Saturday 31 December 2016

New Years Eve spread

The Elements of Wellness Spread by Chloe McCracken

This spread works in pairs. How does something affect your wellness, for good and bad,  and what can you do about it? Line one - thoughts. Line two - physical reality, spiritual path, and motivation. Line three - emotions.

I decided to break out my beloved old first edition Anna K Tarot. So...without further ado...

How do my thoughts affect my wellness and what can I do about it? 
Queen of Cups - Knight of Cups

My thoughts help me master my emotions, but they can also rule me by leading me to overthink or overreact. I can allow myself to be more of a dreamer and less of a dweller on things, someone who wants to control myself and others. I can fix my thoughts on the experience of the rose itself rather than worrying about its cultivation or its thorns.

How does my physical reality affect my wellness and what can I do about it? 
Ace of Coins - Lovers

My physical reality remains strong and good, though at the moment a lot of this strength is waiting for development. I can make choices that are of a long term nature and have long term rewards, and that will lead to a happy old age.

How does my spiritual path affect my wellness and what can I do about it? 
Page of Cups - Wheel of Fortune

In fact I am still very much a seeker, a novice to the spiritual path. My spiritual path dabbles in the spring of living water, but I don't seem yet to have filled my bowl with it. I can take a tip from the Wheel of Fortune and ladle it up in huge bucketfuls.

How does my motivation affect my wellness and what can I do about it? 
Queen of Swords - 6 of Wands

I'm tough from past experience, but this also left me a cynical old bugger and that can certainly affect my wellness! What I can do about it is allow myself to feel good about the things I accomplish, no matter how big or small. 'Imagine what would happen if we obsessed about the things we love about ourselves,' says a meme I read today. Indeed.

How do my emotions affect my wellness and what can I do about it? 
Temperance - Queen of Coins

Being on an even keel is a very good thing, but you can also get on such an even keel it becomes a rut. Or like the lady in the picture, you so much want to avoid spilling the water you become afraid to step up onto the next step. What can I do about it? Reap a harvest and enjoy it. Forget balance and go for exhilaration. :)

How can I turn these into aphorisms for this year? about...

Enjoy the roseness of the rose.
If it will make you a happy old lady, carry on.
Drink deep from the living water.
Let yourself feel good.
Forget balance and go for exhilaration.

Off to write these in my journal. :)

Friday 30 December 2016

Water Queen

Yesterday was 9 of Water, which advised me to 'flow like a flood' -- little did I know how emotional yesterday was going to be.

Today, though, I draw Water Queen. I'm the master of this flood. I will not be ruled by it. The water flows from me and through me. I can take it, I am the source of it, I am the master of it. I am one with it. The emotions came from my head -- my thoughts. I created the emotional reaction through my thoughts about the situation. I can control the emotion the same way.

'Breathe deeply and slowly,' the companion book advises, 'and say, "I am so calm and so strong."'

Thursday 29 December 2016

Flow like a flood

It's Thursday, it's back to work for me, and my draw for the day from Mystic Tarot (by Mystic Meg) is 9 of Water. We see nine water fountains and nothing else.

The little companion book to the deck says, 'Nine is the signal of sharing, security and strength in the knowledge that the future is truly exciting.' Well, maybe. In my way of thinking, nine is the signal of the end of a cycle and 'heralds change'...

But in all ways of thinking, that's a lot of water. And that reminds me of a word I've been pondering lately: flow. I want to learn more about this concept from psychology. This Ted talk by the man himself is a good place to start:

May I enjoy 'flow' today. And you, too. :)

Sunday 11 December 2016

Oriental Tarot

Okay, I know I didn't blog with the Mystic Tarot last week, but forget that. Look what I got! A gift from a friend, it's the Tarocchi orientali by Foudraz, 1845, also known as the Oriental Tarot by Giordano Berti. I received number 92 of 700, and included was a handwritten note from Giordano:

Dear Carla
I don't know if these beautiful tarot come to you unexpectedly. In any case, I'm sure that the 'exotic beauty' of the Oriental Tarot will fascinate you immediately and will guide you into a fantastic dimension where the Arcana will talk to you with a language different than the usual, showing to you some strange secrets.
I wish you all the best
Giordano Berti 

That's pretty cool, don't you think!

The cards, in my mind, are much like Tarot de Marseille, but with Chinese people and pagodas -- an 18th century vision of China, or 'chinoiserie'.  Of course you know that Chinese motifs were very popular amongst the wealthy in the 1700s. In 1845, a Turin lithographer called Claudio Foudraz created this deck. As Berti says in the LWB, 'Naturally, the Chinese characters ... are absolutely far from historical reality, rather, they reflect the conventional representations that were fashionable until a few decades earlier; in fact, we find them in the paintings of aristocratic and upper class mansions of the 18th century, as well as in furniture and porcelain decorations that continued to circulate through Europe well into the 19th century.'

Saturday 3 December 2016

Formerly known as Mystic Meg Tarot...

I bought a tarot last weekend. First one in a while. It was at The Works. Yeah, you know I bought a house. I thought the down payment was going to be the big investment. Well, okay, it was the 'BIG' investment, but I have to be honest and say I've done nothing but spend money since we moved here. Literally. I mean, that and eat my weight in mini marzipan stollen. I like the house and I don't miss the old flat at all. I like the new neighbourhood. Not so much the spending money every time I turn around. So my splurge on a £5 tarot deck felt kinda ritzy. No plumbing or estimates or tradesmen involved or anything!

I can't remember what this set is called because I threw the giant box away at once. I think it was called 'The Tarot Pack.' The book inside is called 'The Tarot Book' and is written by someone called Mystic Meg. I gather she was rather famous a while ago as a pyschic. Anyway, the artwork for this deck is by Caroline Smith. It was previously published as The Mystic Meg Tarot.  It's just a harmless bit of frippery, really.

As you'd expect it's on thin card stock and the pips are the emblem from the ace cards presented in multiples. The four suits are called by their elemental correspondence, so we have Fire, Water, Earth, Air rather than Wands, Cups, Coins and Swords. The courts are Princess, Prince, Queen, and King. Majors don't vary wildly from traditional, though four of them are softened through a name change: Fool becomes 'Beginning', Hanged Man is 'Self-Sacrifice', Death is 'Changing' and the Devil is 'Temptation'. The art work is pleasant enough. Majors have a sort of 'tribal' feel, and the court cards echo one another in posture. (All the princesses are in the same pose, all the princes are in the same pose, etc).


You may also have noticed that courts and majors have elemental and astrological symbols included on the cards.

As to the book, it's 112 pages long and follows the traditional pattern of two pages per major and one page per court and pip card. There full colour illustrations of the cards. The introduction has the usual silliness about tarot coming from ancient Egypt and 'even older civilizations right across the world.' Selection of significator is based on age and star sign of the querent. For each card, we are given four bits of information: Love Reading, Life Reading, Luck Reading and Cosmic Counsel (aka, affirmation). The interpretations are highly idiosyncratic. The book is pretty much useless, though could make for amusing reading.

It's no TdM, but it's kinda cute. :) I will be drawing from it this week.

Saturday 8 October 2016

Space clearing

Who is watching over me and strengthening me today? What energy do they send me? What do they wish for me today? 

