Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Favorite Majors: The Hierophant

So I have a kind of funny relationship with this major. See, the Hierophant is actually my birth card, which has always seemed kind of funny and not right to me, largely because I associate it a lot with the traditional RWS image, the Marseille tradition Pope, etc. And let's just say organized religion is as far away from 'me' as you can get. But on the other hand...as the previous post focused on...I do actually do a lot motivated by duty, obligation, external sense of necessity etc. so...

Well in either case, one nice thing is that this is a major that comes with a lot of variety in between decks. Many artists take quite a few artistic liberties or come up with some really interesting and thought-provoking spins on the concept. That said...

V. Hierophant

There's a lot I really like about how the Shadowscapes tarot does this card. I love the concept of the Hierophant as a tree - steady and grounded, hard and strong and unmoving, unyielding, old. It's made better by the fact that it does have a kind of severe face/expression, and that wizard's staff, amusingly enough. It kind of brings together a lot of the underlying concepts of this card while completely removing the religious connotations/imagery present on the RWS and its closer clones. Which is useful to be because a lot of the time, religion is quite not what this card is really about in religions, and yet that has so many connotations for me personally it makes it a bit hard to separate from while reading. And of course, I love the nuanced details here, the colors used as well. Creator of this deck is an amazing artist and it really shows in this and other cards.

Runner Up:
Well, makes sense to pick a traditional take on the card that's all about tradition among other things, right? I may not like the RWS version of it very much, but the Thoth? Yes, I do quite approve of Crowley's approach. I like the ancient Babylonian look to this hierophant. Like all the cards in the Thoth deck, this one is chock full of esoteric symbolism. I'd be doing it a disservice trying to detail what I only half-understand but I do love that it's there, adding meaning to the card and waiting for me to study it/know it better when I get the chance. Mostly though I love this aesthetically - the orange and dark tones, the lighting effects, that window in the back, the masks - it all really adds to this image of forbidding, powerful, sacred, removed from the world, construct. Very much brings to mind a whole bunch of ideas and concepts associated as soon as I look at it, which is helpful in readings and yeah. Thoth. Does it right.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Free Association Draw

This is exactly what it says on the tin: draw one card, write whatever comes to mind.

This is actually a card that comes up a lot for me in readings - not to represent me, quite (that remains, I'd say, primarily the Queen of Swords) but rather...my approach to life, generally.

The knights, you see, are about doing. About going forth, acting, getting things done. The knight of swords is passionate and rash - he flings himself towards whatever captures his attention at the moment, heedless of who might get hurt. Sometimes you really do need to just GO after something like that, without overthinking, with everything you have but that card comes up for me more as what I should be doing than any tendency I actually have. The knight of cups is a dreamer, the romantic, ruled by his heart, ruled by idealism. The knight of wands is passionate too, but more measured, more pursuing ambitions and goals than the impulsive sword knight. 

But the Knight of Coins? The knight of coins goes forward steadily, slowly, more weighed down by his armor, careful of his footing. The knight of coins moves forward mindful of his duties, his obligations. The knight of coins moves forward because he must. It is a pragmatic forward-movement...if passion isn't there today that's alright - there is routine, there is this map, there is this or that short term goal to move towards. If there is mud in the road you plod forward nonetheless. You trudge. You muddle through. Keep calm and carry on. If you cannot manage ambition, or idealism, or passion it's alright - there is necessity to keep you moving. 

Perhaps he goes slower than the other knights, not motivated the way they are by those strong feelings, calls, but neither is he as easily stopped. The ambitious can burn out; the idealistic can become disillusioned; the impulsive can get distracted. But the one who moves forward out of a grim sense of MUST, MUST, MUST? Pragmatic necessity is not so easily dispelled. Do you feel sick today, exhausted? Get up anyway. Have a cuppa. Go do what you need to do. Do you feel apathetic towards everything? Get up anyway. Pretend. Go to what you need to do. Did something you were hoping for not work out? Disappointed, sad? Shrug it off, go focus on what you need to do. And so on.

And sometimes you find that, having far fewer passions, dreams, ambitions - lacking real motivation and energy and drive, that kind of joie de vivre that so many people seem to have - when you step back and look, you see that you've accomplished just as much if not more than quite a few of them anyway. Why? Because you don't let all that distract you. Like this knight, you can take or leave all of it. At the end of the day, regardless, you put on that big suit of armor, grab your coin-shields, get on your faithful horse and plod on anyway. And you keep plodding, and keep plodding, and keep plodding forward. Step by step, day by day.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

favorite card backs

An often overlooked aspect of tarot decks, the backs are...well. for me, i can't say they are necessarily a deal breaker - i have several decks whose backs I quite dislike but which I got anyway because well, the actual deck more than made up for that particular drawback. but I must say, a nice back really does add to the awesomeness of a deck as a whole.

For me personally, i like my backs to be reversible if possible (since I read with reversals), for them to somehow thematically or visually 'go' with the card fronts, WITHOUT being merely a print of one of the cards (this tendency on the part of LoS particularly is rather annoying...) and just general aesthetic prettiness. I thought it'd be fun to just list some of my favorite card backs from within my tarot collection. Interestingly enough, they don't correspond all that much with which decks are my favorites overall...

Lookit, shiny!

The Fenestra tarot has what is probably my most favorite of backs...very nice, subtle color, a bit of an art-nouveau feel to it, nicely reversible, and goes perfectly with the art style of the cards themselves. As I said, not really corresponding with my deck preference generally...see, I love the minors in this deck, and it'd probably be much higher on my preferences list if it wasn't for the HUGE, UGLY, UNTRIMMABLE borders the publisher felt the need to take onto all the majors.

