Wednesday, 29 April 2015

My Magical Journey

My blog is moving!  I've updated my website to a mobile friendly version, and will now host the blog on my site. 

Please now bookmark for my regular blog posts.

And to read this post on my magical journey, click here.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Mucha Tarot Reading

This week, my reading is with a fairly new deck, the Mucha Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2015).  I'll be using it again next week, and reviewing it on Friday of that week, as this Friday there's a Tarot Blog Hop for Beltane.  There will also be an extra post this Wednesday, looking at the journey that brought me to magic.  For now, though, let's take a look at the cards.

Now: Justice

I'm not sure about this depiction of Justice.  She seems a bit too sensual and worldly.  Add to that the fact her sword is held at an angle, which symbolically speaks of biases rather than a pure connection to higher truth. 

Still, I take the message that it's a week for being fair, for looking at situations in an unbiased way and acting for the good of all.

Don't: Five of Wands

There's little playfulness in this image.  These men wear helmets, and look to be in a full-on battle!  I guess they could be training, but it's pretty hard core if so.

Looks like a week when battles are best avoided.  As Justice said, time to pull together for the good of all, rather than getting into backstabbing or infighting.

Do: The Lovers

This last card reinforces the message from the previous two.  A man and woman cuddle close, presided over by an angel with arms outstretched above them, as though blessing them.  The woman's breasts are naked, making her seem more open and willing to expose herself.

Allowing some vulnerability and being willing to find ways to get closer to others, rather than competing, seems to be the overall recommendation from this reading.  I'll try to keep that in mind this week!

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

Friday, 24 April 2015

Ancestral Path Overview

As mentioned on Monday, the Ancestral Path Tarot (US Games, 1996 and 2014) was the second deck I ever bought.  I was entranced by the artwork and enticed by the multi-cultural theme. 

Within the Majors, there is a broad mix of cultures represented.  A beautiful African woman tames a lion in Strength.  A modern blonde (based on Tracey Hoover, who wrote the companion book) reads tarot cards at a table in the Fool card. A Roman warrior rides his Chariot, while a shaman in a Paleolithic cave wears ancient Egyptian robes as the Magician.

This cultural variety continues in a more structured way in the Minors.  The suits are named Staves (Wands), Cups, Swords and Sacred Circles (Pentacles).  Each set of pips from Ten down to Ace explores a different cultural myth. 

So, Staves look at the Egyptian Book of the Dead through the dynasty of Ramses II, while Cups explore the story of King Arthur through the eyes of Morgana Le Fay.  Swords take us to the samurai culture of Japan, and the tale of Repunnot-un-Kur, who dreamed of the breakdown of traditional feudal society and tried to do something about it.  Finally, the Sacred Circles lead us through the Native American Winnebago Medicine Song.

Due to this structure, the cards aren't always totally traditional in meaning.  Still, they largely follow the RWS meanings. 

Taking a closer look at some of the cards, Death features an almost surprisingly beautiful image, which retains a feeling of discomfort.  While the setting sun creates a beautiful colour palette in the sky, an owl flies past, symbol of wisdom and also harbinger of death in many cultures. 

The dark, cloaked boatman with his black-sailed vessel harks back to the ancient stories of the River Styx, as well as many more cultures.  In Arthurian Britain, a corpse would be set adrift in a burning boat, and in Native American culture, too, there is a boatman who transports souls to the Afterworld.  All these tales speak of death as a transition, rather than an ending.

In the foreground, a child explores the eye socket of a skull, a first introduction to mortality.  Yet the reminder that death and life are intertwined is not only represented through youth and bare bones, but also in the fungi growing from a rotting tree's remains, and the roses that bloom in a graveyard, fed by the bodies of those buried there.

Moving on to the Court cards, these echo the cultures of their suit.  The titles are Princess, Prince, Queen and King.  In all but the suit of Cups, they are images of deities.  The Staves court, for example, is made up of Nepthys, Horus, Isis and Osiris.  The Cups, on the other hand, represent Morgana, Lancelot, Gwenhyfar, and Arthur. 

And here in the King of Swords we have Izanagi, a Japanese creator deity.  He towers above the sea of chaos, which he churns with his lance to create form: the islands of Japan.  Included in his meanings are: 'the ability to envision and then manifest those visions... action following thinking and planning.'

