Sunday, April 23, 2017

Uninspired and mooching, plus lobsters

This week I just don't have it in me to make up a real blog post. Or to...
  • start a book that I should read but...
  • wash a window
  • make that call I've been putting off
  • pull up weeds

But just because I'm lying down on the job doesn't mean that others are.
Fantastic Menagerie

Here are some hard-working tarot sites with video deck reviews, trimming decks, stuff like that.

Thinking of making a living at tarot?

Want a high-quality free reading?

Tarot legends' blogs?

Looking for a list, reviews, what's new, a few pics, of THOUSANDS of decks?

Pens, ink, handwriting, calligraphy? Lots of videos at these places.
Goulet Pens
Jet Pens
The Postman's Knock

Julia Child playing with lobsters?  Oh my gosh, I can still see her patting that monstrous crustacean...
Lucille Ball stomping grapes?

Well, that's it for this week. Whew, that was exhausting... Time for some refreshment!
Fantastic Menagerie again

I'm off to fine-tune my packing list for Readers Studio 2017, coming up this Wednesday. See ya!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Changing thoughts on Good Friday, and the Bohemian Gothic

As a kid:
I appreciated the day off from school, and sort of liked the ancient story read in a warm church with the smells of spring floating in through open windows. It was completely different from any other church experience (and I had a lot of them, growing up Catholic and attending an all-girls' convent school). Here's the grotto at St. Mary's Academy, my alma mater. Note the uniforms and beanies on our heads. The nuns never let us climb around and explore in there, citing the danger of the rocks collapsing, which I never believed for a minute. So we had to sneak in when they weren't looking (which wasn't often).

Our block growing up was fully WASP (there is nothing intrinsically derogatory about White Anglo-Saxon Protestant and yet it feels like a put-down, which I don't mean it to be) except for the Tannenbaums, us, and another Catholic family who didn't seem to spend much time at Mass. I remember feeling so religiously superior to be going to church on that weekday. Although, now that I think of it, that was probably a cover for being mad that I couldn't stay home and skip rope with my unenlightened Protestant friends.

Through the choir years:
The this-one-is-unique feeling persisted.

  • Music (elaborate Requiems, certain anthems and hymns) heard only on that day.
  • A long (well, OK, really really long) gospel read by many people taking the parts of the narrator, Jesus, Pontius Pilate, Peter, etc. The crowd yelling its few lines (the choir always did the hollering nasty rabble bits; kind of a hoot to yell in church).
  • A meal together, put on by the church after the morning's rehearsal and before the noon service, sharing lunch with guest instrumentalists and choir 'ringers'. A welcome chatty break before the work began.
So even as my connection to the actual religious content steadily declined and eventually disappeared, the day itself still resonated powerfully.

This past Friday, April 14:
First of all, it's not really my choir anymore. Since I retired from it a few years ago, their long-time director resigned and they've hired a new person, who is a great guy - personable, welcoming, fine musician. But as always happens with a changing of the guard, some choir members leave, and other ones affiliated with the new director arrive. So at least 1/2 the choir is now unknown to me. It doesn't feel like 'home' anymore.
Secondly, and much more important, that very long gospel of the Passion of Jesus Christ changed for me. As we stood and listened to the roles being read out, and yelled our choir lines playing 'the crowd', I was struck, not by the familiar-ness of the story from that long-ago day, but by the hate and gratuitous violence. It sounded like a newscast I would switch off, a movie I'd avoid like the plague, or a Facebook post I would delete because it offended me.

So, what to take away from that? 
It's a story that is still being re-enacted, alas, all over the world. And it was difficult to listen to.

How much does organized religion have to answer for, as regards persecution across the globe?
Probably a lot.

Because I recoiled from it last Friday, does that mean that I'm done forever with singing on Good Friday?
I hope not. The music is haunting and beautiful.

Have I lost the 'this day is special' feeling I've enjoyed for decades?
I don't know the answer yet. It's too fresh.

How to tie this to tarot?
I'm not sure. I guess I'll go to the decks that are out for this Spring, and choose one of them to respond to my feelings about last Friday's gospel.

Which deck?
The one that rushes into my mind is the Bohemian Gothic, because of its darkness. The events of that first Good Friday (why on earth is it called 'good'?) and similar current events surely come from the dark side of our nature.

A spread? A single card?
Since this change of feeling about Good Friday was sudden, and jumped out at me, I decided to shuffle until two cards jumped out. (How interesting - 2 cards, both Majors. I'm glad the cards acknowledge that this feels big to me.)

  • A person in each card is facing to the right, to the future.
  • The standout colour - red - is near her heart in the Lovers. Feelings, emotions from long ago.
  • And it's on the cap of the Hierophant. Put head first, going forward? More thinking, learning, knowledge?
  • The numbers of these Majors - 6 Lovers, 5 Hierophant - are consecutive, yet backwards. Maybe take a step backwards to fill in some historical information about Good Friday? Is that even possible? I don't know.

