Tuesday, October 30, 2012

after the storm

Supposedly I am resting. Two days of unexpected rest, from classes and commute; an extension for that paper that was supposed to be due yesterday. Two days to sit curled under a blanket, drinking hot coffee, taking a break from the world.

A knot of worry, anxiety in my gut that will not go away. I watch pictures of the city I will always think of as home flooded: tunnels and normally busy avenues filled with rushing water, facades of buildings falling off. This is supposed to be the stuff of movies, dramatic scenes you watched with a skeptical air. I think of all the people I know, scattered around the East Coast - were they all as lucky as I, my power humming along as always?

The sky is still this unnatural, pure-white color, uniform in its gloom.

you watch seasons pass, each one stranger than the last:
hot when it should be cold, and massive storms.

you watch as global warming becomes climate change,
which in turn becomes the Thing Of Which Mainstream Politicians Do Not Speak.

(meanwhile, automobile sales in the third word soar,
unregulated factories spring up, ready to produce cheap goods.)

instead they discuss legitimate rape, 
suggest that government should control the most intimate functions of your body,
heap contempt on being poor.

Monday, October 29, 2012

working through doubts

So today we finally have some minors come up to write about. To be honest, the minors were a large part of why I hesitated to get this deck for as long as I did - though increasingly I find that I appreciate some variation from the standard RWS tradition images, the ones in this deck are particularly...out there. Would I even be able to even read them?
I find that with a bit of support from the book I can, and with much greater ease than I've had reading many a more conventional deck.

We have for today the three of disks, a family cloaked in folds and folds of shining reddish-gold, holding their newest addition, a baby newly born, newly created, newly entered into this world. Traditionally, this image represents work, but not of the mundane sort - rather artistry, craft, a labor of love, doing things you enjoy. Works, in the Thoth. I've been using that deck too, for personal draws, and that card along with the Knight of Disks came up as advice for this paper I'm writing. Work, find a stable foundation and expand outwards, keep at it as long as you must. A family is hard work too - birth, of course, but also after, the sleepness nights, the many costs and sacrifices each member must make to achieve some kind of harmony. Even gold, this card reminds us, is valuable not just for its beauty: how much effort, especially in ancient times, was required to dig it out of the ground, to smelt it into the form we are used to.

A labor of love. I wouldn't exactly call writing this paper that, but it is a labor that requires much of me, a struggle to create something I desperately want to be proud of, or at least satisfied with. This brings us to the second card, the seven of cups. Here we see a wolf, black, potentially frightening  making his way through the night. Fear, yes, apprehension surrounding him, and this. What if I fail? This professor, who is also the director of my program, a well known expert in the field - what if I fail to meet his clearly stated high standards, and what if I disappointing myself? What's more, the same professor sent out an email about a job opportunity assisting him, and as per my post yesterday about channeling that Magician energy more, I decided to apply to that as soon as I am done with the paper. That means again, putting together a cover letter, updated resume, the work that goes into trying to make myself sound qualified. Always the lurking wolf there, in corners of mind, when we make ourselves try for things we don't really believe we can have.

But the wolf also represents wild, primal energy, inner power, untempered by societal expectations, over-thinking, doubt. The wolf represents potential, what you can do if you unleash your abilities, allow them to roam freely in your life. The biggest obstacle to me finishing this paper and getting the application for the job sent is not a lack of ability, or work ethic; no, it is fear, and doubt.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Manifesting the Magician

The Magician in tarot represents will, manifestation of energy. He draws inspiration from above and acts with it, makes it real down below, in the realm of the everyday. Anyone can have great ideas, but the magician is about applying your skills, your talents, your time and energy into transforming those ideas into something tangible. He holds power in his hands, esoteric, exoteric, his. He can be any one of us, all of us an none at all.

Will and action, and confidence, the ability to believe that we can, that those actions are worth taking, that we have the strength in us. More often then not, when we hesitate, when we hold back, when we give up or refuse to even try, it's not because the thing we are facing is truly impossible, that the limitation is total and external. No, it is our minds, those powerful, amazing machines, telling us: this is too hard; you aren't good enough, smart enough, strong enough, worthwhile enough. You will fail anyway. so why waste the time? And the truth is, we can only have as much power in our lives as we permit ourselves to have. We can only achieve as much as we allow ourselves to try for.

Some of my proudest accomplishments - and certainly those that are probably most impressive to others - are things I didn't really believe I could do, succeed at. The queen of swords mind told me to try anyway, the costs of doing weren't so high, I didn't have much to lose, might as well. And then, to my shock, I succeed. Not always, of course. There are failures and disappointments, plenty, but such is the way of trying, risking.

In other aspects of my life that has been harder still to do - particularly those where the outcome is only partly dependent on me, when I can't even comfort myself with the knowledge that much of the situation is in my control. The challenges I still have to overcome, even in this one aspect of my life, are complicated and plenty, but the step I took Monday...I resisted that for so many years. Irrational fears, bad past experiences, distrust, unwillingness to give someone else (what I perceived to be) power over me, a strong avoidance to admitting weakness, and most of all, a fatalistic fear that it couldn't possibly work out well anyway. For all of that, it was not, is not, a disaster.