It's White Eagle from Keepers of the Light by Kyle Gray. I was sort of surprised by this, but reading the companion book helped. The healing of family wounds didn't seem relevant to me now but this did:

'He also helps us move into sacred ceremony, where we can hold sacred space to honour a change, transition, celebration, or anything else that deserves time. He is wonderful for clearing space.'

This is very relevant to me right now as we've just bought a house and it's standing empty waiting for us to move in and clearing and sacred space to honour change, transition and celebration seems just the ticket. So it would appear today is the day to do any rituals we intend to do for space clearing and blessing.

Thanks, White Eagle, for clearing up the timing of that particular task. :)

I'm going to be without internet connection for some time as we make this transition, but I'll be back! We move early next week!

Sunday 18 September 2016

Greenwood: Dedication

What should be the focus of my spiritual practice this week?

Greenwood Tarot, Ryan & Potter 1996
I have not engaged in any formalised spiritual practice in a very long time. This last week has been hard, and I believe that returning to a daily spiritual practice can only be a good thing. I've been playing with the Greenwood all week, just shuffling and looking at it and reading the book, not doing any readings, trying to decide what role it should play in my life right now.

The image here is luminous. The female figure in blue robes, decorated with spirals and leaves, having swan feathers in her hair, plays the bow with an arrow like a violin. More arrows shoot out from her in all directions. Thousands of luminous flecks light up the area around her. It's like she puts out her energy and receives luminous energy back in return. It is an interplay between herself and the universe. But she cannot experience this without the key ingredient of dedication.

'To heed the calling to dedicate one's life to any skill, spiritual path, belief system or philosophy requires sincerity, self-discipline and hard work. It is a sacred summoning that requires time and effort,' writes John Matthews and Mark Ryan, in the Wildwood Tarot companion book (which is more or less an expanded version of the Greenwood companion book.)

The card I've drawn spells it out very plainly. If I want a spiritual practice, I have to do it. I can't just think about it, intend to do it, or write journal entries about it. I must do it, and that requires dedication. The card portrays the rewards of this dedication very well.

Monday 12 September 2016

When life gives you Lemonde...

TdM Jean Dodal, Flornoy 2009
The last time I drew this card was in July, see entry 'We are the World'. It's not a card I see very often in my draws. Even when reading for clients, this card almost never turns up. But I drew it again here, and I've explored it in the past here and here. It's a strange card, until you know what you're looking at.

In the centre is Christ in glory, surrounded by the vesica piscis traditionally seen around figures of Christ or Virgin Mary. The 'Four Living Creatures of the Apocalypse' are present in the four corners of the card. These are mentioned in the books of Ezekiel and Revelations:

'The first living creature was a like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. ... And they do not rest night or day, saying "Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come."' - Revelations 4:7-8

These are also said to stand for the four evangelists: Mark the Lion, Luke the Ox, Matthew the Man and John the Eagle. It was St Jerome who worked this out. These four creatures were often depicted as one being known as a Tetramorph. These four aspects are also considered four facets of Christ: Matthew the Man shows Jesus's earthly lineage; Mark the Lion shows Christ's royal dignity, king of kings and lord of lords; Luke the Ox shows Christ as the sacrifice; John the Eagle is concerned with Christ as the Word.

The ox and lion are positioned at Christ's feet and the man and eagle near Christ's head because the ox and lion were considered lower beasts than man, who can reason, and the eagle, who can fly.

Apparently, though, these animals as symbols predate Biblical associations and originate in Babylonian symbols of the fixed signs of the zodiac: the ox is Taurus, the lion is Leo, the eagle is Scorpio, and the man is Aquarius. We also see them associated with the four elements: ox is Earth, lion is Fire, eagle is Air and man is Water.

To make a long story short, this card represents the king of the hill. (Cue the music--)
Top of the heap.
A-number one.
Top of the list!

...  This little Lemonde! Is coming your way! You'll make a brand new start of it, Lemonde! Lemonde! If you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere, it's up to you, Lemonde Lemonde!

Saturday 3 September 2016

10 questions every tarot reader should answer

I found this topic on youtube here and thought I'd have a go answering the questions.


1. Were you mentored, or were you self-taught?
I discovered tarot on my own and have never had a teacher in real life. No one introduced me to tarot and taught me to read. However, I can't say I am 'self-taught' because everything I know about tarot I learned from reading the work of others. So in effect, I am mentored by the authors of certain books and creators of certain decks. My mentors are, in random order:

Rachel Pollack
Robert Place
Arthur Edward Waite
Aleister Crowley
Dawn R Jackson
John and Caitlin Matthews
Paul Huson
Camelia Elias
Enrique Enriquez

Without their work, I have no way of knowing what my understanding of tarot would be.

2. Are you a psychic or a Tarot reader?
This question has become a bit of a bugbear in the tarot community. I do not identify as psychic. Some clients do consider me psychic. When I think of the word 'psychic', I identify it with people who look you up and down and say, 'You are the third of three children and your father was an alcoholic. By the way, you should know your daughter is still seeing that boy you don't like.' That is certainly not my modus operandi.

I read tarot cards by taking a question and laying out a series of cards from which I tell the stories the images inspire in me, in response to the question. The same 78 cards yield an infinite variety of stories, so something is going on there. If I were just reading the cards, the stories would always be the same. I don't know how or why it works. It is largely up to the querent to apply the story to their question and see how (or if) the story fits their lives or answers what they want to know. Somehow it almost always does.

So your guess is as good as mine.  Am I psychic? I don't know. If I am, I make no claims to be. Am I a tarot reader? Definitely.

3. Are your predictions accurate, and is accuracy important to you?
If the cards present an outcome, I say it. I don't hold back. If they don't, I say so. Again, whether this is accurate or not is down to the perception of the person receiving the reading.

When you use the word 'accuracy', I wonder if we're getting back into that 'psychic' territory, where it is important to some people that a reader should be able to say without being told what your history is and how many kids you have and what you want to do for a living and all that sort of thing. My readings may pick up on patterns in your life, but I don't make a game of trying to get the details of your life right. I also don't make a game of trying to tell you what is going to happen to you. That is not my aim as a tarot reader. So if it's that kind of accuracy, no, it isn't important to me.

If we're talking about a client being able to make connections between my reading and his or her life, and feel that the information shared in the reading has been of personal benefit, then yes, that is important to me.

4. Is there anything you can't predict in a reading?
That word predict is troublesome. I will say there are few things I can't 'depict'.

There are very few questions I won't do a reading for. However, sometimes you have to draw the line. I once had someone tell me her daughter was being abused by her husband and asked me would he eventually kill her? I did not do a tarot card reading for that question, but instead offered information on how to report domestic abuse and urged her to get help at once. It turned out this person was testing me to see if I was a 'fake'. She didn't even have a daughter. She said she thought I was arrogant for being a tarot card reader and wanted to test me, and said at least I did the right thing by offering help and advice.

I'm in the business of offering help and advice. Not predicting stuff.

5. Do you use only Tarot, or are you multi-disciplinary?
I use tarot, playing cards, Lenormand, and occasionally other oracles. I am a cartomant -- cards are my line!

6. Is the message in the cards, or in your head?
The message is the alchemy of the cards and my head. And maybe something else.

7. Are you a priest or a fortune-teller?
I am a fortune-teller. The cards are not my religion and I am not the priestess of them. I don't combine my spiritual practice with the cards when I am doing a reading for a client.