1. Processing this sadness  The Lovers

Let go of the past if it no longer serves, even if that idea brings sadness.

What ties you to the past is not necessarily healthy, even though your heart feels great love for it.

Breaking bonds is difficult.

Letting go of cherished notions hurts.

What is it you love about that idea? Sort out the harm from the good, and keep what is wholesome.

The past still loves you and wants to hold you. What will you do about that?

(It's interesting that this young woman is wearing a mantilla on her head, which is what we sometimes had to drape over ourselves if we forgot to wear a hat or our funny little green school beanies. Women covering their heads was a requirement in the Catholic church, in the dinosaur years when I was growing up.)

2. Going forward  The Hierophant

By all means, feel free to frown. This is hard work.

What is in his hand? Is it something he's now questioning or rejecting? Could be...

There's a figure in the background from an earlier time. Research? Comparative religious thought?

His robe has dozens of buttons on it. He's all buttoned up, and could use some loosening of the restrictions he's placed upon himself.

There's a window on the world outside. Does what he believes to be true need a fresh look vis-à-vis the real world? Do his beliefs need updating?

He struggles alone with his thoughts. Could he use some help? Trusted friends? A mentor? A study group?

As usually happens when one captures thoughts or concerns on paper (or screen), some clarity begins to take shape. Thank you, keyboard!

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Testing, Testing: The Victorian Romantic Tarot

There is hope that Baba Studios is thinking about re-issuing this deck. Perhaps they've grown tired of listening to fans sobbing and begging and pleading. There's even a sign-up if you're interested link.

I am indeed one of the fortunate ones! In 2011 a kind friend bought me the original (2006, hard-to-find) deck and book set, (which never leaves the house!) and I also have the 2012 deck and mini. I haven't yet chosen the decks that will go to Readers Studio in New York at the end of this month, but I'm sorely tempted to take the mini Victorian Romantic. (But what if I drop a burger on it? What if I lose it? What if it falls in my wine? What if someone nicks it? What if...?)

Note: for this review, I'm using images from the 2012 deck.

At last, there's talk of you being re-issued, Victorian Romantic! How does it feel?
The World
I'm jumping for joy, as you might imagine! All 78 of us are thrilled at the thought of being once more tossed out into the world and put to use with a whole new group of friends. The tarot world is growing with each passing year, and we're excited about putting our whole Victorian World into your hands. 

Are you an accurate depiction of the art of the 19th century?
The High Priestess
Yes, even the boobs. We Victorians are strait-laced in many ways, but in our art we burst out of our corsets and are beautiful and free! Our designers, Karen and Alex, are crazy about research, so you can imagine the piles and stacks of old art books they bought, begged, and borrowed while making us a reality. (And don't forget - Queen Victoria, after whom our age is named, really enjoyed being in bed with her beloved Prince Albert. She even wrote about that in her journals.)

I don't care a whit about history. Are you a good reading deck? That's what I want to know!
Four of Wands
We want you to have a good time with us, so YES! We're full of stories and scenarios offering rich fodder for your imagination. And we're mostly Rider-Waite-Smith-based, for easy learning and adapting. Not to toot my own horn or bang my own drum, but...we rock!

Now we have a question for you, Teawoman!
Pick out one of your favourite cards and tell us why you like it, please.
OK! The Six of Cups
I love the artwork, the colours, the composition. Love the parents almost-but-not-quite in the picture, giving the kids freedom to interact under the radar. I love the idea (this is completely coloured by the news we're subjected to these days) that younger generations are learning about and accepting each other.

We're waiting for you, Victorian Romantic!

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Queen Victoria and Sally Naldrett: different yet the same

This past week, Facebook was full of people finding page 56 in the nearest book, locating the 5th sentence, and posting it. Perhaps this Facebook mania is connected to national book week? Or Canada Reads, also running this past week? Anyway, life lusciously revolving around books!
(photo stolen from Juniper Books)

I love the idea of grabbing a book and turning to page 56, then counting down to sentence five. So I decided to put it to use, for my own selfish purposes.
(My impulse was to write: 'evilly twirls moustache', in the style of nya-ha-ha bad-guy cartoons, but as I age, that whole moustache thing seems like it might end up an actual possibility, so...not writing that!)
Back to putting it to use. A current research project, this blog, and tarot. A three-fer.

The Victoria Project is something I'm playing around with for my own amusement. I'm looking into anything (science, medicine, literature, art, music, inventions, politics, etc.) that took place in the lifespan of Queen Victoria (1819-1901).
Two books I'm reading  now are:
Queen Victoria's Secrets (not the underwear company)
Mistress of Nothing
So I paged to 56 in each of them and found the fifth sentence.

