Friday, 27 February 2015

Tarot Polski Overview

As I said on Monday, the Tarot Polski is sadly OOP.  Another downside to it is the non-illustrated pips, which many people struggle with.  I don't mind them, but definitely prefer something more visually stimulating.  I adore the semi-illustrated pips of decks like the Incidental Tarot and the Vision Quest Tarot.  No humans to push our emotional buttons or rub is the wrong way, yet plenty of symbolism and colour to make room for intuition and understanding.

Still, this deck has a lot of colour and charm in its favour.  Take the Tower, for instance.  The perspective is amazing, with a really powerful feel to the lightning and the fall.  And while we can't see the top of the Tower, we see clearly the King plunging downward, crown still on his head.  He's a florid man, big and brassy, which seems only to make his fall harder.  As the saying goes, 'The bigger they are, the harder they fall' and that's true of our fixed ideas, too.

A far calmer scene greets us in the King of Pentacles.  He sits calmly on his throne, his red robes spilling around him.  In one hand he holds an orb, representing his authority over the world, in the other a large golden coin decorated with a sphinx in the centre and astrological symbols around the edges.  Behind him are mountains: do they suggest spiritual heights, or just emphasise that his dominion stretches to the farthest reaches?  Certainly, you don't get much more solid and earthy than a mountain...  As with all the Minors, the top of the card has a yellow sky, and holds astrological symbols.

That same pattern is repeated on the Ace of Pentacles: golden sky and astrological symbols.  Below it we see the background found on all the Pentacle pips - dry and cracked earth - with the same golden coin with Sphinx and star sign symbols. 

We find the same basic structure on the Four of Cups, too.  The only variation is a blue, watery background beneath the yellow sky/astrology.  The Cups are laid out as though at the four cardinal points.  Not much to suggest ennui or the possibility of something new should we choose to open our eyes to it...

This deck has fun, colourful Majors and Courts, and added astrological information for those that can use it in their interpretations.  A workable deck, but not one I'll use much, because of the non-illustrated pips.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Wings of Change Lenormand Card Backs

Final card back
Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote!  It was excellent to get your feedback, and you overwhelmingly voted for the sepia butterfly eye back, shown here.

This was the back which, after I'd messed around with about 30 different variations and ideas (single butterflies, multiple butterflies, faery on a sky background, fire faery, and many more), my wonderful, artist friend Liz Arena, illustrator of the deck, created. 

Now, creating a back for the cards wasn't in our contract, but after I sent her through a couple of my variants to look at, she took pity on me.  She looked at other card backs from decks in her local esoteric store, and ones she could see on-line, and then thought about this deck we've been creating.  Here is her inspiration, in her own words:

Some of the other options
"Thinking about the concept, and looking through a lot of oracle and tarot card art, I thought the butterfly "eye" could take the center of what might usually be the psychic human eye.  I implied a compass to indicate the many directions of the future and added decorative corner elements that echo the shape of a butterfly's wings.  I added some texture and an aged feeling as well."

I think Liz did a beautiful job, and that this back will compliment the vibrant images on the card fronts.  Still waiting for the prototype deck to come through for proofing before sending off the final designs...

And if you want a look at what didn't make the grade, here are just a few of the card backs I created :D

Monday, 23 February 2015

Tarot Polski Reading

This week's deck is one from Poland, not easily available, I'm afraid.  And bizarrely, I got my copy of the Tarot Polski via Canada!

Situation: Knight of Cups

Look at this guy with his congenial smile and his cup of wine held high.  He seems to call on us to eat, drink and be merry.  Though he's rather armoured up, perhaps some pleasant time will open him to his emotions a bit more.

Had a nasty argument with my Dear One at the weekend (Big Boy sick, Little One up ridiculously early, so we were both tired and grumpy).  So, this week we need to spend some time re-finding the romance and saying loving things to one another.

Don't: III - The Empress

Don't you just love her up-do?  Princess Leia, eat your heart out!  This Empress highlights the nurturing aspect of the card, with one breast bared and on offer.  Though not many mothers can claim that dainty, narrow a waist after a couple of kids...

With Big Boy hopefully back at school, it's not a time to focus on the kids and motherhood. 

Do: Three of Cups

When I bought it, I didn't realise this was a non-illustrated pips deck.  Still, I'm fine with that.  Though I won't really use the astrological symbols offered at the top of each card, as my astrological knowledge just isn't up to it.

For me, this is the card of friendship and support.  So, advice for this week is to foster friendships, to seek and offer support. 

