Saturday, May 19, 2018

Testing, Testing: The Elora Tarot

Coming up next weekend (May 26, 27) is the first ever Elora Tarot and Divination Festival in the lovely town of - you guessed it! - Elora, Ontario.

From this creative community comes the work of sixty-five artists, pooling their talents to create the Elora Tarot. Let's have a look!

It seems difficult for 65 separate artists to create a cohesive deck. Did you manage it?
Hell yes! We loved being a part of this much larger body of work.
And if someone was getting cranky or ego-bound, we shared a meal and talked things through.
Which is kind of what tarot does, right?

Is this deck more pertinent to people living in or near your town?
Is it in any way Elora-exclusive?
Art is art, and tarot is tarot, no matter where you hail from in the world.
Of course, the local artists will be familiar to Eloraians (I'm not sure what the townsfolk call themselves; I'm a deck of cards), but tarot interpretations are wide open. As is the appreciation of pieces of art.
We're a colourful deck, and we leave plenty of space
on which you may place your own interpretations. 

You must be excited about the Tarot and Divination Festival coming to your town.
Actually, things are a bit of a blur right now, what with opening day only 6 days away.
This is our first Festival of this kind, and some of us are hanging around waiting to be given our next task.
Of course, there are always those who excel at seeing what needs to be done, and doing it.
And others who are fantastic at taking something mysterious
and shaping it into something wonderful.

Was there a lot of fighting about who got to do which card?
Shh. I'm not telling. What happened in Elora stays in Elora.
I will say, however, that everyone in the crew dug deep to find something new to say in their cards
that also moved them forward as artists.
You'll find a lot of collective wisdom here. 

Are you a good reading deck, or mostly a beautiful art deck?
Well, the art question pretty much answers itself.
As for me being a reading deck as well, I say most certainly! Or to quote the King of Cups: "Hell yes!"
Some of us take a bit of mind-stretching to bring forth a tarot opinion, and surely that is a good thing.
We're not a clone of anything else; we're unique; and we hope to bring you many good perceptions and ideas as you work with us.
You could say that we're a cutting-edge deck. 

And who doesn't love THE HAPPY SQUIRREL?

Many thanks, Elora Tarot, and good luck launching your first Tarot and Divination Festival!

In neighbourhood news...

One cataract surgery down, one to go. So far, so good! With the right eye now seeing beautifully out to a distance, and the left doing its usual I-can-see-fantastically-well-up-to-four-inches-away thing, my world currently looks a lot like the Hanged Man card above!


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Pulling My Faves part 5: the Death card

This is instalment 5 in a series about building my ideal deck, put together out of cards from many different decks. (Here's the first post in the series.)
I set out to choose just ONE of each card - 78 cards in all. 
Ha! What a ludicrously impossible idea that turned out to be - ONE favourite of each card?

Why Death?

Because after 52 years of faithful service, my beloved contact lenses are being retired. The end of an era.
Well, this hardly warrants bringing out the Death card. Bit of overkill, wouldn't you say?
Was that pun intended?
Sorry, couldn't resist.
I know, it seems silly. But I've relied on them for most of my life. I knew what I could see with them, and what I couldn't without them. All that is about to change, and I'm not sure how.
Upcoming cataract surgery has me tied up in knots of knervousness.
Was that alliteration intentional?
Couldn't resist - sorry.
  • What if the surgeon screws it up and I end up blind in one eye?
  • He's done 5,952 of these. I'm sure it'll be fine.
  • After all those thousands, he's probably getting careless. 
  • Oh for Pete's sake!

So Death, with its undertone of endings and overlay of beginnings, seemed appropriate.

This is who presents himself first when I think about the Death card.

No skeleton on a horse here.
A dark angel invites us to cross over with him.
Step over his sickle and embark upon a new path.
I like the light on the horizon:
it feels hopeful.

Another non-traditional Death card, from the Gaian Tarot

This way of looking at Death
makes it seem so natural.
Sad, yes, but also respectful, with the sun lighting up the water and plants blooming around both the heron and the old boat.
Their span has come to an end.

The Art of Life Tarot has a slightly different slant.

Make hay while the sun shines.
Live now while it's still your turn.
"What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" Mary Oliver

I just love the look of this one:
something about the colours, the balance, the combination of up close and in the distance.
It makes me feel calm and visually satisfied.

The Dreaming Way is a somewhat melancholy deck, which suits Death just fine.

The full bloom of youth meets the necessity of death.
Life and Death co-existing.
Is she the recipient or the wielder of the sickle?