I'm better at manifesting the Magician in some areas of my life than others. Action, doing not just thinking about doing, taking risks, trying even when you cannot help but fear that you will fail. fall down on your face. I have a kind of system that I've been using for years, that has helped me do, even when having a quite difficult time of things. I have a special to do list notebook in which I write down all of the things I must do, from minor chores and errands to major life steps. These are valued differently, but for every three small things or one major thing, I get to put a sticker on my calendar. At the start of each year I make a point of getting myself a special calendar I will enjoy, and I've started collecting pretty stickers since that makes the process funner for me. A visual representation of the action of I have managed to take, productivity.

I will continue trying to expand the ways and areas of my life where I do this, particularly if I continue to feel better, so that doing more is actually manageable, possible. Impossibility should be something that life proves to you, not something you tell yourself is true.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

small leaps towards balance

A note: this is definitely one of those relitively few decks where I very much feel the need to read the book/get the creator's perspective before I approach reading the cards, and thus what I write will surely be influenced accordingly.

Two majors to start off the week with the Mary-El tarot - a rather appropriate set, on a couple of levels. Though the card in this deck is titled Justice, I see in it more of the Thoth Adjustment influence than the tradition of the RWS. We have the Egyptian mythology here, Maat with the feather to weigh, to judge. The point of life, in that tradition, was to seek balance, equilibrium, to live and act in such a way that, when the time to be weighed came, your heart would balance out with the feather and your soul would not be eaten up but rather allowed to continue on to the afterlife.

Equilibrium is what strikes me, and reminds me of that word of the year project/idea I wrote about back at the start of the year. A word to focus on, an idea and a goal - I chose Equilibrium because this year is also a Justice year for me, as far as year card calculations are concerned, and I felt that its very much something I could use more of in my life. I must say, on the whole, though I have had some amazing adventures and experiences this year, particularly this summer, up until this week I would have to admit that I don't really think I have made much progress on the whole bringing more balance into my life goal. We have the Fool next to this Justice card though, a dynamic fool, full of energy and passion and most importantly, movement. The waterbearer, dancing with dragon-gods from Mesopotamian mythology, the earliest of human civilization beginnings, and butterflies for transformation. Air is the element of this card, the association in the Thoth. Air can represent intellect, thoughts, the swords suit in the tarot, but also freedom. Is there any greater freedom than the feel of flying through the air, the sky?

I think I may have made progress this week, small, limited, much-caveated but nonetheless real progress. I feel more capable of taking on some things than I did just a few days ago, and that is something.

Speaking of which, the other level at which these cards seem relevant deals with the academic - a very important paper I must write for my Terrorism class by Monday. The fool here I see as myself, at the beginning of my writing process, some ideas spinning around my head but much work still to be done. We had to pick one of six questions to respond to and I wrote a vague outline of an idea for two of them yesterday, since one answer I had to run by the professor and I wanted to have a backup in case he vetoed it. He approved it though, leaving me debating which idea to go with. In the Justice card, I think I have an answer. A prompt to compare the professionalism of two terrorist organizations. My thesis is a rather nuanced, balanced one - that neither was more professional than the other, per se, but that they are/were fundamentally different. Organization A was a hybrid terrorist group and insurgency, with significant conventional force at its disposal at its height. It's armed forces were quite well trained, as were its suicide bombers, etc. It controlled territory and governed it to some degree. Other group, on the other hand, is more professional at pure terrorism, a transnational network with no set location, its leadership having a history of moving when necessary, outsourcing to affiliates around the world, etc. The more conventional nature of the former group was what ultimately allowed it to be defeated, while the more purely asymmetric and loose network structure of the latter why it continues to be a major threat. They were both very professional, but different natures, strengths and weaknesses, etc.

Well, now that I have an idea even more worked out (I do love it when tarot helps me do my academic work), I suppose I should apply some of that fool energy and write a proper outline/draft.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

the blah and the yay

Not a very eloquent title, I know, but what can I say?  Not feeling especially eloquent at the moment.

The first card in this draw totally describes how I've been feeling the last couple of days. The Silicon Dawn, among its many other fun and interesting aspects, switches around the pentacles and wands suits, not just in elemental association but, by and large, in meaning. This card, roughly equivalent, then, to the seven of wands, shows us a centaur figure, generally grounded, better balanced than us bipeds, in a very unstable, uncomfortable place. Shadows and worries lurk all around it. The building in front of him looks like it might collapse, topple forward and crush him. On guard against many things indeed.

To expand a bit on my earlier reading, the step I was taking on Monday was a scheduled visit to a psychiatrist. That did in fact go well, insofar that we seemed to click, he seemed to be knowledgeable, and I was prescribed two medications, one I'd taken before and found very helpful, and a new one. Unfortunately, thus far the new has been causing me constant, intense nausea and no appetite. Then there is three-day long headache, tooth pain, and the stress of having one, possible two very important school papers to write by Monday, as well as various other small things that need to be done lurking around in the background. So yes, little centaur, you reflect how I've been feeling.

On the other hand, this card is also rather...well, melodramatic. A post-apocalyptic scene. Is life really that much of a disaster? No, of course not. And he does seem to have tools or weapons of some kind strapped to his body, something to work with.

