Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Allure of Alleys

Last August: I'm sitting out back, in my newly created little patio/gazebo/folly (haven't landed on the right name for it yet), with a mug of tea steeped from a bright blue package brought back from a plantation in the Azores by friends (already you can see how lovely this is), rustling open the first page of a book called Witches on the Road Tonight by Sherri Holman. Life is scrumptious.

A sudden scritching noise distracts me; two squirrels are chasing each other up and around the neighbour's big linden tree overhanging the alley. Are they playing? Is one chasing the other with intent to hurt? (hope not) Is this squirrel foreplay? They're in another world from where I sit - between us are my back gate, the alley, and the neighbour's back gate.

Alleys. Laneways of mystery. Seducers of the imagination. Pathways for peeking into hidden things. A bit scary. Always interesting.

There was an alley behind our house where I grew up. The garbage truck came through back there. But so did the scary people.
The man who rumbled by in a creaky horse-drawn wagon, blowing his screechy horn to announce his arrival, trading used goods with the housewives in the neighbourhood. (He was called the "sheeny man", or at least that's what it sounded like to my kid ears. I have a feeling that it might've been a derogatory title. My apologies to him and others of his profession if it was.
The hidden men who thrummed slowly by in their cars, pausing at backyards of interest. Would they come back at night to break into our houses and get us?
The rough kids who yelled and crashed their way through, one particularly vivid time swinging a defenceless little garter snake by the tail and bashing its head on the ground. I still shudder picturing that.

The Seven Dials, that slimy seamy stinking cesspool of Victorian crime and crowded humanity. Lots of lightless and choking-yellow-fogged alleys there (according to Dickens and later, Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie), harbouring cutpurses and cutthroats.
(To be clear, the Seven Dials didn't start out bad; it just sort of slid down that way. It was intended to be a great neighbourhood with a centre core of sundials from which seven streets led. And today, it's trendy and cool.)

So, OK, I've mentioned that alleys breed mystery. How to get from there to tarot? I don't know yet. I suppose, for the uninitiated, tarot is mysterious. And sometimes scary. Like alleys.
And there's the flip side - the idea of tarot revealing mystery rather than breeding it.

I'm going off to have a think and a browse through the shelves. See what jumps out at me.

I'm back, with four decks that seem likely to have alleys in them, or people that look like they might inhabit the alleys of my childhood.

First, we have the "types" which, rightly or wrongly, my sheltered kid-self believed might hang out in alleys.
All Hallows Tarot

Tarot of the Burroughs

All Hallows Tarot

Next we have the people who end up walking in the alleys, perhaps ill-advisedly. It's interesting that the only one prepared for a possible alley encounter is also the only one walking there in daylight. 
Most prudent of her.
Bohemian Gothic Tarot

Tarot of the Burroughs

Bohemian Gothic Tarot

And last, the stuff of nightmares. The ones we fear we might find there.  
Dark Grimoire Tarot

Dark Grimoire Tarot

Lest the alleys of the world feel that I'm giving them a bum rap, here's London's Seven Dials as it is now!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~THE END~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Monday, February 04, 2019

Tarot, Tea, and Friends around the Fireplace (featuring the John Bauer Tarot)

For several years now, right after Christmas, a few friends have gathered for some communal readings.
We sit by the fireplace, sip from Eileen's collection of ornate teacups, nibble homemade goodies, and all contribute our thoughts and ideas toward each person's question, one at a time.
Sound warm and wonderful? It is! And one of the dearest days of my holidays.

This year's decks were the Everyday Witch, the Victorian Romantic (2018 edition with metallic overlays), the John Bauer Tarot, and as always, the AnnaK and the Gaian. (pretty sure I've forgotten one...)

As you'll soon see, the John Bauer is the most mysterious of all, and least like the RWS. Truth be told, some of its cards are a bit huh? But they're all gorgeous. A tiny art gallery in a box.

So let's give it some generic set positions, and see what it says.

Hello, John Bauer Tarot. Welcome to my blog, and happy 2019!
What have you to say about the following for this early quarter of the year?
1. Do less of...3 of Wands

Creature #1: I can't see a dang thing through this fog.
Creature #2: That's not fog, Marvin, it's your hair. OK, you've dragged me all the way up here - now what?
Do less stumbling around without knowing where you're going and what you're doing.

2. Do more of...King of Swords

The King: Well, hello, little lady. Aren't you a bit old to be out wandering alone in all this snow?
Little Lady: Listen here, big fella, just because you're taller than I am doesn't mean you're the boss of me.
Do more respecting of others.

3. Do this right now...5 of Cups

Kneeling girl: I'm so sorry, Miss. I meant to have your lace collar ready for today, but we ran out of tallow for our lamp and I couldn't see to finish it.
Sitting girl (sobbing): And I so wanted to look my best for today.
Do this right now: Get your priorities straight.

