Sunday, May 21, 2017

Cropping decks: you win some, you lose some

Some decks are just crying out to be released from their useless borders. Take the Thoth, for instance.
Almost a 1/2 inch of grey-striped edges serving no purpose whatsoever except to annoy me and separate the cards from each other. (I'm sorry that I have no 'before' pictures to show you; the sheer joy of grabbing the shears took over...See the link above for their virgin uncut images.

When the Thoth was freed from its bonds, oh how the glorious colours revelled in their elbow room.
Am I pleased with the trimmed version? A RESOUNDING YES!









The Gaian Tarot, however, is a sheep of a different border, to continue with the shearing idea.
The art itself extends slightly, ever-so-artistically, unpredictably, into the white borders on all but a handful of the cards. They reach for each other across their borders.









So why would I even CONSIDER trimming this deck? 
Because I have two copies of it: Joanna's self-published artist's edition, and the mass-market version put out by Llewellyn a few years ago (now out of print, but taken up by Schiffer). So no big deal if I wreck up a mass market deck when I still have the original one, right? We'll see.

Was this a good call? Probably not. Are the cards happier borderless? They're not talking. Do their landscapes gain by being butted up against each other? Not sure.
Am I pleased with the trimmed version? A RESOUNDING...silence.








Lesson learned. Until the next time Edward Scissorhands comes to visit.


Monday, May 15, 2017

An emotional stew: Love and Loss, Anger and Acceptance

In honour of my cousin, Michele, all the cards in this post are from the Tarot Mucha.
Michele didn't know about my interest in tarot, and probably had never heard of tarot cards, but I chose a deck that I feel she would have liked for its flowery artwork (she loved roses, especially pink ones), pretty costumes, and gentle unscary look.


LOVE ~

On Friday, April 28, 2017, I was in New York city at my sixth Readers Studio. It was a day FULL of blessings of all kinds.
  • Hugging friends from past Readers Studios, and greeting acquaintances that might be on the way to becoming friends.
  • Meeting a new kindred spirit.
  • Imbibing 1) the wisdom of the tarot-wise all around me and 2) wine, later, at the bar.
  • Checking out the decor in this year's Readers Lounge and Meditation Room.
  • Cruising the vendors' tables: hugs from many, introductions to others.
  • Absorbing the joyful babble bubbling all 'round as participants chattered, exclaimed, greeted, embraced, shrieked. How I love that first morning's excitement and anticipation!



LOSS ~ 

Also on Friday, April 28, 2017, my sweet cousin was dying, alone, and I didn't know and wasn't with her. It was 6 days before her 66th birthday. 




ANGER ~ 

Michele and her family were at odds for her whole life. First she wasn't smart enough, then she was too fat, and always she was a bit different. When evidence of her schizophrenia began making itself known in her early twenties, the rejection escalated. Back then, nearly 50 years ago, we knew absolutely NOTHING about mental illness except that it was a mysterious shameful thing. Certainly not something to acknowledge existing within your own family.

Somewhere along the way, my family became Michele's allies - her defenders.

And this has caused some hard feelings, harsh judgements, and friction between us. We still function well as aunts, uncles, and cousins, but it is difficult at times. And there has been anger and frustration over the years, with each side stubbornly holding its own ground.
   


ACCEPTANCE ~

This is what I know.
I cannot change anything about my cousin's life, nor alter the attitudes of her family toward her. I cannot fix the manner of her death, nor turn back the clock to do or undo things I wish I'd done or not done. I can only honour her life in my own way.
By reflecting on and appreciating her kind and generous nature.    

By keeping her memory alive with my kids and grandkids. Having a tea party this summer at her gravesite, where she's resting near her beloved Mimi and Pipi. Perhaps we'll plant a rosebush - a pink one!



AND BACK TO LOVE ~

And so, dear Cousin, I just know that you are out there somewhere, no longer struggling with feeling outside or unwanted or unbeautiful, looking at all of us here with forgiveness and grace and, I hope, love.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



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.)
Thoughts:

  • 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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Interim
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
     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.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~