For journal prompts based on these cards, click here.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Universal Tarot Overview

The Universal Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2002) is a RWS clone, and a very pretty one.  The clothes worn have an elegant, Renaissance feel to them, and the artwork is accomplished.  As such, the deck is both attractive and easy to read, while still offering its own nuances. 

Take the Star: we have all the traditional elements of naked woman pouring water from two jugs, one into a pool, the other onto the ground.  Also the tree in the background with an ibis, and a large eight-pointed star with seven more, smaller stars about it. Even the shape formed by the stars echoes the RWS image exactly, as does her foot resting on top of the water, as though it were a solid surface.  

Mini Rider Waite
Yet there are differences.  The woman is slimmer and somewhat more buxom, the ripples from the water she pours into the pool have not yet spread across the whole surface, there are red and yellow flowers about her, and the mountain behind her is snow-capped, suggesting greater height than the brown peak of the RWS.  The jugs she holds are also more defined, with stripes around them, and the bird behind her is white instead of reddish brown. 

And so the card offers very traditional readings while still leaving room for a particular element to jump out and offer a slightly different reading.  The bird might highlight clarity in communication, or the mountain might speak of the breathlessness of spiritual heights that the Star is guiding us towards...

When we get to the Courts, there are a lot of differences.  In part, this is due to the different clothing, which is so often a part of interpretations.  For instance, the Queen of Cups strikes me as strange in a leopard-skin print cape.  It may actually be some kind of shell, but I can't clearly tell, and from a distance I just see leopard-skin, which feels more Queen of Wands to me.  And yet, that challenge to assumptions is always a good thing.  Does this suggest the Queen of Cups has a somewhat soft shell over her emotions?  And what of the fact that she doesn't have her feet in the water like the RWS version?  Is she more grounded or more distant from her emotions?  She still gazes into her cup, and has water all about her, yet there is also land in sight - she's not all at sea :)

The Aces are similar to the Majors, being far closer to traditional RWS imagery without many additions or changes.  Yet even here, if we choose to dig into the details, there is no W/M on the cup, and instead there are little faces where the bowl of the cup meets the stem.  We can see three faces, could these be the faces of the Goddess?

And our man in the Three of Wands stands behind a wall, instead of simply on a jut of land.  Is he trapped by the projects he has set in motion?  His foot rests on a stone: what will he trample to reach his goals?  He gazes out over the sea, but there are no ships on the horizon.  Will anything come of his actions?

I'm glad I was reminded of this deck.  It is sufficiently RWS to be easy to read, yet it does offer its own voice.  A good, workable deck!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Wings of Change Lenormand

As those who receive my newsletter already know, I've been working on another deck for the last year and a half.  Now, I've uploaded the images and am waiting for the prototype to make it back to me so I can check the brightness and colour contrast.  The last thing I need is a final decision on the card backs.  I'd love if you took a look at the shortlist and answered the one question survey to help me choose!

What is this deck all about, you might well ask?  It's a faery-themed Lenormand.  Faeries, after all, are both otherworldly and immensely practical.  They are nature-based, like much of the Lenormand imagery.  And while magical, they focus on everyday needs like a healthy environment, having enough to eat, and feeling safe.

When I asked the cards what I should say about them today, this was the answer I received:

Man, Coffin, Boat
Looks a bit gloomy, and there is a sadness in me that the active, creative part of this process is finished (Man/Coffin).  The cards have been completed, now it's all about waiting for the decks to arrive (languishing journey - Coffin/Boat), and then selling them.  While I love creating, I don't love selling.  Still, my plan is to be very laid back about that part, I'm in no rush...

Another thing I get from this reading is about actively (Man) embracing the nostalgia (Boat) of the ending (Coffin).  Looking back over the creative process, and sharing some of that. 

For example, does the image from the boat remind you of a particular film?  Here's one of the images I sent Liz, the artist who worked with me on this deck, as inspiration for the Boat :)


Monday, 16 February 2015

Universal Tarot Reading

Having been reminded of this deck recently, I was surprised to see I'd never blogged with it.  The Universal Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2002) is Lo Scarabeo's answer to the Rider Waite deck: a clone, but set in a different era, and with some nice, subtle variations.  Definitely a plug'n'play deck!

Situation: XX - Judgement

People rise from their coffins to head the trumpeting call of an angel.  This card asks me what calls to my soul right now?  It's something I've been asking of myself for a couple of weeks, and perhaps now I will find the answer...

Don't: King of Wands

Interesting, this is the second time in recent weeks I've had the King of Wands as what to avoid.  Coupled with the last card, I see a need for reflection rather than action.

