Monday, September 26, 2016

Testing, Testing: Dreams of Gaia Tarot

I've been stalling writing about this one.
I loved the pictures of the Dreams of Gaia Tarot on Aeclectic, announcing its upcoming publication. But I apparently failed to read the deck description and review, so when the book&deck set arrived I wasn't prepared for its differences, and there are a lot of them. The Majors are more like an oracle deck, with little resemblance to tarot. If the Majors aren't really the Majors, is it really a tarot deck?
I just don't know.

There are 25 Majors. This in itself isn't too unusual; we sometimes see one or more additional cards for extra inspiration. With this deck, however, just a few of the Major Arcana are what we expect, or appear where we usually find them. The Trumps have been renamed, re-ordered, replaced, and re-grouped. Ravynne Phelan, the deck's creator, has divided the 25 into:
  1. Choice (replacing the Fool)
  2. Stages of Life (8 cards)
  3. Reason for Being (8 cards)
  4. Influences (8 cards)

Perhaps I'm being too dramatic.

It is fairly common to unofficially divide the standard 22 Majors into four categories, showing us the Fool moving through life's experiences. The words are from Rachel Pollack's Tarot Wisdom.
  1. The Fool
  2. Growing up (7 cards)
  3. Self-knowledge and transformation (7 cards)
  4. The cosmos beyond our narrow goals of self-improvement (7 cards) 
The Minors in Dreams of Gaia are in the usual four suits, named for the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and each suit has the usual fourteen cards. Nothing un-navigable structurally, although many of the key words are, again, not traditionally RWS in their suggestions. I'm reminded a bit of the Mary-El Tarot.

What questions does one ask a tarot deck that isn't truly a tarot deck? I don't know, which is why I've been putting off this review. I feel about as competent to write this post as the babe above!

Don't be such a chicken. Quit stalling and just do the damn thing.
OK, OK, I'm going already! And I'm doing the whole interview using only the Majors!
Suit yourself.
Is that your idea of a card joke? Very funny.

1. Why do you call yourself a tarot deck when you're really not?
In my heart I am a tarot deck. My creator intended that I be a true tarot, and has birthed me with love and heart, on the wings of imagination. If love be the intention, then surely the outcome will be wise and true, whether or not my outward appearance always conforms to your expectations. The tarot world is a kind and inclusive one, is it not?

2. What happened to the Fool's Journey aspect of the cards? There's no Fool.
Are we not all fools at some point in our lives? Especially as we grow up and learn the ways of the world. One of the wonders of youth is that it is constantly testing, erring, learning. Youth is the time of life for that. This deck has a special section for making fools of ourselves, picking ourselves up, and carrying on. So although we have no Fool card per se, the journey is here.

3. Can I read from the images as I usually would, or must I refer to the guidebook to make sense of things?
I am one of the easily recognizable images from most tarot packs, although I'm usually named The Hermit, and given the number IX. You are in familiar territory here! Wisdom is wise, no matter its number and name. If reading intuitively from the images on the cards is your strength, then you will soon find your way around my deck. Together, the art and the card titles will guide you. However, please do peek into my guidebook for a treat. You may find fresh thoughts to add to your tarot arsenal.

4. Are you insulted by my questions?
Do I look insulted? Of course not! Questions are the very heart of tarot, and where would this great evolving tradition be without them? And now I have a question for you, Teawoman. Is it possible that your self-image as a tarot reader is shaken a bit by my outside-the-norm appearance? Are you fearful that your experience will not be up to the task of reading with me? I hope you are not insulted by my question! And be assured that your skills in digging into an image and winkling out ideas will stand you in good stead with me. I look forward to working with you! 

Whew - done! ✔

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I give up! The Moon moves too quickly for me.

I heard a lot of moon stories from my Mom. My favourite comes from her family's cottage on the bluff overlooking Lake Erie, where she, her three sibs, and assorted cousins idled away their idyllic summers.
The cottage upstairs was divided into two main sections. One side was my Mim&Pip's bedroom. The rest of the second floor was curtained off dormitory-style, into four 'rooms', one for each of the kids.
Mom and her sister had the two cozy alcoves at the front, each with a double window facing the lake. There was barely space for a three-quarter bed (do they even make those anymore?), a dresser, a chair. And the MOON! It bloomed in the sky, danced a diamond swathe across the lake, poured through the windows and dazzled my Mom. She never got undazzled.

I had a few chances to experience that moonstruck time during summer sleepovers at Mim&Pip's, in that same bedroom overlooking the lake, in that same 3/4 bed. There was magic in the slightly musty dampish distinctly cottagey tang permeating the air.

