Showing posts with label Corte dei Tarocchi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Corte dei Tarocchi. Show all posts

Friday, January 4, 2013

2013 Year Card

2012 was a Justice year for me, and overall I found the year card exercise at the start of the year useful. Not so much predictive, per se, as guiding. The idea of seeking equilibrium throughout the year stuck with me, and helped me figure out some things. 2012 was definitely more about balance than any possible legalistic interpretations of the card, as I had thought right off - fortunately I do not currently have any legal issues to deal with.

That said, I thought I would do this again. For 2013, my year card is the Hanged Man.

I admit that the prospect of the Hanged Man as a year card does not immediately fill me with excitement: a year of hanging, suspension, feeling stuck in place? That does not exactly sound like what I am seeking to achieve. But of course, that is only one of many takes on the hanged man. This is a card associated with the water element, as the de la Rea here shows. Water is flexible, associated with dreams and emotions, depths, the obscure, neither fully solid nor gaseous.

The Hanged Man is associated in many tarot texts with the Norse god Odin, the AllFather, who hung himself from a tree for nine days in order to obtain runes, the key to all knowledge. He sacrificed his body, his power in exchange for that wisdom. He did not fight that sacrifice, did not try to cheat or find some kind of alternative. No, like this major shows in almost all decks: he hung with serenity, with acceptance of the situation as is.

Acceptance and even hanging do not have to mean stasis, doing nothing, giving up. Again, the reminder that all things have a cost - currently I am sitting on a bus driving back to DC. I am intensely motion sick and I am watching a very beautiful sunset while going over a bridge that enchants me from an aesthetic architectural perspective. Most things are like this, pros and cons. I could sleep and feel good and lose time and miss out on many lovely sights. Costs, decisions. Sometimes we reach a crossroads, a certain point where yes, there is stasis, repetition, doing the same thing again and again long after we have grown tired of it. What then?

A willingness to let go is called for - of the familiar, of the comfortable, and of control and distrust, at least to some degree. The hanged man in the Corte dei Tarocchi is particularly interesting to me in that he is not hanging from a branch or tree but rather from a rope of leaves held in the beak of two birds. How absurd! How could he believe that they would hold him up? He does though - he is willing to place himself in that position, and calmly.

The figure here is upside down, and at first glance it's easy to think that maybe we have drawn this card reversed. That is the spirit of this card too - the energy to turn things on their head, to look outside the box, the established way of doing things. You hang between realms and between phases of life. You let go and you find, grasp. The key is the serenity, the acceptance. This is not sacrifice for its own sake - there is a reason for this, something for which to strive.

In a way this image is not unlike a butterfly or moth still cocooned, waiting beneath the waves with held in breath. I used to do that too, as a kid. I liked to dive into parts of pools that were twice as deep as I was tall even though I couldn't really swim and I liked to hold my breath under the water for as long as I could, until my lungs burned. Why? It felt freeing. There is freedom in the way that you can move underwater even though, of course, all swims and baths must come to an end.

And so, a year under the Hanged Man's influence. A year for development and growth, sacrifice and letting go and finding the new, the better, the wiser and more fulfilling. A year for thinking differently, for stepping away from some of those careful caveats and limits of what you will do, for acting within a frame of acceptance - of self and of situation, of how things are and how things could be and what must be done to bridge the two. Of not only weighing out those costs but taking them on in self-awareness. Strength within constraint.

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.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

tower in perspective

So a final draw with the La Corte dei Tarocchi before putting it away for a while - this one is most definitely a keeper.

This Tower card, I must say, is particularly appropriate right now. A sudden change, a major shift, the old and familiar coming apart - certainly not a surprise or negative, in this situation, and yet nonetheless. The title of this card makes it immediately clear what it is in reference to, in this draw: Babel, languages, communication. In two days I will be getting on a plane and spending the next ten weeks living in a country where English is not the primarily spoken language, seeing how far my rusty french can get me, studying arabic intensively. I was actually supposed to brush up on both this week and that just...hasn't happened at all...

I suppose it's only now really striking me (another appropriate metaphor, to this card) that this is really happening, and very, very soon. I feel unprepared - I am, at least from a packing and even procuring things I need perspective, still unready. That taking care of the details card from the previous reading? Yeah, overwhelming. Big change, big event, HAPPENING, and I feel...overwhelmed by the details of what I need to do.