8. Are you a fixer or a looker?
I am a looker who can't help offering options for fixing.

9. Do you read for free, or for fee?

10. Is there anything you won't predict in a reading?
I am willing to do a tarot card reading about just about anything, as long as the querent understands that I am reading the cards and making no claims that the story I see in them has an actual basis in the real world. (Whether I believe they do is neither here nor there. I make no claims that they do.) If they want to apply it to the real world and it helps them to do so, they are welcome to do that. What I say might help, it might hurt, it might anger, it might confuse. It's just a story. Take it or ignore it; you have ultimate agency over your life and as your reader, I am not responsible for your reaction to the reading.

Having said that, I find specific timings virtually impossible using tarot cards. So if someone were to ask me for that, I usually decline, or warn them in no uncertain terms that my reading is as good as a wild ass guess. For example, someone may ask 'When will I get a job?' I can say what I see in the cards if they want to pay me to, but I make no promises about timings. That may sound mercenary, but it's actually just being honest.

However, if someone asked me something hideous, like when someone would die (see number 4), I would refuse to read and signpost to resources instead.

I have strong feelings about the limitations of confidentiality. I have a duty of care and will break confidentiality for the following: to assist the prevention or detection of a crime, to prevent serious harm to the client or others, or to disclose any information which may help prevent an act of terrorism or help in bringing a terrorist to justice. These points come from the National Counselling Safeguarding Policy. However, because the nature of my tarot business means that I virtually never know the true identity of a client, in practice this would mean refusing the reading and signposting to outside agencies for help and advice.

Of course, my answers to all these questions might be different in a week. This isn't a personal manifesto, it's a response to a youtube video. :D

Friday 2 September 2016

So many swords

Yesterday I drew 4 of Wands, which is a blockage card. This became quite literal, because I went to the nurse yesterday to have her confirm I have wax in my ears (hearing aid has been feeding back and audiologist wanted me to rule out wax blockage before coming in for a mechanical repair) and she decided to try to irrigate my ear and ended up blocking my entire eardrum with wax and now I'm completely deaf in it. I am, as you can imagine, quite distressed by the situation. I have an emergency ENT appointment today and hope against hope that it really is just impacted wax and not somehow permanently damaged. Any reiki or prayers would be gratefully received and I will update upon my return.

I don't think it's a good idea to do readings on health or medical conditions, not with a view to outcomes. But the tarot can offer some advice. Let's see what it says about today. What is the advice of the tarot for me in coping with yesterday's events and today's events?

Jean Noblet Tarot, Flornoy 2014 

An abundance of swords fall on the table. What story is told in them? It starts with a partnership, the love and support of relationships. I did find lots of support yesterday from my coworkers when I returned to work deeply distressed because at this point I cannot hear a thing out of my right ear, and also from my husband, who is valiantly taking me to hospital today. The centre card is the double trouble card, 7 of Swords. However, it is also a card that shows will and determination, and it was this determination that helped me get an appointment today instead of accepting what the nurse told me and sitting at home waiting to receive a letter for an appointment to see an ENT. I pierced through blockages, as seen in the card.

The Ace of Swords looks literally like what is going to happen today. The sword enters the crown, and little squiggly bits fall out all around it. My ear will be microsuctioned and debris removed. It also represents power and control of the situation, and I think this represents the doctor I will see and his confidence in handling what (I hope) will turn out to be a routine procedure. I will be putting myself in the hands of a surgeon.

The final card is 4 of Swords. This has been a swords situation;  4 represents stability. So, the situation will stabilise, somewhat. The card suggests that it may take some time before I'm back 100%. I will certainly be stressed out by it all, and will need to give myself space to deal with that.

All in all, it's not been a nice couple of days, but let's hope this is just one of those things and will be sorted out by the good folk in ENT today. Wish me luck.

Evening update: So here's what happened. You know how in cartomancy swords (spades) are about digging. Well. Not to get too graphic. The ENT was not at all impressed with the story I told and looked in both ears and said they were completely impacted. It took 40 minutes of painful procedure to clear them, and I nearly squeezed hubby's hand off because she told me not to move and I kept flinching. I squeezed instead of flinching. That 4 of Swords is explained by the valium I took beforehand. LOL. The outcome is, I can hear again. My eardrum has some injury from the irrigation but it will heal. And I've got an ear infection and a prescription of antibiotics, and a follow-up appointment in two months.


Thursday 1 September 2016

New moon solar eclipse

So today it's a new moon solar eclipse. It was visible in Southern Africa at 6.08 GMT. Hope they enjoyed it.

My card today is 4 of Wands. A stand-off. I can expect no great developments today. All righty then. Still in a holding pattern, and not surprised. The new moon will be visible again in a day or two. I'd expect things to start picking back up around that time.

TdM Francois Chosson 1736

Wednesday 31 August 2016

Dark Moon Musings

Noblet Tarot, Flornoy 2014
It's the dark moon. Well, nearly. at the moment it's 1% of full waning crescent, but close enough. The moon is passing between the earth and the sun, and thus the side of the moon that is illuminated by the sun is facing away from us. We can't see the moon in this phase from earth except during moments of solar eclipse, when the moon passes in front of the sun, and the night portion of the moon becomes visible to us, surrounded by the sun's fiery corona. Once each month, the moon comes all the way around in its orbit so that it passes more or less between us and the sun. If the moon always passed directly between the earth and the sun at new moon, a solar eclipse would take place every month. Instead, in most months, the moon passes above or below the sun as seen from earth. On the day of a new moon, the moon rises when the sun rises, and sets when the sun sets. It crosses the sky with the sun during the day. The new moon is too close to the sun's glare to be visible. Plus, its lighted hemisphere is facing away from us. The dark lasts about three days before the crescent appears. Many people use the terms dark moon and new moon interchangeably. For some, the new moon begins as soon as the moon becomes invisible. For others, not until the first sliver of crescent appears. Tradition holds that no magic should be practised during the dark moon. Traditional yoga practice holds that you should not practice yoga during the full or dark moon, and some traditional yogis fast during the dark moon.

To me the dark moon is a time between times. A waiting period. It just seems natural that you would pause your practices, rather like the moment between breaths.

Today I've drawn 9 of Cups, traditionally the 'make a wish' card. This dark moon will be a time of harmony and happiness for me. Just hanging out waiting for developments. That's cool.

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Card of the Day - The Emperor

Noblet Tarot, Flornoy 2014
Today is a day for law and order. Or it may be a day that I come up against 'law and order'. It's an Emperor kind of day.

Here are some statements about the Emperor from Yoav Ben-Dov:

The Emperor rules over matter. 
The Emperor imposes his will.
The Emperor is an earthly father.
The Emperor is ready to fight. 
The Emperor controls himself. 
The Emperor conceals his weakness.

So I ask do I 'rule over matter' today? How can I impose my will? How do I serve as a patron or benefactor, or a kind of earthly father -- or who is fulfilling this role for me? In what areas should I be ready to fight? How should I be controlling myself today? What weakness should I keep to myself today?

All very good questions to keep in the back of the mind as today's events unfold.

