all of which seem to be growing hydroponically.  There are also some symbols arching over the pentacles, including pentacles, cups, daggers (swords) and pinecones (used in this deck for wands), as well as what look like stars, a crescent moon, a hammer and chisel, and what might be a paintbrush and pencil.  So, tools for creating things, and the fruits of hard labour, rather than the team of people working together that more traditionally greet us from this card.  Still, the idea of working hard, working creatively, and reaping the benefits of this are certainly here.

Big Boy's school have an inset day today, so once again I don't see myself getting much work done (creative or otherwise).  However, if I have a half hour spare, I would like to try and edit some videos I created last week, part of an in-house training programme we're designing.

I am grateful for the hope of creative labour.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Creative Mothering

A second Major shows her face today from the Bonefire Tarot (Gabrielle West, 2013).

This Empress has blonde hair, big blue eyes and bright red lips.  Her face shows none of the soft roundness often associated with this archetype.  However, the symbolism is still there, with an embryo hanging inside a tree at her side, and some ripe fruit open beside her.  I'm not sure if it's a pear or a pomegranate.  In either case flames lick around it, as they do around so many objects in this deck - connecting back to the deck's name. 

Gabi West explains that bonefire is a possible precursor to bonfire: a fire set in spring, or at Beltane, with the bones of all the animals which sustained people through the winter.  With the approach of summer, these are burned, along with other detritus, to make way for fresh growth and a new harvest.  So, the burning fruit speaks of enjoying abundance while we have it, and the willingness to let go of the old to make way for new creativity.

It would be nice if this card indicated a day of focusing on creativity.  I'd love to do something arty: be it paint or edit some videos I took on Thursday.  Or to have some time to nurture the baby inside me with exercise and hypnobirthing.  However, it's more likely I'll spend most of the day focused on Big Boy.  That being so, at least I can try to be more creative in my caring: maybe do some music with him, or even try getting some of his art supplies out.  We haven't had much luck on the art front with him, and maybe I need to get creative in how we even approach it...

I am grateful that creativity comes in so many guises.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Imbolc Blog Hop

Question card (face down), 3 card draw, and sketch

Last year, for the Imbolc edition of the Tarot Blog Hop, I created a couple of spreads based on Brigid’s different aspects (Inner Whispers and TABI).  So, when Christiana Gaudet suggested we write this time about Tarot, healing and creativity, based on her understanding of Brigid, I wondered whether I should just use one of my previous spreads again.  However, for me, creativity suggests something new, something a bit different, challenging ourselves in some way.

While writing the post for TABI’s contribution to this Blog Hop, I was reminded of a technique suggested by Lyn Olds at last year’s UK Tarot Conference.  And so, I decided to do a very simple spread, but with a bit of a difference.

You could do this as a two-card draw, answering: 1) What in my life needs healing?  2)  What creative answer will help with that healing?  However, I approached it from another angle.  Having picked a deck to work with - the lovely Wildwood Tarot (Connections, 2011) - I drew one card face down to respond to the first question, and three cards as my answer to the second.  Before looking at the first card, though, I turned over the three “answer” cards, and created a sketch based on the elements from each which jumped out at me.  Only after the sketch was done did I turn over the first card to discover what my “answer” was about.

Looking at what in my life needs healing, my card was Balance (Temperance).  The three cards I drew as the creative answer to help with healing were the Two of Bows, the Guardian (Devil), and the Archer (Chariot).

How to interpret all of this?  Well, I see the Balance card saying that what needs healing right now is the fact that my thoughts are currently all tangled, strangling the life and growth potential in me.  Two conflicting aspects vye for control, and I’m weighed down trying to figure out how to balance them. 

This speaks to me on a couple of levels, but I’ll stick with just one here.  I see the two dragons as my two children, one who is six, and one who is due in about six weeks.  My first son is severely disabled due to brain damage suffered during an infection when he was first born.  When he was just seven months old, we tried some stem cell therapy for him.  There is no way to prove whether or not it helped, but he is doing far better than his initial prognosis suggested.  So, we have been considering whether we should try giving him another treatment.  With a second baby on the way, the possibility of harvesting stem cells from the umbilical cord of this second child came up.

However, recent research suggests that it is helpful for a child if you delay clamping the cord, so that those stem cells flow into the newborn, having been pushed back by the pressure of coming through the birth canal.  They have the potential to give the new child an extra boost to their immune system, and their early growth and development. 

So, now I have the problem: do I harvest the stem cells for my first child, who might benefit from stem cell therapy, or do I leave them for my second child, to give him the best possible start in life?  There is also the possibility that I could delay clamping the cord by just a little while, trying to let some of the stem cells flow to number two, but keeping some for harvesting for number one...

Sketch from the 3 cards drawn
Turning to the answer sketch, the motif of two returns with the two dogs I placed in the opening to a dark cave.  These are the two children who have come from inside me, whose spirits have come from the void.  A creative fire rises above them, lighting the way out of the darkness.

As for the Archer, she stands a little way down the hill, on a grassy bank.  This tells me I need to stay in tune with nature, with the natural order of things.  Also, that I need to focus, be determined, and follow through.  Allowing myself to be distracted by lots of factors will just make me miss my aim, and not achieve anything.

I think this says that I shouldn't focus on one or the other, but go with what is most natural, and turn my focus elsewhere for a solution.  So, I should let Number Two have what is his due, and find another solution for my first child.  And in the meantime, I need to have my goal clearly in sight - giving birth to a healthy baby - rather than worrying about maybe's and possibilities related to other things.

This technique of drawing a sketch based on the cards is a fun way to approach the cards.  I might have come to a similar conclusion just interpreting the cards the regular way: Two of Bows, a choice to be made; the Guardian, protecting what is natural, not being tempted into anything that I might regret; the Archer, being focused and determined, reigning in disparate ideas.  Or I might not...

I'd love to hear if you give this reading technique a try, and please feel free to post a link if you blog or post a sketch!


Lady Luck

This week, we're off to Australia with a colourful, self-published deck: the Bonefire Tarot (Gabrielle West, 2013).

And for the third week in a row, the Star pops up: what a lovely sight!  In this version, there's a dark-haired woman at the centre.  She appears naked, though with her hair and lots of symbols around, there's not all that much skin on show: the metaphor of openness and vulnerability in a form only the most prudish could object to :D A large, eight-pointed star shines from her forehead, and she pours water from two green bottles.  There are a number of other symbols around her: a four-leaf clover; a horseshoe; a pair of crossed and burning bones (the emblem of this deck, also found on the backs); a burning purple Y (not sure what that one is); a goldfish; seven more stars; colourful bunting; and a strange, red, tentacley thing (if someone knows what that's about, I'd love to hear!)

Good luck is definitely suggested here, between the clover, the horseshoe and the goldfish.  And spiritual guidance is hinted at, too, with the Star at her third eye.  A day, then, for taking a chance, for appreciating the good fortune in our lives, and for paying attention to the hints and nudges the Universe may send our way.

It's nice to see this card again, as I also drew it to represent the energy I should embrace this month, and it came up as the outcome card in the reading I had with James Ricklef at the start of the year.  Today, I am attending a conference on hypnotherapy for childbirth.  It counts as Continuing Professional Development for my psychotherapy work, as well as giving me a different perspective on what I've already been working on at a personal level, in preparation for my second child's birth in about 6 weeks.  I see this card saying that this is going to be a guiding light for me, helping me to relax and feel more hopeful that the outcome this time will be happier than the last.

I am grateful for hope.

P.S.  Today is Imbolc or Candlemass, so there will be an extra post at 3pm GMT as part of the Tarot Blog Hop.