This is a food-chain take on Death. One creature dies to feed another.
It's unfortunate, but I'm glad it's not me. I live to hunt another day.
The heron dominates this frame, but may meet his nemesis farther along the path.
The circle of life.

The Steampunk Tarot (B.Moore/Aly Fell)

By all means mourn your losses.
Weep for endings.
Miss your beloveds.
Rail against changes.
It's how life works.


Sunday, May 06, 2018

The Perils of Pigeonholing People, with the Japaridze Tarot

In just two days, I've been clobbered thrice. Not badly - more like a bonk with a well-aimed Nerf ball.

Within a 24-hour period, I learned BIG new things about three people, one of whom has been a dear friend for decades. In each case, she blasted right out of the compartment I'd put her in and skyrocketed into a whole new arena of expertise. 

This required some mental tinkering and fidgeting on my part, because the balance between us had shifted. What now?

Over to the beautiful Japaridze Tarot for some fresh perspectives.

1. I'm going to need a bigger boat bigger pigeonholes.
Thoughts from looking at this image:
  • You get burned if you try to shove people into tidy little slots.
  • Apparently everything I thought I knew has gone up in flames! 
  • Why run the risk of fighting all that painful fire, when all you have to do is unlock those little boxes and let your friends fly free?
  • Don't just stand there like a ninny! Back up, re-think, re-start, re-fresh! 

2. Things feel out of balance between us.
  • You're losing this game.
    • Wait a minute! Since when is friendship a win/lose thing?
  • I thought I was the king.
    • Nope. Does it really matter whose turn it is to shine?
  • Life is always moving and shifting. Sometimes you're the white, other times you're the green.
  • In this image, the King appears to be on top, but in reality the board is a level playing field. 
  • Always coming out on top is tiring. Enjoy the back seat!

3. My relentless ego keeps a graph of how I stack up against others. The "me" line on the chart took a few dips and dives in the last couple of days. Why is it that the ego only works in terms of me versus them?

A wise teaching friend* of mine once referred to the "simmering kettle of doubt" that we all keep on the back burner. If you lift the lid on this kettle, its insidious coils of steam will wind their way around your sense of self-worth and strangle it. She advised keeping a lid on it.
Oh how soothing that this watery Queen came up here!

  • The tendrils of the steamy kettle of doubt are no match for her cooling tides.
  • Breathe, loosen your shoulders, let your arms hang loose by your sides, dance around a bit.
  • Know what you know. It's unique to you.
  • A wise Queen appreciates her friendships.
    • Does this mean that I'm a "wise Queen"? 
      • That's entirely up to you.

And just for the sheer beauty of them...

In neighbourhood news...
Yesterday morning I was sailing along the highway on my way to a friend's surprise retirement party. She was an amazing mentor and teacher, and plans for this gathering had been in the works for months. It was going to be fantastic! I was happily humming along to the radio when a great noise sounded from somewhere underneath, and a large piece of my car fell off onto the highway behind me. I pulled over, waited for a more normal heart rate, headed back trepidatiously, and landed at the mechanic's at 7:30am.
(Turns out that piece is like the tonsil of cars - they don't really need it. So I could've kept going, no problem. Grrrr. Who knew that cars have bits they don't even need?)
Back home, sulking, I pulled out one of the drafts I'd begun earlier in the year - Perils of Pigeonholing - and re-read what I'd written earlier.
Gasp! *The wise teaching friend quoted above and the retiree? One and the same. So I got to spend time with her anyway, albeit not in the way I'd planned. One of life's whimsical substitutions!



Sunday, April 29, 2018

Pity Party with the Borderless Deviant Moon

I'm sad that my long-awaited trip to India is over. But that's not it.
This disgusting cough and sore throat have been hanging around for more than two weeks, and it's enough to get a person down! But that's not it.
Has Spring overlooked us here in cold rainy southern Ontario? Yes, and I'm fed up with it! But that's not it either.
You give up? OK, here it is.

Fantastic excitement has been building for the Readers Studio in New York City this weekend. Facebook posts are flying: flights taking off from all over North America and UK and China, vendors are packed up and on the road, banquet menu choices have been ticked off, pix from the new hotel venue are appearing, folks are talking up their study groups. Wonderful! Oh the anticipation...
And I'm not going to be there. For the first time since 2012.

Yes, it's a good decision; a month-long trip to wondrous India was expensive, and I'm so glad I did it.
But now...I'm dejected, and feeling left out, and thinking about all I'll miss, and all the people I won't see and hear. Definitely in the throes of a massive feeling-sorry-for-myself binge.

