Friday, 30 January 2015

Women's Tarot Overview

The Women's Tarot (AGMüller, 2006) uses the art of Peter Engelhardt, collaged into cards.  And while his art is very beautiful, in soft tones and with a zen-like, spiritual feel, overall this deck doesn't really do it for me.  It's not the semi-illustrated pips as such, that's something I quite enjoy.  The issue is more with the way the collages have been done, and the fact that the same or similar images are used so much.

Looking at the Hanged Man (and why didn't they rename that, given it's clearly a woman?), we have a woman hanging with her hair forming a sea beneath her.  Above her, there is a crescent moon in the sky, and an orange fram around her that might be the frame she hangs from.  I'm unsure whether the lines from her breasts to her genitals are supposed to indicate lines of energy, blood, or some kind of kinky chain.  Far clearer, though, is her peaceful expression and posture.  And I like her nudity and her exposedness.  It feels like it's saying that through this sacrifice, this willingness to be in limbo, she becomes very fertile, filled with ideas and the ability to manifest them.

The Page of Wands echoes the King of Wands which we saw on Monday.  He is bluer, less filled with light, less dynamic, which is appropriate.  The wavy line descending from his heart (or is it rising from the earth) is less wide, less energetic.  I'm not sure how much this image says Page of Wands to me, but it does have clues enough, if you look for them.  Though once again, from the colour scheme, I would have been more likely to guess Page of Cups...

Turning to the Aces,we have the Ace of Pentacles, with a naked though cloaked woman.  Her hips are broad, and her cloak falls around her like a dark night, echoed in the star-filled sky above her.  One of those stars is in fact a pentacle.  As the seed of the suit associated with earth, the colouring does work for me.  Afterall, seeds grow in the dark depths of the soil, before emerging as shoots.  And the woman seems fertile with possibility, her cloak could equally be the dark folds of the earth, lined with blue rivers to feed those seeds.

As for the semi-illustrated pips, the card I drew here is the Three of Swords.  A heart is hemmed in on all sides by swords, rather than being pierced by them.  While there may not be that same sense of being cut to the heart, the feeling of constriction is still quite a strong image.  The fact that the swords form the alchemical sign for water could either be seen as a negative, or as suggesting the emotions which are caused by painful thoughts...

While I feel fairly comfortable reading with this deck, I will admit to being disappointed with it overall.  As another reviewer also mentioned, there are far too many "spiritual faces".  Here are a selection of just six that seem almost identical, but there were at least as many similar if slightly different ones I could have chosen.

On top of that, some faces and figures are quite literally repeated.  The face on the Nine of Pentacles shows up again as the Queen of Pentacles, and the face on the Ace of Cups is joined by another on the Ten of Cups (both perhaps understandable progressions).  Less clear is the Hierophant also being the King of Pentacles!  Then, there's the fact that the same pair appear on the Ten of Pentacles, the Six of Swords and the Lovers, and another little pair appear on the Six of Cups and the Four of Wands.

So, while this is a quite beautiful deck, these niggles will definitely prevent it from becoming a favourite.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Women's Tarot Reading

This week's deck is another female-centric one.  In every other regard, though, the Women's Tarot (AGMüller, 2006) is very different from the deck we saw last week.  The images are in soft, warm hues, the pips are semi-illustrated, and the whole thing is slightly zen.

Situation: Three of Cups

Two white lotus flowers float on violet waters, with a green border to the left.  A third white lotus flower sits within a larger, orange flower shape.  The third flower has an orange 'frame' around it, and a pale green, leafy background.

While I often see this card representing female friendships and support, in this image I also see the notion of a role model or mentor.  Advice, then, to look for support from someone with more experience this week.

Don't: King of Wands

In some ways, the colours make this a rather watery King of Wands.  Yet, the blues and violets surround his shining inner core.  As advice on what not to do, I get the message to not try to bust through emotional situations through sheer force of will, to not try to be in control of everything. 

Do: III - The Empress

Pregnant with possibility, drawing energy from the dark, from her depths, the Empress is full of potential.  She offers up the pearl of her creativity, sharing it with others, encouraging them to seek their own inner pearls.  The message I get is that this creativity comes from a place of emotion, and is nurtured with help, from the role model in the first card, and from spirit.