The Aces are traditional in their depiction of each suit's 'object' in the foreground.  However, they also offer a culturally appropriate background: a pyramid, for instance, in the Ace of Wands.  And this Ace of Sacred Circles shows a medicine drum in red, blue and yellow, with black around the outside, the traditional colours of the quarters in Native American thought.  There is also a bison and a medicine drum in the snowy landscape, all nods to the culture around which this suit's story arc is based.  I love the Sacred Circle as a representation of Pentacle energy, highlighting both the physical and the spiritual in this suit which speaks to the healing of body and soul!

Finally, we have the Seven of Staves, where a figure enters a temple, loomed over by statuary of the Gods.  Here, then, it is not other people attacking us, but what we can do about it - seeking strength from spirit, or to bolster our own spirit, and also seeking insight to see what part of the problem may be of our own making.

Altogther, I continue to love this deck, all these years on.  It is beautiful, vibrant, and multi-cultural, and speaks to me on so many levels.  It is absolutely practical, and also deeply spiritual.  And as it has been re-released, it is now once again easy to find.  So, what are you waiting for? ;)

Monday, 20 April 2015

Ancestral Path Tarot Reading

This week, it's back to tarot, and the second deck I ever bought!  The Ancestral Path Tarot (1996) was Julie Cuccia-Watts' first deck, and has recently been reissued by US Games (2014).  It is a stunningly beautiful deck, with a multi-cultural approach.  More details in the overview on Friday...

Now: The Chariot

Doesn't this guy look like he's in charge of his own destiny?  His red cape billows out around him, full of passion and power, as he rides through the starry night, pulled by a dark and a light lion.  No chasing after toddlers in dirty nappies for him! :D

Okay, with the Easter holidays over, it's time to get back to choosing my own path, rather than focusing on the kids

Don't: Five of Swords

According to the companion book by Tracey Hoover, this young samurai is performing a fishing ceremony.  However, the same paragraph describes him as sitting with two swords balanced behind him, so we can perhaps ignore that.  Still, I quite like her suggestion that this can indicate youthful idealism... 

Overall, in the image, I still see someone holding swords while others lie discarded on the floor.  A samurai would never willingly be parted from his sword.  And so, without any other figures here, we still have the traditional suggestion of defeat and humiliation.

Yet, losing a sword, or an ideal, isn't really the end of the world.  So long as we carry on, things can be regained and we can create new ideals.  The message I get is "Don't let small setbacks knock you off your Chariot!"

Do: Seven of Cups

Once again, this card has a slightly different emphasis.  We see Morgana Le Fey and her brother King Arthur.  She is using these cups for scrying, seeing all that will befall Arthur.  Yet, how can he tell if these visions are real, if there is any way around them?

As someone who believes that we have some ability to affect reality, to me this joins up with the traditional meaning to assess your choices wisely.  Things are not always as they seem.  It's necessary to look more deeply to see if something is as good as it seems.  Contemplating a couple of important business decisions, this makes a lot of sense to me!

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

Friday, 17 April 2015

Wings of Change Courts

Everyone who reads Lenormand has their own take on whether or not they want playing card inserts on their cards.  While I recognise the usefulness of having another layer of symbolism to add to interpretations, I prefer cards that are pretty and where the artwork is the focus.

Still, in the decks I've created I always include the playing card associations on the cards in some way.  And with the Wings of Change Lenormand (self-published, 2015), I planned in another level of symbolism for the Court cards. 

One of the design concepts for these cards, because of the faery theme, was that each card included a faery creature on it, while still making the 'subject' of the card clear.  So, for the Court cards there is always a person on the card who can be taken as the playing card Court.  Seeing which way they are facing can add extra depth to a reading.  For instance, if the Queen of Hearts is facing away from the rest of the spread, perhaps there is a level of disinterest or emotional blindness there...

In this example, with three Courts, we might say that progress away from a negative situation , addiction or an argumentative relationship, comes through moving towards greater harmony.  The advice from the directionality of the Courts links closely with the interpretation - the Queen of Hearts (Stork) faces the King of Spades (Lily) and away from the Jack of Clubs (Birch Rods).   You could also note that the King of Spades on the Lily card does not look to either side, he focuses inward, on the present moment.  That is good advice if you are trying to find a more harmonious way of responding to something!