Do: Seven of Wands

Viv of Kismet's Companion wrote an interesting exploration of this card for the last Tarot Blog Hop.  For myself, I often see the Seven's as being about internal conflict, with the Fives being more external conflict.  That, combined with the fact that we see wands but no-one wielding them leads me to see this card as feeling caught off guard, on the wrong foot, or feeling under attack when the judgements may be more our own than from others.  Like the way I sometimes expect someone to criticise what I'm doing and construct complicated counter arguments in my head, when the other person hasn't actually said a word.  I mean, look at all the armour that guy is wearing!

As the card for what to do this week, I think it counsels me to assess how much my reactions are triggered by my own judgements and assumptions.  If I am to truly follow my soul's calling, I need to focus on my desires, not on my fears and responses to perceived attacks.

To see journal prompts based on these cards, click on over to the TABI blog.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Japaridze Tarot Overview

With vibrant mixed media paintings and slightly oversized cards, the Japaridze Tarot (US Games, 2014) has a strange yet opulent feel to it.  While the cards rarely echo RWS imagery, traditional interpretations are there if you look for them. 

That isn't apparent at first sight on the Temperance card, showing several swings hanging down, two of them with blue women on them.  The companion book highlights their expressions - one blissful, one thoughtful - and the 'balancing' aspect.

As for the Court cards, they are also quite different.  For one thing, the Pages and Knights are renamed Jesters and Strangers.  Looking at the Jester of Winds, we have a child's legs poking out of a rather baroque red costume.  His face is painted like a clown, half hidden under his built-in jester's hat with bells on the ends.  I'm unsure what the object/s in his hands are...  Some kind of weird binoculars?  Curiosity, then, and a desire to see and analyse the world.  Speaking the truth is also there, though that would be an association for any jester!

The Aces are all simple and powerful: geometric shapes with elemental associations.  In the Ace of Fire, a yellow diamond holds billowing flames.  This cards work beautifully to express the seed energy of each suit.

Finally, the Nine of Gardens (Pentacles) is the most traditional of the bunch, showing an elegant lady in her garden.  She wears a fancy hat, and wafts a fan, which was once considered an art form requiring much practice and dedication.  I also love how her dress itself is so opulent: layers of varying fabric, bright with more flowers, strange with shapes and patterns and more.  And not only is there a flamingo on her shoulder, there is also a snake as part of the lower hem of her dress.  A lot to interpret there, should one so choose!

Altogether, it's probably not a plug'n'play kind of deck, but there is plenty to get your teeth into, and the art is amazing.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Japaridze Tarot Reading

Having pre-ordered the Japaridze Tarot (US Games, 2014), when it arrived shortly before Christmas I was too busy and too ill to do it justice.  Having seen it on quite a few other blogs, now, I decided I was ready.

Situation: Five of Winds (Swords)

The rider in the foreground is riding away, not only from the city in the distance, but also from the two other horsemen.  The traditional idea of humiliation or defeat can certainly be read here, though other intuitive readings of the image are definitely possible.  After all, he could also be a scout, ranging ahead of his friends, or someone in need of a bit of quiet time.  Or he could be leaving a situation behind, Eight of Cups style. 

And perhaps a blend of those might be useful to consider, this week.  After all, defeat is a state of mind rather than an absolute.  When feeling that kind of let down, some of those other readings may offer helpful suggestions.  Can I find a different perspective or something else to focus on?  Would finding some quiet time help me deal with my feelings?  Do I just need to let this situation go?

Don't: Two of Winds (Swords)

The first phrase that comes to mind here is 'neither fish nor fowl'!  This creature has strange horns that look almost more like wings.  At the centre of those, a face divided in two.  Beneath this monochrome element, a body equally divided: half blue and yellow snake; half jointed robot figure. 

How can such a mish-mash creature ever hope to wield its two tools in a united way?  The message I get is to stay clear and focused in one direction, rather than trying to please everyone, to be 'all things to all people'.  That rarely, if ever, works!

Do: Three of Gardens (Pentacles)

An artist at work doesn't immediately scream teamwork to me.  Yet, without the woman to paint, without someone to commission or buy his work, perhaps without another who makes the paints he uses, he would not survive. 

A reminder, then, that even in the midst of creative inspiration, when seemingly alone, I should remember my interconnectedness.  In the light of the situation card, this acts as a prompt to find some time to feel creative, and also to value the other people who make that possible.  Just as defeat is a state of mind, so too is feeling alone in it.  Giving thanks for the ways in which I am supported sounds like a very good antidote to both :)

To read journal prompts based on these cards, please click on over to TABI.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Wizard's Pet Tarot Overview

Pamela Steele's Wizard's Pet Tarot (self-published, 2014) is clearly a Rider Waite Smith clone.  However, it is a very fine one.  There is so much to like about this deck, I hardly know where to begin!