I traded this deck away because of that, and the universe recently saw that another copy of it came back to me, so holding onto it this time because I do like the art style and colors generally. And yes, the backs are a major plus.

Other cool backs:

I like these two a lot, the Crystal/Vetro back and the Balbi. The Crystal back doesn't really go with the art style of the deck per se, but I just really like how it looks. Reminds me of some old playing card backs I vaguely remember from when I was a kid. Nice and reversible too.

As for the Balbi, again, simple and reversible. Colors do a lot for me too - I've always liked the purple and green color combination, and the particular shades of purple and green used here really appeal. I like the vague vine type design, and the general style and bright colors perfectly encompass the nature of the deck overall and yeah, likey.

Now here are two backs that AREN'T quite reversible, but which I really like anyway. One is the Thoth back. Like the rest of that deck, it is chock full of esoteric symbolism I currently only vaguely/half-understand at best, but I can appreciate it's significance. It definitely gives you a nice feel for the rest of the deck, and visually, it just works. Plus, its not THAT badly un-reversible, so I can still read my reversals without too much distraction.

The Tarot de la Rea back, on the other hand, is very non-reversible, but given that this is one of very few decks which I DON'T read using reversals (in fact this deck likes me to use one very specific spread to read with it) that's not too much a bother. It very well represents the cool mask-filled nature of the deck as a whole and like the fronts just has a...unique, special feel to it. This deck really is one of the little treasures of my collections, and that includes the backs.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

academic advice again

Well, I did a reading a while back for advice on an academic paper I'd needed to write, and liked how that well. Have something else I need to finish by the end of the month - not strictly for school, more like an article/entry to [hopefully] be published in this upcoming encycolopedia o' terrorism thing, so important - and figured it'd be useful to use the same spread/reading idea. Basically two pairs - the first pair for advice as to process, the second for advice as to content.

So here, in the first pair, I see, well - useful if unsurprising advice. One of those *prod prod* type messages from the cards. In the lovers card I see the need for synthesis - to combine the creativity and inspiration of the Empress with the discipline and organization of the Emperor. I can create/write up something awesome, can do this successfully, but I need to really channel BOTH of those energies. As in, not random ideas and disorganized outline like I have now but really sit down and force myself to WORK on it. Discipline, more deliberate effort. This is emphasized by the fool - stop procrastinating, because in this case the procrastination isn't borne of laziness but rather of self-doubt, nervousness, the fact that writing something that's to be PUBLISHED, and not just for school, is intimidating. Have confidence, or at least an optimistic attitude, channel that carefree energy of the Fool, and JUST DO IT ALREADY. It's not that long of a project. Just. Get. To. It. Think of it as a sort of intellectual adventure if that makes it easier. Lots of positive potential in these cards, but really calls for deliberate work/action on my part to follow through on this opportunity.

Ok, so content-wise, again, as last time, this makes a lot of sense. I'm doing my entry on this former Chechen President/alleged terrorist figure (don't want to use the name because don't want it possibly popping up in google searches associated with my tarot blog, lol /paranoia) and basically...part of my own view of him, and something I am trying to get across even in the context of a medium that calls for OBJECTIVITY in writing...

Well the strength card, represents earlier part of his involvement in the conflict pretty well. He played a major role in the success of the Chechen seperatists in the first war, both in terms of being chief of staff of the chechen military and in terms of playing a major role in being a pragmatic negotiator with the Russians in making the peace. He wasn't an extremist, but a nationalist, who wanted peace but also wanted Chechnya to be its own country. Of course, he wasn't successful either my force or my more peaceful means in dealing with all the problems in the country as President, and the whole idea of the snake lurking there, and playing with fire...during the second war he was increasingly allied to the wahhabist/terrorist extremists like basayev and khattab et al. Did call for holy war, made moves to institutionalize some semblence of shariah law...arguabely forced to by the situation, increasingly loss of control, rise of influence of the extremist salafists and criminal gangs and russian intractability but...on the other hand...and here's where the moon card really comes in: was he, when it comes down to it, a violent terrorist like the Russians claim? Did he in fact implicitly condone acts of terror like the theatre seige and beslan and all the suicide bomb attacks? Or was he a moderate forced into increasingly difficult/impossible position my extremists on both sides of the conflict? When you look at the atrocities and war crimes Russian forces committed with impunity in Chechnya... and up until his death he was still trying to call for ceasefires and negotiation...but was that done out of lingering moderate impulses or the desperation of his position?

Much room for interpretation, debate. Various sources say vastly different things...must find a nice, academic, objective way of trying to convey all this in ~1000 words along with all the basic biographical information

And yeah, again, this was quite useful use of the cards :]
Interesting too, that it was all majors that came up this time...

Monday, January 23, 2012

dealing with disappointing others

A while ago I did a reading about dealing with being disappointed. While that is definitely a useful subject, it occurs to me, due to some things going on right now, that I also have definite issues with dealing with disappointing others. Not with being a disappointment, but with taking specific actions that are likely to result in someone else being disappointed.