The upshot is that I love the moon; always have, always will. But here's the thing: by the time I get out there to see it full, or waning or waxing, or new, it's already been there done that.
AnnaK Tarot

So, dear Moon, I'll still revel in your astonishing shadows - if I'm outside when you're full. I'll still be amazed at how like a giant peach you are when you first clear the horizon - when I remember to look. I'll do my level best to notice and appreciate you.

But I GIVE UP trying to track EACH phase, EACH month, EACH bit. I QUIT!
I love ya, moon, but I just can't keep up!
AnnaK Tarot

Here's my pledge:
I will do a stellar job of noticing the four turnings of the year. I think I can make a success of that.
Gaian Tarot

There's one coming up soon - the Autumn equinox, on September 22 - and already I'm out of sync.
When I was a kid we learned that the seasons changed on the 21st of the month, and I'm sticking to it. Accuracy be damned!
Victorian Fairy Tarot

Happy Equinox to you ~ whichever day you celebrate it!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Cookbooks and Tarot Telesummit 3

I don't actually use them much, but I love reading them. Especially if the author has included stories with some of the recipes: memories of growing up, unusual local specialties, fiascos and flops, peculiar dinner parties and weird guests.
If a cookbook contains two or three recipes or tips that become a regular part of my food life, I figure it has earned its keep. This one was a gift, years ago. I buy buttermilk just to make the Irish Soda Bread on page 571!

One buttermilk adventure leads to another. (Don't you just love it when that happens?) My newly-turned-five granddaughter and I have made the very first recipe in this newer book at least a half-dozen times. Buttermilk pancakes, page 13. Mmmm.
Except for the time I'd thought I'd be so smart and make them by heart, and used 3x the amount of salt. Emily didn't seem to mind (saved by the maple syrup!), but they were truly gross.
She's learned to drift flour into a measuring cup so it doesn't pack down, pour salt into the palm of her hand before dumping it into the mixture, whisk an egg, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and scoop batter. If making those memories with her isn't worth the price of a whole bookshelf full of cookbooks, I don't know what is!

The same thing applies to a workshop or class. Recently I signed up for the third Tarot Telesummit, put together and run by Kim Wilborn. I didn't listen to all the interviews; of course some topics appealed more than others. Same principle as which chapter to read first: cake versus salad dressing - no contest.

I enjoyed many, found them interesting, but alas much of what I heard fell out of my sieve-y brain right away, while other ideas were stupendously mind-grabbing. Little gems, keepers for my tarot practice.

You just need one or two lightbulbs going off for your brain to get all excited!
Bright Ideas Deck (card back)

Monday, September 05, 2016

Using tarot and an oracle deck, side by side

There are many oracle decks that I love - it's the artwork that persuades me to buy them. But I don't really use them for anything.
Why not?

This past week, I've been experimenting with mixing
Housewives Tarot
  • one question
  • one tarot card
  • one oracle card

I decided to use the oracle's image to be the other end of the tarot card's teeter-totter. Its container, its descriptor, its parameters; the direction in which the tarot would be directing its gaze; something sucking the tarot's meanings over to it.
Inner Child Cards
Then smushing their meanings together into what I hoped would be a cohesive new 'thing', perhaps taken in an unexpected direction by the influence of the non-tarot card.

I chose my new (April 2016) Tarot of Prague, and an oracle deck called Earth Magic to partner up.

Butting and overlapping the two cards together in a way that seemed to blend their landscapes made it easier for my eyes to see how one flows into (or out of) the other.

Here are the pairs that came up in answer to a few questions.


Monday, August 29, 2016

More from the tarot vaults...

When this appears, I'll be participating in the quintessential Canadian summer pastime: going to the cottage. In northern Ontario they call them camps, but it's the same thing. Some kind of habitation (snazzy or humble, indoor plumbing or no) by a lake. Summer just isn't summer for me without a serious chunk of lake time!

So once again, I'm blog-cheating and hauling stuff out of the basement for when I'm away. Two posts from the summer of 2014.
This one's from June of that year: strawberries and summer
A couple of days ago I was digging around in the depths of the chest freezer downstairs. Stomach folded over the edge, dangling arms foraging through unlabelled piles of who-knows-what. No luck locating what I went down to get, of course, but I did find some strawberry jam. Mmm. The perfume of summer.

And August: a ducky little post about cottaging with a friend. There's something about the gentle splooping sounds of tiny rippley waves nosing into the dock on a still morning at the lake...