Monday 29 August 2016

Book Review -- The Oracle Travels Light

It's no secret that I've been influenced by Camelia Elias's first book, Marseille Tarot: Towards the Art of Reading, which has garnered mixed reactions; some tarot readers love it and some write that they as much as pitched it directly into the trash bin. Her second book, The Oracle Travels Light: Principles of Magic with Cards seems to be as much a spoonful of Marmite to its readers as that first one. Those who love it tend to write things like this:

'This is a book for those who would risk a finger at the loom of the Weavers...This book is a stick of dynamite disguised as a cigar waiting to be lit with three matches from the hand of a dead man.' Aiden Watcher

'With this butterfly in my gun, I feel I might never again miss my mark.' Atticus Hob

'For those who don't mind walking into the forest of the mind and striking a match, this fire will keep you warm for your whole life long.' Caitlin Matthews

This resorting to metaphoric language goes a long way to showing you what the book is like. The following reviewer, who gave the book 5 stars, begins to touch upon one of my problems with it: 

'This one feels scholarly, yes, but, also muddy and sticky, like the shaman as she imparts the secret knowledge as she is rising from the swamp. The book itself is a potent spell well crafted.' Charles Webb

Even this guy, in trying to explain what it's like wading through the prose style and content of The Oracle Travels Light, has to use metaphoric language.

One confused reviewer says: 'Not sure if the book could use some better organisation, or if the less linear structure is part of the intended delivery. But there's gold in them wandering pathways.' Joe Crow (Another metaphor!)

Not everyone has been caught by its Marmite charms, though, such as these reviewers:

'One of the most self-obsessed and myopic books on magic I've ever read.'  James Kennedy

'Don't waste your money on this one. Had a look at it and threw it in the bin.' Wordery

I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I want to say about this book and how to say it. That's because there is some good material here that deserves to be considered, and because Elias demonstrates how seamlessly and organically the cards and magic can (and ought to) be integrated into daily life. Those are the good points. But also, there's no escaping the fact that this book is written in a dense, highly frustrating, stilted prose style, and there is a relentless subtextual thread which might reflect a personal war with a religious milieu, in frequent mentions of defying 'cultural dictations' and rather defiant see-how-naughty-I-am-because-I-practice-magic references to the Devil and the Devil card. These start to distract and annoy early on and they don't let up.

So let's just start with what I didn't liked

1. The prose style. It is dense and unlovely. Occasionally unintelligible.

2. All this banging on about being outside cultural norms and expectations. Anyone practicing magic already knows damn well they're outside the box. Why the gloating? This contempt for the 'norm' glares in a sample reading near the end of the book. It is for a man who wants to know if his friend has 'gone too conservative after marriage' to 'the prototype of the Danish woman, for whom everything is a project, including husband, children, the job, the house and the dog.' Elias writes: 'Yack. While listening to more uncomfortable notions about the dangers of life based on the status quo ideals... I laid down three cards, and the horror, the horror.' A good unbiased start, then.  Elias next details the reading which confirms both her and her client's contempt for conventional life, and ends with the client's feedback that his friend had phoned to tell him that he is happy. Elias isn't buying it: 'We could ask Freud what he would make of this demonstrative act of enunciation that discloses the poverty in inauthentic living: if you have to say you are (happy, rich, content, powerful) you aren't.' She then mentions how useful it is to be neutral in a reading and caps the story with this puzzler: 'As it is fantasy that rules the mytho-poetic act, our magic gets strengthened by the flow of speaking creatures, instructing us in the art of graceful deliverance.' Believe me, that sentence is no easier to interpret in the context of the entire chapter than it is here in isolation in this review. (See point 1).

3. Outright dismissal of the right hand path. In a chapter called 'The Paths of Magic,' Elias declares that only those who follow a left hand path live an authentic life, while right handers conform to what is acceptable to the masses. She confirms this for herself in a reading. For the left hand path, she draws The Pope, Justice and The Devil. For the right hand path, Lovers, Magician and Judgement. She gives the following reading, which I give in its entirety, because I found it so thoroughly offensive to light workers:
Here it becomes crucial to understand what the sorceress wants to begin with: To be in cahoots with the Devil, and do what there is to be done in terms of pacts and bonds, or to mediate relations between the ambivalent subject (herself included) and the public?
Whereas the Devil invites us to the underworld, asking us to start with confronting our own demons, the Angel says "all rise, let us now hear the news."
Whereas in the first example we clearly have a situation that requires a complete cut (Justice) with the dogma of the mainstream church (Pope), and entering into formal submission to the Lord of Darkness (Justice + Devil), the second example demonstrates a need to rise above the very idea of choice (Lovers) by tricking oneself (Magician) into believing that the sharing of higher learning is possible (Judgement). 
Whereas in the first example, describing the lefthand path, we are asked to consider giving up a pound of our own flesh and blood in exchange for magical knowledge (Justice cuts and weighs), the second example, for the right hand path, shows us that we are dependent upon the community to acknowledge our magic. Moreover here, as the Magician is looking at the options on his table, we are meant to understand that he may not be aware of how much of that doubting of himself he ends up carrying into the new world.  
Whereas the first example may involve working with necromancy, the ancestors, or the spirit of the telluric forces, the last example emphasises working with celestial forces as received by the larger group. If the first example shows us the transmission of personal gnosis, the price being going down, the second example shows us the transmission of group mentality, the price being having to listen up.

She then caps with this zinger: 'Why is working with the 'Devil' condemned, while working with the 'Angel' is consecrated? Which camp do I want to be in? The winners or the losers?' She calls this a  'transgressive lunch' (your guess is as good as mine!) and says 'good folks have been burned for a lot less than this discussion here.' Tiresome.

But here's what I really liked

1. Magic in the day-to-day. Elias tells many stories about how she sees magic all around, by making connections. On a day when she is thinking about her father and a person she admires, two crows appear and follow her. She names them after the two she is thinking of. Then later, she finds two white eggs in a carton of 12 and feels it's another sign from the pair. She tells a story of a friend who years ago promised her a gift sending her a Tibetan bowl just as she is deliberating over whether or not she should buy a Tibetan bowl. Do these stories prove anything? 'They prove nothing,' she writes. 'But what they do is tell us what we can make of the way in which we interact with the world. By letting ourselves be enchanted with how things come to us, or with what happens when we point our index finger at someone or something, we get a sense of what it means to be alive beyond the blood pulsing through our veins.'

2. Magic in ourselves. In a chapter called 'Necromancy,' Elias tells a wonderful story about a night when she and her sister decide to do some magic to try to 'uncover an annoying family secret'. They draw cards at random based on images seen by her sister in a crystal ball, and try out an array of magical techniques to coax the truth from the ancestors, who toy with them but in the end refuse to reveal anything. It is such a wonderful example of spontaneous, organic use of magical techniques and cards, and also the magical partnership between the sisters. They are playful and good-humoured through the experience, through the chills and rising hair, and finally give up, spill libations and go off to bed. The story is as much about Elias's relationship with her sister and the magical experience itself as it is about magical technique. Actually more so. We don't receive any instruction as to how to do any of this. The idea is just to do it, enjoy it. 'The point of the story here is to emphasise the very pragmatic scope of any magical working beyond its intended function, which, in my case, is the sheer pleasure of enjoying the company of my sister without having to go through the banality of recounting frustrations related to the reality of our 'normal' lives...In our encounters we have found that raving about our achievements, or those of our loved ones, is only interesting for about three seconds. Hence, we have long since realised that the best of ourselves together is found in our letting sacred objects not only mediate between us, but also inform our gatherings. Nothing really compares to the work of blessing our own treading on this planet, and making recourse to unusual practical magical behaviour that enhances our awareness of alternative modes of viewing the world. A community of two can work marvels.' In the margin next to this, I've translated it: 'Magic is more fun than small talk.'

