Friday, 30 May 2014

Bright Idea Deck Overview

The Bright Idea Deck (Llewellyn, 2005) is a really fascinating set of cards.  It attempted to break into the mainstream by not calling itself a tarot, while maintaining the tarot's structure and ideas, and even having astrological glyphs on the cards.  Whether or not it achieved its aim is questionable, in light of its having been published by Llewellyn, a rather esoteric publishing house who let it go out of print fairly quickly.  And perhaps it was too much in-between, neither appealing to pure tarotists, nor achieving that mainstream acceptance.  However, it is a deck with a lot to recommend it, and many fascinating cards and insights, as well as a very good companion book.

Take the Devil card, titled Shadow.  A faceless, suited man sits in a dark cave, masks strewn around him and a mirror chained to his hand. We often put up a facade in the company of others - good mother, dedicated employee, helpful neighbour.  We may also show less "pretty" faces in public - angry protester, righteous believer, sad widow.  Yet often, people feel empty on the inside, and the hardest thing is to sit with our Self, to find who we really are in the privacy of our own being.  For me, this card can speak to more traditional ideas of consumerism and addiction - so often consequences of that empty feeling portrayed here.  And it also speaks to more philosophical questions such as: who am I?  Who do I want to be?

The Courts are also, as I mentioned on Monday, really fascinating.  Take this King of Wands, or Red Controlling - Direction.  The words tell one story, being able to take control of passion, enthusiasm and our desire to move forward with projects.  The image tells another, related, one.  That we may enjoy being out in front of a crowd, being a star, making strategic decisions, brazening our way through tough situations.  And we might also have a fear of being left out in the cold, alone and unoccupied.

In this deck, no special place is given to the Aces, which are simply numbered one.   And the images also don't distinguish them from other cards.  So, in this Yellow One (Ace of Swords), we have a man in a yellow jacket striding around a life-size chess board.  It's a good image: strategy and thought to the fore.  However, it doesn't have suggestions of truth or communication which might be ascribed to a regular Ace of Swords.

As for the Yellow Three card, I think it's a fabulous depiction of the Three of Swords.  Variance shows beautifully how it is our thoughts and expectations that cause us to feel downhearted.  After all, this person hasn't even tried the cake yet.  It might taste fantastic, but they are upset because it doesn't conform to their expectations.  So it is with heartache, often rooted in things not being the way we wanted.  If we were willing to accept what is without judgement, or let go of that which does not fulfil is without regret, we would live far happier lives.

These cards also highlight another feature of this deck: the coloured borders which are the only indication of the cards' suit.  Red for Intention and Action (Wands), Blue for Feelings and Emotions (Cups),Yellow for Decisions and Logic (Swords), Green for Practicality and Physicality (Pentacles), and Purple for Forces and Influences, titled Trumps (Majors).  Of course, these colours fit many traditional tarot systems of colour assignation, once again reinforcing the tarot-ness of this deck for any experienced tarot reader :)  They also make the emphasis of any reading clear at a glance, which can be useful.

The deck advertises itself as being for brainstorming and creative problem solving, and that's a nice additiona focus to the companion book, showing the practical side of tarot rather than the spiritual or psychological.  And yet, those elements are still there, if you want them.  Overall, I find this a great deck for work readings, or for sceptical professionals, though it can also be used for love or spiritual readings if you so choose.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Bright Ideas Deck BMS

Mark McElroy's Bright Idea Deck (Llewellyn, 2005) is purposely not titled a tarot, though it is one.  Aimed at the business market and people interested in self-development, but who may not appreciate spiritual symbolism, it is a fun and readable deck.

Body - 0 Freedom (The Fool)

There's a lovely mix of symbolism here: the cosmic egg from the Thoth, the dog from the RWS, a jester's wand, an hourglass, and an empty book.  Here we have the freedom to grow an idea, trusting our intuition, un pressured by time, with creative freedom and the encouragement to say or do what we really feel.

