Saturday, June 16, 2018

I can't stand the idea of...

writing a blog post this weekend.

Why not?

My brain is drained.
It's too nice out.
My creative juicebox is empty.
I don't feel like it.
My muse is on strike.

In other words you're too lazy.

That's one way of putting it.

Just get to work.


Because you said so.


Five years ago, when you started this blog.

Well, I lied.

Fantastic Menagerie

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Pros & Cons of Aging, with the Golden Age of Hollywood Tarot

My birthday was this weekend. A reminder that I'm getting older, as if the mirror weren't enough.

I've started a list. The Cons are much easier to come up than the Pros. No surprise there.

Con #1
My upper arms have developed a life of their own.

Pro #1
No more shaving. There are so few hairs left growing on my legs that tweezers can handle it.

Con #2
I considered getting henna designs painted on my hands, but the age spots were multiplying faster than she could paint.

Pro #2
No one notices old women, so I can skip the eye liner.

Con #3
My pantyhose were bagging around my ankles. I bent down to fix them and realized that I wasn't wearing any.

Pro #3
Since I've retired from teaching kids, I can swear more.

I could go on, but I'm running out of Pros...

What deck for this topic?
The Tarot of the Crone came immediately to mind. However, its mood is serious, and this post will not be. I need a somewhat kooky one. Oh where is the Maxine Tarot when you need it?
The Phantasmagoric Theater Tarot? It's kooky, but I want humans for this post.
The sassy Vanessa Tarot? Too young.
The Housewives Tarot? Getting closer...

I've got it! The Golden Age of Hollywood Tarot. If I ever had a "golden age" it's long gone!
OK Hollywood, tell me a story because that's what you do.

Once upon a time there was a woman who liked to think of herself as young and glamorous. But it was difficult for her to keep up that illusion because memories of how she'd looked in her prime, and nightmarish visions of what was yet to come, intruded on her peace of mind. And those dreams about gorillas didn't help...
"Maybe I should cut down on my drinking," she thought.

One day a fairy godmother appeared to her, bringing this instruction: Action!
"What kind of action?" the woman asked.
"My dear, do you not have friends who are aging gracefully? Look at them and you'll see that they, too, show signs of wear."
And with that, the Birth of Wands disappeared in a colourful pouf of smoke, only to be replaced by another Fairy Godmother, this one afloat in a sea of blossoms.
"Have you something to tell me too, Birth of Cups?"
"I have, Earthling. Each birthday is a time when your life takes its first step into the upcoming year. Rejoice in it! Think of the adventures! Drink wine, eat cake!" And the Birth of Cups Fairy floated up and away in a whirl of petals.
Drink more, not less? This was confusing. And the woman wondered why her Fairy Godmothers were naked when Cinderella's always showed up in a nice dress.

The woman then turned to her mirror, and saw, not a crone alone with her wrinkles, but a vibrant woman surrounded by friends. Apparently it was a Most Magical Mirror, since we've already established how saggy and baggy she and her friends were.
The next two cards offered these words of advice:
"Yes, a facelift is tempting. But expensive. And we've all heard the stories of what can go wrong."
"Start enjoying the life and the look you have, or you'll turn into a sour old woman with baggy clothes."

The final word goes to Alfred Hitchcock.
"Bloody hell, woman, quit fussing and get on with it." 


Monday, June 04, 2018

Testing, Testing: The Zillich Tarot

First: the generosity of the tarot community.
After Readers Studio, many people post pix of their haul of goodies from the Conference. Of course I watch these like an avaricious magpie. In many of the pix was a beautiful tin, a gift from US Games to the participants. I love those tins! And the artwork on this one looked fabulous; just had to have that deck. 

So here's what happened:
  • Wrote a friend to ask what the deck was.
  • Checked online sources - it wasn't available anywhere (probably because they gave them all away at RS).
  • Brilliant friend suggested I put out a plea to RS18 people for someone who might be willing to part with it.
  • Posted on Readers Studio FB page, offering to buy it from someone.
  • Before the day was out, had three offers to give it to me!
  • The lovely woman who sent it to me didn't want any money for postage (even though it's frightfully expensive from the US to Canada). She opted for a glass of wine next time we meet. How sweet (or dry) is that? And much friendlier than an impersonal exchange of cold hard cash. I'm looking forward to toasting her in the future!