I need a deck to cheer me up, or distract me, or at least knock some sense into me.
The Deviant Moon will be a good distraction. I love it but am clueless at divining what it might be saying. All those extra arms and boobs and peculiar eyes. If I have absolutely NO IDEA what to think, I can turn to Patrick Valenza's magnificent companion book, signed by him last year at RS17. It weighed as much as the rest of my luggage combined!

OK, Deviant Moon. What've ya got?

I see that you've chosen the borderless Deviant Moon - good choice. May our creativity know no bounds! We hope you like the cards we've selected for you, Teawoman.

They're beautiful; thank you! Shall we take them one by one?
By all means!

Well, this is all about money, or the lack thereof, so Pents makes perfect sense.
Dragons hoard their loot, so if I start saving now, at the Ace, by the time the 10 of Pents rolls around I'll have enough to get myself to New York next year. Flying on a Delta Airlines dragon!

Justice is holding a fish. Like the salmon dinner I'm not having tonight at the RS banquet.
The key ring: the key to feeling better fairness.
If Justice is fairness, then I guess it is only fair that others get to partake of this fabulous conference while I sit out a year. It sold out months ago, and many didn't get in. My wish for the dozens of first-timers is a weekend they'll cherish forever.

What about that lizard underfoot, and the strange limb holding a rotting fish?
Must go to Patrick's book for this one.
"Despite his tireless efforts to keep society balanced, discrimination and corruption will always exist. Such iniquities slither out from underneath the Judge's robe in the form of hideous creatures. In response, the Judge's claw-like foot emerges from the seams clutching a rotted fish...even if he must balance on one foot in order to do it."

The other thing that came to mind when this card showed up was this post yesterday by Karen Mahony of Baba Studios. She wrote:
"That awful moment when you realise that all along you've been doing tarot reading completely wrong. Where is my giant under-table lizard?!"

This is a disaster! A calamity! The big eye-in-the-sky (or spacecraft?) has beamed its destructive light and deemed this to be my fate!
But I'm not alone in this; others are shaken up too. And who knows? As the companion books says:
"As painful as it may seem, you must realize that this upheaval will ultimately be in your best interest."
Best interest? I'll await enlightenment on this one.

Yup, this is what I'm missing, alright: devilishly fine performances on stage, played to an enthusiastic audience. Non-stop entertainment.
Six of Cups brings with it an element of nostalgia, fondly remembering past times...
Will reviewing memories of past conferences bring smiles? A resounding YES! Six of Cups, you've done your job!

What the heck is going on here? Three creatures all performing some bizarre and perhaps painful procedure on each other.
How does this connect up to what I'm missing in NY city this weekend?
People of different backgrounds and experience reading for each other, working together on each others' problems; sometimes this digging around can be painful. I'm missing that intensity, the collaborations, the serious work, scratching the surface, picking each other's brains. Three heads are better than one.

This Page has an extra-long lens in one eye: he's looking to the future, planning ahead, already making a move in the direction he wants to go . He's focused on... Readers Studio 2019!


In neighbourhood news

Saturday April 28 was Indie Bookstore Day. It promised writers, giveaways, snacks. So I went, of course! 
When I arrived there were three poets and one publisher of handmade books chatting with each other, and I was the only customer. So they invited me to sit in a comfy chair, and all four of them read for me! I felt so privileged - still smiling from that beautiful experience. And the banana bread was good too!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Mrs. Pollifax and a Wicked Pack of Cards

Emily Pollifax, sixties-something widow of New Brunswick, New Jersey, is finding life a bit stale.
This is her reading. (cue Dragnet theme song)

The deck? Wheel of Change Tarot (borders trimmed)

My life is dull.

Lost its cutting edge, has it? Focus not as sharp as it used to be?

Mrs. Pollifax, your momentum appears to be rotating backwards.
You need a new spin on things.
Give your blades a 180 twist round and see if that gets them moving forward again.

Things look tame - a Ferris wheel. The ribbons are all very sweet, Mrs. P, but it's time to cut the ties that bind you to your staid little life.

Garden Club pruners be damned. Take a machete for some serious cutting.

What do you suggest?

This is not some clueless old codger playing around in the woods at night.
Oh, no. He's up to something.
He's on to something.

He's got the telescope, the magnifying glass, maps, notebook, quill pen, a pulley.
What's all that light he's producing? Nine beams of it, to be exact (as befits the Hermit IX).

Is that a whistle around his neck? 
Is he channeling starlight? 
Is that shooting star part of his experiment?

I suggest that you take a page from this Hermit's notebook and rustle up something new and exciting for yourself. 
Take a walk on the wild side. Or the dark side.

What does she do? Hops on a train to Washington, DC, and offers to spy for the CIA.
In the magical flukey world of fiction and mistaken identities, she gets hired to make a simple courier delivery in Mexico City.