Essentially, this is a kind of conflict between my INTP/Queen of Swords type logical nature and my Cancer side...because the more I think on it, the more it seems just due to empathy. The INTP in me doesn't like to think of myself as empathetic, per se, but...it's really not about people 'hating' me. Yes, I try to be nice and please people when I can but...not at all costs. If I am being reasonable, and someone isn't happy, their problem, eh? And in some cases, this is in dealing with people who I don't even particularly like/am not impressed with/have clearly shown they don't care all that much about my needs/feelings. And yet...I still feel a bit guilty disappointing them. Why? Because I know how crappy that feels and I can't help but want to...not inflict that feeling on others if I can avoid it. But the INTP in me says, you need to take care of yourself too. This is what you need to do, regardless of the possible effects. Inner conflict inner conflict so let us draw some cards then, eh?

What's interesting here, of course is that it's a three card draw of all reversals. That's always something to take note of. I know a lot of people don't read with reversals but for me, with the exception of a few decks where it just feels wrong to do so, I do. Always have. See, when I first started reading, and found out there was the option - well, being the slightly masochistic must challenge meself person that I am, of course, new to Tarot, I would choose the option that meant learning twice as many meanings! Lol, but really, at this point it feels natural to me, and reversals just add....shade and nuance to readings that I appreciate. But nonetheless, an all reversal reading is still a bit 0__o. In context though, it does make sense.

Here's the message I get from these cards - sometimes, you just can't really win. You can't have it all, you can't somehow magically synthesize two opposing desires and make everyone happy happy and please yourself and please others and get what YOU need to get done, done while also doing the thing that someone else wants you to do for them, and you will drive yourself crazy if you insist on trying.

If you want to look at it from that kind of perspective, either way there's a negative - either you are 'selfish' and 'flakey' or you are making yourself miserable and stressed being 'flakey' regarding other things. If you try to please everyone someone, and possibly even everyone, will end up losing anyway. You really do just have to pick one or the other and accept the opportunity cost/loss and move on, stop dwelling and feeling needless guilt over doing what you need to do. Which is not to say the choice is necessarily the same in all situations - if it's a choice between spending a day relaxing and de-stressing, a nice planned mental-health day as it were, and doing a much-needed favor for a good friend, perhaps you do need to sacrifice the me-time; if it's a choice between getting through some of that huge pile of academic obligation and house cleaning/organization and errands that's looming over you, or making time to meet with someone who has shown very limited interest in your needs, well then, looks like it's time to just focus on doing what you need to do for you.

Use logic to make the objectively best decision you can given the limitations of your situation.

Empathy is a good thing. Compassion and consideration are all good things. Need to remember to apply them to yourself too, though. Sometimes you need to put your needs aside and really help someone out. Other times, you needs to put yourself first. Both are perfectly legitimate decisions. Your needs are worthwhile too.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Quick Card-Based Story

Another random tarot exercise for the stretching of the mind. Nothing too unique, story based on the cards. I've done this before, even gone to a tarot meeting with this as a presentation subject. Before though, I did it based on one card. Here, doing it on a three card draw. Though, because I'm a bit short on time (procrastination ftw) going to keep this succinct.

We arrived on the colony as planned. It was much as they said it would be and yet...it didn't feel like the land of new possibilities, not really. The geologists had told us that there were stones under the earth, so very many rich deposits of gems and minerals that we could mine and trade back to the home world. They told us the land was fertile and rich in the valleys, that we could grow much food, perhaps even enough to export, once we used the tools we'd brought and planted the seeds. They told us many things, and we came. And we came, and all we could see was rocks, treacherous mountain-tops on hard, cold earth. It was darker here than the home-world...the nights stretched on and on and there was only one single moon to illuminate the sky, meagerly. There were rodents that scrambled about and bits of old bones in gullies and we were overwhelmed. 

So we opened the shell. We opened the shell where she, our princess, had slept, had waited out the longer journey from our world to this one. She alone among the court had chosen to come with us, to this new world, this new adventure, this new place. She arose from the shell with fresh flowers still braided into her her and she grinned, looked around and grinned at all of us. She raised her arms in toast, in possibility. Her beaver-familiar, always presented, mimicked her, and we all felt lighter, somehow. She would see a way through this for us, we thought then.

And she did. Where we saw cold earth she saw the possibility of plants, of lions running about through verdant grass, of vines and blossoms curling over the rocks, of glittering gems fashioned into wreaths. We followed her vision. We followed her vision of zebra-stripped trees, of valleys of flowering grass, of fresh fruit and greens. We introduced wildlife, and we did not cage them or run from them. The lions and monkeys played with our children, learned from them, taught. We scrambled among the mine-caves, the branches of trees, swam in the long winding rivers that were the closest thing this world had to a sea. The short periods of light saw all of us outside, basking in the rays, and in the dark we built sea-shell shaped torches that glowed white and gold and here, here our children grew taller, climbed higher, knew more, this world of strange possibility where lions could sit on zebra-striped trees and through hard work we could grow rich.

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Favorite Majors: The Emperor

So yeah, the Emperor. This is a card that doesn't really grab me in any way. I neither love in nor hate it; don't have any strong conceptual issues with it, but don't identify with it either. I don't really have trouble reading it in spreads, so...it's there. That said, the standard type image of the man sitting in a throne...not the most exciting or evocative of things. It took me a bit of looking through my decks to settle on the favorites here.

IV. Emperor

Evocative - that's what comes to mind when I look at this card, what this emperor has that so many, for me, do not. I love the rich, lavish atmosphere of the Legacy of the Divine take on this - it LOOKS like the setting that an emperor, a man of real power and authority, might find himself in. I love the use of color - gold and purple for imperial authority, the red and gold to suggest martial discipline, the stained glass Aries in the back. Just really stunning to look at. Also, for me, this cards evokes easily both positive and negative aspects of the card: on the one hand, look at how much you can achieve if you act decisively, if you can organize and be disciplined and assertive; on the other, look how much power is concentrated in the hands of one man - is that fair, really? Does he deserve all of those riches? Why does he get to take so much when others have so little. Ah, musings on the nature and legitimacy of authority...