The Zillich is a somewhat unconventional-looking deck, at least for someone whose comfort zone is Rider-Waite-Smith-based. But I am absolutely in love with these watercolours!
It's borderless (a plus for me) and the cards fill the tin right to the edges, unlike some of the other decks in US Games' series of decks in tins.

Hello, Zillich Tarot. Are you ready?
Prince of Wands We are indeed - all fired up and ready to go. Let's get things rolling; my fellow cards and I are ready to fly!

Your images lie off the beaten RWS tarot path. Do you anticipate non-Thoth readers having difficulties?
Three of Wands The virtue of a beautiful card is that a reader will always find something of value in the image, whether it's a familiar one or not. As you see here in this Three of Wands, we have the bold and bright mingling companionably with the more reticent blooms. Seeing into a card is for everyone, if they but choose to look with fresh eyes.

Your little white book says that your creator, Christine Zillich, is also a pianist. Is this her?
Eight of Wands We don't know, but this young woman is running free, either toward or away from something, or perhaps both. Commuting between the arts of music and drawing? I would say that having fingers in more than one artistic pie makes for a deeper pool of expressive experience to draw from.
On a lighter note, a musical scale runs from do (re, mi, fa, so, la, ti) to do. Eight notes, one for each wand?

Is it demeaning to you if I admit that I picked you for your colours, and not your smarts?
The Hermit IX We don't judge. Your reasons are yours alone, just as my thoughts belong to me. I will say that we welcome you, however you came to be with us. Our watercolour drawings may have drawn you in, but I believe that the quiet beauty of our soulfulness will keep you here.

Do you mind if I show people more of your gorgeous paintings?
The Moon XVIII  They are dreamy, aren't they? We're rather fond of them too. By all means, exhibit us.
And please remind your readers that, like the sting of a scorpion, too much staring at a computer screen can be dangerous. Real life may become confused with the illusions fed to us from the online world.
That's not very cheerful, Moon.
You're right; my apologies for the unwonted sidebar about the illusory qualities of the Moon. Please enjoy the rest of our gallery!

Thank you, Zillich Tarot, for coming in to talk with me today! 

In neighbourhood news

This weekend was our 40th annual Art in the Park, sponsored by the 100-year-strong Rotary Club. Volunteers run school bus shuttles from two parking lots every 10 minutes for two days, and give a little update on the charitable doings of the Rotarians while we enjoy the free ride. 
People boarding the buses are empty handed.
People offloading from the buses after a trip to the Park are not!

🚍 🚍 🚍 🚍 🚍 🚍 🚍 🚍 🚍 🚍 🚍 🚍 🚍 🚍 🚍

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Miracle of the Forget-Me-Nots, with the Mibramig Magical Tarot

For nearly 20 years we made the trek over the Mackinac Bridge into Michigan's Upper Peninsula to spend a week at a cabin. Perhaps my favourite signpost of we're almost there! was the lawn of an historic inna vast sea of blue forget-me-nots stretching from the highway all the way back to the lake. Oh, how wondrous!
By the time our week ended, that lawn had been cut and the bed of blue was no more. How lucky we were to round that bend in the road at forget-me-not time each year.

When the marriage ended, so did the annual trips to the cottage. That first spring, when Victoria Day weekend rolled around and we were not headed north, was a sad one. But that's when the miracle happened...

In my front yard, beneath the big spruce, were a few tiny tufts of blue forget-me-nots. In all the years in this house, there had never been a single one, and yet they appeared that year, just when I needed them.
And there they return each year, more and more of them, and pink ones have joined the show!

Miraculous! Magical! So I'm heading to the Mibramig Magical Tarot for a conversation.

TW: First, a confession. I only chose this deck because of its name. It's not one I've ever used.

MMT (Magician): Harrumph! Is that any way to start a conversation? With an insult?

TW: I'm very sorry, Mibramig, but I like more smiles in my decks, and yours doesn't crack one until the Wheel of Fortune, and rarely after that.

MMT (Wheel of Fortune): Ha! I told you we should smile more!

MMT (Hierophant): Happy shmappy. You young whippersnappers think you can make everything all sweetness and light. Well, let me tell you, life is a serious business.

MMT (Sun): Hey, what about me? I'm smiling! And without me your blue flowers wouldn't have a chance.

TW: That's so true, Sun - thank you! And you make a good point, Hierophant.

MMT (4 of Wands): To your miraculous blooms!

MMT (6 of Wands): Three Six cheers for the forget-me-nots!

MMT (8 of Chalices): Knowing when to leave off doing a treasured thing like your cottage tradition deserves acknowledgement.