Of course, the second card is a still-better reminder. Three figures ride together in loops and spirals through space, intimately connected, celebrating with one another, enjoying and steadying one another. While such a party is very much not on the agenda, this reminder of friendship is a very good one. The background here makes me think of the internet, which like space is so vast and yet so difficult to really measure, to wrap our minds around all that it entails behind the scenes. I am very fortunate to have some really amazingly supportive friends in various corners of the internet, some of whom I have had a great time with in person, some not. I know for a fact that I would be a much lonelier person without these connections, and that some of the positive steps I've taken over the years to improve myself were done at least in part because of the gentle pushes/support/advice from these friends. Definitely not something to forget about or take lightly.

Even with this: one online friend suggested ginger tea. I had some because of a Halloween package exchange I'm doing with some other great people elsewhere online. It helped me feel a bit better. In fact, I shall go make another cup, then focus on tackling some of those things, one at a time...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Amazing Aces: Swords

So to follow up from my now completed Favorite Majors series, I decided to focus on another set of favorite cards from my deck collection - Aces. They are minors, but particularly notable minors, seeing as how they open up the suit, and how often they reference major changes, new beginnings and the like. In some decks, they can be drawn rather generically, a utilitarian approach that gets the message across well enough. Other decks though, have particularly nice, thought-provoking depictions. Why not focus on those some?

The Ace of Swords is. I think, an especially interesting Ace to start off with. It's one I personally see as having many layers, both positive and, if not quite negative, sometimes difficult. It can encompass both attitude and action, internal and external, beginnings and ends. So which ones do I like best? After some consideration, here are the three favorites:

Legacy of the Divine

Like much of this deck, the visual aspects of this card are quite stunning. I quite like the color palette especially, as well as the modernized, fantastical qualities of the ace itself. The background of clouds emphasizes the air element nicely, and calls back some of the traditional imagery of the RWS and Thoth Aces - although interestingly, here the Sword is pointed downwards rather than up. A focus perhaps not just on moving forward but also on cutting away, severing, getting rid of that which no longer serves.

I also like the eagles that circle the sword - fierce birds, noble and strong, ruthless when necessary. A good reminder of some of the kinds of traits that Ace of Swords situations can call for. Finally, we have a glowing air element symbol and the astrological wheel in the background, reminding us again of the outside correspondences we can use for additional meaning if we wish, and the grand scheme of things.

Silicon Dawn

The Silicon Dawn Ace of Swords provides us with a rather different image. The color scheme, for one, is at the complete other side of the spectrum. I must admit that I've never been of the school that sees yellow as a particulary airy color - to me it is too close to gold, to the earth-tones. But I can set that aside here, because it works. For one, I like the way the yellow fades into that pure, glowing white at the feet of the figure - an image of manifesting energy, potential.

I love the theme of gears and cogs too - simple details that speak loudly of engineering, of inventions and creativity, the wonders a mind can come up with when it sets to work at a task. A lot of times, the swords suit, which is the suit most associated with intellect, is used to depict the problems our minds can make for us: anxieties, grief, insecurity, self-sabotage. Here, instead, we are allowed to focus on the positive, the wonders we are capable of creating when we think.


The Mary-El is a deck newly acquired, so much so that I haven't even finished trimming it yet. Already though, many of the images are so arresting. This one in particular caught my attention. Again we have the image of an eagle, this time in a much more thought-provoking position, bound upright. The accompanying book, though it rather bizarrely associates Scorpio with air, does provide some interesting insight.

In particular, it speaks of redemption, of evolution, of rising up out of darkness, out of air and water and into the sky: the freedom that flight represents. Again, the emphasis not just on the difficult aspects traditionally highlighted by swords but also on free will, reason and purpose and communication. I especially like the idea of this card as speaking of striving, of doing what we must to free ourselves of those constraints, of seeking clarity, dreams and ideals. It is a card of channeling our visions and working to make them happen; a personal. internal kind of empowerment.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

anxiety and perspective

So tomorrow, attempting to take a small but important step in the direction of dealing with some major negative things that have been going on both in the long and the short term, and have been feeling rather anxious about it all weekend. Also recognize that some of my attitude towards it is not exactly conducive to it being useful/productive, so decided to do a bit of a spread to try to work through that somewhat.

I. Where I am now/my situation:

A bit of a tricky one, this Sun card. We see it prominently, the bright orange and yellow light, the energy radiating outwards. An opportunity here, momentum, a powerful kind of potential, very bright. And yet it is not a comforting kind of sunlight, but rather so strong as to seem dangerous, overwhelming. The man in the image looks dark, sun-burned perhaps, something snake-like coiled around him. He gives thanks to the sun, and yet seems...both empowered and subjugated by it. You need the sun to survive and to thrive and yet in some circumstances, it can hurt you. This card makes me think of desert-dwellers, which is a perfect example of that phenomenon. It must be handled with care, this sun. I want this opportunity to work out, but I am rather afraid of those dangerous sparks....

II. How to handle hopes and expectations:

The woman here sits under the glow of a lamp; the light allows her to see clearly what she has despite the darkness that otherwise surrounds her. She holds her coins close, responsible for them, owning up to them, caring for them. By becoming sentimentally attached to these things she risks emotional distress if they were to shatter and break, if she were to lose them. And yet sometimes, we have to keep holding nonetheless. I've a tendency sometimes to distance myself from hopes, expectations. I am doing this because I should but of course I don't expect it to go well and so I will not be invested and if it fails it will be easier to bear. That works out well enough sometimes, but in this particular situation... not the best approach. Better to keep in mind, clearly and close at hand, what I hope to gain from this endeavor, and try to be pro-active in making that happen, insofar as I can.