Runner Up:
I was originally going to choose something else as my runner up card, but shuffling through Swedish Witch I realized just how much I enjoy this one. First of all, I love how much relevant symbolism is packed into each of the major arcana in this deck, really. Like this one, a lot of the traditional RWS/Thoth Emperor symbols, like the eagle shield, the ram, the crown, etc, but done an original and quite aesthetically pleasing way. Also? It has a PANDA (and bamboo for it to eat too!). Come on, a PANDA - how cool is that? I don't even know the possible symbolic significance of pandas in the context of this card but it fills me with much amusement nonetheless. My only small issue with this Emperor is his expression - a bit too happy/laid back/jolly looking for my conceptual take on this major. But still, its very pretty and I likey much.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

on uncertainty

A bit pressed for time, comme d'habitude, but decided to do a quick reading for myself on the subject of all the uncertainty in my life right now.

There's a few things, really. For one, I'm finishing up reading for the first session of my Cyberwar class tonight. Now, usually I'm pretty confident in my abilities, academically speaking...but taking this class in part to fulfill a requirement for my grad program and in part because I didn't want to be a coward and back out of a class I could learn a lot from just because I don't already feel comfortable with the material...but I admit I feel a bit overwhelmed and...yes, uncertain. I just...don't know nearly as much about things like computer networks as I do about the middle east or somalia or chechnya or ethnic conflicts or history or languages etc etc etc. and being a grad level class...it makes me a bit nervous.

Also there is the fact that my housing situation is so chaotic right now - as in been staying in a hotel last few days due to floors being redone, and going to have to juggle moving back in with work AND class tomorrow and just...gah. And I have an article thing I'm supposed to write by the end of the month for something that is actually going to be published and...yeah. And that's not even touching on personal life stuff and yeah...lots and lots of uncertainty floating around my life and brain right now.

So I draw these two cards. First impression....lots of blue :0

But really, such a nice, succint, reassuring message here. Of all the courts I identify most with the Queen of Swords, both in her positive and her negative aspects, and here she is, upright: You can do it, man. Attitude, experience, intellectual-wise, all of it - you have it. You have the sword and the crystal ball, the emotional grounding and the logic to guide you and...you can handle this nonsense. Maybe it won't be so easy, but hey, you're used to not easy, right? You laugh in the face of not easy. Come on now, chin up, use you inner wisdom and stop with all this self doubt. You can totally do it because you have the inner resources to handle all of this.

And it will turn out well, all of it. If you work hard, you'll do fine in the class, well enough to be reasonably pleased with yourself. Your housing situation, pain in the ass or no, will be settled in a few days and then you'll be nice and comfortable and have shiny re-done floors to boot! You can get that writing done. Success, and being able to be happy with yourself at your success, is totally within the realm of possible, graspable, do-able. And this is a LOGICAL ASSESSMENT OF THE SITUATION THE QUEEN OF SWORDS SAYS SO LOGIC, MAN, LOGIC. So LISTEN :]

Also, emphasis on that Ten of Cups. When you do handle it, when you do succeed despite stress and nervousness and whatever other obstacles your mind or life may throw at you...give yourself CREDIT for it. Pat yourself on the back. Do something nice for yourself. Positive-reinforcement and all that.

But yeah, the gist: stop worrying so much, you can handle it and things will turn out fine.

...good to hear :0

Sunday, January 15, 2012

memory & cards exercise

Well, here is another attempt on my part to explore relationship with the cards through various not-quite-a-reading type exercises. This idea is pretty straightforward - draw card, and working mostly off of the images on the card, write about a specific memory. Not general 'things i used to do' but of a specific place and moment in time. Then if possible connect that back with the 'traditional' meaning of the card. So...

I've never really ridden a horse, I don't think. There was a birthday party for the granddaughter of a family friend when I was maybe twelve or thirteen. I vaguely recall there being a pony there for a while. The younger kids took turns riding it. I honestly can't remember if I did. I was a good bit older than them, and had never been stereotypical 'I want a pony girl' so it's very possible I might have passed. It was a short ride around in a circle on a front lawn in suburbia type thing, highly unexciting.

I have ridden on a camel. Also nothing too terribly exciting, except that it was in Egypt, in Giza in front of the pyramids. Of course, made less pleasant by the fact that the camels had sores and flies on them and I felt bad for the animals. It was exciting and yet so...controlled. So touristy. Being led in a line across a small stretch of desert and back. I never really like that touristy feel, have a far too easy time seeing myself and companions through the eyes of the ones doing the talking and guiding and whatever and just...I don't like the falseness of it. No doubt useful way to see the 'sights' and yet... My least favorite part of that trip to Egypt was the few days we stayed in Hurgada. It was so pretty and clean and full of Western style restaurants and just so...immaculately touristy. Some people spent entire vacations in places like that, in Sharm-el-Sheik. I just wanted to leave, leave, leave. When I travel, and i DO love traveling more than almost anything else, I want to really EXPERIENCE the place to which I am going. A tourist resort is not Egypt, not the real Egypt, no. It was later, that last week where, having no one to do things with I spent entire days walking around Cairo alone. Some people raise eyebrows when I mention that bit. talk about safety, but...nothing happened, nothing at all.