Another example, with just one Court card, shows Book, Fish and Anchor.  Getting into the flow of research might be feeling like hard work.  Perhaps we could look to the playing card association for some suggestions.  The King of Diamonds (Fish) is facing towards the Book and away from the Anchor.  A need to focus on the joy of what can be learned, or perhaps its financial benefits, rather than on how much time and effort it will take :)

Another aspect of the fae on the Court cards is that I therefore made the Kings and Jacks male fae.  In a spread, they can be spotted quickly, acting as a reminder of the 'person' interpretations, as well as giving the additional playing card and directional symbolism.  For instance, the House is associated with the King of Hearts, and can represent a father-figure, a househusband, or a man who's handy to have around the house :)

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Artist's Perspective

Elisabeth Arena, the artist who created the illustrations for the Wings of Change Lenormand (self-published, 2015), recently blogged about the experience from her perspective.  For anyone interested in the technical details behind these images (type of paint and sketch pad used), or just a different viewpoint on the creative process, it's an interesting read :)

Elisabeth has also started posted some videos on how to create specific projects, such as an art tag.  So, this is definitely a blog to follow if you're interested in making your own art!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Wings of Change Lenormand Reading

This week, I'll be using the Wings of Change Lenormand (self-published, 2015), which is now open for pre-orders and will start shipping at the end of this week.  In this deck there are two versions of the Man and Woman to choose between.  There are also four elemental cards: Air, Fire, Water and Earth, one of which came up in this throw.

If you're interested in seeing more of these cards, I've posted a slideshow with all the images here.

For this week, I see the suggestion that energetic action (Man/Sun) will bring the gift of flow (Bouquet/Water).  Talking about hidden uncertainty (Clouds/Book/Birds) will help move things forward at an emotional level (Heart/Stork).

So, once again it's a week for action, and especially for enjoying that feeling of flow when you get so immersed in an activity that you lose track of time.  Still, there needs to be communication - no holing up in front of my computer, otherwise any problems will only get worse.  I need to stay emotionally open, and make sure I communicate with my partner about why I'm doing things (Man/Birds/Sun).  And communication may be part of what feels like a gift, opening things up emotionally (Bouquet/Birds/Water).  It's no good just learning about things, if I don't share that learning in a heartfelt way (Book/Birds/Heart).

This makes me think about the Learn Lenormand training course I'm working on.  For me, teaching people how to read the cards is about offering another tool for emotional understanding of what is going on in our lives.  So, I'll definitely try to make some time for that this week :)

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

Friday, 10 April 2015

Romantic Tarot Overview

The Romantic Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2015) is another in the line of 'artistic' decks.  The artwork is quite lovely, and the deck is fairly readable, so long as you either use your own set meanings or are willing to take a non-traditional, intuitive approach to the cards.  It doesn't obviously follow traditional RWS concepts, and even where these can be read into the cards, it's sometimes a stretch.  Not great as a beginner's deck, therefore.

The card stock is a little thicker than older Lo Scarabeo decks: seems to be something new they are doing this year, as the same is true of the Mucha Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2015).  Still, it shuffles easily and well, and feels durable.

As for the cards, I went through the deck looking for cards I was especially taken with, or particularly surprised by (not always pleasantly).  There were a lot more in the latter category.  

The suit of Pentacles, in particular, seems very far from traditional interpretations.  Perhaps because the practical, hard-working Pentacles weren't seen as particularly romantic?  Still, it makes these cards more challenging/interesting to read.  For instance, there are two children on a hay wagon in the Two of Pentacles, in a card that seems more reminiscent of the feel of the Six of Cups.

However, it isn't only the Pentacles that are discombobulating.  The Two of Swords shows a stone heart with two swords piercing it and a red sash!  The Three of Swords, meanwhile, shows a man lying bleeding on the floor, with a woman leaning over him, upset, and another man just behind them. 

Not all the cards are odd in this way.  I rather like this Hierophant, for instance, with a priest speaking from an ornately decorated pulpit, and holding a flower in his hand.  Not sure if it's a lily...

The Knight of Cups is a good representation of the Courts.  They are easily distinguishable, and mostly quite close to traditiona notions, though with less pomp and more Venetian masked-ball to them.  The only exception is the Pages.  Although they are clear and have appropriate symbolism, they all seem rather old to be pages, sporting moustaches and beards in most cases!

Another thing I quite like about this deck is the way it has very consciously gone for an architectural, Venetian feel.  There is far less of nature than in many decks, the RWS included.  While I love nature decks, this makes an interesting change.  So, for instance, the Ace of Cups is a fountain within an enclosure.  There is still the symbolism of overflowing water, and even the dove descending from above.  And the gates in front are open, after all, love cannot flow freely unless our heart is open!

The Three of Pentacles fits more with the idea of work (or at least effort) than with teamwork.  Three women look on as a man tries to prove his strength, or perform a feat of magic.  I'm left unsure whether his hat and shirt are thrown aside because of the heat of his exertions, or to create a better spectacle.  It adds some interesting nuances to the concept of why we work and whether we work with others or to show off our own skills...

