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

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Testing, Testing: Mythical Goddess Tarot

I've had this deck for a while, even trimmed it, but never really got acquainted with it. It's time!

A few facts before I start grilling the deck.
Most of the Majors carry their usual names, with one or two notable exceptions (see 3. below).
The suits are Fire, Seas, Wind, Earth, and the 'courts' appear as Child, Maiden, Mother, Crone.

1. Each of the Majors has its own goddess, but not so the Minors. Is there a reason for that?
Wind 9 ~ Criticism
(Uh-oh. I'm in for it now.)
Just as our minds conjure up criticisms, so do they build structures (like a tarot deck) and formulate plans. The plan with this Mythical Goddess Tarot is to incorporate many strands: the sacred feminine, mythology, and Earth's seasons and elements. By choosing goddesses for the 22 trumps, then branching out into the many facets of nature, and tying it all together, this deck has a rich, broad focus. 

2. I find the key phrases on the Minors a bit off-putting when I'm trying to think about the cards' images and meanings.
The Star XVII ~ Pleiadian Star Goddess
I sense tension in your question, Teawoman. Please breathe! Our cards pour out so much wisdom, and so many slants and perspectives, that you will find it refreshingly simple to work with many possibilities: your intuitive take on the images, the traditional card meanings, the artists' images, and our key phrases featured on the minors. We are here to help ease your way!

3. I like the mix of goddesses from different cultures. Do they work well together?
Sacred Fire XI ~ White Buffalo Calf Woman
You will find strong goddesses in this pack of cards, each gifting you her power. I am of the first peoples to walk this earth, and I lend my strength to all who come to seek wisdom from this deck. I welcome all, and embrace their beliefs and customs, as they do mine.
(Note: this is the Strength card in this deck.)

4. Is there anything you'd like to mention that I haven't asked you?
Fire 2 ~ Centering

Seas ~ Child ~ Innocence                                                                     Earth ~ Ace ~ Manifestation   

Observe the
elements as they
rest, work,
and play.

Fire 3 ~ De-Light

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Tarot Outreach

A friend has been puzzled for some time now about how any intelligent, rational person could be interested in that scary, absurd tarot thing. If the conversation ever came 'round to why I was travelling to New York every April, for instance, he would get THAT LOOK. You all know what I mean. Equal parts suspicion and incredulity. But, being of lively mind, he also expressed curiosity, and we agreed to meet so I could explain.

I, on my white horse, saddle bag packed with maybe a dozen tarot decks, rode over to his house yesterday. He would be so enlightened by my wise and thoughtful explanations that everything would become crystal clear, and he would say "Aha, I understand! Of course!"

Not only was he not swayed by my enthusiasm, he remained perplexed. In fact, he's probably more confused than ever, and still questions my sanity. Damn! Not a teaching success.

BUT...what a learning experience for me! 
His original question, "Why do you like the cards?", was never really answered. I was too busy trying to show him how useful they could be, how brilliantly I work with them, to pay enough attention! Duh. If tarot is about anything, it's about listening intently. I tricked myself; my ego got in the way!

Here's what I should have told him:
I like learning something new.
                  I like art (hence all the decks).
                           I like working within a system, a framework, and experimenting with it. 
I like creative opportunities. 
                                    I like writing about them.

Oh well, better luck next time! (And leave your horse at home.)

(All images from the Tarot Nova)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Dining Al Fresco: in movies and tarot cards

Tonight I'm watching (again!) Chocolat, which has one of the most gorgeous outdoor dinner scenes ever. Soft air, candles, succulent food, wine. Mmmm. And it's kind of forbidden, which of course makes it all the more delicious.

Other movies with unforgettable (to me, anyway) al fresco dining scenes are:

Eat, Pray, Love, during the Eat section in Italy. Elizabeth Gilbert/Julia Roberts is getting comfortable in her own skin, feeling fluent in Italian and fortunate in her new friendships.

Under the Tuscan Sun has mouth-watering indoor eating scenes as well as an outdoor wedding. We just have to wait until Frances Mayes, played by Diane Lane, gets herself sorted.

A Good Year, set in France. Much of the movie is al fresco, and the mouldering old wine villa is as much a character in the movie as are the actors.

The Darling Buds of May, a British series introducing a very young Catherine Zeta Jones. Their version of al fresco is likely to include wandering livestock and general unruliness. 

A Month by the Lake, set in pre-WWII Italy, at Lake Como.