I walked across the long bridge from Zamalek, through Tahrir square, on the news so much these days but then, before all of that started, perfectly ordinary. There were always people sitting around in front of the stone railing around the bridges, enjoying the Nile, and yes, especially around sunset the Nile was beautiful. Once or twice I bough roasted corn from a street vendor. It was vegan after all, and tasted good enough; like corn. I crossed those massive busy streets with no real intersections, no lights or walk signs you just wait for an opportunity and run across. There was a man selling tea under an underpass, where lots of people also gathered and sat because summer is so hot there and underpass means shade. I definitely admired the women wearing the black abayas, covered entirely and in black in that heat. Some men wore gallabiyas which are similar shaped but light-colored, not the same thing at all.

There was that store in a very, very un-touristy neighborhood which sold koshari, this really yummy dish of pasta and fried onions and lentils and tomato sauce and chickpeas in huge tubs and for so cheap, given exchange rates. The big stores in the downtown area you passed, the movie theatre, the way you walked and walked because what else was there to do, stop in a cafe for a glass of chilled mango juice because it was so hot, so fucking hot and the cafe was cool, walk further, the book store full of books you can't understand, walk further, take in everything with your ears, your eyes, wish you could run away, stay here, the unfamiliarity of it all, walk further, go.

Exploring the world. Same concept, really, the woman on the horse with the bow. The nine staves, nine obstacles, a fence of faces, ideas of what you shouldn't do. Stay within these limits. Stay within these rules. This is safe. This is safe. This is what you are used to. She doesn't need anyone with her - she is ready, excited to go, confident that she can take on anything, in night or day, whatever, let us see something, let us go. My approach to life really. Some would call me reckless, and I won't deny that, but I don't think all recklessness is necessarily bad. A bit of danger does make things more exciting. Jumping out of a plane was the best thing I've ever done. And if I am in a new place, an interesting place, a place I might never have the chance to visit again, why shouldn't I take the chance and walk around and explore and see what i can? If I have no one to do it with should I let that limit me? No, no, no. Even here, in my neighborhood, which some people seem to think is not the safest of places...I've walked around alone, after dark, and it was fine. Nothing happened. Nothing bothered me.

Not that this is always advice I'd give others, not least of which because my priorities in life ARE kind of skewy, but...refuse to let such supposed obstacles limit me. Not obstacles of others, vague, and [working on] not obstacles in my mind...expplore, explore, see how much you can do, and if that is recklessness, so be it, I am reckless. I really would prefer a short but interesting life anyway.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

shiny new deck :D

So - due to my life and especially my housing situation being in a state of perpetual chaos, I woke up this morning to the sight and sound of random men entering my bedroom to measure the floors...fun times...

On the bright side, however, my roommate had gone to ask the building manager about fixing broken sink and she came back to hand still half-asleep me a package. What was in the package, you may ask? A new deck! :D

And not just any deck, but one I've very much been a hankering for as of late...the Tarot de Marrakesh.

This one comes out of France, and what makes it special, to me...is well, the fact that it is so very North African themed.

See, I've been studying French and Arabic for years now, very academically interested in the North Africa/Mid-East region spent last semester doing a ton of reading and writing about security issues in North Africa, want desperately to visit Tunisia/Algeria/Morocco (in that order of preference, lol) and yeah, I could go on...

So of course I would want this deck very much as soon as I set my eyes on scans of it. And now it is in my clutches!

The art is so genuine a capture of North African Arab-Berber culture, and I love the art style, and the limited color palette of the cards really works well, in my opinion at least. There's a minimalism here that just...works. Also quite like the titles on the majors. Interesting. I'm actually going to read the lwb that comes with the deck because...curious :0

Pips are unillustrated, but at this point I'm comfortable reading those, so no problemo there. And to make things even simpler, the standard wands = fire, swords = air associations are used.

Sadly, I have a bunch of other obligations, both life, school, and reading-related that I need to take care of before I can get to working with this deck but...yay it is MINE ALL MINE :D

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

reverse reading: new starts

So usually tarot reading is about drawing cards and interpreting them.

Thought it would be interesting, just in an experimental, change things up type of way, to reverse that. You know, as a way of training brain to thinking more intuitively in images and all that.

So last night I did a short reading with cards giving me advice for the new semester.

Now I do a reverse - choosing cards to represent my current attitude, outlook, hopes for the new semester, for the spring, for the new year. This is how I want to approach things. This is the kind of new start I want this to be. This is how I want to act in regards to the world around me. This is how I think it would be best to approach things.

With energy, with creativity, with inspiration, and unafraid to venture out into the unknown type of attitude. Hardness creativity, energy, drive into new things, approach with an open mind, even a bit of whimsy, and most of all with POSITIVITY.

Yes, intellectually a new start, learning to things, but also take it as time to try to leave certain nonsense behind, mentally. Try to conciously work on a new attitude, a new approach. Envision success. Bring some discipline to your mental life, both in school and in personal life. Strive for GOOD logic i how you think about everything

A logically driven inspired approach to new things, then, aye?

Says the INTP, ha :]

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

card for a first day

so yeah, I do not do daily draws because...I don't have the attention span to do that with any regularity, and also, I just don't see the need to draw a card for every day of my life.

sometimes though, there is a day where I do want to do a draw. tomorrow is the first day of classes for my second/spring semester in grad school. schedule is shifted due to the holiday on Monday, so I have Monday classes tomorrow which means...three classes back to back, from 2pm-9pm basically. fun welcome back, eh?

a quick one card draw with message/advice for my first day. not longer because uh, I still have a ton of reading for my Ethnic Conflict/Civil War class to finish up. xD

Interesting, my favorite empress again shows her face on this blog.