3. Magic in the cards. The cards and your magic practice can be as natural as breathing. Elias tells a story about being anxious about her sister driving on her own through the countryside to Norway. She turns directly to the cards and draws Chariot, Tower, Temperance. She creates an impromptu spell and tells her sister, 'Take the Temperance card from the pack and enchant it with words of power for protection on the road and balanced driving.' Her sister does have an accident but is unhurt. Elias finds out her sister never did take a card or speak words of power over it. However, Elias believes that 'the thought of it counted enough' to allow her sister to arrive unharmed. I find stories like this endlessly fascinating. Our thoughts affect reality. Magic is anything that helps us direct and focus how our thoughts are affecting reality.  I have no doubt on this point. (This draw could also have been read: You are worried about your sister having a car wreck, but don't be. You can trust that it will all come out in the wash. :D )

Despite its frustrations, I believe this book is worth reading. I've read it three times. I've dipped into it many more times than that -- I've been chewing this book over since February. The margins are filled with my outraged or delighted scribblings. We have a love/hate vibe. That in itself makes it pretty magical to me.

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Rise above

What is the most helpful thing I can do for myself today? 

Ancien TdM, Grimaud 1973
Hew down troubled thoughts and give them as an offering to your inner knowing. 

Thoughts that seek to destroy you should be met by the serene indifference of your inner knowing.

The 8 of Swords is all about troubled thoughts. The number 8 itself stand for 'ideas or thoughts of the mind', and Swords 'are the troubles that plague every man'. So the 8 of Swords is the perfect card to represent overthinking, particularly obsessive worries about the 'troubles that plague every man' -- thoughts about things like losing a source of income, having a catastrophic illness, or someone dropping dead, contemplating your own mortality, right down to smaller universal troubles like never being sure you're doing the right thing, or looking back on the past and wishing things had gone differently, all of these are 'troubles that plague every man'. They happen to everyone. The 8 of Swords represents worrying about these things. In fact, the Grimaud LWB says, 'This card has powerful undercurrents and possesses no meaning in the abstract sense. Heavy and overpowering, it marks despair because of the evil undercurrents that it attracts.' Wow. We can all justifiably worry about these things. But does it do us any good?

In this story of the cards, even though Death is facing the High Priestess, I don't think he's going for her. I think he's making obeisance to her. It looks like he's just chopped up worries from the 8 of Swords and is looking to her for approval. She certainly looks on at him with a benign and pleasant expression. They see eye to eye. So it could be that he's destroyed the overthinking and is turning it over to the higher mind, the aspect of self that exists above the ego. That's one way to read the story of the cards.

Another way to look at this draw is that in fact 8 of Swords and Death ARE working together -- the overwhelming thoughts and Death have teamed up to try to destroy you. But they find themselves squared up against a more powerful force than themselves -- inner knowing. In this story told by the cards, Death uses the 8 of Swords as his primary weapon, wreaks havoc in the mind, turns toward the High Priestess looking rather exhausted and hoping to go for her next, but nope. She is wise to his tricks. She looks mildly at him. She even looks somewhat amused by him. He can stand there panting and clutching his scythe all he likes. She knows that while she's locked eyes with him, he doesn't have the strength in his scrawny arm to raise it against her.  He'd just better hope she doesn't decide to lift her hand from her book against him! But she won't have to. And that's another way to read the story of these cards.

That is the most helpful thing I can do for myself today. Rise above troubled thoughts that believe they can destroy me. They can't. I cannot be destroyed -- not even by myself. No, not even if my thoughts have convinced me that they can. They can't. Not if I look them in the face and let them know I see them. They can't get the real 'I'. Not the higher me.

Tuesday 23 August 2016

Ancien Tarot de Marseille -- a very old deck finds a new forever home

Ancien Tarot de Marseille, Grimaud 1973
I bought this deck on eBay the other day (£8 -- bargain). In the photograph, you see the box with plastic insert to hold the deck divided in half, the instruction booklet, and on left, the Ancien Tarot de Marseille deck. Next to it on the right, I've placed the CBD tarot for comparison, so you can see how thick the card stock is. It is about twice the thickness of the average tarot deck.

I was really surprised at how pristine the deck is, considering it is 43 years old. The cards still had the cellophane bands around them. They look brand new. The box has some slight yellowing, and both box and deck have that curious smell that comes with old paper. I can't describe it, but you know it when you smell it. It isn't terribly strong, but it's there. The cards have a tiny copyright imprint: G & P Grimaud 1963 (not 1973). The cards are extremely oversaturated with colour, consisting of golden yellow, dark blue, dark green, deep red, a peachy flesh tone and black. The background and some card details are vivid white.  The deck is solid and chunky in the hand, and there is no way to riffle it. Hand over hand is the only way to go.

There are some endearing quirks to this deck, for example, the coin suit is called 'money' and cards are labelled 'Knave of Money', 'Queen of Money'. The Tower is called 'Tower of Destruction'. Lovers is called 'The Lover'.  Batons are called 'Clubs'.  The Popesse is called 'The High Priestess' but the Pope is still 'The Pope'. And card XIII is labelled 'Death', on the side of the card. I have no idea who did the redrawings or what deck it is based on.

Here's my draw for today:

9 of Clubs, 2 of Swords, Knave (Page) of Swords. The Knave has his eye firmly on the flower configuration in the centre of 2 of Swords.


An obstacle or delay causes conflict; the best course of action is to take up a mildly defensive posture while keeping attention focused on the heart of the matter. Be prepared to swat lightly, like at a fly. It's very likely you'll not have cause to strike. It will probably resolve itself. 

Monday 22 August 2016

Line of sight reading starting with three majors - what should be my priorities today?

Noblet Tarot, Flornoy 2014 
I decide to use majors only, and if I need more cards, I will draw from the minors. Boom boom boom. Magician, Popesse, Pope. But what are the Magician and Popess looking at? Let's draw some more.  Knight of Swords (not pictured). He's facing the left, too, so what are they all looking at? 4 of Coins. And on the right, what is the Pope looking at? 8 of Cups (not pictured).

The trickster and the warrior have their eyes on material stability, but the Popesse has their number and sets it down in her little book. She's not fooled. Back to back with the Pope, who is casting a spell toward the future -- thoughts and ideas that bring happiness; plans for future happiness. Expecting a good emotional outcome.

The three central cards, the original three card draw, show the female and male counterparts back to back. They could either be divided, working in opposition and not pulling together, or they could be seen as back to back in a defensive position, like you see in martial arts films. If the Magician were looking toward the Popesse I might suspect that he is trying to trick her, and that he represents her suspicions about the Pope, who she has her back toward. But he isn't he's looking away, and that makes me think there's something beyond him that he's focusing on, and has nothing to do with the Pope, so that puts the the Popess and the Pope in a defensive couple posture instead of as adversaries. The Knight of Swords suggests that the Magician's tricks are meant to harm, but harm what? and 4 of Coins is solid, material stability. The Trickster is out for my money. But I'm watching. I've got my intuition and I'm taking notes. The Pope's got my back and he's looking toward the future and trying to keep spirits up.