MMT (3 of Chalices): We'll drink to that!

TW: Thank you for your kind words, 8 of Chalices. And now, coming back to my reason for asking you here today: are you a deck that believes in magic, and miracles?

MMT (Hanged Man): Are we going to hang around here 'til we're blue in the face? Will someone please answer the dang question!

MMT (Fool): A creature would be a Fool not to believe in magic! I know what I mean.

MMT (Empress): Of course we believe, dearie. That's what tarot is all about, isn't it? And as for your lovely blue forget-me-nots...I wear blue rather well, don't you think?

TW: I'm convinced, Mibramig Magic Tarot. You'll be out of your box more often from now on! 

In neighbourhood news:

First of four new tarot&book shelves going up today. What started as a modest collection, nicely ordered (or at least, I knew where they all were, and why) has grown to 242 decks. Time to put them in alphabetical order! 


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Testing, Testing: The Elora Tarot

Coming up next weekend (May 26, 27) is the first ever Elora Tarot and Divination Festival in the lovely town of - you guessed it! - Elora, Ontario.

From this creative community comes the work of sixty-five artists, pooling their talents to create the Elora Tarot. Let's have a look!

It seems difficult for 65 separate artists to create a cohesive deck. Did you manage it?
Hell yes! We loved being a part of this much larger body of work.
And if someone was getting cranky or ego-bound, we shared a meal and talked things through.
Which is kind of what tarot does, right?

Is this deck more pertinent to people living in or near your town?
Is it in any way Elora-exclusive?
Art is art, and tarot is tarot, no matter where you hail from in the world.
Of course, the local artists will be familiar to Eloraians (I'm not sure what the townsfolk call themselves; I'm a deck of cards), but tarot interpretations are wide open. As is the appreciation of pieces of art.
We're a colourful deck, and we leave plenty of space
on which you may place your own interpretations. 

You must be excited about the Tarot and Divination Festival coming to your town.
Actually, things are a bit of a blur right now, what with opening day only 6 days away.
This is our first Festival of this kind, and some of us are hanging around waiting to be given our next task.
Of course, there are always those who excel at seeing what needs to be done, and doing it.
And others who are fantastic at taking something mysterious
and shaping it into something wonderful.

Was there a lot of fighting about who got to do which card?
Shh. I'm not telling. What happened in Elora stays in Elora.
I will say, however, that everyone in the crew dug deep to find something new to say in their cards
that also moved them forward as artists.
You'll find a lot of collective wisdom here. 

Are you a good reading deck, or mostly a beautiful art deck?
Well, the art question pretty much answers itself.
As for me being a reading deck as well, I say most certainly! Or to quote the King of Cups: "Hell yes!"
Some of us take a bit of mind-stretching to bring forth a tarot opinion, and surely that is a good thing.
We're not a clone of anything else; we're unique; and we hope to bring you many good perceptions and ideas as you work with us.
You could say that we're a cutting-edge deck. 

And who doesn't love THE HAPPY SQUIRREL?

Many thanks, Elora Tarot, and good luck launching your first Tarot and Divination Festival!

In neighbourhood news...

One cataract surgery down, one to go. So far, so good! With the right eye now seeing beautifully out to a distance, and the left doing its usual I-can-see-fantastically-well-up-to-four-inches-away thing, my world currently looks a lot like the Hanged Man card above!


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Pulling My Faves part 5: the Death card

This is instalment 5 in a series about building my ideal deck, put together out of cards from many different decks. (Here's the first post in the series.)
I set out to choose just ONE of each card - 78 cards in all. 
Ha! What a ludicrously impossible idea that turned out to be - ONE favourite of each card?

Why Death?

Because after 52 years of faithful service, my beloved contact lenses are being retired. The end of an era.
Well, this hardly warrants bringing out the Death card. Bit of overkill, wouldn't you say?
Was that pun intended?
Sorry, couldn't resist.
I know, it seems silly. But I've relied on them for most of my life. I knew what I could see with them, and what I couldn't without them. All that is about to change, and I'm not sure how.
Upcoming cataract surgery has me tied up in knots of knervousness.
Was that alliteration intentional?
Couldn't resist - sorry.
  • What if the surgeon screws it up and I end up blind in one eye?
  • He's done 5,952 of these. I'm sure it'll be fine.
  • After all those thousands, he's probably getting careless. 
  • Oh for Pete's sake!

So Death, with its undertone of endings and overlay of beginnings, seemed appropriate.