Last week, I went to a party where I saw a friend who now lives abroad, who I hadn't seen for nearly a year.  He poked me in the podge that currently bulges out at my waist, and asked me how the yoga was going.  Besides being a rude b***ard, he is right.  I've put on weight with being pregnant and now breastfeeding a new baby.  Partly, I know it's natural and common, and partly that when I start getting more sleep and having more time to exercise, things should improve.  Still, it's also true I've been eating badly, mainly after dinner when I'm tired. This card suggests making a creative new start, and I'm reminded how I started knitting after dinner a few years ago to keep my hands occupied.  So, I've cast-on a new project, and hope it'll help :)

Mind - Feeling of Water - Instinct (Queen of Cups)

One of the biggest changes to this deck is found in the Courts, as can be seen here.  This is a very practical approach to take with these cards that are often considered tricky.  Kings become Controlling, Queens become Feeling, Knights become Doing, and Pages become Learning.  So, the Queen of Cups is the Feeling of Feeling, in some ways.  The image is somewhat strange - a woman in skateboarding gear on a tightrope, and a guy in a business suit and blindfold in front of her on the wire.  Perhaps it says that, no matter what your situation, whether at work or play, you need to bring your intuition to the fore, to trust your sense of where you are going.  That can be supported by your rational take on things, but in the last instance the choice comes down to your intuition.

A friend recently said something about me being more "watery" than I think, because of my intuition.  Yet, sometimes I wonder how much intuition is to do with emotions, and how much to do with subconscious mental processes - we pick up on so many things without even realising that we do.  In any case, for this week the card seems to suggest that I trust my instincts, wherever they come from.  And perhaps apply my intuition to assessing my thoughts - is this real?  What does my gut say?

Spirit - Four of Water - Restlessness

I think this is a rather lovely depiction of the Four of Cups.  The little boy wants to go out into deep water, yet his mother first wants him to understand the dangers and what he can do to keep himself safe.  It's a balancing act, staying safe yet also following our heart.

I've been feeling a little restless like this.  I'd like to have more time to meditate, to read the cards, to chant.  Yet, I need to prioritise my little one right now, as he is utterly dependent on me.  So, perhaps I shall stay restless a little while longer...

Friday, 23 May 2014

Celtic Fairies Overview

I'm a fan of Mark McElroy's tarot work.  His Putting the Tarot to Work (Llewellyn, 2004) is both amusing and insightful.  Another book he wrote, What's In The Cards For You? (Llewellyn, 2005) is designed to "Test the Tarot", by seeing how you can most effectively use it.  Although I don't usually do predictive readings, it encourages you to scientifically test how good your predictive readings are, as well as trying out brainstorming and "wisdom" readings.

Anyhow, the Tarot of the Celtic Fairies (Lo Scarabeo, 2010) is probably the most esoteric of his decks, yet still with a very solid foundation in celtic mythology, and a large dose of insight.  I love that he provides questions for each card to deepen understanding.

Turning to the cards themselves, all provide sometimes unusual images, yet still based on traditional RWS notions.  For example, we have a clurichaun on a sheep for Temperance.  This lesser-known cousin of the leprechaun is a slight cheat, as Mark admits, being rather the reverse of Temperance.  These little fellows love strong drink and bawdy behaviour, and act as a dire warning, rather than a role model :D  Some of the interesting questions Mark comes up with include: "What are the extreme positions?  What is the middle position?  Where do I fall on this spectrum?" and "To what extent does your morality depend on guidance, rules, and punishments meted out by others?"

I find Mark's choices for the Court cards also very good - they certainly give plenty of material to work with, both in terms of the images and in terms of the "character".  This Knight of Stones (Pentacles) is working as a smith, a great depiction of the hardworking, dependable Knight.  Yet, he has wings, being a member of the fae, which also fits nicely with Knights being the Air aspect of their court.  As for his character, he is Gofannon, a smith of the Tylwyth Teg, who forges mighty weapons that bear his distinctive mark.  Mark's keywords are adequacy vs. craftsmanship, with the Knight of Pentacles encouraging us towards the latter.