Overall, then, a week to seek guidance in order to express my creativity.  That Empress may also point to nurturing my boys, though the two aren't mutually exclusive.  It would do me good to be more creative in my play with them, too :)  Now, who could be my role model for that?

If you'd like to read some journal prompts based on these cards, click here

Friday, 23 January 2015

Gorgon's Tarot Overview

When Beth of Little Red Tarot first posted about the Gorgon's Tarot (Schiffer, 2014), she mentioned that her copy was from the first print run, and huge.  The second run is smaller, I believe.  However, when I went to buy the deck, the Book Depository through Amazon was offering it half price!  That was compared both to Amazon's price and Book Depository's price through their own website.  I thought "bargain!" and clickety-clicked. 

Turned out, I was getting the huge first edition.  And no matter what guys think, bigger is not always better ;)  I have fairly large hands, and can manage to shuffle most decks, even if they're big.  I even posted a video about riffing big decks.  However, these have totally defeated me!  Smooshing them around on the floor kind of works, but isn't a very effective means of shuffling. 

I did a deck randomisation process, laying the cards out in piles so you don't have two of the same suit or the same number together.  Which works, but is time consuming.  And given I rarely use large spreads and mostly fan my deck and choose  cards at random, I can live with it.  Still, if you have the choice, I'd go for the smaller size deck.

Anyhow, on to the cards!

Death has two skeletons standing silhouetted in a cave mouth, with their arms joined to reach for a star above them.  The moon rises behind them, full of potential, and a curled snake lifts its head, centred between them, like kundalini rising.  There are also two white cats sleeping peacefully to either side of them and each skeleton has a plant behind and to one side of them. 

This card demonstrates well the different perspective and yet clear symbolism of this deck.  The busy geometric patterns of the cave's floor and walls are also typical of the artwork and a good reason for the choice to stick to black-and-white images.  Can you imagine how psychedelic and cluttered this would look in colour?

The Knight of Pentacles sits astride her horse, facing left.  She looks secure, despite the lack of a saddle.  Her horse seems calm, and her Pentacle is simple, held close in her arms.  There is what might be a bull in a field in the background, and altogether the card has a very pastoral feel.  A quite easy to read, almost traditional Court card, despite the somewhat funky, zebra-striped trousers :)

On the Ace of Cups we have a large, black cup rising from wavy water.  A fish leaps out of the cup, and both a sun and moon hang in the sky above.  A white flower decorates the bottom edge of the card, adrift on the wave.  I see here emotions that make our soul leap, that endure day and night, that bring a touch of joy to our every moment and that help us withstand the ups and downs of life!  Of course, depending on the context, this could also indicate sentiments that confuse us, leaving us feeling adrift in a sea of ever changing emotions...

Turning to the pips, we have the Five of Wands.  Five women with wands in a field look more like they're dancing than fighting.  Then again, there are plenty of dance competitions, so that interpretation is still valid.  There are also two snakes watching from behind them: this could be a transformative situation.  And there is a somewhat tentative air to them: playful practice, perhaps?

Sorry it's wonky, round cards are hard to scan!
On Monday, Bev of By the Sycamore Tree commented about the number of fish in the cards I drew for my weekly reading.  That sent me off to check the deck out, and here are the results.  There are fish on twenty cards in total - all the Cups cards (at least as elements on the cups themselves, but often also in other places), and six other cards.  There are also cats on seventeen cards, dogs of nineteen cards, birds on thirteen cards, snakes on seventeen cards, and some cute rat-type creatures on fourteen cards.  I also spotted dragons, bulls, a lion, a wolf, a crocodile, a griffon, an eagle, a snail, a rabbit and several foxes.  A panoply of wildlife, both weird and wonderful!

All told, this is a beautiful, playful deck, full of interesting characters.  It is easy to read, yet with plenty of symbolism to dig into if you want.  And of course there are all the options of reading reversed or partially tilted images, given its circular nature.  A little tilt to the right could indicate a future focus or dynamism, a tilt to the left might show the past or an area where you're dragging your heals...

Monday, 19 January 2015

Gorgon's Tarot Reading

Beth of Little Red Tarot turned me on to this deck, created by a fellow Londoner, Delores Fitchie.  The Gorgon's Tarot (Schiffer, 2014) is a black-and-white, circular deck with touches of red on just two cards: the Devil and an extra card titled The Blind Gorgon.  The Gorgon is Delores herself, though I'm not sure where the nickname comes from...

