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 :)