III. How to handle anxiety and fears:

There is a clear contrast between this card and the proceeding one. Here, rather than a single figure in a single small space, we have not just the world but the universe, stars and planets and space. We have looking outwards, the bigger picture. letting go and letting the Universe do as it may. It's funny and a bit difficult to think of how huge the universe is and how tiny we are in comparison, so many huge forces moving through themillenia, and our lives so short in comparison. There are so many things in life we cannot control. The universe gives us strokes of amazing luck, things clicking into place and manifesting wonderfully, and small, unexpected surprises that make our day; and it gives us tragedies, efforts falling apart, unwanted burdens that we must learn to bear. Maybe this effort will be a stroke of luck and maybe another minor disaster. I can control my attitude and approach,  but not much else. Focusing on worst case scenarios prematurely will change nothing either way.

IV. Advice for adjusting my attitude/approach:

The man in this card has clearly lost something. He is soggy and sad, rain-soaked in his defeat, tired. Defeat perhaps, yes, and yet when we look closer, what has he really lost? He still has is sturdy cloak, and not one but five swords there at his disposal. Has he tried them all, seen whether any would suit is purposes? Five swords. I was give five new numbers to call on Friday; this is only the person behind one of them, that I am to meet with. I see in this card a reminder to keep things in perspective. Even if this does turn out to be a defeat, a failure, it is not the only option I have. I defeat would not be a disaster but rather a minor setback. Pick up the phone again, call a different number, try again. I am not destitute of resources entirely. I have been in the rain long enough to deal with it for a while longer, even if it does feel quite cold and icky in the moment. Perspective: do not make this out to be either bigger or smaller than what it really is.

pondering quotes again

“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.”
- Chinese Proverb

"All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take."
- Mahatma Gandhi 

"Have a bias toward action - let's see something happen now. You can break that big plan into small steps and take the first step right away."
- Indira Gandhi

Friday, October 19, 2012

the art of hanging

A man hangs, stuck between above and below. He is tied up, crossed into triangles, shapes and forms said to have some kind of meaning. Do they really? Is this truly a sacrifice, and if so, what is it for? What could he gain that would be worth this hanging stasis for so long, what wisdom? Look at the landscape of this card, how far separated he is from reality as others experience it.

In the Thoth this card is not associated with a planetary or zodiac astrological sign, but rather with the pure element of water. Water, which is associated with emotion, with dreams and intuition. Will those be improved, strengthened by his time tied up and submerged? Water is also associated in Crowley's system with the ancient Aeon, a time long passed, behind. The new Aeon is made of fire, of impetus, action, movement forward. In this sense the hanged man is stuck in the past, nostalgia-heavy, dwelling with and bound by things no longer relevant.

The answer is to move forward then, yes? Put behind this idea of self-sacrifice, sticking with what you know because you know it. But what if it isn't that simple, if the hanging situation isn't altogether in your power to change. What if you have done everything you could think of to help yourself to no avail, and when you try to reach out for more professional assistance you are met with a litany of unreturned phone calls, ignored messages, outright don't have time in my schedule rejections? In that case perhaps you must continue in the hanging place a while longer. Might as well try to extract that wisdom after all, those Odin-style nuggets of epiphany. Clouds and rain, water. Perhaps the hanged man goes on hanging because he has found a certain kind of serenity with his lot, rather than dealing with constant cycles of frustration.

Serenity: the art of hanging on.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

cards-based writing exercise

So I hardly ever do any creative writing anymore - not enough time or energy, with all the other things I have going on, particularly the coursework. However, since that writing workshop on Saturday I've had a story idea stubbornly bouncing around in my head. Somewhat unusually, plot details keep coming to me - not in a short story/flash fiction kind of way, but actual longer work kind of plot. Kind of stressed about other things though, and didn't know how to begin doing something with all of that, so I decided to draw some cards and write around those.

I drew the 2 of Wands, 4 of Wands, and Ace of Cups from the Fantastical Tarot.
A door, an opportunity, a choice between security, the familiar, and emotional fulfillment, a new beginning.
Two cats: one black, the other a pale ginger-blond. That is what you would remember most of all about that moment, later on - the way those two cats slinked about, curling around the legs of the man you were speaking to, the man you had once known simply as an imposing librarian and who you now could not even look in the eye as you spoke. No, you stared at his cats, each one rubbing against one of his legs, perfectly ironed slacks forming a sort of door. A door, yes, and how very desperate was your need then to get out.

You spoke to his legs and to his cats because you knew that if you were to look up, to meet his pale grey eyes, you would lose your nerve. The words you needed to say would die as they reached your lips and instead he would find what he wanted, from you and from the rest: silence, submission, compliance. And you could not, would not, go back to that.

Even as you began to speak you were already aware of how much you would miss it once you left. The secret society had warmly accepted you into its fold, pried your darkest secrets away from you, saved you from the dreadful feeling of being alone always and in all things. You would miss the lectures about things you had not dared to dream since childhood were real, the glasses of wine shared afterwards with quiet discussion. Most of all you would miss the weekends, driving down, squeezed in the back of a van, to the little airfield outside the city, taking turns flying up in the plane, higher and higher, and of course the jump back down to earth again, the freezing thin air rushing at you from all directions, and the voices.

