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Saturday, 8 December 2012

'Weird Things in the Foreground Tarot': Wheel of the Year

If I'm going to blog with The Wheel of the Year Tarot (LoScarabeo, 2011) all week -- which I think I will -- I have to get something off my chest first. There are 8 cards in this deck that very nearly spoil it for me. All of them have 'weird things in the foreground'--so let's just have a look at them and see if we can figure out why. The LWB that comes with the deck sheds no light whatsoever.

I bought this deck in October 2012 at the UK Tarot Conference on a whim. I knew I didn't particularly like the artwork, as LoScarabeo art generally doesn't appeal to me. There's a 'saminess' to their decks that grates on me. But I also knew it was colorful as a big bowl of pastel Smarties, and was promoted as being a seasonal tarot with strong RWS associations. So I bought it. From the beginning the borders bothered me, with their multi-lingual titles. Something about the borders made the already cheesy artwork seem even cheesier. For that reason, I haven't had it out of the box much. And then the second reason are those Weird Things in the Foreground cards. Let's take a look:

Wheel of Year, LS 2011
(You'll notice I've cropped the borders off the deck. I am considering writing the numbers on with a metallic paint pen.)
Clockwise from left we have 2 of Coins, 2 of Wands, 3 of Cups and 9 of Cups. See what I mean? Why are there giant weird things in the foreground in these cards? A walnut, a bean, a newly hatched chick and a ladybug (or ladybird, if you're British). It's so weird and out of proportion, it nearly puts me off the whole deck. I've done a bit of research to see where the thinking may lie here, hoping there's some symbolic significance.

Because it looks like a brain, the walnut is often associated with thinking and logic. It is also a hard shell surrounding a small treasure. Jung says a walnut may symbolize an attempt to solve a hard problem where something valuable is at stake (but he also says it is more likely to symbolise female genitalia, so there you go.) In Chinese food symbolism, the walnut represents happiness for the entire family. I suppose the best interpretation which would link the walnut to the typical 2 of Coins meaning would be solving the problem of achieving happiness--ie, a balance in life. It seems a bit of stretch to me.

Beans relate to fertility and connections that bind us to our community. I suppose that is a combination of the shape of the bean itself, and its climbing, twining vines. That does reflect the 2 of Wands notions of collaboration and alliance, I guess, but it still makes the card look really stupid.

A chick newly hatched from an egg is a pretty obvious symbol of fresh starts, but that isn't the usual meaning of 3 of Cups, so I suppose the 'blessed event' heralds a cause of celebration, which is what I usually associate with 3 of Cups. The problem for me in this card is that the chick is so big, really ugly, and those girls, especially that one in the middle, look quite maniacal and as if they are about to gleefully bludgeon the chick to death with those cups rather than toasting its birth. What a loathesome card.

Apparently if a ladybug lands on you, it is a symbol of good luck. I didn't know this, and anyway, the ladybug in the image of 9 of Cups hasn't landed on anyone, it's on a leaf in the foreground. I don't associate this card with 'luck', either, but a deep sort of self-satisfaction, and certainly not with a social gathering. Meh, to this card.

Wheel of the Year, LS 2011
The next four are a bit less weird (except that 2 of Swords). We see a red cap mushroom on the 5 of Coins,  a hazelnut on 2 of Swords, a groundhog on 4 of Swords, and a big lily on 2 of Cups. (All the 2s are WTITF cards. Wonder why?)

Amanita muscaria (red angel mushroom, aka fly agaric)
This mushroom, beloved of children's drawings and images of faery, is hallucinogenic and toxic. I suppose this is appropriate to the 'bad trip' signified by the 5 of Coins, so I don't really have a problem with this card and rather like it.

Apparently the hazelnut is a Celtic symbol of the wisdom of the universe, and Fionn Mac Cumhaill gained enlightenment just by coming in contact with them. In the 2 of Swords, the men seem to be emerging from a large hazelnut, and their swords stab through one. I don't usually associate 2 of Swords with 'quarrelsomeness and hostility', but the LWB says that. The men don't look that PO'ed, but as they are stabbing through the symbol of wisdom, I suppose this card is about the folly of fighting. Rubbish card.

This one is pretty obvious, but the image makes me think of that viral YouTube of the 'Dramatic Prairie Dog'! The groundhog is looking coyly over his shoulder, apparently about to disappear into his den for his long winter nap. Makes sense for 4 of Swords, I guess.

For Christians, the lily symbolizes purity, chastity, innocence; a pure love. In many other traditions, it represents sex, because of the phallic nature of the pistils. In alchemy, the lily is a female symbol. Anyhow you look at it, the lily has something to do with male, female, love and sex. So it works for me in the 2 of Cups card.

Okay, now that I've offloaded about the Weird Things in the Foreground cards, I'm ready to blog for the week about this funny little deck. It's not a favourite, but it's worth looking at. I still haven't actually done a reading with it yet, it may completely blow me away, who knows.


  1. Mmm, I'm very interested in Fungus. The Aminita here is very rarely fatal, nowhere near as poisonous as it's brother Aminita Phallodies (the Death Cap). It was broken down and added to milk in the middle ages and used as a sort of Fly Killer - hence its name Fly Agaric :-)x

  2. OMG! That ladybird totally sold the deck to me. I have a thing for ladybirds and it is SUCH a perfect fit for the 9 of Cups! :D Thanks for sharing. Nice to see more pics from this deck - definitely on my wish list now!

  3. How is it a perfect fit? Please explain it to me, I don't get it and find it distracting--but if I knew why it was perfect I might love it, too. :)

  4. When a ladybird lands on you, you should make a wish and then chant a verse... if she flies away your wish will be granted!

    Here's one version of the verse:

    Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home.
    Your house is on fire;
    Your children all roam.
    Except little Nan
    Who sits in her pan
    Weaving her laces as fast as she can.

  5. That's the folklore version of it but my understanding comes from the sheer joy I get when I see a ladybird... same FEELING I get with the 9 of Cups!!

    1. Well, that's true! I should be more intuitive and less analytical, but gosh my Queen of Swords nature is, well, a bitch! ;)