I see this foremost as a gentle reminder to try to take care of myself. Already I'm seeing myself sliding into the comfortable ol' routine of sleep, who needs sleep, oh well looks like i don't have time to eat all day lalala caffeine caffeine caffeine and well, yes. nurturing, caring, treating self well would no doubt mean better, or at least easier to come by/less stressful use of full cognitive capacity.

Besides that? Inspiration, growth, fresh new things to learn, to read about and discuss and engage with. Channel that feeling, that inspired feeling, the metaphorical spring of the intellect. That's what you like best about school...not all the stress, certainly not competition or grades, but LEARNING, ENGAGING, the intellectual challenge of it all, the chance to really use your mind at full capacity and discuss what interests you with others who actually know what your are talking about. Focus and hold onto that feeling, let it drive you.

Lastly, have a bunch of ideas, little projects related to school/career-oriented things, errands around school I need to run. I actually have the motivation/inspiration to conceive of these things right now, no doubt because new beginnings always have a bit of inspirational effect on me...hold onto that. Nurture that as well. Follow through. See your life and mind as a pretty garden and make the best of it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Another go at '5 Ws and an H' exercise

So decided I felt like giving this one another try. I do like doing things with tarot that are a bit intellectually challenging, so why not giving this one another shot with a different deck. Trying to be briefer this time with my responses, perhaps?

Again, found the exercise on Zanna Starr's blog, where her directions for it are as follows:
"For the 5W's and an H exercise, we use one Tarot card to answer the questions Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? As an additional requirement, each answer can be only one phrase or sentence. The idea is to respond intuitively, without a lot of description or explanation."
Swedish Witch Tarot - Wheel of Fortune

Someone going through some major life transition or personal transformation. Someone in the process of moving between major phases of their life, whether for the better or for the worse.

A major change, a new phase of things beginning. A cycle. Rising from the ashes or falling from a pedestal. Movement, lots of movement, lows and highs. Something showy.

When there are lots of changes going on, physical or mental or both. When things are moving forward, leaving the past behind. When its time to move on.

A place of movement, transition, perhaps literally so - a place of wheels, vehicles and such? A place of personal significance, where some major life change happened in the past - or, alternatively, a brand new place for a fresh new start.

No reason, randomnosity, because shit happens sometimes whether you deserve it or not. Fortune, random, chance - not justice well weighed, here. Life moves, wheel spins, sometimes you win sometimes you lose just roll with it, that's why.

Quite naturally, forces will ensure that wheel spins. Out of your hands, out of your power. The change will happen, good or bad, the old will end the new will begin, unstoppable.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My Favorite Majors: The Empress

So, the Empress is definitely not one of the Major Arcana that I super relate with in any way. I'm not really much the mothering/nurturing type, either in desire to be mothered/nurtured nor in any desire to do aforementioned activities. Never have identified very much with traditional feminine roles or socially assigned female gender roles either instinctively or intellectually and...yeah. Which is not to say I have an real dislike/aversion/prejudice towards this card, per se, but...yeah, not one I feel very close to. That said, though, it wasn't hard to decide on my favorites for this one.

III. Empress

This card was seriously one of the main reasons why I became obsessed with getting my paws on a copy of Robert Place's Alchemical Renewed tarot, which took a while before it became a reality, but yeah. I love the art style of the whole deck, as well as its theme, but this card especially... Visually, I just love it. The lush, verdant green of the background, the way the figures are drawn..the colors. It just works for me. Also I think the combination of the flora and the child really represents the growth and nurturing aspects of this card. It makes perfect sense for the empress to be nude, in my mind and...I like the absence of wheat. I know that's a bit random, but the traditional RWS image and a lot of derivative decks have that in there and the correlation between a woman's body and harvest just...rubs me the wrong way. Call it my own issues with uh, yeah, thanks but just because I'm a woman doesn't make me a baby-making machine or whatnot, but there you have it. Also why cards with pregnant ladies, while perfectly appropriate symbolically, don't super work for me personally. But yeah, artistically especially, I just find this such a beautiful Empress card.

Runner Up: 
I also really like this one. Like the rest of the Nusantara deck, I love the colors, the art style, the figure and the clothes and all that. What I really like about it though is that it sticks pretty closely to the traditional RWS take of the card - which honestly, I rather like the arrangement of - while getting rid of all the aspects I liked less. I love all the green with the right amount of red/orange/yellow highlights - a perfect color scheme for this card. No wheat, no pomegranate dress, but familiar, comfortable. Basically it really nicely brings to mind the meanings of this card for me without bringing up icky gender issue touchiness and yeah. It's pretty :]

Saturday, January 7, 2012

dealing with disappointment

Another interesting little quick reading/draw i felt was worth writing up here. Planning on putting away the Silicon Dawn for a bit and working with some other decks that I haven't really got to reading with yet, so decided to do this as a kind of final for now read with that deck.

So basically, I applied to this State Dept. Critical Language Scholarship thing a few months ago. I'm studying Arabic, see, and though I knew it was highly unlikely that I would actually succeed and get it, it was free to apply, and if I had gotten it, would of meant several months all expenses paid studying of the language in a country in the Middle East or North Africa. Basically, nothing to lose for trying and much to gain if I actually got it, so why not, right?

Well, I got an email yesterday informing me that I had not, in fact, been selected. As I said, this was pretty much the expected outcome. I had, as I always do, deliberately maintained a fatalistic/realistic attitude and low expectations, so the disappointment factor was limited.