Situation: XVIII - The Moon

A female figure stands in the sea, arms raised as though to draw down the moon.  Fishes swim around the sides of the card, emissaries of the depths.  They form a geometric pattern, and whether you see a dark or a light fish depends on how much/which part of the pattern you can see.  Similarly confusing, light pours down from the dark moon, in wavy, uneven lines.  Nothing is simple and straight!  How can anyone see clearly or trust their feelings under such circumstances?

A week of possible confusion, then, of emotions that may feel changeable and hard to grasp.  That makes a lot of sense, as we are waiting to hear about an emergency admission for my elder son.  Although it's a theoretically simple procedure, it is still stressful, and not knowing when it's going to happen doesn't help, either!

Don't: Two of Pentacles

A smiling woman in a simple, black one-piece sits on a column, with a pentacle balanced in each hand.  Unlike other depictions, these pentacles seem perfectly balanced, as does the woman, the fish leaping to either side of her, and the boats: one black with a white sail, the other white with a black sail.  Even the birds flying above are evenly spaced.  The only think that isn't in perfect balance is the cat in the foreground, and everyone knows cats are perfectly balanced within themselves, though contrary on the outside :D

As what not to do or expect, this card suggests to me that I not even try for balance under these circumstances, and certainly not expect simplicity!  I won't be able to balance work and family, I will have to just drop everything when the call comes through.  Still, that's why I decided not to go back to a regular work environment...

Do: Two of Swords

Here, the woman wears a dress with a complicated pattern of black and white diamonds.  She sits with her back to the waters behind her, and the two fish are in different postures and locations  The Moon above her has a calm face, with eyes wide and dark, while the woman's own eyes are bound.  She holds the two swords straight up, with her arms crossed over her heart.

This card speaks to me of sitting with uncertainty: holding different/opposing notions until that little voice of intuition, with the vision from the Moon, can make itself heard.  Sitting with not knowing, being in limbo, isn't easy.  Meditation can certainly help managing these situations, and although that's not an interpretation I normally see in this card, it makes sense here, both in terms of the image and the context.

To see jornal prompts based on these cards, click here.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Ellis Tarot Overview

The Ellis Tarot (self-published, 2013, 3rd edition 2015) is a very funky, colourful deck.  It follows traditional RWS notions, but rendered in an almost sci-fi manner.  And it reads beautifully!

Let's take a closer look.  Having said the deck is colourful, the Major I drew to illustrate this post is Justice, which is black-and-white.  This works very well, emphasising the kind of thinking that can often appear with this card. Justice is frequently seen as being about weighing things up, assessing them, deciding what's right or wrong.  And yet, realistically, things are never that simple, that one-dimensional.  Life is colourful and messy, and while we may want to find a clear answer, to achieve a perfect balance, it's never really possible.  Still, sometimes we have to act as though it were, making the best decision we can on the facts available. 

With the Queen of Cups, we return to full colour.  Her skin is bright blue, emphasising her connection to water, to emotion.  Yet, there are also some red highlights, she has passion, as well.  And look at her huge cup!  Certainly enough there for herself and her family or whomever she chooses to include in her domain.

The Aces in this deck are nicely clear and simple, and the suits also have a theme colour.  Interestingly, for Swords Taylor Ellis chose pink, not necessarily an obvious choice.  Yet, our thoughts often affect our sense of loving others or ourselves, so I think it works.  The dark bird on the sword's hilt speaks of the suit's element - air - and the thoughts and words or messages it is associated with. The jagged black shapes below seem like magma rock, and the pink background adds a touch of warmth.  The nicks on the blade are a nice touch: there is a price to pay for wielding our minds or words!

As for the Three of Swords, it retains the simplicity of RWS tradition.  Two of the swords have bird hilts, and the jagged black buildings/rocks look rather bleak.  The pink, though, brings a warmth to it that belies the dried blood  on the sword's blades.

In terms of cardstock, this deck is printed on plastic, which at first I was unsure about.  It does feel a little different than card.  However, it means the cards are sturdy even though thin, shuffle beautifully, and aren't overly glossy.  