4. Start thinking about this...Page of Pentacles

It's no use trying to carry so much gold that you lose your balance and trip on your belt.

5. A Major thought for you...XV The Devil

Hey! You could hurt someone like that!
You know that old saying, "Don't run with scissors"? Well, this is almost the same thing.
Don't drop grapes from a great height; you never know who's down there.

6. Last word...Ace of Pentacles

Look, Mummy! He followed me home! Can I keep him?

With apologies to the beautiful John Bauer Tarot for making light of its amazing images. I couldn't bend my mind to seriousness today.

In neighbourhood news

Frigid temps, ice and snow, record-breaking lows this past week.
As a result, one dance class, two choir practices, and one concert - all cancelled.
Hurray for permission to stay home and have guilt-free cozy time!


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Some singing and some tarot

Joining an extra choir because I was covetous of their Christmas concerts and repertoire resulted in...
well, I think the tune of The Twelve Days of Christmas says it best.

Twelve more rehearsals,
        Eleven scores to learn,
                  Ten long to-do lists,
                            Nine nights of driving,
                                      Eight BIG mistakes,
                                                Seven hours learning,
                                                          Six different venues,
                                                                      🎵FIVE BRAND NEW FRIENDS!🎵

                                                                                  Four more nights rehearsing,
                                                                                          Three lengthy concerts,
                                                                                                  Two dress rehearsals,
                                                                                                           And a great big Christmas-y glow!

Here are some tarot chuckles and wisdom for dealing with all the festive extras that present themselves at this wonderfully busy time of year!


🎄🎄🎄 🎄🎄🎄 🎄🎄🎄 🎄🎄🎄

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Last shuffle story for November, five decks

The next best thing to actually participating in NaNoWriMo (for me) is these short stories freely imagined from five cards. And there's no onerous daily quota of 1,667 words!
This week's decks are: my newest acquisition, plus four packs from the WXYZ section of the tarot shelves.

Once upon a time there lived a great and powerful Queen who held a sad secret memory. She put forth, for the ninth and final time, this challenge to all those in her queendom:
"The first person to complete this task will receive two gifts: one offspring of my royal dog, Rosebud, and a sheaf of magical flowers plucked from the royal garden." 
Witches Tarot (Dugan)

All manner of bold, fiercely competitive, strong, supremely arrogant, egotistical, confident knights, financial wizards, learned professors, doctors, metalsmiths, and lawmen flocked to the Queen's great hall. Each was confident that he was the ideal person to successfully complete the quest and earn the Queen's gratitude.
Wheel of the Year Tarot

The brave competitors struggled up snowy mountains and trekked down into great valleys, crossing vast continents and dark fathomless oceans, throughout all the seasons. But not one of them succeeded in bringing the Queen what she sought. 
Wheel of Change Tarot

And soon, all became despondent, and wallowed in the misery of their failures. They despaired and lay about, idle and indolent. A few returned to tell the Queen of their futile travels, but most were never seen or heard from again.
Zillich Tarot

Many months later, when the Queen's royal dog, Rosebud, gambolled in the gardens with her brood of fine fat frisky puppies, a tiny child was ushered into the Queen's receiving chamber. The child, Lilith, with her shy sweet ways and small unassuming manner, had done what no others could; she won from the Great Troll in the West the Queen's precious ruby hairpin, the last gift from her beloved parents when she was but a child herself, and lost these many years.
John Bauer Tarot
So Lilith and her puppy brought the bouquet of magical palace flowers to her old grandmother, and they all lived happily ever after. 


Sunday, November 18, 2018

A November shuffling story

November feels like a story-telling kind of month - colder and greyer outside, cozier and snugglier inside.
Here's one more post about the excitement of doing NaNoWriMo.

Today's little tarot-inspired tale comes from five different November-y decks, one card from each.

Once upon a time, in a friendly village far far away, there lived a courting couple. All the townsfolk loved this young woman and her young man, for they were kind and friendly and seemed well-suited.
One day, the young man, Martin, arrived bearing a beautifully wrapped gift. He could hardly wait for his intended to open it!
Tarot of the 78 Doors

"The box is warm," Gemma exclaimed. "Is it a puppy?"
Warm? How puzzling. "No, it's not a puppy." Martin smiled as she carefully set the extravagant bow on a table and tipped the box's lid.
"Oh, it's wondrous! However did you manage it?" For the lantern inside the box was already lit. Lifting it by its wire handle, Gemma peered into the flame, then stiffened. "It frightens me, Martin," she said. "It's pulling me in and I don't want to go."
Something otherworldly is at work here, thought Martin, for of course he had not struck a match to the wick before carefully placing the lantern into the box. Fear slithered across his shoulders.
The Raven's Prophecy Tarot