The queen card is an interesting contrast. She looks quite assured, doesn't she? She has the situation firmly in hand. This card kind of reminds me of my mother, actually - she is a virgo, an earth sign, and much better than I in the details getting done end of things. She actually helped me a lot in terms of getting my apartment cleaned up when I was moving out last weekend, which was another part of this rapid series of changes which...LOOMED, but then was resolved without too much trouble. The dog in the card also catches my eye, enjoying itself, seeing the coin as a game, something to try to catch. Perhaps a shift away from this stress stress attitude would serve me well. Bigger-picture wise, I do see this as a very exciting adventure, but in the immediate term, when I see suitcases that need to be unpacked and repacked and my belongings strewn across two rooms it's hard not to just...stress.

It will be good for me, to keep this queen in mind. Poised, assured, a hand on everything, capable of getting things done. And the little dog, full of so much energy and simple joy...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

the forest and the trees

It's interesting how well some metaphors translate into spreads of sorts...particularly since card reading is itself, from a certain perspective, essentially the reading of visual metaphors, a shorthand of familiar images and system of associations. Anyway, a draw to try to focus/ground myself for the coming week, with this sort of spread in mind:

The Forest (Big Picture) - The Trees (Details)

I must say, I rather like the little frown of uncertainty or indifference on the figure's face in this Temperance card. There is a spring nearby, carefully constructed, and the angel (love the androgyny of many of the cards in this deck as well!) does the water pouring, water mixing thing. Chemistry, alchemy, synthesis, experimentation.

With a frown on it's face. Because sometimes, taking the path of moderation, finding and maintaining that balance, sticking with the reasonable thing and avoiding those extremes - it can be the hardest of all possible options. It's easy to throw yourself carelessly, recklessly into the most clearly delineated of positions. Dogmatism has a way of taking a grip on one's soul. All or nothing, right? All or nothing, and sticking to doing things simply because you've done them that way for so long...

And so stepping back to evaluate, to say - no, this isn't working, let's tray again...that can be hard. That can be hard to internally motivate yourself to want to do. Moderation as an art requiring patience with yourself, to try again and again with the water pouring, jug to jug, until finally you find a balance, a setting, a way of going about things that is sustainable, that works for you.

It is tempting to just give up, especially with so many things in the short-term to grab the attention, to distract, to let you tell yourself that your lack of progress in these matters doesn't matter. It does, though. Need to keep trying, looking at the bigger picture, trying to find a way, a reason to fix things, to bring things into better balance, equilibrium

As for the short term, those immediate details - remember prudence. This card actually quite strongly recalls the Thoth's 8 of disks...the coins are in the same arrangement, and flowers on each coin, and the hint of vines at the top of the card...a time to prudently nurture things, let things develop, take care of the things that need to be taken care of, attend to responsibilities. In this deck, eights are associated with Justice in the majors - again, a message about balance - and with coins dealing with the material realm, the financial, the solid and earthy...

While keeping big picture search for equilibrium in mind, this is the time to attend to ensuring that all the little, immediate, concrete things that must be taken care of are, that all of those are put right, handled in an appropriate manner. Arrange them all in neat rows like these. Don't shy away from doing the work to make that happen.

Channel that virgo influence this card has in the Thoth's system, keep the tree carefully pruned, organize and arrange and procure what you need, keep justice in mind and apply it to all your current worldly concerns, and keep working at it until all is done and settled - interesting how, with pip cards, it becomes so natural to draw on the influences of just about all the different tarot systems in the reading...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

ends and beginnings

So I continue my adventures in trying to find the optimal way of shuffling this particular deck. I love the art, and I love the elongated shape, but thickness of the does make things a challenge...

But so it goes. An interesting juxtaposition here - on the one hand death, old things that need to be swept, cut away, things that have outlived their usefulness, their time. All things come to an end, eventually. There comes a time where an ending is necessary even if it may be difficult to arrange, difficult to contemplate, difficult to experience. I do enjoy the way this card takes that on, though. We have the traditional skeleton in black robes, wielding a scythe, body parts and relics of glory on the ground beneath him...and yet he is dancing. He is dynamic, in motion, and he seems very much amused by the whole situation. It adds some perspective to the concept.

And next to death, we have the three of wands. At the top, a kind of animal head seeming to want to lunge forward out of a kind of decorative vine. Flowers carved out of the top of those wands - new growth, development, beginnings. Three, which is associated with the Empress in the majors - nurturing, fertility, creativity; and wands, the suit of fire, of passion, of self-development, ambition, potential. The card of new horizons, new prospects, new possibilities out there, waiting to be grasped. Al-mustaqbal - the future, the new, waiting for you.