The Ace of Cauldrons (Cups) is also a lovely card - a magical mix of light and water, with a cauldron that looks like a triple-headed gnome with his long noses as cauldron legs.  He looks totally at peace, and if we look to the bigger picture, there are sparkles in the water as though it's infused with magic, and the sun seems to rise from the mouth of the cauldron.  As for the pips, they once again bring a different feel to the cards, with a lot of charm.  In the Seven of Swords, we have a butter spirit sucking away the milk's goodness, so it can't turn to butter when churned.  This is the thief who steals our ideas, something intangible, but which makes all the difference.  So, does this mean no positive twists on this card?  One could also see it as someone who tastes from many different pots, learning from each :)

This deck is a lovely mix of unusual imagery and celtic fairy lore, with a good dose of insight and imagination.  It is certainly worth getting the book that accompanies the deck, and while not traditional, I'd say it is very easy to read with.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Celtic Fairies BMS

This week, I pulled out another deck that's been in my collection since it was first published, the Tarot of the Celtic Fairies (Lo Scarabeo, 2010).  I love the subject :D  And the author, Mark McElroy, has written some really great tarot books.  I loved his first tarot, too: the Bright Idea Deck (Llewellyn, 2005), though checking I realise I've never blogged with it, either!

Body - Nine of Spears (Wands)

Straight off, I see here Nuada Airgetlam, a King who lost hi arm and had it replaced with a silver one.  However, being "damaged" he was no longer considered fit to rule.  This seems to fit the Nine of Wands idea of pushing through tiredness or injury, though looking in the companion book the focus is on Dianceht, the healer who provides the replacement silver limb.

For me, it's not an injury as such that I see, but rather my baby and the fact I breastfeed him.  I have a business trip this week, and am not yet sure how it'll work out.  Will I have to miss chunks of the meetings, even though I can feed perfectly discreetly (I've got a great system, between discreet nursing tops and a large scarf tied with a brooch)?  Or can I convince others that breastfeeding is no reason for me to leave the room?  We'll see...

Mind - Three of Swords

What I saw here was the myth of the Twelve Wild Swans, which certainly involves some heaetache and much upset caused by false ideas.  However, the companion book cites the story of the fairy King Midar, who fell in love with a married human woman - doubly inappropriate!  He cast a spell on them both to become swans, so they could be together.  It didn't let them be themselves, though, so eventually he reversed the enchantment and bid his human love goodbye.

Certainly, I may regret not making the most of this business opportunity, but I think I've done all I can to work around the situation practically.  What remains, I guess, is thinking of how to persuade others of that...

Spirit - Eight of Cauldrons (Cups)

Here we have a brownie leaving the house where he has faithfully toiled because the woman has offered him clothing.  I guess having a naked fae doing the dishes could be a bit distracting ;)  The companion book says of this card that it's time to leave a situation where we are not being offered what we want.  Not that there's nothing on offer, just that it isn't what our heart desires at this time.

This feels pretty important to me.  I've been worrying about what these business contacts will think when the Celtic Lenormand is published, outing me as a weirdo cartomant.  This card reminds me that if they don't like who I am, it would be their loss if I left.  That I need to stay true to myself, else I will not be happy.  This is also true on a more immediate level: I believe breastfeeding is a good thing to do, and I know that I am discreet with it, so if they don't like it, that's also their problem.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Sacred India Tarot Overview

This deck, the Sacred India Tarot (Yogi Impressions, 2011), is both beautiful and interesting.  Even the packaging it arrived in shows wonderful attention to detail, as you can see in the collage to the side.  It comes with a regular paperback-sized companion book of 327 pages, in a cardboard box, with an image from one of the four extra cards as an insert to hold the deck itself, also in a tuck box.