He reached for Gemma but too late; she had slipped into a trance staring into the flame. The hoarse voice as she spoke was not that of his beloved. It seemed to come from a great distance; he didn't understand.
"Come with us, Earth Girl, onto the path of the Sun. We ourselves cannot help her, but we will walk with you until you find her. Fear not; no harm will befall you if you do as we ask. Come; there is little time."
Ghosts and Spirits Tarot

Gemma's voice changed again. "My son, my beloved first-born, my darling boy. Daily I weep tears of stone." She was a woman now, older, and so sad. "Will we ever be released from this curse? I alone am to blame; the spirits of the forest would never have taken you had I listened to them."  The voice left off, Martin heard a broken inhale, then it continued. "Oh my son, please forgive me. I was too proud, too hard, too unloving."
Sacred Sites Tarot

The flame flared, and the image of a beautiful young stag appeared. It burst from the lantern and bounded away in a wash of light.
The Wild Unknown Tarot

And thus ends another November mini-tale. I wish for you contented cocooning, beautiful books, and of course, mugs of steaming tea.

In neighbourhood news...

We recently were treated to seven days of movie-going when WIFF once again came to town. There were 143 films to choose from during this year's Windsor International Film Fest. Oh, the stories!


Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Some days all I want to do is shuffle...

The slip-slide, the brush and swish, the flap-snap, the ruffle of shuffling cards - I love those sounds! Although when I shuffle, everything is much slower and less captivating than the work of experts who riffle shuffle swiftly in their hands. 

So shuffle is what I did today, with no particular goal is mind. Here's the little story that appeared when the cards were laid side by side.

Victorian Romantic 3rd edition 2018

The King has flung himself into the sea in despair.
Kingship is too great a responsibility, too daunting a task. He cannot continue; it's just too heavy a burden for him to carry.

The watery spirit of his beloved sister comes to him as he lies in the seafoam. 
"My dearest brother, you ARE the spirit of what it means to be a king; you embody it. I beg you not to give up. Your world still needs you."

He heeds the pleas of his dead sister's spirit
and hauls himself back to life,
to the responsibilities of his office.
Although pale and subdued, he appears determined
to uphold the mantle of kingship (at least for now).

Bohemian Gothic 3rd edition 2013

The King's Page, a rather new addition to the Court, checks back at her employer to see how he's managing after his recent collapse. 
Although she is young and lacks Court experience, the Page is calm in a crisis, resourceful, and savvy. She is just the person to handle this public relations nightmare.

All Hallows Tarot

Having satisfied herself that her Monarch is alright, the Page can now focus on her task at hand,
which is to...

Fantastic Menagerie

...squash all the ugly rumours crawling about concerning
the recent unexplained and much talked-about absence
of the King from the throne.
I heard that he's dying of some terrible disease.
Has he gone crazy? Off his rocker? He's bonkers.
Someone saw him drooling and laughing like a maniac.
My brother-in-law's boss, whose neighbour works in the kitchens at the palace, heard it from one of the gardeners that the King killed someone and they're trying to cover it up.
There's insanity in his family, don't you know; his great-great-great-great grandmother was a witch.

The Page has her work cut out for her. 

Three years ago, I participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and LOVED IT! But taking a whole month to do almost nothing else but write 50,000 words (that's 1,667 words every day, for a total of 200 pages) isn't always possible. I guess this is my 2018 substitute!

Who says that shuffling decks is a waste of time? 


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Halloween Tarot: an irreverent 9-patch

What a brilliant idea, I thought. A nine-patch grid using the friendly little Halloween Tarot. 

Well, it turns out that...I had exactly the same brilliant idea three years ago!
Perhaps this is the start of a triennial forgetfulness tradition?

Anyway, original or not, here's some fun with the Halloween Tarot...
(Don't ask me what happened to the Six of Imps. Some techie glitch. Or Imps at work?)

The Spread

             The situation or feeling              
Here's what's messing with your head                                                        Here's what's happening

First row
You know that feeling you have when - even though you're working steadily on a project - 
the chance of success feels like a stab in the dark, or tossing some dice, or the roll of a roulette wheel?
Well, take hope! Triumph is just around the corner! A party of naked Imps is on the way!

Middle row
You're running around like your head's screwed on backwards;
meanwhile the prissy-pants Knight of Ghosts is mincing his smarmy way to the Queen,
who receives the message, thanks him warmly, and sends him home with pumpkin pie.
(I hate it when that happens.)

Bottom row
You've decided to leave the group because...
people are being too damn judgemental.
But they all beg you to stay, declare that they love you just as you are, and throw a party in your honour.
(Don't you love happy endings?)