What might I expect, having done as you suggested?

Let's just say that you're not in New Jersey any more, Emily Pollifax.
Well, you were trying to shake things up. It appears that you've succeeded spectacularly.

Things are heating up.
Your cover's about to be blown sky high
and you could find yourself thrown into the company of a colourful group of strangers.

Get ready to rock & roll, Mrs. P!
Pack your running shoes and don't forget your wicked pack of cards...

Of course all hell breaks loose. In the breaking she is casually tossed a deck of cards in a bookshop, and to save her sanity and keep panic at bay, spends much of her "free time" while incarcerated in Albania playing solitaire.
Every time she picks up her trusty little pack of cards and begins laying them out, I hear the rustle and snap of card against card, my hands beg to grab a tarot deck, and my mind turns to that (in)famous book
A Wicked Pack of Cards.

In neighbourhood news

Highclere Castle (aka Downton Abbey) has nothing on us. We have mallards in our flooded park!


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Justice 11 as a tipping point

If you take the number 11 and tip the 1's toward each other ↗↖ at the top, you get what looks like the base of a teeter-totter. Or a fulcrum in physics. Or a tipping point.

I like Justice at 11 (as opposed to 8) because it sits at the exact centre of the Major Arcana, with cards 1 through 10 on its left, and numbers 12 through 21 on its right. It feels fair, even, balanced. And yes -  Just.

Playing around with my new Game of Thrones Tarot this week, I had an idea about Justice and tipping points and balance, and how it might make a spread.

But first I have to back up... to Nancy Antenucci's book, Psychic Tarot: Using Your Natural Psychic Abilities to Read the Cards. (It sounds a bit woo-woo, I know, but it's often very down to earth and accessible, even to those of us with loud overbearing sceptical critics living in our left brains). She has an interesting way of presenting the Fool's Journey which really clicked, and started me thinking about this. 

Ideally we'd carry each and every lesson, beginning with the words of wisdom from the Magician, accumulating them as we go. Never losing any of the good bits, stuffing them all into our little Fool's knapsack. 

And then along comes Justice 11 - the tipping point - where the balance begins to shift and we slide down into the next set of life lessons. As I said, this is the ideal scenario. For most of us (probably all of us) the ride up isn't this straightforward, smooth, or short!

And what if you aren't ready? What if there are gaps in your development, lessons that you balk at because they make your gut twist just thinking about them? What if missing bits and pieces from cards 1 through 10 are going to mess you up and bite your butt going forward? 
To the spread:

Find Justice in your deck (it may be #8 - that's OK). It's the centre card.
Shuffle and deal two more cards, one on either side of Justice.
The one on the left will point out some possible hitches preventing you from going fully forward.
And the one on the right will give you some pointers for lightening your load and making the leap.

First - the dead weights, the impediments. It's the Knight of Coins, in this case Brienne of Tarth. What about her personality or way of looking at the world could hold you back from successfully making the jump into the second half of your Fool's Journey?
I'm going back to the first ten cards, because that's where we'll find her particular weaknesses. My first run-through involved checking in with each and every card, 1 through 10. It was starting to look like one of George R. R. Martin's novels! Now it's pared down to just those few that stood out.
II High Priestess: Does too much of your life revolve around following someone else's rules or doing another person's bidding? Have you sat yourself down recently and thought about what feels right for you?
III Empress: Are you tired of blocking off your softer side? All that armour!
VI Lovers: Is trust missing in your life? Are you able to lean on another person if necessary?
IX Hermit: Are you good at pushing, pushing forward, but not so hot at questioning why?

Now let's look at the advice from the third card, over there on the other side of Justice. It's The Sun XIX, with one of Daenerys' baby dragons, named Drogon, singing his fledgling roar to the sun. What's that he's ROARING?
RELAX! Unhunch your shoulders and unclench your jaw. Maybe even do a bit of singing!
Allow yourself to stop and smell the sunflowers. 
Revel in your successes so far. SHOUT FOR JOY!

(I can't look at this card without hearing in my head Jack Prelutsky's wonderful poem
The Dragons are Singing Tonight)

In neighbourhood news

The Canadian Brass were in town this weekend. I bought my tickets last fall, just to be sure, because they don't get here that often. Even though four of five members are new since I last saw them, they still have their unique blend of mellow brass sounds, great arrangements, and just the right amount of schtick. For some of that goofiness, tune in around the 6:00 mark here!


Sunday, April 08, 2018

Testing, Testing: The Game of Thrones Tarot

This is complicated because it's not an out-and-out rave, and I'm reluctant to start. But Game of Thrones is a deck that I cannot ignore.