Which is not to say I didn't feel any at all. Been working on this quite useful self help book recently, which works for me because it kinda incorporates aspects of Buddhist philosophy and such also, and one of them that makes lots of sense is about letting yourself feel your emotions, not suppressing/avoiding things, etc. etc. So yes, I was disappointed some. After all, it was a chance to study a language I love learning in a country I very much want to visit/live in, to travel which is one of my favorite things, would have really helped me advance much more in my language skills, etc etc.

But you know, it's pointless to dwell on that which cannot be changed, so I thought it would be useful instead to use this as an opportunity to draw cards with advice on a more generally useful aspect of the situation - how to deal with disappointment.

Again Justice pops up. This is turning into a bit of a theme, isn't it? (I tried out this quarterly spread from Zanna Starr's blog at a tarot meetup today and guess what turned out to be my Quintessence card for the year??) Makes sense though, in this pair.

See, if you want to get anywhere, if you want to lead an interesting and fulfilling life, you need to take risks, take leaps of faith, give things a go because the opportunity is there and well, it's worth a shot. If a man on a dragon appears promising to fly you somewhere amazing, do you really want to say no and stay locked up in the same old boring routine blah blah? So you jump on and go for it. And sometimes it works out. And sometimes you fall on your ass in the cold wet snow. So it goes.

There's no use dwelling on it, really, on beating yourself, on focusing on that negative. It was worth a shot and a shot was what you gave it. As for why it didn't work out? Justice, impartial logic, impartial justice. As in, do not take it personally. It was not meant as some judgement of why you, as a person, or terrible or worthless or anything like that. There were simply many applications, limited slots, and to an impartial judge yours just didn't make the cut. So it goes. There is no point in resenting cold logical sword of justice, is there?

So take a balanced approach. Be fair to yourself, fair to whoever or whatever person or force disappointed you. Equanimity. You lose some, you win some, right? No one can succeed all the time, win at everything. No one is perfect, and if they did or were that would hardly be balanced either. Which is not to say don't take anything from experience. Look objectively, logically, at your own performance or actions, and learn for next time - is there anything you could have done better, handled better? Anything to keep in mind for next time?

Look forward, no back. Focus on the unspilt cups. If someone else, a friend or family member rather than you had been disappointed, had failed, would you berate them for days on end? No? Then don't do it to yourself either. Balance. Ok, you win some, you lose some. This was a lose. Fair enough. I'll keep some lessons in mind for next time, and otherwise shrug, alright, pick myself up and try my hand at something else. So it goes.

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 Year Card

So, just out of idle intellectual curiosity, decided to calculate my personal year card for 2012, plus 2011 while I was at it, since that year is over now, to see how applicable it in fact was. Pretty simple really, add your day and month of birth to the year in question and voila, there be your card for that year.

It turns out that my year card for 2011 was the Wheel of Fortune - you know, the card that speaks of life's ups and downs, fortunes changing for the worse, then for the better again...in this sense, describes the year pretty well for me on a micro level. I had some really good experiences, and some really difficult times as well. Some experiences were even kind of both, in different ways. This card also speaks a lot about changes - like, major life changes - and again, as I've mentioned in previous posts here, that way very much a 2011 thing. In fact, on my personal journal I kind of wrote out a list of major things that happened in 2011 for me and yeah, there were a lot of moves, shifts, new things happening, trying or doing things for the very first time. I ended the year in a different city, in a new school, in a different job, in a different social situation, with a whole list of new things I'd done, compared to the begining of the year. Mentally too, though less drastically, I think it was a year of some shifting 'wheel-turning' as it were, so yes. I can totally see this as being an appropriate card to describe 2011, in retrospect.

Which brings us to 2012. The year card for this new year is apparently Justice.

So what exactly should I take this to mean, then? Well, Justice is really in a lot of ways a card that speaks to balance, equilibrium, getting things the way they should be and maintaining that. It's objective right, fairness - cold logic. The logic of the sword, sharp and intellectual and unyeilding. It's about deferring to yes, this the right, objectively so, rather than whatever you may feel about the matter. It's connected to society, the people around you, morals as influenced by your surroundings rather than only your own beliefs. It's about doing right - not being judged for it afterwards, really (that's Judgement) but the actual act of DOING it...Setting things right according to objective standards...

This does make a certain sense. There are areas in my life where my approach has certainly been less than balance. See, I have a remarkable ability to be very fair and understanding and empathtic towards other people, and very harsh, judgemental, illogical in my approach to myself, my own actions. There are reasons for that, which this isn't the place for getting into, but suffice to say this is an area that I could very much benefit from working on. I like the objectivity and logic aspect of this especially. I am, as I often state, and INTP. I like logic very much. Many of my actions are dictated by it, and in general I find that doing the thing I know is logical rather than the thing I feel like doing tends to be for the best. So in broad strokes - do that more. Try to bring more balance, more fairness to myself, more equilibrium into my life.

Trying to think too, what this card might mean more externally. I can't imagine it's really a reference to any legal matters, as there are none of those in my life right now (though, I guess, you never know). I suppose again, more proper balance in school, work, social relationships...

A year of...gradual, steady improvement and not too many dramatic changes or shocks, inshallah.