     Went to the Windsor Symphony Orchestra concert with multiple choruses tonight. 
     Gorgeous. I'm still weepy from the final number in Candide - Make Our Garden Grow
(big finish at 2:48)
     And all the works in the concert? Based on literature. Yup, definitely a book-y week.

Two women perch at opposite ends of the power and money spectrum: Sally Naldrett as "Mistress of Nothing", and Queen Victoria, mistress of practically everything.
Thoughts on the subject, courtesy of the Page of Cups.

One sits as high as is possible to go in the world (note tiny lowly subject)
Tarot of Prague 2016

And the other is a servant belonging to her mistress
Victorian Romantic

From Queen Victoria's Secrets, page 56:
"Queen Victoria had to negotiate those extremes." 
Victoria had to be forever mindful of carefully treading a judicious central path, so as not to fall into the political quagmire to the right and left of her position. She may have been mistress of everything, but she wasn't free to do as she pleased.

From Mistress of Nothing, page 56:
"My lady will do as she sees fit."
Sally's lot was to please her mistress, no matter what the demands might be, and attempt to achieve some semblance of individuality and contentment within that narrow framework.

These two women never met (I can say that with 99.99% certainty) and even if they had, it's unlikely that either of them would have entertained for a nano-second the idea that their lives were similar in any way. However...
Victoria ascended the throne as a sheltered eighteen-year-old. Obviously going to be a steep learning curve there.
Sally's mistress decided to recover from her illness in hot dry Egypt, and she hauled Sally with her. Not much in Sally's upstairs-downstairs-one-day-off-a-month foggy London life had prepared her for this.

They were both fledglings in their new lives.

Each of them undoubtedly had doubts. What on earth am I doing here? I don't know how to do this.

Both lived on a life-blood river, Thames or Nile.

Each lived in a world of letters incoming and outgoing, notes and packages from emissaries and travellers. Victoria's journals ran to 143,000 pages by the time she died. Except for letters to her sister, most of Sally's writing was on behalf of her mistress. Pen and ink were indelibly inscribed on their days.

On the other hand, Sally had to cook 

and mess about with menial household tasks,

and Victoria never set sail for Egypt.

But one thing's for sure - they both had gumption!
Tarot Illuminati

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Welcome, Spring! Welcome, new batch of decks!

Away with Winter's twenty-one decks!

Since last September 21st, I've worked with forty-four! unfamiliar decks, and my mind is tired of looking at so much new stuff. I have declared a brain holiday, and chosen a mere fifteen decks for this season. Eight of them are old friends, so it feels like a vacation!

This time last year (April, actually), I was in Prague, soaking up the city and the company of Karen and Alex's tour group, basking in the pampering at the House at the Big Boot, and loving our guides.
Not going again this year was a good decision, BUT seeing posts from the people making ready to experience that wonderfulness again makes me SO LONESOME for it all! On our tour last year we witnessed the arrival of the newly-redone Tarot of Prague, boxes of them hot off the presses, and just leafing through that deck launches so many memories. 
Where am I going with all this whiny nostalgia? Deck choices. The Tarot of Prague topped the list, and to make sure I felt surrounded by enough Prague-y-ness, I tossed in all six of Baba Studio's other decks for good measure. 

The first card of Spring? The Devil!
OK, Trump XV, what are your devilish suggestions for me this Spring season?

From the Baroque Bohemian Cats' Tarot:
Reread Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. And say 'hi' to Fluffy for me!

From the Tarot of Paris:
Take in some culture. Hit a museum or two.

From the Raven's Prophecy Tarot:
Speaking of culture, remember Joseph Campbell? He was a great guy. He wrote those books called
  The Masks of God. I bet they're a devilishly good read. 

From the Bohemian Gothic Tarot:
Don't try this at home. Visit your neighbourhood opium den. 

From the Alice Tarot:
Didn't your choir sing Jabberwocky, years ago? You weren't as good as these people - just sayin'...

From the Siamese Tarot:
I know you can't afford to visit Thailand, but watch that movie, Anna and the King.
It's the next best thing. Scenery and costumes are diabolically good.

Go dancing. You could use the exercise.

From the Cook's Tarot:
Ah, c'mon. One more piece of devil's food cake can't hurt.

I must fly, my dear. Others are in need of my flowery phrases and cheering thoughts.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Trying not to be ego-driven

This is a tough one for me. Only now, in the autumn/winter of my life, am I beginning to sort of figure out how to not let ego and its irrational demands rule my psyche. 

Here's what I'm learning. (My Mimi's voice is coming in: "Too soon old, too late schmart." Mim was French-Canadian, so I have no idea why she pronounced "smart" in a Germanesque way. But she did.)