So my priorities for today are to do some research to make sure that my financial stability is not under threat. In fact, the Magician and the Warrior could be aspects of the Popesse sent out in pursuit of financial stability, not necessarily adversaries. Either way, information should be gathered today, and about what? Trust my instincts.

Another interpretation is a division between one partner who feels the need to keep the focus on these concerns and the other partner who just wants to be happy and puts all his attention on happiness. So in that way they turn their backs to each other. And boy does that sound familiar.

Lots to think about today.

So okay, second try -- my priorities for today are to take care of the financial security in whatever ways I can, in whatever ways my intuition tells me I need to, but also not to turn my back on my partner, who might be feeling ignored. I don't know if you've noticed, but I can be pretty intense, and often forget to be 'happy' about stuff. :)

Saturday 20 August 2016

Elemental correspondences -- have you thought about yours?

I've just been reading The Oracle Travels Light by Camelia Elias, again. The first time I tried to read it, it just didn't click for me. I couldn't follow. It was a bunch of gobbledygook. And this after I was so utterly smitten by Marseille Tarot: Towards the Art of Reading. I admit, I was trying to charge through with a pen in hand, looking for the 'good stuff' to incorporate, and not really reading it the way it was meant to be read. Several months later, it seems to be falling into place. And today, I felt a real paradigm shift with regard to elemental correspondences -- the elements we assign to the tarot suits. I initially rejected this when I read it in Marseille Tarot, and even wrote in the margin of that book: 'These are off base -- but as long as she is consistent, I guess it doesn't matter.'

I learned on the Golden Dawn system, which is used in the Rider Waite Smith and most tarot decks. Nearly all readers in the English-speaking tarot world use this system:

Fire - Spring - Wands
Water - Summer - Cups
Air - Autumn - Swords
Earth - Winter - Coins

If you want a book that will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about applying this particular system to tarot, then Benebell Wen's Holistic Tarot is the book for you. I read that one cover to cover and thought my life was complete, until I got hold of Marseille Tarot directly after reading it!

Now I'm not an expert on various systems and don't know the origins, but I do know that some decks switch Air and Fire, having Swords = Fire and Wands = Air. Decks such as Silicon Dawn and Legend Arthurian do this.

The Crystal Tarots by Elisabetta Trevisan switches Cups and Swords so that Cups = Air and Swords = Water, which is really hard to fathom.

Let it be known that you don't have to use elemental correspondences in tarot readings. It's not necessary in the slightest. And you don't have to use a widely accepted system, or follow the system of the deck you're using -- though it may be a challenge to deviate, as some decks make the elemental correspondences very plain in the art work and colouring. But if you do use correspondences, you ought to have a good reason behind your choices, beyond, 'It's the one everyone uses,' or 'I just like them like that.'

In Marseille Tarot, Elias gives her set, saying, 'This is my own rendition, and based on my understanding of how the card readers of old, the cunning-folk, must have thought of it when they passed down the essential idea':

Fire - Spring - Coins
Water - Summer - Cups
Air - Autumn - Wands
Earth - Winter - Swords

What? My brain could not compute how Coins could be anything but Earth, or how Swords could be anything but Air. She wasn't even switching Wands with Swords, which at least I'd seen before in other decks. No, she's switching Wands with Coins and Coins with Swords!  I dismissed this as some personal quirkery and moved on, because her explanations were too impressionistic and I could not follow them:

'Coins/Diamonds are for spring and fire. A fresh idea is a hot idea. Coins are chiseled for exchange and culture. We hold coins in our hands. They denote working with our head. Coins represent the nervous system. All things on fire. Travel vehicles that use an engine. Expensive computers. A cooking range. The kitchen. The dining room. The roof of the house. East.' (Marseille Tarot, page 123)

What what?? Coins, fire engines, computers, what the hell?

'Batons/Clubs are for autumn and air. An idea needs to be harvested. Trees grow in the air. Tall trees turned into batons to fight with are at arm's length. We exercise with a stick. Make fences. Clubs represent the muscular system. We run. We use our legs, or take an airplane to whiz through the air faster. West. The floors of the house.'

Okay, I thought -- whatever! This must be really over my head or else this lady's just got some very kooky ideas, but it doesn't matter, because the rest of the book is so useful. Those are some crazy words and phrases hooked together there. I made question marks in the margin and turned the page.

Then, this morning, I was up at an even more ungodly hour than usual (4.00 AM -- sciatica), and encountered these notions again in the book The Oracle Travels Light. This time, it seemed to click. Reluctantly, I might add, because I do not like writers meddling in the affairs of my fixed ideas, for I am subtle and quick to anger. :) But click it did:

'What are the four suits in a pack of cards? Nature, our own bodies, and prompters of action,' I read. Hmm. Tell me more...

'The cups suggest our blood, and the way it circulates in our bodies. Without our blood streaming we are dead.' Yes, true. Cups are essential. Liquid is life. Yes, yes.

'With the diamonds or the coins, we make transactions. We can feel our adrenaline making our blood hot when we're about to close a deal that's important to us. Having your brain on fire is no small thing.' Pause. Squint. Coins as fire? NO. That's not right. I pictured all those tarot cards showing coins nestled in earth or growing on trees. And own feelings about money aren't cold like the earth, or in any way about growth cycles. My feelings about money are fevered. I have to admit it. I carried on reading...

'With the clubs or the batons, we build dwellings, or compete.' I pictured wattle and daub construction, and cavemen hitting each other with sticks. 'They have the energy of the wind. Before they are cut down, tall trees know who whispers in their leaves.' By god, I suddenly saw treetops swaying in the breeze and heard the noise and thought holy crap! Trees are wind! That's how they talk! What else is here?...

'With spades or swords, we dig the earth. We go to war to conquer territory, more land - more earth.' Great gods, I see this. Spades ARE used to dig the earth, and swords ARE forged to conquer, and to conquer what? More land! Holy paradigm shift, it hurts to have your gears switched. But I could actually see how swords could be EARTH.

So here I am. Changed again. I've already given up esoteric blah-blah when thinking about the suits. Taking the example of Enrique Enriquez, I've started looking quite literally at cups, batons, swords and coins in my readings. And it feels to me as if these correspondences are also more literal and mundane, more suited to the actual emblems themselves. I could never really see how batons were fire, but I can relate to trees swaying in the wind; it is an image that is much more deeply meaningful to me than imagining sticks burning. And I can relate to the fire in the brain caused by coins. Yes. And digging the earth with spades and battling for land with swords makes far more sense than the vague image of a sword slicing through the air. So yes.

Will this last? I'll just have to try a few readings and see. And with the TdM, no artist has imposed any elemental ideas onto the cards for me to fight against. I can use whatever I want, or not use any. Beauty.

Thursday 18 August 2016

Judgement - Noblet

Noblet Tarot, Flornoy 2014
'With this trump appears another judgement: the person must accept what he has become. He must ignore the urge to leave all behind and become a hermit in the desert. He has been through so many transformations on the energetic level that he is wary of believing that the phoenix has at last risen from the ashes. An immense sincerity invades him. And yet, the individual is now accepted, summoned by the heavens to rise and exert himself in the world. ...[He is] someone restored to life on earth in order to work for heaven.' 
                                                         -- JC Flornoy, Tarot of Marseille of Jean Noblet, LWB

I think it's pretty impressive that he is able to take all this in, having risen with a dislocated shoulder, missing arm and a brioche for a head. If I were those other two hipsters, I'd be staring, too.