(Incidentally, the last time I had a Justice year was apparently 2003. I was still pretty young then, but I very much remember that as a pretty craptastic year where a lot of things went to hell, so to speak, especially personally/mentally. So uh, I suppose that was a year in which balance was in the forefront for its lack?) In any case, yeah, inshallah in 2012 there will be plenty, not dearth :]

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Exercise 3:1 from "21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card"

I like Mary K. Greer's books. Find them to be quite interesting and helpful. Tarot Reversals, for example, has turned into my all purpose go to reference, for reversals as well as upright meanings, for being so succinctly thorough. I got 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card sometime last year, as it seemed like great way to expand interaction with cards, challenge the mind, etc. Haven't had the time/attention span to really work with it yet, though. So I figure, with this blog and all, why not work on a few exercises from it here now and then. In no particular order....

Decided to do the Activity 3:1 exercise from the 3rd section/step of the book, Emotions. A summed up version of the directions, from Aeclectic:

What emotions are evoked with this card that we have each chosen? First, describe the emotions and feelings on the card for the character(s) involved and the environment they are within. Second, repeat this step but put your description in the "first person." Third, relate a personal and real-life situation which involved similar feelings and qualities which you have just described.

It's hot. Desert-time. Rocky and barren, not unbearable but dry and hot, monotonous plains of dust stretching out as far as the eye can see... But she isn't looking at all that. She isn't paying any of that any mind. No, she stands here, next to that little somehow still sprouting up plant. New life, new ideas, and yes so it is. Look at the way her cheeks color, blush. Look at how she stares at that flame, watches in burn with possibility, with ideas. Her body language- she wants to grab at it and run, she wants to do something with it, she knows that power it has, what it represents for her, empowerment. Yes, empowerment. This is a girl that wants to go out into the world and do something, and now she can.

Isn't it dazzling? Yes, watching the flames cackle and dance and the staff burn, burn, dangerous a little perhaps sure but isn't it just...amazing? Look at it there, in my hand. Mine to grasp to hold look at that light, that heat, that energy. There's something in it for me. I can do something now. Something creative, something original, something important. I want to, I've always wanted to but how, how can I, I'd ask, crawling through this dust, the hills, so much more the same and then I find this, illumination, my sign. So many ideas spinning madly around in my head, so-called implausible` dreams, but now I can choose one of them, something specific, and do it. I can feel the power of possibility in my hands. I'm excited, impatient, I want to run and jump and scream and go do something right now, right this very second, but I know that even with the burning staff it doesn't work like that, not really. So, with poise, I grab it, barely contained energy, excitement. It is time now, yes.

And it occurs to me, that for all my grumbling sometimes about life is pointless and lack of energy/motivation and whatever, I really do nonetheless have a tendency to be a bit... adventurous. Idea wise moreso - sometimes they are less realistic ones, such as my current obsession with "running away to Australia" but...well. That moment of realizing that of all the vague and jumbled idealistic ideas running through brain one or two are hey, actually concrete and doable and what's more, you can get to trying to do them RIGHT NOW. Recent examples? Deciding on a kind of whim to apply to take GRE, and actually doing well, and applying to grad schools, and actually getting into some, and figuring out how to finance that, and finding an apartment, and actually going! Deciding to take a cousin up on offer to visit her in Sweden, actually making plans and visiting Sweden and Poland and even seeing a bit of Copenhagen. Mentioning to another cousin in Stockholm that I wanted to go skydiving, and her saying are you serious and me saying yes and actually GOING AND DOING IT AND HAVING AN AMAZING TIME. Deciding I wanted a tattoo and finding a design and researching a tattoo place and walking there and getting it done because I wanted to and could. And even the creative process of schoolwork, that moment of realizing I DO know what to write for that essay, and getting it now in an outline and writing a rough draft and that haha progress I can do this feeling. 

Life adventures, intellectual adventures, starting new things. Not letting other people, or your own issues or hang ups, hold you back.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

drawing for the day/extrapolated life lesson

I was pretty sure of what I wanted to do today, but after hearing a certain comment from someone, did start wondering just a bit. So decided to draw a few cards this morning, before going out and about with my day. There was two ways I thought to interpret these, so decided to see how the day played out, and I did, and afterwards I have this to say...

Life is short, relatively speaking. Years when you are healthy enough and mobile and free are even briefer. If there is something you want to do, something you know is within your abilities and means, something that you know will make you happier, more fulfilled, more satisfied with yourself or with life...go for it. Just do it. Do what you need to do - save up, make the plans, do the legwork, gather up the courage. If you can imagine it, if you can get it down to tangible specifics...just do it.

Forget what people might say to you, even people you are close to, people you care about. If you know it doesn't actually HURT other people, and you know that YOU will like it, YOU will be happy with it...just do it. Forget about potential conflict. Forget about what people may think of you, judgement, disapproval. Life is short, and living it to please others is not worth the sacrifice if doing so makes you unhappy. Life is short, and it can be difficult and miserable and trying...don't give up so easily on things that make it better for you.

If you can imagine it, dream it, and if you can conceptualize those dreams into a tangible, realistically obtainable reality...just do it. Don't push it off until later, until one day, until maybe this or maybe that...sometimes it really is better to just apologize afterwards than to ask permission beforehand. Especially if the pleasure it brings you far outweighs, objectively speaking, the displeasure it may cause anyone else. People who might judge your choices aren't living in your skin. You are. If it will fulfill you, just do it.

Just do it, and enjoy it. Enjoy every moment of the experience. Hang onto that feeling. Hang onto it afterwards, and let the words of others, if they really do come, slide off of you. Be polite of course, be nice. If you don't like conflict, perhaps even be discreet so as to avoid it. Hang onto that feeling, let it fill your soul, and it will be worth it.