1. Ego thinks there's a finite amount of excellence to go around. If they've got it, you don't.

2. Ego is forever on the hunt for fresh meat and new conquests. It doesn't let you stop and smell the roses.

3. Ego is always elbowing you, psst, and pointing out that other person who does what you do, only better.

4. Ego likes you to think that catering to it makes you happy. But, except for teeny tiny slivers of time, it doesn't.

5. Ego carries around a supply of pins to burst your bubble.

This week's card is the King of Pentacles. He's risen to the top of the heap.

The stats from the twenty-one Kings of Pents on the table:
In 14 of them, he/she is all alone at the top, and not one of them is smiling. What is the point of all that climbing if you're going to be alone and not particularly happy?

Three are impressionist-y vague. I can't tell what they're thinking.

One has gone off into its own Midsummer Night's Dream world.

Only three!!!!! show a King looking reasonably content, or engaged in an activity that doesn't involve amassing wealth.

Here's what I know: a wound to the ego is never fatal!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Mourning the Loss of a Blue Spruce

This is not what I'd planned to write about this week, but it's uppermost in my heart and mind.

Wednesday, March 8, was an exceedingly windy day. Anything that could rattle and bang, did. The big evergreens in the front swayed and soughed as they always do when the wind is wild. Garbage cans rolled down the street, running away from home.
Around 11:45 I stepped out to test the temperature. Spring coat day.
Noon - time for lunch with my daughter and delectable one-year-old grandson. I grabbed my coat and opened the door. To this.

A tour around.

The remainder of the day passed by in a shock-y hyper blur of visitors: my lunchless daughter and little Simon strollered over to commiserate; a friend, responding to my panicked call, dropped by with her camera and a can of hard cider as a consolation gift; a neighbour with a long extension cord began sawing off branches that blocked the street or held my car hostage; passers-by and gawkers shared fallen tree stories; my brother sympathized, even though pieces of the front door to his shop were tearing off and blowing away as we spoke; later in the day the city (swamped with similar predicaments) sawed off more tree parts blocking the road and sidewalk, and fed them into a hopper (much to the delight of 5-year-old Emily who by now had been fetched from her school bus to see Gramma's toppled tree). And so it went.

Thursday, March 9, was going to be a great day. My calendar said so, in CAPS.
NOON: MARCH BREAK BEGINS! Last lessons to teach before a 2-week break, a nice little list of paper supplies to pick up at a stationery store. Pots of tea, books, Poldark Season 1 on DVD, time completely my own, possible bread-baking ahead. Ah.
So what was wrong? Nothing felt celebratory or fun. No enthusiasm bubbled. I didn't bake anything or watch Ross and Demelza or visit the paper store, even though my (miraculously unhurt) car was now free to travel.
By nightfall, I'd figured it out. I was mourning the beautiful tree and all my years gone by in company with it. The view outside was empty and plain. Yesterday's fallen but still graceful and majestic tree now looked like a broken ugly wreck. Depressing.

I pulled the cards for the week. Leave it to tarot to bring up Six of Cups, the nostalgia card. Fitting.

We're so sorry that you had to see this. The Shakespeare Oracle

Of course you are sad! You will miss its sheltering boughs. Deirdre of the Sorrows

The vista will never be the same. Tarot of the Thousand and One Nights

Perhaps plant a new tree, and watch it grow alongside your grandchildren. Modern Spellcaster's Tarot 

There is no tree in our image, and yet how beautiful it is. You, too, will find some beauty. Vikings Tarot

By some bizarre twist of happenstance, the poem of the day from The Writer's Almanac for that
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 was...

by Faith Shearin

There is weather on the day you are born
and weather on the day you die. (I like to think she's speaking to my tree here.)  There is
the year of drought, and the year of floods,
when everything rises and swells,
the year when winter will not stop falling,
and the year when summer lightning
burns the prairie, makes it disappear.
There are the weathervanes, dizzy
on top of farmhouses, hurricanes
curled like cats on a map of sky:
there are cows under the trees outlined
in flies. There is the weather that blows
a stranger into town and the weather
that changes suddenly: an argument,
a sickness, a baby born
too soon. Crops fail and a field becomes
a study in hunger; storm clouds
billow over the sea;
tornadoes appear like the drunk
trunks of elephants. People talking about
weather are people who don’t know what to say
and yet the weather is what happens to all of us:
the blizzard that makes our neighborhoods
strange, the flood that carries away
our plans. We are getting ready for the weather,
or cleaning up after the weather, or enduring
the weather. We are drenched in rain
or sweat: we are looking for an umbrella,
a second mitten; we are gathering
wood to build a fire.

"Weather" by Faith Shearin from Orpheus, Turning. © The Broadkill River Press, 2015. Reprinted with permission.