Altogether, I'm much enamoured of this deck.  I like its playfulness, and the strangeness of the characters works like Steve's Silhouettes or like animal decks.  It opens up the potential meanings of the cards, allowing us to impute different emotions and motivations to them than a photo might. 

Monday, 12 January 2015

Ellis Tarot Reading

This week's deck, the Ellis Tarot (self-published, 2013), has been around for a couple of years and I can hardly believe I only just found it!  It's reminiscent of the Tarot of the Silicon Dawn, but in a more standard format: no extra cards or suits.  Created by Taylor Ellis, my copy is the Third Edition, just released.

Situation: Eight of Swords

This card is one I sometimes look to when deciding whether to get a deck.  And had I seen this version I would definitely have been persuaded!  The woman standing wrapped in spider's silk, with spider-handled swords lined up in front of her, seems strangely happy despite her bonds.  It looks almost as though she's playing cat's cradle with the spiderweb wrapped around her hands. 

This suggests two things to me.  Firstly, it's a reminder that these bonds are normally our own creations, no matter how restrictive or unbreakable they may seem.  Secondly, that we can still find joy and some space for playing even when we are bound by thoughts and expectations.

Certainly, I create the rod for my own back when it comes to my Little One.  At ten months old, not many babies are still partially breastfed, despite the World Health Organisation recommendations and the many scientific studies that show it reduces allergies and asthma, and improves overall health and IQ.  That he won't go to bed at night without me has less/no positives, and is clearly my own fault, but I believe he'll grow out of it (though I wish he'd hurry up about it!) Yet, I can still find some space for myself, and to enjoy life, if I try!

Don't: Ten of Rods

Somehow, I see this figure as a type of centaur.  However, I'm not sure whose the tail is....

The message not to take on too much is one I'm heading.  Already, I'm trying to reduce some of my commitments, and have turned down three meetings this week (two work, one social).  We're throwing Big Boy a birthday party at the weekend, for the first time (his birthday is at an awkward time, and with his special needs a party is rather more complicated than normal).  And my Dear One has an operation on Thursday, which will leave him partially incapacitated for a couple of weeks.  So, I figure I have more than enough on my plate already.

Do: Page of Pentacles

The boar gives me a feeling of strength and determination, and the figure seems likewise very earthy and grounded in her apparel, despite the alien appearance of her face.

A reminder here to focus on the physical this week.  I always work out, but haven't done any yoga for over a month because of my sinusitis following the flu (made downward dog very painful).  Perhaps it's time to go back to that practice...

For journal prompts based on these cards, click here.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Cat-Rot Overview

The Cat-Rot cards (Pookies World, 2014) is a cute, poker-sized deck.  Each card features Pookie, and as Bev pointed out in the comments on Monday's reading, this cheeky creature has some similarities to Simon's Cat :D  The cards are also populated by Pookies friends/minions, a variety of mice, hedgehogs and butterflies for the most part.

The cards can, for the most part, be associated to traditional tarot meanings.  However, sometimes it is a bit of a stretch.  This does open the cards up to broader interpretations, or you can just stick to your regular understandings, making it versatile in readings.

Take the Hierophant: a wise owl hangs from some bamboo, with Pookie holding a purple watering can to one side.  Is Pookie receiving the owl's wisdom?  Giving forth his own wisdom from that watering can the colour of the crown chakra and of spiritual wisdom?  Or perhaps being mentored in how to grow something, be it his faith, his passion or his business...

The Court cards, too, work quite nicely.  Here, we see the King of Wands looking quite regal, sat on a throne, with a hedgehog acting as fan wallah! Pookie wears a crown and holds an orb, symbols of leadership and taking a broad perspective, while the throne is red, colour of fire and dynamism, associated with the suit of Wands.

Some surprises in the Ace of Wands.  Why is Pookie upside down in a tree?  Could this be an unforeseen consequence of him grabbing an Ace of Wands opportunity with more energy than sense? :D

Likewise, the Seven of Wands with Pookie and two hedgehogs looking at melting icicles could be read as feeling on the defensive.  After all, the icicles could fall on him if he ventured under there, or else he could get wet from the melt-off - not a cat's favourite state.  Still, this could also be read as having to wait...

