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.