Some interesting cards, then, and a deck that opens to intuitive reading.  It won't be a deck for everyone, and those who generally don't get on with Lo Scarabeo decks are unlikely to find anything of appeal, yet if you like the artwork...

Monday, 6 April 2015

Romantic Tarot Reading

Lo Scarabeo are renowned, or perhaps infamous, for their "art" decks.  This deck, the Romantic Tarot (2015) falls in that category.  Let's see how it reads...

Now: Strength

A man uses a combination of (some) logic and (mostly) strength to try to move a statue of the traditional lady and lion.  On the wall behind, there is also a picture of a Marseille-style Strength.

This seems to suggest I may not be achieving an adequate balance between animal drive and a gentler approach.  One thing I see here are concerns I have over discipline.  With my Little One, if he does something I don't like, I tend to pick him up to move him away from the source of contention.  While this may work like a time out, perhaps I could find a way that doesn't require me to heft his ever-increasing weight quite so often...

Don't: Nine of Cups

All the Cups cards in this deck show people with masks.  It's an interesting idea, as I would normally attribute masks to Swords.  Cups, after all, are often happy to express their emotions rather than hide them.  And yet, this acts as a reminder that even emotional outbursts can be used to disguise other issues or feelings.

A man grins under his mask as he embraces a woman from behind.  She looks somewhat less than impressed.  Before them on the balustrade of a balcony, pigeons flit down to drink from an array of cups.

The message I get here is not to take things or people for granted.  While I may wish for people to act a certain way, that doesn't mean I'll get my wish.  My Little One won't suddenly know and do the things I'm trying to socialise him into.  And my Dear One won't always be around to help.  He's going away for three days to visit with friends.  So, I'll appreciate the time he is here, and recognise that sometimes you have to put up with less-than-ideal situations.

Do: The Fool

Updated with thanks to Steve at Tiferet Tarot for pointing out that I misread the card title *doh*

A romantic dandy stands with hat in hand, came over his arm, looking smart but for the bouquet of flowers stalks up on his head.  He stands on a small table, with a teapot and cup.  Yet, this seems to be held aloft by a flock of doves.  He even has one foot resting in mid-air, on the back of a dove.  Quite a feat!

This card tells me I will have to be spontaneous and open to what comes.  Hopefully, if I'm not too rigid in my thinking, I'll be able to find a good way to discipline the kids without relying on the strength of my back to carry them, or the strength of my Dear One.

Wish me luck this week!

For journal prompts based on these cards, click here.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Jösten's Lenormand Fortune Telling Cards Review

Unpacking the Box, and German/English versions of the book
As this week's reading was with the rune-like Tarot Disks (self-published, 2015), which only cover Majors, I decided to review something different.  This is a recently released kit: Lenormand Fortune-Telling Cards (Sterling, 2014), which includes a traditional Lenormand deck with verses, and a book by Harald Jösten, a well-known German author.  Both the verses and the book are in English.

The kit comes in a reasonably sturdy box, with an insert to hold the cards, and the book on top.  I was slightly disappointed to discover that this is a translation of Jösten's book Lenormand: Liebe, Glück, Erfolg (Königsfurt-Urania, 2006).  As such, the information is a little dated, mentioning the Game of Hope as the precursor to the Petit Lenormand system, without the more recent information about the Coffee Grounds cards.  Also, the book is quite brief, compared to his Die Symbol-Welt der Lenormand Karten (Königsfurt-Urania, 2008). 

Old-fashioned verses
Nevertheless, this would be a good starter kit for someone wanting to learn the Lenormand system.  The cards are clear, the verses give some insight into traditional, and near and far, interpretations, and the book gives good, basic information.  For each card, there is a section on the Traditional Meaning, and another on Modern Symbolism.  The latter includes more modern readings of each card, as well as suggestions for dream interpretation of the Lenormand symbols.

There is then a catchphrase for each card alongside a scan that shows the image and verse.  A few questions are posed as thinking points, and then there are brief suggestions titled Tip (general advice), and Love, Luck and Success, with more specific advice for interpreting the card in relationship, money and work contexts.

Although the Grand Tableau is mentioned, the book simply shows the layout and says to read the cards around the Man or Woman, depending on the querent's gender.  There are also brief descriptions of how to use the cards drawing a daily card, a line of three, a simple cross and a line of seven, with short, sample readings.

Altogether, it's a solid starter kit, and an interesting insight for English readers into both traditional and modern ways the cards are read following a version of the German approach.