The card stock is lovely, with a lavish, material feel to it.  The cards themselves are playing card size, extremely easy to shuffle, and perfect for children, too.  The backs are reversible, with an outer blue border, a green knotwork border with purple inlay, and a central yellow/green/red knotwork tree image.  The card fronts are borderless and all the colours are rich and deep, without being CGI flat.  The set also comes in a sturdy box, with both a companion book and a colouring book :D

Turning to the cards, many of the Majors and all of the Courts have dragons on them, as illustrated here.  In the Devil, a yellow girl dragon with a pink bow and a red boy dragon with flames dancing behind him are held captive by the reverse-pentacle crowned Devil.  Their chains, as ever, are loose.

As for the Queen of Swords, I especially like the medusa-type figure on her throne, present but less obvious on the RWS version.  As for her painted red lips, they make me laugh, that bit of feminine vanity in a woman otherwise so clear-thinking and speaking.

Although I didn't draw a Knight, I had to mention them.  They all ride toy steeds of one kind or another: a rocking horse (Swords), a horse with wheels (Pentacles), a broomhead horse on a wand (Wands) and a horse-headed swim ring (Cups, of course!)  These are just so much fun, they are some of my favourite cards in the whole deck :D

As in this Ace of Pentacles, all the Aces show a dragon's hand holding the suit object.  Once again, the landscape is straight up RWS, but the bright red nail polish is a different matter :)

The Three of Swords has an interesting liquid effect where the swords enter the heart, and cute, sad-faced clouds.  I also love the clouds in the Two of Swords, where there is a bat shape forming a mouth and two little eyes, for a bit of spookiness.  RWS, but with that touch of playful whimsy...

I also really like that there is some cultural diversity shown.  While many of the humanoid figures have pointy elf ears, these elves seem like a cultural melting pot.  There are all kinds of skin tones, hair styles and facial features, suggestive of, at least, Native American, Indian subcontinent, Asian, Rom, Mexican and African descent.

Altogether, this is a vibrant, fun, extremely readable deck that would be highly appropriate for children of any age!

Monday, 2 February 2015

Oracular Anomalies Spread

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Welcome to another Tarot Blog Hop, where bloggers from all around the globe post different views of the same subject at the same time.  You can navigate your way around with the links at the top and bottom of this post.

This time around, our subject is oracular anomalies: those cards or decks that surprise us, and what we have learnt from them.  The most anomalous of tarots I have is definitely the Tarot of the Silicon Dawn (Lo Scarabeo, 2011), and so I thought I'd create a spread based on that deck and its anomalies.

Firstly, the elemental associations for the suits of Wands and Pentacles are swapped, as are the cards' content.  For instance, the Three of Wands is titled Work.  Secondly, each traditional suit has an additional card, the 99, where the suit's energy is taken to a ridiculous extreme. Thirdly, there is an extra suit, titled Void, with black cards where an image can only be seen in the light reflecting off varnish.  Fourthly, there are nine extra Majors, mostly variations such as five Fools, as well as a couple of other extra spiral cards.

So, here's the spread I designed based on those anomalies.  I'd lay it out in a spiral, if I could, to represent the spiralling nature of life, and the cardback of this deck.

1a) Where in my life are my assumptions challenged?
1b) What can I learn from this challenge?
2a) Where in my life are things being taken to an extreme?
2b) What can I learn from this extreme?
3a)What in my life is hidden or disguised?
3b) What can I learn from this?
4a) Where in my life do I have extra options?
4b) What can I learn from these options?

I decided to draw cards from the deck that inspired this spread, but it could equally be used with a non-anomalous oracle.  Try saying that five times fast! :D

99 of Wands and White Spiral
1a+b)  Challenged assumptions and lesson: 99 of Wands + White Spiral

Straight off, some of the extra cards in this deck come out to play, with a card from that anomalous, earthy suit of Wands.  The 99 of Wands is the extreme of earthiness, to the point where we have multiple earths as the planets themselves spawn. 

What I see here is my assumptions around having children, how each child really is a world unto themselves.  Of course, I expected differences between my children, one severely disabled, the other "normal".  However, I'm finding the reality still challenges me.  My normal baby is both so incredibly much easier, and yet in other ways very hard.  I didn't realise how much both of those would be true!

I expected him to be easier, but sometimes it's the really small things that catch me unawares - how easy it is to dress him, as his limbs aren't stiff.  And while I know every child has their own challenges, I often feel like a first-time mother, struggling with things like getting him to eat...