I'm reminded by this draw of the concept behind the symbol of Ouroboros - the snake that eats its own tail. I have something similar to this specific image tattooed on my right wrist, decoration and reminder both.

All ends are inherently a beginning, and all new things inherently require the end of something that came before. Tis the nature of things. A cycle, constant. Time never stands still. Existence never remains exactly the same for long. Trying to resist this is...not only limiting, but also in many cases futile. Better to roll with the changes, transformations. Give death it's due. Excitement rather than melancholy. Plans rather than nostalgia.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

comparative Sun musings

So a recent post on the Tarot Thrones blog has had me thinking about doing something comparative with reading/my decks. I drew another Sun card today from my current/weekly working deck, and that got me thinking about variations on reading this major. And so - some Sun-centered musing follows...

So to start off with, my original draw, the Sun from the Corte dei Tarocchi deck - I actually quite like this take on the sun. I got this deck, recently, because I just found some of the cards so charming... We have the two little girls under the bright sun (love the details on their outfits!). They both seem to be suprised to various degrees my something - the one on the right looks shocked, the one on the left pensive, nervous.

An interesting reminder here, about the fact that sometimes, good things - great things - do fall into our lap quite unexpectedly. Sometimes, the things that eventually turn out to be absolutely amazing initially come at us in the form of an unpleasant shock. And sometimes, success, the prospect of some particular accomplishment - it scares us. All the work that must go into attaining that kind of can feel overwhelming. Sometimes even optimism, a positive attitude, can terrify - after all, if you have a fatalistic outlook and low expectations, you have a shield against dissapointment. To adopt a positive, pro-active approach is to open yourself up to risk, to pain.  Scary indeed, it can be.

On the other hand, in the Sun card of the Silicon Dawn tarot, we get quite a different image, and a different aspect of the things the card represents. Here we have an queen bee figure, almost a combination, really, of antromorphic bee and some kind of Indian goddess, if you look at her posture, the arms, the background of the sun.... Below, the large, rich hive is busy: worker bees creating sweet honey, everything illuminated in warm, golden hues...

Here, we are reminded of the fact that, excepting those situations where it really is just sheer luck, most of the time succes is built on hard work - work that is sometimes boring, sometimes repetative, sometimes deeply unpleasant and yet...necessary. We see that sense of inner accomplishment that comes from sticking to it, getting those things done. The inner pride, when you KNOW that it's your own hard work and skill that has gotten you what you have. Also, a reminder of how much teamwork, a larger group effort can achieve with effective leadership and good organization - in that case, the kind of collective sense of accomplishment - the elated, WE DID IT feeling.

Now with the Celtic tarot, we see yet another take on the Sun. Here, instead of golden, yellow hues, we have a lot of watery colors, a prevalence of blue. The picture looks a bit somber too...the ghostly figure floating up, the naked woman below, kneeling as if in supplication, the sun glowing dimly, as if it were about to go out soon...

To me, there's a reminder here, of the impermanence of all things. Everything comes to an end, and from all ends new beginnings spring, and so it goes. Good things - the bright blaze of the sun - last only so long. We can't expect them to go on forever, cannot expect one success to be all that we will have to do. On the other hand, in order to embark on the new, we have to accept the floating away of older things, even things very dear to us. We must be ready to adapt, to start again as many times as we must, to accept transience. The things that we can hold onto are within us: a positive attitude, the self-confidence that comes from past experiences, lessons learned.

Finally, in one more take, we have the Sun of the Magical Forest tarot, a personal favorite of mine. Here we have a rather clever take on some of the traditional RWS imagery - the youth, in this case a kangaroo joey, still in his mother's pouch with the red flag of success, with sunflowers all around and the bright sun overhead...

This card in particular makes me think of the effect that the right enviroment can have on outlook and on success - the joey here is safe and secure in his pouch, developing at his own pace, protected from the world until he is ready to face it on his own. In the meantime, he builds up his confidence with small accomplishments, gets experience under the belt. The field of flowers and the bright sun are just the right kind of setting for healthy growth. The right kind of support can be a real advantage. On the other hand, having the joey to protect gives the mother kangaroo a sense of purpose, a reason to seek out that bright sunlight...sometimes having that externalized sense of responsibility, needing to care or help out someone else...can do as much for the person or purpose we are trying to assist. Symbosis. Positive cycles and spirals.

Monday, May 21, 2012

another deck, another quote set

“Do not wait for the last judgment. It comes every day.” 
-Albert Camus

"Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice: it is not to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved."
-William Jennings Bryant

"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing."
-Theodore Roosevelt