The book is full of detailed information on the cards and their related stories, as well as on various concepts in Indian mythology and culture.  For example, there are about five pages devoted to the concept of karma.  Each suit follows a particular story: Disks (Pentacles) are The Life of Buddha; Lotuses (Cups) are The Union of Shiva and Parvati; Staves (Wands) are The Legend of Rama; and Arrows (Swords) are The Epic Battle of Mahabharata.

For each card there are suit and card kattva's, a "revelation" explaining the story of the mythological figure chosen, Light and Shadow sections for interpreting the card in a reading, notes on its karma type and quality, and an "Insight of the card".  Some cards, from both the Majors and Minors, also have an associated mantra.

So, the Lovers shows Kacha and Devyani, who were lesser deities, devas.  There was a rivalry between two groups of devas, and Kacha went to study with Devyani's father to learn the secret of resurrection so that his group could become immortal.  At one point, Kacha had to make some difficult choices, and it is largely for this that the myth was chosen, as both the Light and Shadow sections start with the works "Hard choices have to be made..."  The author also quotes the Katha Upanishad: "The good is one thing; the pleasant is another."

In an interesting twist, all the Pages are dual figures.  The Pages of Staves are the Ashwini Kumaras, twin hero-gods who heal karma and "hurtle through the cosmos in a dizzying effervescence of joy".  Thus, while not traditional in their imagery, certainly the concepts behind the cards connect with normal tarot notions.

The deck also has four additional cards: two versions each of Death and the World, and two additional "Blessings" cards: the Blessing of Babaji and the Blessing of Ganesha.

Altogether, the cards can be read according to traditional meanings, yet there is a lot of additional depth here.  The companion book makes for interesting reading, adding a lot of insights.  The artwork is wonderful, and the cards would also be excellent for meditation or pathworking.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Sacred India Tarot BMS

This week, I'll be reading with the Sacred India Tarot (Yogi Impressions, 2011).  This deck has colourful, detailed imagery, in what I think is a mix of pencils and water colours, or maybe water colour pencils.  It uses sacred Indian myths and deities to illustrate tarot archetypes.

Body - The Emperor

This quadruple-headed deity, Brahma, not only creates and brings order to the world.  He also has to take responsibility for the consequences, hence his need to see all around him.  Yet, he keeps creating, and reminds the beings he has created that they, too, have free will.  So, they must also take responsibility for their deeds.

The Emperor suggests to me that I need to be a bit more structured this week in my exercise and diet, and take responsibility for what I do.  Makes sense, as being away at the weekend I ate less healthily than normal.  So, I'll try to plan meals ahead, and perhaps workouts, too.

Mind - Queen of Pentacles

In this deck, the Queen of Pentacles is Hariti, a Queen with a superabundance of maternal and nurturing energy.  She had such a desire to mother, that she went around stealing other women's children - yikes.  For me, though, one of the aspects of the Queen of Pentacles is that she puts her material resources to good use, however great or small.  I think of her making a nice meal from leftovers, for instance.  As a card for the mind, it speaks of our thoughts around abundance, and using our resources strategically.

Thinking about how best to use the resources at my disposal fits well with  the Emperor's message.  Once again, planning meals and shopping is appropriate: I'd planned to set up an online shop for the week, but didn't get around to it with all the craziness of travelling.  So, better do that today!

Spirit - Two of Pentacles

This is a very unusual depiction for the Two of Pentacles!  It looks more like the Six of Pentacles, with the wealthy figure above and the paupers below.  It was chosen to show the "secluded youth" of Siddharta, the Buddha.  His father wanted to keep him away from all knowledge of poverty, sickness and death.  Yet, ultimately the Buddha turned away from this life of abundance and pleasure - finding a balance.

The companion book states that the insight of this card is: "Self-discipline and the ability to say "No!" are your best friends at this juncture."  That certainly fits with the previous cards - finding the strength to say no to the temptations of sloth and gluttony, and to embrace a better balance physically, which will also bring a greater spiritual balance to my week...