I hope you've enjoyed something that is on your essential-for-summer list!
Siamese Tarot

Monday, August 22, 2016

Tarot Pix, Vicarious Travel, and Writing

Committing to write 50,000 words (about 200 pages) for last November's Novel Writing Month was exciting, a bit daunting, and novel (ha!). Storytelling using cards as prompts was something I wanted to try. It would be fun! What did I have to lose, other than every single minute of time not allotted to teaching, eating, sleeping?
November 1st: on your mark, get set, go!
Tarot of Jane Austen

What I didn't anticipate was the exhilaration that would bubble up when I solved a sticky plot point. Nor did I realize how much I would learn, researching where my protagonist would go next and why.
The sensation was much like planning an exotic trip: the must see locations, where to stay, which restaurants, how to get from one place to another, flight schedules, performance venues, what was the weather like, the vegetation and wildlife?
Gaian Tarot

The first villain my protagonist ran into was this guy. Before he could decapitate her with his pointy shovels...
All Hallows Tarot

this woman swooped to the rescue! She reminds me so much of Serafina Pekkala in Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. The setting felt Russian-y to me, so...
StoryWorld Cards, Tales from the Haunted House

that's where this kind witch flew our heroine. (Did you know that it's VERY COLD flying on a broom high over the Atlantic?) Near the city of Syktyvkar in Russia is a formation of stone pillars known as the Manpupuner, or Seven Strong Men. The smallest of these giants is 98 feet (30 metres) tall. There Sophie met these two; challenges ensued (of course!).
Wild KuanYin Oracle

The second round of cards brought a beautiful cockatoo, so it was off to Australia next, where...
StoryWorld cards, Create a Story Kit

Sophie, our protagonist, is introduced to this desperate, caged, misunderstood creature. With the help of a few new Aussie friends, she devises a way to rescue the she-beast and reintroduce her into the wild, which leads us to...
The Heart of Faerie Oracle

the small Australian city of Katoomba, where a glass-topped railway car drops its passengers 1000 meters (over half a mile) into the rainforest of the Jamison Valley. A Jurassic rainforest, no less! While in Katoomba, tourists gaze at a rock formation called the Three Sisters, which grow up from the valley floor.

Back in North America, in a fictitious attempt to save a beautiful old Sarasota FL home, I was googling various ideas and learned that the first wave of Chinese immigration into the US came during the gold rush in 1849. And soon after that, during difficult financial times after the Civil War when thousands were competing for low-level jobs just to make ends meet, a giant backlash against Chinese workers swept the US. It was particularly fierce in California. And in 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by the US government, putting an end to any immigration from China until it was finally repealed in 1943. I had no idea.
"Young Aristocrats," Pictures of Old Chinatown, by
Arnold Genthe, 1908.

There were many more cards and jigs and jogs in the road between the nasty shovel-man and Sophie's final trek home. By the time November 30 arrived both she and I were relieved to be safely back; it was an exhilarating exhausting roller coaster of a month!
My advice? If someone ever hands you a mysterious stack of cards, pack your bags and prepare to take flight!
AnnaK Tarot

Bon Voyage!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Life is Good!

I'm writing this on Saturday evening, August 6.
After a day spent at the computer, my eyes needed a rest and the rest of me needed to move around.
This was the first comfortable day, heat-wise, that we've had in ages. Time to get out and enjoy it!

I set off on a walk, heading south toward the park at the end of my street. Loud cheers and laughter were coming from a crowd gathered around one of the picnic shelters (the new big one), with more white rental tents clustered nearby. Maybe 150 people of all ages. This was calling for investigation!

A HUGE indestructible-looking pinata was tied onto one end of a rope slung over an oak branch. A tiny girl who looked about 3 years old was steadfastly thwacking away at the big green horse amid shouts of encouragement. She was going to need some help cracking that thing open!
About a dozen round wedding-type tables with white cloths and centerpieces, china and glassware, awaited the guests. Off to the left several women fussed with a massive buffet set up and ready to go. I've never seen anything this fancy in the park. It's usually a jeans and hotdogs kind of place.

What was this?

I circled over to a balloon-festooned sign strung between two trees on the opposite side of the dining tables.  Happy 25th Anniversary to Oscar and Luisa! it said.

Some women and men near the food area were chatting and didn't appear to be frantically busy, so I asked where the guests of honour were. There was some pointing and shirt-colour naming, and finally one of the women took my arm, said, 'Come!' and escorted me to Oscar. I congratulated him on the beautiful gathering, and headed home in the balmy air and golden setting sun, smiling big.

Tarot of the Sidhe