What I can learn from this is the White Spiral.  This card doesn't even have a description in the otherwise very fulsome book included in this Lo Scarabeo kit.  And you can't see the spiral on the scan, but it is there :)  One of the last readings I did with this deck a couple of years ago was about my disabled son, and I received the Black Spiral as a reminder that things would never be simple and clear with him (still very true, after an emergency hospital visit not two weeks back).  The White Spiral here feels like the reverse of a black hole, and speaks of the joyful expansion of our family, and of my heart, through having both these children.  While neither is easy, they are both so full of potential, and they both melt my heart with their smiles.  It may not be easy, but this card reminds me the difficulties are worth it!

9 of Swords and 5 of Cups
2a+b) Extremes and lesson: 9 of Swords and 5 of Cups

Ha  ha ha, okay, as the mother of a ten-month old baby who is teething and still breastfeeding, there is definitely extreme sleeplessness in my life!  And I'm probably stabbed in the back, in that regard, by my own ideas about good parenting.

As for the lesson to learn, one day I will be sad when these times, sleepless as they are, are over and my mother's milk has run dry.  Enjoy it while it lasts, exhaustion and all!

Chevalier of Wands and 99 of Swords
3a+b) What's hidden and lesson: Chevalier (Knight) of Wands and 99 of Swords

Funny that this guy is actually wearing camouflage, blending into his surroundings.  And while he seems tuned into his environment, I wonder how much he understands of himself?  What is disguised from me is how much I am this character.  

The Knight of Earth is generally a steadfast type, with plenty of stick-to-it-ness.  Not dashing or exciting, more plodding and reliable.  And really, a huge part of my life is like that.  There's my part-time day job, with lots of filing, accounting, legal documents, and a sense of making little difference to the outcome of anything.  Then there's my home life: making meals for the family, doing laundry by the ton, changing nappies (diapers for my American friends), wiping runny noses, preparing medicines (both boys were sick last week).  My elder son, in particular, with his complex health issues and severe disabilities, requires constant care.  

And so the lesson becomes clear: I hide from myself just how much this Knight's strengths are called for in my life, because otherwise I would feel totally overwhelmed.  Like the little girl facing that barrage of missiles, it's easier to focus on my red balloon, those things I do which feel exciting and fun.  The Tarot and Lenormand parts of my life, and the times when I play with my boys and see their smiles.

5 of Pentacles and Page of Cups
4a+b) Extra options and lesson: 5 of Pentacles (Wands) and Page of Cups

This Five of Pentacles image is confusing at first: it looks like a traditional Five of Pents with people outside the succour of a church, because of the shape of the doorway.  Looking closer, though, it's more Five of Wands-ish, with the woman in the foreground trying to escape the argument going on behind her.  So, when other people are fighting, I have the option to join in, to escape, or perhaps to find another solution.  Maybe I can try to think outside the box!

The lesson from the Page of Cups is that listening to my emotions will help me decide which way to go. And her openness to seeing the world as a glass half full will help me stay hopeful.  After all, it's only from a place of hope that we can see possibilities opening up. 

This reading reminded me just how much I like this anomalous deck.  Its quirks make me stop and think, and I also enjoyed the spread it inspired.  Anomalies offer us a whole new vista, challenging us to see things we don't always look at.  Thank you, Karen, for this excellent topic!

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Wizard's Pet Reading

This week's deck, the Wizard's Pet Tarot (self-published, 2014), is sweet and playful, but still with the depth you'd expect from the creator of the Steele Wizard Tarot (self-published, 2007). 

Situation: Page of Cups

A little blue dragon stands by the seashore and looks innocently at the goldfish splashing about in his cup.  A week for emotional openness, perhaps even vulnerability, and some self-reflection.

Don't: Queen of Cups

Another blue dragon, but more obviously feminine, she sits on her beachside throne and gazes at her own golden cup.  As the card for what to avoid this week, I am reminded of this Queen's less appealing characteristics: emotional manipulation and smothering.  Clearly, this week I need to give myself and others the room to explore my/their emotions without assumptions about what I or they 'should' feel.

Do: XIX - The Sun

This card is a lovely complement to the Page of Cups, also speaking of innocence and joy.  A tiny dragon seems freshly hatched, still carrying part of his eggshell around with him as he sits astride a white horse.  As a recommendation, it speaks to me of bringing beginner's mind to all that I do this week.  And of being open to finding the joy in every situation, rather than worrying about all the emotional ramifications.

To read journal prompts based on these cards, click here.

P.S.  Tonight at 10pm GMT there'll be an extra post, as part of the Imbolc Tarot Blog Hop...