This is who presents himself first when I think about the Death card.

No skeleton on a horse here.
A dark angel invites us to cross over with him.
Step over his sickle and embark upon a new path.
I like the light on the horizon:
it feels hopeful.

Another non-traditional Death card, from the Gaian Tarot

This way of looking at Death
makes it seem so natural.
Sad, yes, but also respectful, with the sun lighting up the water and plants blooming around both the heron and the old boat.
Their span has come to an end.

The Art of Life Tarot has a slightly different slant.

Make hay while the sun shines.
Live now while it's still your turn.
"What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" Mary Oliver

I just love the look of this one:
something about the colours, the balance, the combination of up close and in the distance.
It makes me feel calm and visually satisfied.

The Dreaming Way is a somewhat melancholy deck, which suits Death just fine.

The full bloom of youth meets the necessity of death.
Life and Death co-existing.
Is she the recipient or the wielder of the sickle?

This is a food-chain take on Death. One creature dies to feed another.
It's unfortunate, but I'm glad it's not me. I live to hunt another day.
The heron dominates this frame, but may meet his nemesis farther along the path.
The circle of life.

The Steampunk Tarot (B.Moore/Aly Fell)

By all means mourn your losses.
Weep for endings.
Miss your beloveds.
Rail against changes.
It's how life works.


Sunday, May 06, 2018

The Perils of Pigeonholing People, with the Japaridze Tarot

In just two days, I've been clobbered thrice. Not badly - more like a bonk with a well-aimed Nerf ball.

Within a 24-hour period, I learned BIG new things about three people, one of whom has been a dear friend for decades. In each case, she blasted right out of the compartment I'd put her in and skyrocketed into a whole new arena of expertise. 

This required some mental tinkering and fidgeting on my part, because the balance between us had shifted. What now?

Over to the beautiful Japaridze Tarot for some fresh perspectives.

1. I'm going to need a bigger boat bigger pigeonholes.
Thoughts from looking at this image:
  • You get burned if you try to shove people into tidy little slots.
  • Apparently everything I thought I knew has gone up in flames! 
  • Why run the risk of fighting all that painful fire, when all you have to do is unlock those little boxes and let your friends fly free?
  • Don't just stand there like a ninny! Back up, re-think, re-start, re-fresh! 

2. Things feel out of balance between us.
  • You're losing this game.
    • Wait a minute! Since when is friendship a win/lose thing?
  • I thought I was the king.
    • Nope. Does it really matter whose turn it is to shine?
  • Life is always moving and shifting. Sometimes you're the white, other times you're the green.
  • In this image, the King appears to be on top, but in reality the board is a level playing field. 
  • Always coming out on top is tiring. Enjoy the back seat!

3. My relentless ego keeps a graph of how I stack up against others. The "me" line on the chart took a few dips and dives in the last couple of days. Why is it that the ego only works in terms of me versus them?

A wise teaching friend* of mine once referred to the "simmering kettle of doubt" that we all keep on the back burner. If you lift the lid on this kettle, its insidious coils of steam will wind their way around your sense of self-worth and strangle it. She advised keeping a lid on it.
Oh how soothing that this watery Queen came up here!

  • The tendrils of the steamy kettle of doubt are no match for her cooling tides.
  • Breathe, loosen your shoulders, let your arms hang loose by your sides, dance around a bit.
  • Know what you know. It's unique to you.
  • A wise Queen appreciates her friendships.
    • Does this mean that I'm a "wise Queen"? 
      • That's entirely up to you.

And just for the sheer beauty of them...

In neighbourhood news...
Yesterday morning I was sailing along the highway on my way to a friend's surprise retirement party. She was an amazing mentor and teacher, and plans for this gathering had been in the works for months. It was going to be fantastic! I was happily humming along to the radio when a great noise sounded from somewhere underneath, and a large piece of my car fell off onto the highway behind me. I pulled over, waited for a more normal heart rate, headed back trepidatiously, and landed at the mechanic's at 7:30am.
(Turns out that piece is like the tonsil of cars - they don't really need it. So I could've kept going, no problem. Grrrr. Who knew that cars have bits they don't even need?)
Back home, sulking, I pulled out one of the drafts I'd begun earlier in the year - Perils of Pigeonholing - and re-read what I'd written earlier.
Gasp! *The wise teaching friend quoted above and the retiree? One and the same. So I got to spend time with her anyway, albeit not in the way I'd planned. One of life's whimsical substitutions!