The voices, which had been so thin at first, pressed together, hurried and blurred so that you simply thought you were losing your mind again. Then later, as you returned week after week they stretched out into clarity, filled you with the most amazing kind of magic - the things you could do with that magic, those first few moments and hours after the parachute carried you back down to the ground. Euphoria  filled every inch of you once a week for months, until one of those voices became a name, a singularity you could distinguish from all the rest. It said: what do you think they are doing with all of the magic they take from us? Why do you think he collects it from you, in tithe? Look, snoop, discover.

You did. You discovered, and you retched, and a little later on you were standing in front of him, Elias, ostensible leader of all things. You stared at his cats and you made excuses, lied about feeling unwell again and needing time to yourself, away from all of these things. You were still too scared then, too tied to them, to say what you really meant: that you were done, that you were walking away.

No, not just walking away - you would find a way to fight against what they were doing; you would go on a mad search for the withered, bitter old man that a certain voice told you, as you were plunging down through the clouds, held the key to that fight: a magic from higher skies, the starry skies that once, for a short moment in time, men thought they could thrust themselves into.

You would go looking for space magic.

And the Winner Is....

So yeah, here be the 200th post of this blog. Hurrah!

And as promised, a winner for the giveaway. We had two lovely contestants entering for it. Thanks everyone else also, for your good wishes/kind words.

I shuffled the Fenestra and drew...

The Emperor

Using my method of winner determining, the Emperor, being Arcana IV, is closest in the deck to LizMcBeth's guess of The Lovers (VI) meaning that the deck goes to her.

Congrats LizMcBeth!

Please Contact Me ASAP to let me know your mailing info so that I can get this deck sent of to you :]

And here's to more blogging and blog-following, reading and writing and deck pondering and exploring all around.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Weekend Follow-Up

Haven't been around here last few days, mostly because I spent my weekend having a really, really nice time at a local science-fiction and fantasy book convention with a couple of friends. I enjoyed myself more than I have in a while, and thus thought it might be useful to do a bit of a reflective reading, along the lines of:

What should I take away from my weekend experience/what should I carry forward into the week ahead.

Interesting pair of cards as an answer, here. What draws my attention particularly is the kind of dual-ended inverse nature of these images. The Magician seems less upright than usually depicted, more floating and dreaming, his tools orbiting him but not quite in his grip. The moon card in contrast, seems full of a kind of self-confident calm, more empowered than disturbed. There is a very starry, spacey theme throughout, which oddly enough is rather appropriate in certain ways.

In the Magician, perhaps, the message of taking control of what you can without that kind of need to try to control EVERYTHING; self-confidence but also a willingness to go with the flow of things, to be flexible. To take and work with what you have in front of you at any given time, but also not to be afraid to initiate, to make things you want in your life happen...I was actually a bit surprised with how comfortable socially I felt most of the weekend. It also served as a reminder of how fun it is to spend time with people who share you interest in certain activities. I've already made it a point in the last year to attend the local monthly tarot group when I can, but thinking I might try to find some local meetups for gaming (not video games, old school card and board games), perhaps some kind of book club.

The moon, on the other hand, seems a reminder of the positive aspects of connecting with creative, intuitive, dream side of myself. I have kept up with tarot work and this blog, but in terms of other creative endeavors, not much has been happening recently. I went to a writing workshop during the convention, and it reminded me of how much I used to...enjoy creative writing. I got an idea for a story that has to do with space magic and air magic, a secret society of skydivers and a search for aging former cosmonauts who may be the key to solving a crisis that is slowly unfolding... perhaps, rather than letting that idea slowly fade from my mind as I focus again on schoolwork and day to day tasks I should take the initiative of making the time to actually...write it, do something with it...

Initiative, Intuitive Creativity, Flexible confidence. Themes of the week.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

a matter of perspective

There aren't all that many decks in which I really like the Hierophant card, and this is all the more true of straightforward RWS clones. I like the Nusantara's of course - I love everything about the deck - but by and large, decks that hew too closely to the original suffer in my eyes because, well...

Though it has grown on me over the years, overall, the image presented in the RWS Hierophant is one that, for me personally, is difficult to connect to the more positive aspects of the card. I know that the Hierophant isn't only about the rigidity of authority and tradition, isn't only about oppression of hierarchy and structure, isn't only about the burden of duty, being a follower. And yet, when I see the christian-tradition priest...

We are all so very much made up of our experiences...sitting in church pews as a child, listening to things that never connected, never felt any kind of true...politics and politics, listening to people twist those same ideas into something even more intolerable...

I can appreciate Pixie's artwork, and I can read and study and educate myself all about the esoteric layers and yet... the same way that I cannot help but think of churches whenever I smell frankincense  The downstairs neighbors in Tunisia would burn it during Ramadan and all night, all I could think was...why does my apartment smell like a church? Some associations just...stay.

Whereas an eastern-influenced Hierophant, the exact same imagery, position, ideas, simply represented in a different flavor, a buddhist flavor...

I cannot really believe any religion, and yet I've always found a certain appeal in the wisdom there. I've read a couple of the Dalai Lama's books, some Thich Nhat Han. I can see them as a teacher, a guide, structure that helps rather than stifles.