There is something so charming about this deck that I hardly mind the 'strangeness' of some of the imagery.  With one exception!  I'm totally flummoxed by the Knight of Cups and the Star!  Was this just a mistake?  The two are basically identical other than the colour of the butterflies.  And while I can relate this image to the Knight of Cups - seeing things from a strange, emotional perspective or getting himself into tricky emotional situations - I don't see the connection to the Star at all!

Monday, 5 January 2015

Cat-Rot Reading

Decks were all lining up to be the first to get a glimpse at 2015, but in the end I plumped for this über-cute cat deck: the Cat-Rot (Pookies World, 2014) by Maria van Bruggen.

Situation: Queen of Pentacles

Hmm, my first thought here is that, despite the school holidays being over, this week will still be quite focused on the kids.  However, the Queen of Pentacles is also about making good use of the resources you have, and focusing on creating something that is helpful and practical.  So, I shall try to make that my focus this week.  I have plenty of projects that have been on hold over the holidays, especially as we were all ill, so now we're feeling better, and Big Boy is back at school, I hope they can come back to the fore.

Don't: Five of Swords

While connections can be made to traditional meanings, this deck can also be read rather more intuitively.  So, in addition to the suggestion to not feel down about what you can't do (and others maybe can), I also see the message not to put all my eggs in one basket :D

Do: Four of Pentacles

This is a gentle, non-critical version of the Four of Pentacles, which can sometimes suggest clinging too tightly to the material.  Here, I see more the suggestion to give thanks for the gifts we receive, and to enjoy giving as much as receiving.  Certainly, I'm grateful for the gift of having a bit more time for work, and also for the gift that having family time also was.

It's funny, too, seeing Pookie all wrapped up in a bow, almost as though the cat is gifting itself.  Which reminds me, I'm starting up a weekly newsletter.  People who sign up for it will be the first to hear about what's going on with me and my exciting plans for the year!  There will also be special giveaways and discounts on those super-secret projects.  So, if you'd like to be in on everything, please sign up above.  I promise I won't send out endless emails or lots of ads, and it'll be a chance to have a more personal view into what's going on with Inner Whispers, the Celtic Lenormand and more...

For journal prompts based on this reading, click here.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Bohemian Gothic Tarot App Overview

Bohemian Gothic App
As a big fan of the Bohemian Gothic Tarot (Magic Realist Press, 2010), I was delighted when I heard it was being released in app form.  And at first glance, the app has much to recommend it.  The design values are outstanding, with beautiful and appropriate borders, fonts and decorative elements.  The quality of the images is also wonderful, and the app provides easy access to the full card descriptions from the original book.  These include lighter and darker aspects in bullet point form, as well as a deeper reading, questions to ponder, and for some cards also appropriate quotes from gothic writers such as Edgar Allan Poe.  It also has the complete book as a resource that you can read separately, including chapters on gothic archetypes, the spreads designed for the deck, and of course the cards.

Unfortunately, the app's functionality really lets the artwork, writing and design down.  There are no shuffle options, no reading cloths, and three very important elements make this an app I won't be using.  

The information is good
Firstly, the readings you can choose from are extremely limited.  In total, there are only six spreads, and they don't even include the Celtic Cross!  There are one card, three card, and five card general spreads, and then three further spreads specific to Magic Realist Press.  These include the Tarot of Prague “Threshold Spread”, and a Vampire Spread.  These spreads are also very narrow in their uses. For instance, the three card spread is rigidly defined as past-present-future, not allowing you to put your own spin on what the positions might represent.  

Secondly, there is no journal function whatsoever.  So, while you can save a reading, you have only the title and date to remind you what you were reading about, and no way within the app to write down your own thoughts.  Even the title only allows you about six words, so it’s a brief title!

Sadly, the spreads are not!
Finally, although there is an option to email the reading, it does so just with the spread position, the title of the card, and the app's keywords - no images!  While I understand that Magic Realist Press have had a lot of issues with copyright infringements, anyone getting the app can do screen shots to have access to the images.  Had they included images in the email readings, they could have done so with a copyright mark included.  Therefore, this achieves nothing besides making the app less appealing.  Added to that, the amount you can write into the email is also so limited that you can't even manage a single sentence about each card if you use one of the larger spreads!  Pointless!

Sadly, then, this one isn't worth the price, no matter how cheap!