Sunday, April 29, 2018

Pity Party with the Borderless Deviant Moon

I'm sad that my long-awaited trip to India is over. But that's not it.
This disgusting cough and sore throat have been hanging around for more than two weeks, and it's enough to get a person down! But that's not it.
Has Spring overlooked us here in cold rainy southern Ontario? Yes, and I'm fed up with it! But that's not it either.
You give up? OK, here it is.

Fantastic excitement has been building for the Readers Studio in New York City this weekend. Facebook posts are flying: flights taking off from all over North America and UK and China, vendors are packed up and on the road, banquet menu choices have been ticked off, pix from the new hotel venue are appearing, folks are talking up their study groups. Wonderful! Oh the anticipation...
And I'm not going to be there. For the first time since 2012.

Yes, it's a good decision; a month-long trip to wondrous India was expensive, and I'm so glad I did it.
But now...I'm dejected, and feeling left out, and thinking about all I'll miss, and all the people I won't see and hear. Definitely in the throes of a massive feeling-sorry-for-myself binge.

I need a deck to cheer me up, or distract me, or at least knock some sense into me.
The Deviant Moon will be a good distraction. I love it but am clueless at divining what it might be saying. All those extra arms and boobs and peculiar eyes. If I have absolutely NO IDEA what to think, I can turn to Patrick Valenza's magnificent companion book, signed by him last year at RS17. It weighed as much as the rest of my luggage combined!

OK, Deviant Moon. What've ya got?

I see that you've chosen the borderless Deviant Moon - good choice. May our creativity know no bounds! We hope you like the cards we've selected for you, Teawoman.

They're beautiful; thank you! Shall we take them one by one?
By all means!

Well, this is all about money, or the lack thereof, so Pents makes perfect sense.
Dragons hoard their loot, so if I start saving now, at the Ace, by the time the 10 of Pents rolls around I'll have enough to get myself to New York next year. Flying on a Delta Airlines dragon!

Justice is holding a fish. Like the salmon dinner I'm not having tonight at the RS banquet.
The key ring: the key to feeling better fairness.
If Justice is fairness, then I guess it is only fair that others get to partake of this fabulous conference while I sit out a year. It sold out months ago, and many didn't get in. My wish for the dozens of first-timers is a weekend they'll cherish forever.

What about that lizard underfoot, and the strange limb holding a rotting fish?
Must go to Patrick's book for this one.
"Despite his tireless efforts to keep society balanced, discrimination and corruption will always exist. Such iniquities slither out from underneath the Judge's robe in the form of hideous creatures. In response, the Judge's claw-like foot emerges from the seams clutching a rotted fish...even if he must balance on one foot in order to do it."

The other thing that came to mind when this card showed up was this post yesterday by Karen Mahony of Baba Studios. She wrote:
"That awful moment when you realise that all along you've been doing tarot reading completely wrong. Where is my giant under-table lizard?!"

This is a disaster! A calamity! The big eye-in-the-sky (or spacecraft?) has beamed its destructive light and deemed this to be my fate!
But I'm not alone in this; others are shaken up too. And who knows? As the companion books says:
"As painful as it may seem, you must realize that this upheaval will ultimately be in your best interest."
Best interest? I'll await enlightenment on this one.

Yup, this is what I'm missing, alright: devilishly fine performances on stage, played to an enthusiastic audience. Non-stop entertainment.
Six of Cups brings with it an element of nostalgia, fondly remembering past times...
Will reviewing memories of past conferences bring smiles? A resounding YES! Six of Cups, you've done your job!

What the heck is going on here? Three creatures all performing some bizarre and perhaps painful procedure on each other.
How does this connect up to what I'm missing in NY city this weekend?
People of different backgrounds and experience reading for each other, working together on each others' problems; sometimes this digging around can be painful. I'm missing that intensity, the collaborations, the serious work, scratching the surface, picking each other's brains. Three heads are better than one.

This Page has an extra-long lens in one eye: he's looking to the future, planning ahead, already making a move in the direction he wants to go . He's focused on... Readers Studio 2019!


In neighbourhood news

Saturday April 28 was Indie Bookstore Day. It promised writers, giveaways, snacks. So I went, of course! 
When I arrived there were three poets and one publisher of handmade books chatting with each other, and I was the only customer. So they invited me to sit in a comfy chair, and all four of them read for me! I felt so privileged - still smiling from that beautiful experience. And the banana bread was good too!