I found this wall hanging in a Tibetan shop I stumbled into some random night last year while waiting to meet up with someone. I got it because it is true, and because it is something that I really do need a reminder of, sometimes.

Glance at it there, on the wall. every day. Repetition. Truth-repetition.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

200th Post Deck Giveaway!

So... this blog is fast approaching its 200th post. Honestly, starting this off, I didn't think I'd make it this long, posting here (my other two blogger projects sit sadly neglected, most of the time...). But, here we are. I'm still posting away, still happily reading the posts of others, and of course, very much appreciating the comments of those of yall who stop by and feel so inclined.

In honor of all that, I thought I'd do a little giveaway. I'm working with the Fenestra tarot this week: a deck I once had, traded away, recieved again in a Christmas exchange, and despite my best attempts, realize that it still isn't for me. I'm offering the deck itself, without any kind of book to go along with it (it's a pretty straightforward RWS clone so I think this should be fine for most). I did gilt the edges in a 'cosmic copper' color that I think goes along really well with the colors of the deck itself, so there's that.

Totally free if you are in the USA; if not, winner would have to split the cost of shipping with me, because these days, shipping abroad is pricey. Something to consider before entering.

If you be interested, comment on this post with Major, a Suit, and a Court (just say page, knight etc, ). For the 200th post I will draw a card, and whoever is closest wins the deck. (Unless only one person posts, in which case I guess they'd 'win' the deck by default, which wouldn't be much fun...or no one posts, which would be a bit sad :0)

Anyone who reads the blog can join, regardless of whether you've commented before. I totally get the Joys of Lurking :]


The Knight of Swords can be thought of as the element of air in its purest, externalized form. He moves swiftly through the winds, one with his horse, his flexible helicopter-wings, the birds that fly near him, ready to aid. His arms are extended with pointed dagger and sword; He is efficiency, logical action.

Precision-oriented, going after one thing at a time, carrying through until it is finished, shifting and adjusting as necessary.

Sometimes - often - the big picture can be overwhelming. Too many unknowns or, quite the contrary, such a long and difficult list of shoulds that staring at the whole of it can be quite intensely demotivating.

You find everything twisted and knotted so tightly - how will you, with so limited time and energy, ever manage to straighten it out again, even a little?

So many things, so many things call out to you in little grubby voices.

Perhaps you really simply cannot do very much of it. Despite the voices of support saying it's not that hard, you've done it before, you've done a lot of difficult things before, go on. They mean well, and yet perhaps you simply...cannot find it in you. Once, before you did it, sure, quickly, and yet...

Precision-oriented. If you cannot find the strength in you to do much, focus on one thing that needs doing. Map out the steps, gather your focus, and do that one thing. Finish it. A small success, something out of the way. Two or three things on a list crossed out is something. Simpler to tackle a single task, a single set of steps.

Better sometimes to focus on a single thing and complete it, do it well, than to try to tackle everything, lose track of yourself, leave things half-done when you run out of time or energy or attention for it all.

Little things build up to bigger over time, anyway, if done in a logical kind of way.

My Arabic studies, case-in-point: you learn vocabulary word after word written and re-written, conjugated, understood within a system of roots and patterns, committed to memory. Words that slowly imprint themselves into your mind, one at a time. And suddenly I am listening to political talk show podcasts and find that I can follow along, even when the speakers get worked up, argue, speak quickly. Progress...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

asking and accepting

There is a story, an anecdote my mother has told on occasion  I was too young to remember this, but apparently once, when I was three or four, I was taken out with my mother and grandmother as they ran errands. At one point, we were in front of a store, and I saw a doll I really wanted, and asked my mother for it. She said no, we cannot afford that. Ok, I replied, and dropped it. Apparently my grandmother was so impressed that I didn't beg or plead or throw a tantrum, that I was so well-behaved about it, that she went into the store and got the doll for me as a reward.

Pretty story, right? To me it will always bittersweet. I don't remember those events, but I do remember this: my entire childhood and well beyond, having this intense guilt and inability to ask for things. Material things, sure: I would trail behind my parents in stores, and well after we'd gotten to the point where they could afford to by me small things, I would nonetheless pick something up, look longingly, hoping my mother might notice, ask if I wanted that, and take my hesitant 'maybe...' as what it was, a yes, please, I do. And if most of the time she did not, then I would put whatever it was down, walk away. Asking was taboo. Asking was being needy, burdensome, wrong

It's easier, as you get older, as you painstakingly acquaint yourself with etiquette and unspoken social rules, to learn how to ask for physical things in appropriate contexts - though I can't even begin to enumerate how many times people have gotten frustrated with me for not speaking up clearly about what it is that I wanted.

Much harder to speak about more serious things, more personal things. There are issues I have struggled with for years and years that I have never had a serious conversation with my closest friends about, because...listen to me talk about how unhappy I am, listen to my troubles, help me feels too much like that image in the seven of swords. Being annoying, taking away from their time, their sympathy reserves.

Giving to poor strangers, that kind Six of Coins generosity... it seems easier in some ways because it is fleeting; you don't expect to seem them again, have no reason to feel obliged to keep giving, day after day. I don't want to be the kind of friend always making demands on others' emotional energy, or time.

It seems like in some ways it really is easier to learn to give that to receive gracefully. I know how to do that in small ways, enough so that I don't think my relationships with others feel unbalanced to either party. But for the really serious issues...that old sense of guilt, as if by asking I would be that sword thief, running away with the goods. Is there a logical reason to try anyway?