Friday, 9 May 2014

Sweet Twilight Overview

The Tarot of the Sweet Twilight (Lo Scarabeo, 2009) is a delightful, quirky deck.  It has a lot of reds and greens in it's palette, somewhat dulled, and yet vibrant.  The colours add to the surreal feel of the cards.  Although most cards can be read fairly traditionally, there is also a lot of detail and variety for more intuitive readings.

For instance, in this Wheel card, there is the traditional wheel, even labelled Wheel of Fortune.  And there are designs drawn on it, like on the wheels spun on game-shows.  Yet, there is also that tree, which seems to hold the wheel, and a little girl with bunny ears playing on the tree.  To me, this suggests that life is a crazy roundabout, but it's better to approach it with child-like innocence, no matter what the universe throws at us :)

The Queen of Cups has her traditional cup with a lid - very RWS.  And yet, once again, there is so much more to the card.  There are the flowers which are also constellations and the moon.  There is the mirror that reflects the back of her head and her crown: emotions reflecting our thoughts?  And there is the strange thing in her mouth.  Looking at it more closely, for the first time, I think it is a necklace of small shells.  Perhaps she is fiddling with it, chewing on it as she tries to get a handle on her feelings.  Or perhaps she is "tasting" the emotions.  Or maybe it could, in a given context, suggest emotional eating.  A wealth of interesting possibilities.

Looking at the Ace of Cups, it adds a rather grim element to a normally joyful card, with a skull on the chalice.  On the other hand, we could take this as an existential reminder of the brevity of life, and a call to not just dip our toes into the emotions of life, daydreaming about what could be.

The Eight of Pentacles has a school-girl element to her, and an incomplete pentacle on her cheek, suggesting the normal apprentice ideas.  Then again, she is lazing around, with a monkey behind her.  Focus on the practical, rather than letting the monkey mind distract you?  Get back to work, or the monkey will get you?  The pentacles are scattered all about: look at what is available to you, then work to achieve it?

I love this deck, with its unusual colouring and zany characters.  I feel it allows for quick and easy readings, but invites you in to play and explore, uncovering out-of-the-box interpretations.  Altogether, it's a jewel!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Tarot of the Sweet Twilight BMS

This week, I dug out another deck that's been in my collection since it first came out, the Tarot of the Sweet Twilight (Lo Scarabeo, 2009).  It's another that I can't believe I haven't blogged with before, a firm favourite that I have used a lot, both for myself and for clients.  Although not entirely traditional, I've always found it very readable and intuitive.

Body - King of Wands

Don't you just love this guy?  He looks like some kind of seventies icon, with his leafy, green hair, his little beard, and his rust-coloured clothing.  So full of charisma, he attracts pretty girls to twirl around him.  The King of passion, with those red hearts piling up in the background.  I guess you could see him as a heart-breaker, but more positively he is a natural leader, full of energy, who follows his heart.

I'm glad to see this card here, suggesting a renewed sense of energy and dynamism.  Perhaps, after having had a couple of naps at the weekend, I'll feel more energised to get on with some of those projects I was talking about last week!

Mind - Ten of Pentacles

Ha, this lady makes me think of Morticia from the Addams family.  It's not a bad comparision for the Ten of Pentacles.  After all, Morticia had a nice house and a supportive if somewhat crazy family where the generations mingled.  And inheritance was definitely something they took into consideration.  So, while the lady with a drama-queen pose and a bunny on the back stairs may not be traditional, it works for me.

I'm certainly thinking about family and the traits we've inherited from our ancestors this week, as I'll be standing as godmother to one of my cousin's children this weekend.  So, I'm looking forward to seeing family, even if we are all a mixed-up bunch.

Spirit - Knight of Pentacles

At first glance, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was the Knight of Cups, with his flying-fish steed, and the sea below.  Yet, there is a pentacle on his hat, and he looks longingly back to shore.  Being wary of new and emotional challenges fits with the Knight of Pentacles, and though this isn't how I'd normally see him, I still like this card.