'Dude...your head.'

'Silence, bro.  Angel's trumpet solo, man.'

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Line reading the Emperor

Noblet Tarot, JC Flornoy 2014 edition
I drew Emperor for today and thought, hm, what's he looking at? So I drew 6 of Coins. But then I wondered, well, what? And I drew King of Swords. Well, then. What are these two looking at? And I drew Ace of Swords, which felt like the end of the line, so I stopped.

I'm seeing here a lot of clarity and mastery in the material realm -- finances, health, security, etc. The Emperor is certainly looking over the remainder of the spread. Six is the most harmonious of the numbers, so the Emperor rules over the material realm quite well. He's aided by the King of Swords who looks toward Ace of Swords, his emblem -- he's prepared to marshal all his strengths and skills to create this material harmony. Logic, rational thought, careful planning. The Emperor's crown is held aloft by the strengths of the Sword.

I guess this means I'm heading in the right direction lately. That's good news! I do feel like I've had more clarity, less fog, the last few days. Long may it continue.

Some line readings:

Taking control of financial and health situation requires mastery of emotion and clear thinking. 

Keep looking forward with the knowledge that you have the skills and the power to take control of your financial and health situation. 

Turn your back to the past and face the current situation. Wrest control of it with logical and clear planning. 

Control of the situation depends upon being rational. Emotion plays no part in it. Keep your eyes on that prize of a simple plan. 

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Line reading with 7 of Cups

7 of Cups today from CBD Tarot (not shown in image. Image is from Google images, an unidentified deck.)

It's been a rough couple of days. My emotions have been very volatile, explained by hormone fluctuation, the pressures of a house buy and the reality of a mortgage that possibly extends longer than my employability.

7 of Cups is troubled emotion or relationship(s). That pretty much sums it up my last few days. It's been stormy round here, people!

To expand on this card, I drew two more: 2 of Coins and 8 of Swords. Ideas and plans for balancing finances. Yes again.

To read the story of the cards, here are a few different possible interpretations:

--Troubled emotions/relationships caused by overthinking the balance of money.

--Troubled emotions/relationships require schemes for getting to grips with the reality.

--Troubled emotions/relationships find balance (become grounded) through careful analysis.

--A financial partnership is stormy but can be balanced by a rational approach.

No matter how you slice it, the message is clear. Get a grip. This looks like a job for CBT, some research, and some very flexible short term and long term planning. And a bit of faith and trust.

Monday 15 August 2016

Grand Tableau - Now to end of September - Maybe Lenormand

Maybe Lenormand, Edward, US Games 2016
This grand tableau is meant to cover until the end of September for me.  I'm using the reading method described by Andy Boroveshengra in Lenormand: Thirty-six Cards. It lacks fleshing out, and is mostly a rough outline just for myself. :)

The first three cards have a message for me: Good feelings ahead. The gift of a hopeful heart.

The four corners are Bouquet + Snake + Book + Fox. The gift of transformation comes from being clever with the rules. A clever woman teaches useful information.

The cards closest to me are Bouquet above, Cross to my right, and Dog below. At 1:00 is Star and at 5:00 is Key. Four out of five of those cards are quite positive. Only Cross, which is right next to me, is bad. However, this indicates that the troubles are temporary and easily mitigated. The Cross is touching Gift, Star, Heart, Ring, Mountain, Key and Dog. My hope, emotions, marriage and ability to find solutions to problems may be adversely affected this month. I see this as lots of worrying and mood swings about these issues.

Far from me are Letter and Rider -- communications will not come to me easily, I will probably have to seek them out.

My significator is on the far left of the spread. Most of the spread is to my right, where things are 'amplified'. I take this to mean that everything is going to be 'heightened' for me, and I can see that. Lots of stress goes along with a house buy, not to mention my time of life! So yeah, heightened experience of events, definitely. The top row in particular, being above me and to my right, is relevant and amplified: Anchor + Scythe + Coffin + Sun + Fox.

The middle cards are Man + Stork + House + Whip. The changing man brings domestic arguments. There could be a lot of conflict with the hubster about moving house. Oh boy, have I seen some of that already. Still, three out of four of the cards are red suit, Hearts, and only one Club, so it's just spats and nothing serious. Whip suggests they will be same-old-same-old arguments, as well.

The last row of four cards describe an important or triggering event...We've got Paths + Lily + Fish + Rider. A decision about a financial opportunity brings peace. Hm. Maybe this means we'll have exchanged contracts by the end of September -- or something will be settled for good and all, in any case.

Counting nine cards out from Lady: Key + Child + Rider. A message about a necessary new beginning. This could be the move date! Counting 13 cards out: Mice + Fish. Yeah, the money will certainly get nibbled away when we move. So many little expenses do add up.

Next, which cards do I face horizontally? Well, I'm facing left and there are no cards to my left, so -- none! As this row is meant to show what happens within four weeks' time, it looks like nothing much is going to happen until the very end of September.

To cover general topics, look at their cards:

Relationships - Heart, Ring, Anchor
All three of these cards are close to me, and they wrap the Man card, my significant other.  Lots of change will threaten my feelings of stability, but my commitment to the Man will remain steadfast.

Work - Moon
Moon is in my horizontal line, but it is relatively far away from me and won't cause more than the usual level of concern. Sun, Birds and Clover indicate productive and positive conversations, either with my line manager or in my capacity as a manager, suggested by the Bear.

Money - Fish
It's in the last line of four, so that makes it significant, and how can it not be right now? It's all I think about. Flanked by Lily, Tree, Garden, Clouds and Rider, with nothing underneath. Most of these are positive cards. I am looking at a long-term financial commitment, and yes the garden is a big draw! Fish is far from me in the draw, so I'm thinking this reinforces the 'big picture' aspect of this very large ticket item.

Well-being - Tree 
Tree has Child and Garden to left and right, House and Lily above and below, and diagonal are Mountain, Whip, Fish and Path. Only Mountain is a negative card, the rest are positive. Tree is relatively far from me, so I can expect good health. Mountain would seem to be blocks caused by negative thought patterns, and that plays out if you like the surrounding cards -- House, travelling, marriage/commitment -- it's all the usual stresses of buying and moving to a new house.

Sunday 14 August 2016

Deck Review: Maybe Lenormand

It's been ages, but I finally bought a new deck! It's the Maybe Lenormand by Ryan Edward, US Games 2016.

One of the unexpected pleasures of this deck is its lovely box with magnetic clasp. The cards are divided into two stacks with a little ribbon to help you get them out, and a mini guidebook.

This deck comes with extra cards to make up a 52 card pack, and I am happy to say that you can put the 36 'real' Lenormand cards in one side of the box and the 'extras' on the other side of the box, and the book will still fit and the box will still close. Result! (I hate extra cards. Never use them. I know hate is a strong word, but it fits. I don't want them! They're a waste. You should be able to choose to leave them out and pay less. But alas, it's not my world... :) )

I love this deck and there's one simple reason for it -- it's minimalist. The cards are average or medium-sized for a Lenormand. Each card is a slightly off-white colour with a large, clear number in the upper left corner, a prominent and easy to see playing card at the top centre, and a relatively easy to discern symbol at the bottom. Not all of them are easy to discern, which is a pity. I'll show you what I mean.