Balance, balance. Search for it.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cardstock: Highs and Lows

So back on the tarot forums, many a thread and comment can be found on the subject of cardstock. For some, this is a major dealbreaker when deciding whether to get or to keep a new deck. I don't take it as seriously as some - if a deck has enough other merits, I'll likely keep it almost irregardless of the cardstock's level of mediocrity. That said, it is something I note, and I figured it would be interesting to post about  my favorites as well as about some worst offenders from my own collection. This is of course highly subjective, based on my own particular likes and preferences; also, only somewhat correlated to my level of like for the deck overall.


1. Thoth

When I first got the Thoth, it was a more recent printing, but after reading about the superiority of older copies, I eventually procured for myself a 1986 AGM printing. This is one of those decks I've done a bunch of things to: trimmed it, gilted the edges in a kind of bronze color, etc. There really is such a world of difference in the older printing and the current ones. The cardstock is much, much nicer on the old, and the colors are richer as well, with better contrasts. 

It shuffles very nicely. The smaller post-trim size is perfect for me, and...yeah. Not too thick or flimsy and not plasticky. Great with post over-hand and riffle shuffle methods.

2. Absurd

As I said in other post about it, I really do enjoy the cardstock of the Absurd tarot. The feel of it in particular is really nice - someone described it as buttery and I don't think that's inaccurate way of putting it.

It's a nice medium, not quite matte but not over-glossy, and it really brings out and plays up the contrast of black and white of the images really well. I love how nicely it shuffles, again, being great for either method.

3. Swedish Witch

Lastly, the cardstock of the Swedish Witch tarot I have is quite nice as well. Not sure exactly which edition/printing it may be...I bought it in a new age shop during my visit to Sweden last year and the box is probably somewhere in the depths of my parents' house by now. After trimming it a bit, the size is again exactly how I prefer my decks to be, and overall, I find it quite similar to the Thoth in feel. I have no issues shuffling it in any way, it doesn't feel stiff or floppy, and it showcases the colors of the images quite nicely.


1. Light and Shadow

I had such high hope for this deck, and I still do really like the actual images of the cards and how it reads, but well - as far as cardstock goes, ugh. The cards are huge and impossible to trim much. Not only that, but they are flimsy, floppy, and very plasticky feeling. Huge floppy cards do not for fun shuffling times make.

They also, for some bizarre reason (I've not encountered this on any other deck thus far) put plastic on the EDGES so that any attempt at gilting them is...not very successful.

This could be such an awesome deck, but the horrid cardstock instead places it rather far down on my list as far as preference goes. Publisher really did it a disservice :/

2. Corte dei Tarocchi

Ok, so first of all, I do get that this one was printer more as a collectors item than with reading in mind. That said, I have a thing about reading with ALL of my decks, and well.

In my life, I have not seen a deck with cardstock thicker than the cardstock of the Corte dei Tarocchi. Or even close to it. The whole deck stands in a tall, tall stack, and shuffling it all at once in any way is exceeding difficult. I've even had to adjust my method of choosing cards to ensure its properly mixed/random.

That said, it does feel nice (if unlaminated/delicate) and overall I do quite enjoy this deck muchly. But the shuffling.....

3. Sun and Moon

This is one of my favorites, but in the wider online tarot community, it seems to engender rather varied opinions. Some people, like me, quite like it; others have a very low opinion indeed. Among the latter, the cardstock quality is often mentioned, and in that regard, I really cannot argue. I love this deck in spite of its cardstock, because its other merits are just that high, for me.

Whats wrong with it? Well, to its advantage it isn't uber-glossy like some USG decks of recent years, but...cardboardy would be an accurate way of describing it. Moderately thick and really really stiff. Shuffling it is possible, but not easy. My trimming and gilting experiments have improved it much in my eyes, but nonetheless... Not exactly a fine example of great quality printing as far as cardstock is concerned.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

social stress

We have an interesting juxtaposition in these two cards, one that I find resonates with me particularly just about now. In the first, the three of cups, we see two figures, dancers moving gracefully betweeen three champagne flutes. They are free, they are full of energy, and they are engaged, each following their own steps, but in tandem. Celebrating and enjoying themselves. A productive, beautiful kind of socialization.

Meanwhile, the Empress...she nurtures and creates, certainly, and yet here we have an aspect to this card that is very rarely shown in a tarot deck...the tired, overwhelmed mother surrounded by her brood. Each of them is wonderful, special in his or her way and yet, all together, demanding attention, making noise, getting into all sorts of trouble, and she already pregnant with another, hardly any time for so much as a thought to herself...while not something I've had the opportunity to experience myself, I've no doubt most parents know this feeling well...

How do these come together, then? Well, I've a friend, a former college roommate, coming down from Boston to visit me tomorrow night. She's staying until Monday morning. A good friend this is, yes, one of my closest. And yet I find that, rather than feeling excitement for the time we'll get to spend together, mostly I feel like this Empress. Too many things to do and not enough time or energy to get them done. I still need to clean, do laundry, set up the air mattress I had to go out and buy, and so much schoolwork to do and how will I keep up with that without leaving her to feel bored, and so on.