On the one hand:
  • I've known about this deck for a year, and have been looking forward to its arrival.
  • I love Liz Dean! I first met her when she came to the Readers Studio in 2016 to talk about her books and the technique she calls Switchwords. Her style of public speaking is clear, gentle, funny, modest, interesting, And of course there's that Brit accent that gets me every time!
  • She works at Selfridges* in London, in the Psychic Sisters area, the only place of its kind in the world. This store, this department, and getting a reading from Liz, are on my to-do list.
  • Game of Thrones is a hate-love show for me, and there's certainly more than enough fodder in it for 78 tarot cards. While I cringe at the sadistic bloody cruel horrifying gratuitous graphic violence, I fully love (or hate) the characters, the plot (and plotting), the magnificent locations, costumes, and sets, the massiveness of the production, and the many links between actual historical characters and events and this story. And I do want to know what happens, even when I don't want to watch it unfold (or have to watch through my fingers).
  • I find Craig Coss's artwork compelling, suitably dark, and well done. 
  • The little hard cover sewn-binding book and box - beautiful.
  • Narrow white borders are unobtrusive and the card stock finish interesting (in a good way!).
*This TV series, based on Harry Selfridge's life and controversial ideas about what a department store could be, is one of my favourites. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that they house the Psychic Sisters. Selfridges has been shocking and wowing the world since 1909!

On the other hand:
  • There are many key characters who don't appear in the deck, while others have 2, 3, or 4 cards featuring them.
  • Some cards (8) have a generic character on them - like "an Unsullied" for instance - which in each case could have been a particular person whom we would know from the series.
  • Other cards (8) which usually feature people have no one on them. That seems like a missed opportunity to feature another of the huge cast of characters.
  • Note about the legalities: Liz talks about the lawyers, and lawyers of lawyers, involved in bringing this massive project to fruition. So it may be that costs or time constraints limited the number of characters and/or actors that could be featured in the deck.  

So those are my raves and reservations. Now to questioning the deck itself.

1. You've read my concerns about characters in the series that weren't used in the deck. Your comments?
Six of Cups (the element of Water, the heart, relationships)
Sansa Stark: Those of us in this deck have worked very hard to get here, and we are strong and resilient. We can handle both your questions and your complaints. I have just fled that Devil, Ramsay Bolton, after all.
Jon Snow: And I have come back from the Dead. Sansa and I thought we were lost to each other, but  now we know that anything is possible. We can deal with whatever you've dealt onto your tarot table!

2. These omissions would not matter to a reader who is not familiar with the show. Will tarot readers who are followers of Game of Thrones on TV miss these characters?
Three of Coins (the element of Earth, being grounded, building)
We've built a new Sept. Our deck is a new creation - grounded in the HBO series - but we're building a little dynasty of our own with you readers and your insights and creativity.

3. The show is vast in scope. Will your cards bring this huge world to our readings?
King of Spears (the element of Fire, courage, spirit)
Ned Stark: I was beheaded early in the series, and yet my offspring and their high ideals carry the torch for valour and loyalty. Their courage permeates this deck, as do the characteristics of so many of the major characters. We, embodied in this deck, represent our world of the Seven Kingdoms and yours, the Earth. I wish you well traversing them with us. My children are now (quite literally) in your hands; use their strengths, and please honour them and treat them with respect.

4. Game of Thrones has many truly evil characters, while most tarot decks do not. Will this bring a darker slant to readings with you?
Five of Cups (the realm of Water again)
Cercei Lannister: My emotional life often lies within a dark landscape. You no doubt think of me as one of the bad people, a plotter and schemer, and I suppose I am those things. But is my sadness at the death of my sweet daughter darker than that of another bereaved mother? I think not.
Be truthful now - do you love the Game of Thrones for its lightness of heart and good cheer? I think not.

None of your Major Arcana players have spoken. Will one of you please step forward?
The Fool
Tyrion Lannister: Here I am at my most foolhardy moment to date (and I have had many) - releasing two of Daenerys' dragons from their prison beneath the Pyramid in Meereen. Is that not the epitome of flexibility? From idle rich son and whoremonger to battle brave to political negotiator to dragon freer? No one of us knows where this adventure may take us. I will do my small part (one of my dwarf jokes) to carry on with whatever I am dealt, as will you. And now I need more wine, please. Aah, much better.
Now, back to your question. We felt that your reservations about our deck were Minor, and thus none of us Majors initially came forward (my first tarot joke).


In neighbourhood news

Without a shadow of a doubt, camel riding is the best! (Pushkar, India, Feb 2018: me, Romeo the camel)