To me, this card says not to try going off in a new direction spiritually, but to stick with the tried and tested, what works for me.  Keep It Simple, Sister :)

Friday, 2 May 2014

Neuzeit Tarot Overview

This deck, the "New Age" (Neuzeit) Tarot (AGMüller, 1982), is quite busy.  I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of the sometimes ugly artwork.  As for the LWB, it has some pretty unusual takes on the cards.  Still, I like it for the different perspective it offers.

For example, the Hermit is an interesting card.  There are several paths offered up to the his light, with what looks like tree roots behind him - maybe an intricate interlacing of potentials?  There is also an Esher-esque staircase off to one side, and a strange little dragon-creature at his feet, as well as an all-seeing eye floating above him.  Plenty of symbolism to suggest exploring inner paths, looking deeper, and gaining insight.

As for the unusual LWB offerings, a case in point is the Knight of Pentacles.  The "meaning in a reading" given is (roughly translated): "Financial support from your friends or from an institution.  Luck bei unexpected deals and trips."  Quite limited, but the card does offer quite a bit more: someone who works with money, deals with contracts and ledgers, feels pretty confident with finances, perhaps undeservedly (banking crisis, anyone?).

The Ace of Swords shows more of the bizarre, smiley faces we saw on Monday, this time in the sun and moon shining to either side of the upright sword.  I see it saying that the truth remains the same, no matter from which perspective we see it.

Another highly non-traditional card in the Six of Cups, with its grinning jester.  He holds a mirror over three cups, doubling their number and showing their contents: a wand, a pentacle and a sword.  So many possibiliies spring to mind.  Reflections of the past reminding us of our resources is one that would jibe with tradition.  Yet, there is also the need for a change in perspective; playing the fool; deception; poking fun at our own or other's emotions...

Definitely an interesting deck, then.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Beltane Blog Hop

Tarot de St Croix
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The Wheel turns, and once again Beltane is upon us.  Traditionally, this festival is associated with lovers committing to one another, if only for a year, and with bonfires and flowers.  Our wrangler for this hop, Aisling the Bard, challenged us to consider the "union of opposites" aspect of the Lovers card from the tarot in writing our posts.

As a double Gemini (rising and sun sign), I often experience that sense of having opposing forces battling it out inside of me.  So, it seemed like a good opportunity to try out a little spread to look at them.

1+2 - What opposing forces are playing out within me right now?
3 - What can I do to unite those forces?

Having taken a real shine to it, I asked Lisa de St Croix if she would mind me blogging a bit more with her deck (2013).  As she was willing, here goes:

1 - Four of Wands

On the one hand, I feel quite celebratory and energised.  My path ahead seems clear, and draws me forward with enthusiasm and delight.  In the last couple of months I have moved home and given birth to a wonderful, healthy baby boy.  Now, at least theoretically, I have lots of other things that I would like to charge ahead with: some in-house training videos, and an online Lenormand course, to name just two.

2 - Justice

On the other hand, I need to weigh up my priorities, and perhaps take a good long look at how things went in the past.  These plans are things that, based on how much work I put into my face-to-face teaching, require quite a lot of time and effort.  And children, likewise, are a fair bit of work, especially in the early days.  While my Little One is very good, as these things go, I'm still up several times every night feeding and changing him, and taking care of him occupies a lot of my "waking" time, too.  Lady Justice calls on me to be realistic, and prioritise appropriately, despite my Four of Wands enthusiasm.

3 - Nine of Cups

The main message I get from this card is to enjoy this time, enjoy my baby, and enjoy my inspiration.  I may not get as much done as that Four of Wands energy would like, but when I do get to work, I may be able to put more heart and soul into my plans.  I love those angels, pouring down their blessings into this woman's cup.  I need to give thanks for what I have, and soak in all the divine inspiration I can get, rather than feeling torn by trying to do everything at once.  The message here seems to be that taking things more slowly will pay off, both in terms of what I can put into each project, and the enjoyment I will get from life.

So, what opposing forces are playing out in you right now, and how can you draw them together most productively?  I'd love to hear how you get on if you try this out, too!

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