I think being a host to most kinds of social events is like this, to some degree, depending on circumstances and temperament of those involved. Whether you are having out of town guests, or hosting a party, or a wedding, anything really...I remember as a kid I hated when we had guests because my virgo mother would shift into MUST CLEAN ALL THE THINGS mode and really, most of the time, whatever the social thing we were doing was, it never really seemed worth all the energy and stress that went into preparing for it.

Casual social things tend to be much nicer. Go out, meet up with someone, do a few things. No champagne flutes or fancy dances needed.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Combination Reading Experiment I

So having tarot cards and an oracle and the arcana stones AND a lenormand now got me thinking... and when I start thinking, sometimes I come up with some funny ideas. What would happen, for example, if I tried doing a reading that combined ALL of those?

So I decided to do just that. Rather than just read for myself as usual, I offered two experimental readings to members of the Aeclectic Tarot forums in exchange for feedback and permission to re-post them here. This is the first of these, including the feedback.

In this case, my sitter asked:
I would like to know if there is potential for me to move to a job that is better suited to my personality anytime soon.

10 of Sticks  |  Rebellion  |  Letter  |  Malachite/Empress
We start of the reading with the tarot card, in this case the 10 of sticks. The figure here is clearly struggling to move forward while balancing such a large, heavy burden on his back. No doubt this is one of the many times he has had to pause, re-adjust the sticks, keep going. Nonetheless, he is managing it, even if it is slow progress, and no doubt stressful and unpleasant. He can keep going on just as he has been for a while yet. Is it worth it though, to keep on with this burden? Is all that effort getting him to where he wants to be? A lot of the time, when we are under this kind of pressure, so much of how we handle it is attitude - if you know that you need to do what you are doing to get you to your goals, its easier to maintain morale, whereas when things feel rather pointless/like a dead end...
Yup i can definitely understand this card, work is relentlessly busy due to staffing cuts with loads of non-negotiable deadlines made all the harder because i find the actual job painfully tedious so i can see where attitude might come in lol.

The card that follows indicates the latter may be the case, in your situation. Here we have the card titled Rebellion, representing the energies of Mars in Aquarius. Mars is, of course, the planet of war, fire-energy, assertiveness, even aggression; Aquarius tends to be very independent-minded, one that judges the merits of something according to their own principles and values, and not what anyone else might say. Aquarius doesn't tend to just go along when things don't feel like they are working, don't feel right. Here, in the bottom of the image we see a fort, well-defended, well-established. Going up against it can be a difficult prospect, moreso if you consider the authority and power behind it...and yet there, above it, a youth is doing just that - challenging the stylized, ritualized, static figures of authority, of established things. There is not enough freedom in this work situation for you to be happy - the personality aspect of your question, I take it - and you are ready, deep down, to do something about it. You should, in fact, this card says, do something about it, rebel against that burden you are feeling.
This made me snigger a bit because it sounds soooo like me. I work in a typical bureaucracy where there are established ways of doing things regardless of whether or not it makes sense and i'm forever kicking against it. I also tend to value the differences in people and believe everyone has a right to be themselves without judgement but some of the people i work alongside have very rigid views about how people should think/act etc and can often be incredibly petty. Needless to say i don't particularly conform to their world view which doesn't trouble me though it can get wearing at times and i just can't find it in me to go along with them for an easy life lol !!!

And how? On the other side of this card we have the Letter. This card can represent communication, reaching out, and also physical things - letters, documents, diplomas. In this context, this makes me think of resumes - have you updated it recently, perhaps asked someone knowledgeable to look it over for you? What about cover letters? It can be easier to job search with confidence when you know that your 'paperwork' is up to par, and if you haven't started the process yet, it can be a good first step. If you've been thinking of going back to school or some kind of training/course or such, this card suggests that it might be wise - another certificate/diploma/thing to put down on paper might help you along in your search for better work. Lastly, looking at communication more broadly - have you though about how you might network? Phone calls, emails, social networks - anyone who might know of something more suitable thats hiring or the like? Even if it doesn't pay off right away, it might help you to maintain those links in the future.
Although I have a fairly high level of education already because I'd like to try a completely different path, i have been thinking about looking at further study recently though finances are a sticking point for now. It's a good point about updating the resume which is something i haven't looked at in a long time!

Finally, we have the Malachite stone, representing the Empress, which I think ties up the reading quite well. Following the letter card, I think it gives a nice emphasis to the message there - work on developing your credentials, skills, on nurturing those aspects of yourself that will help you advance in your professional life and help you get to where you want to/would rather be. This can be the paper-work stuff, but can also be about nurturing yourself more broadly - about having and projecting confidence, in feeling surer of yourself when you interview, in believing that you deserve to have a job that isn't so burdensome, that you can succeed in finding one and excelling in it. It also emphasizes, I think, that your feelings of 'rebellion' against your current work situation are appropriate: getting out of it will help you grown, perhaps allow your creative side to develop more as well. If you get any flashes of inspiration - ideas of where to apply, who to try to reach out to, perhaps trying to do something more like starting a business of your own, anything like that - don't be afraid to pursue them and see where it goes.
Interestingly I do want to find something that is more creative and have toyed with ideas on looking at self employment though as yet no idea has firmly taken root but maybe i just need to explore that a bit deeper.
Thank you for the reading, it all made sense and tied in quite well with what's going on around me at the moment and has validated some of the things i've been considering.