There's lots of lakeside dining in Lake Come, but also such tantalizing swimming; I want to go there and jump in! Especially as I'm writing this on a humid 38C (100F) day here in south-western Ontario.

OK, on to the tarot cards!
As you would expect, most of the companionable eating-outdoors scenes take place in the suit of Cups. 
The Alice Tarot, with perhaps the most famous tea party in all literature!

Art of Life Tarot

Fantastic Menagerie

Green Witch Tarot

Wheel of the Year Tarot

Songs for the Journey Home: this one's not quite as jolly as the others. Something went horribly wrong at this meal.

Tarot of Jane Austen, the lone Air/Sword/Quill in the bunch. A picnic where sharp words result in hurt and regret.

The Tea Tarot, and a commercial venture by an enterprising mouse

A sweet finale from the Cook's Tarot. Notice the multi-tasking!

Eat, drink, and stay cool!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Revisiting the Vaults

Compared to many bloggers, I'm a newbie on the block - my list only goes back to 2013. But hey!
That's three years of steadfast writing and idea-birthing, almost every single week.

For a flighty Gemini with a
fleeting attention span, that's not bad!

 (The picture's kind of annoying, isn't it? But it had the flightiness I was looking for.)

This week, I decided to have a look back at some of those early posts, each dealing with one of the Major Arcana.

First up, Fools Rush In. A look at eight different Trump 0 from my collection (how it's grown since then!). There is much talk on social and commercial media about the state of our world right now. It almost takes the innocent courage of the Fool to navigate within these times.

Next, the Wheel of Fortune. Today I sent off a free reading on behalf of TABI. The young woman whose question I was addressing was in a very bad sad patch in her life. Unfortunately there wasn't much concrete that I could do to help, other than to say 'this too shall pass'. Which is pretty much the message of the Wheel - things change.

And last, Hanging Around with the Hanged Man. Yesterday I was on the phone with my daughter. Her almost-five-year-old came on the line to tell me that she was eating seaweed. A friend at school had shared some one lunchtime, Emily loved it, and it's now a favourite snack. Looking at the world of food from another's perspective: a Hanged Man moment, seen through the eyes of a child.

I hope you enjoyed this little trip through the vaults!

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Meet 'n Greet: 2 perspectives

I'm looking for a new doctor. The one I've had for 30+ years is fine, but I feel I need a change.
Two things make this challenging:
1) Not many docs are accepting new patients.

2) They are (understandably and laudably) reluctant to poach patients from their colleagues.

I had two leads - my daughter's doctor, and my friend's doctor. Neither were accepting new patients but both agreed to see me because of my connection to someone on their existing roster. And once that hurdle was cleared, there was the whole why-am-I-leaving-my-current-family-doctor thing to try to explain. Is he incompetent, brutal, error-prone? No. Then....why?

Last week was the first of these excursions. The receptionist regarded me warily. She was polite but distant. Everyone else she greeted with friendly enthusiasm. The doctor herself didn't bother to sit down, but stood and waited for me to explain. I tried. I asked if she had any questions. Her response? We don't normally do a meet-and-greet. Polite but definitely disdainful. She moved on to the next patient waiting across the hall. I could hear them comfortably greeting each other. 

Next: the second receptionist. I had already cleared the he's-not-taking-new-patients thing in a previous phone conversation, so this time I called to set up an appointment. She was warm on the phone. It was either genuine, or she was Oscar-worthy. I asked what would happen when I came in. Oh, the doctor will go through your medical history with you. Talk about what you're looking for. You know, kind of like a meet 'n greet. She couldn't see my jaw drop. 

The same three little words, in the same context, yet worlds apart. Wow.
Are there tarot cards that contain two such different perspectives within one image? Yup.

Here's the first one I thought of - from the AnnaK - the 4 of Cups
Isn't this fun? Harrumph.

The Bohemian Gothic, Two of Cups. 
Hello, my dear girl; how are you this fine evening? I wish he'd leave me alone.

The reliably off-the-wall Bruegel Tarot, the 2 of Swords.
Aarrgh! Whatever.

The Inner Child's Emperor IV
Don't I look great? He's kidding, right?

Tarot of Jane Austen, 2 Candlesticks (Wands/Fire)
Two sisters, Fanny and Susan Price, born of the same parents in the same house, with vastly different lots in life.
It will be all right, Susan. Maybe for you, Fanny, but not for me.

The Eight of Fire from the Mystical Cats.
It's nice here. I'm outta here!