Easy to discern -- a very simple drawing, instantly apparent:

I really love this type of Lenormand, because I tend to read in grand tableaus or large squares, and when the cards are muddy and collaged and fuzzed up for artistic effect, a throw really does look like one big smear. What's the point of that? I want to be able to quickly find Book or Ring or whatever, and see what's close to it and what's far from it, and what house it's in. If I have to squint and strain to even find Book...well, I just scrape the deck up, throw it back in the box and sell it.

This one is not going to be sold.

That said, this art is 'stylised' and some are not as easy to discern:

Why the smudges over the fish and ship? The mountain looks rather like a wave. Why not make it a straight, simple mountain?  Is that a dog or a bear? And what is that, a pile of grey cloth? A stormy sea? Yes, it must be the sea. But wait -- there's no 'sea' in Lenormand! There's no way for me to know this is Clouds except that no other card in the deck is Clouds, either. Process of elimination is not what you'd call a quick method for identifying a card. (Yes, there's a number but if we were going by numbers why bother with an image at all?) They're just not as instantly apparent, and that annoys, distracts and slows me down in a reading.

It's called the Maybe Lenormand because 'Maybe it's a Lenormand, maybe it's not.' With 36 cards, it is, but if you add in the rest, maybe it's not.

The cards added are:

37. Pig
38. Lion
39. Hands
40. Rose
41. Bacchus
42. Rapiers
43. Cats
44. Medal
45. Sick bed
46. Eye
47. Flame
48. Cupid
49. Lightning
50. Broken mirror
51. Train
52. Safe

'There are those who say extra cards are bothersome,' says the guidebook. I am one of those.

The creator of the deck says that the extra cards here are 'based on a tangential lineage of similar decks, all claiming Mlle Marie Anne Lenormand ownership'.  Of course, Marie Anne Lenormand surely never saw a Lenormand deck in her life. The Game of Hope, on which Lenormand decks are based, came out circa 1799-1800, as a kind of portable board game. One laid out the cards in 6 rows of 6 and rolled dice and moved a token along the cards. There was no shuffling and certainly no divination involved, and Mlle Lenormand was at the time under 30 and had yet to publish any books on fortune telling. She was not yet famous as a fortune teller. No one knows how or when the cards came to be used for fortune telling, but that is true of every game that eventually became a fortune telling tool -- tarot cards, playing cards, and the Game of Hope are just the beginning. So yes, lots of decks have claimed Lenormand's ownership. So what. I personally don't see that these cards add anything, but lots of people probably do.

That's not to say I might not occasionally shuffle them in and have a go...wait, what am I saying? I know good and damn well that will never happen. Call me closed minded, I don't care! LOL

The guidebook is simple, concise and very useful. It does contain an error in the subjunctive mood, which I can't understand why a proofreader didn't catch: 'If I was using only 36 cards...'  UGH! If I WERE using only 36 cards, please. The subjunctive use of 'were' may be dying out in spoken English, but not to me nor many grammar traditionalists like me! (Long may we kvetch!)

Rants aside, I like this little deck and will keep it. I may even use it for some readings this week. :D

Thursday 11 August 2016

Greenwood Week - Day 5 - Stones and the Maiden

Greenwood Tarot, Ryan & Potter 1996

Another card about ancient wisdom. 'The ability to relate to ancient knowledge and pass on the lessons of ancestral memory and ritual,' according to the Greenwood guidebook by Mark Ryan.

On her website, Potter writes, 'Be aware of the patterns of connection linking you and nature around you to the past, present and future. Deep learning. The memory of much that has been revered in the landscape can be retrieved in periods of respectful stillness. Learning from elders.'

Celtic Shamans Pack, Matthews 
Hm, another card about learning from elders. I really need to find what wisdom this is point to.

Does Celtic Shamans Pack help? I've drawn The Maiden. 'The manifestation of young and burgeoning life. She is the lost innocence we all seek, and which is strongly present within us at the time of spring.' I suppose I could do with some of that.

Today's just a Thursday, though, and at the moment, I have no idea how these cards might play out in my day.

I'll report back at the end of the day with an update.

Wednesday 10 August 2016

Greenwood Week - Day Four - Waterworld

Six of Cups: Reunion 
In the golden light of an autumnal sunset, two souls are reunited on an ancient mound, the source of the waters of memory and deep love. Six green cups full of golden liquid float in the pool of knowledge. Two otters, animals of loving and playful affection, hunt nearby. Reunion with an old friend, soulmate or a wise part of oneself. A feeling of inner peace. -- Chesca Potter

The otter on the right stands on a bit of log, and seems to be presenting the other otter a fish. The otter on the left stands upright on its hindlegs, perhaps to get a better look at this old friend who's turned up with a gift. In the background water pours out from the burial mound. Potter calls it the pool of knowledge.

What wisdom from the ancient past offers itself to us in such abundance today? What old friend provides a bit of nourishment? It appears it may be an issue that the sun seems to be setting on, and the source of wisdom is very old indeed. (The mound has mature trees and grass growing on it and probably looks nothing like it did when originally built.)

What ancient, spiritual wisdom will flood out for us today, in a playful, affectionate, and nourishing way?

The oracle card from Celtic Shaman's Pack offers an echo. The Inworld is 'the abode of the ancestors and thus one of the prime sources of knowledge and wisdom. The roots of the Tree of Vision and Tradition grow down into this realm and it is reached by descending through a tunnel or deep hole in the earth.' Could this be the view inside the mound from the 6 of Cups?

All we can do is humbly ask what primordial wisdom is on offer for us today.

(I think my message may have something to do with the wisdom of going two days with no vegetables beyond the toppings on veggie burgers and pizza.)

Flow with the waters of the wisdom of the ancestors today, whatever that may mean for you.

Tuesday 9 August 2016

Greenwood Week - Day Three - Watch out for the massive...dose of maleness

Greenwood Tarot, Ryan & Potter 1996
The two cards I've pulled today from Greenwood Tarot (Mark Ryan and Chesca Potter, 1996) and Celtic Shaman's Pack (John Matthews and Chesca Potter, 1995, 2015) have, to say the least, a strong masculine energy.

The 5 of Wands from Greenwood features the Cerne Abbas Giant.  Nobody knows why or when this figure was cut into a hillside in Dorset, but the first earliest mention of it isn't until 1751. It almost certainly isn't as ancient as it appears. And no one knows who cut it or why. Strange.

Potter has added some embellishments that reinforce the themes of the figure -- virility, fertility and power. The oracle card also depicts a powerful male figure, as a head emerging from a cauldron.

The questions that spring from these cards today:

What will give me this fiery drive today? How will it manifest? In what way can I ground and direct it, so that it is not wasted engine revving? What project or idea will I turn my attention toward? Or will it be a series of rapid, staccato tasks, buzzing through a to-do list?

How will I be assertive and authoritative today? How will I be a strong leader?

What fires me up?

What gets me excited?

What germ of idea or action will I fertilise today?

What lights a fire under my feet?

What do I need to bash with a big club?

And how do I keep all this raw male power from becoming overly aggressive?