Monday, December 26, 2016

What I've learned from working with 23 decks at once...and an old family recipe

Twenty-three images in one go is a lot to take in. Once I got the hang of grouping them by their similarities, rather than looking at a random assortment of cards, picking out the few that stood out for their uniqueness was easy. My favourites were almost never the usual expected images, but those that came at the thought from another angle. The oh my god that's a gorgeous idea! ones, or the what the heck? ones which sent me scrambling for their companion books.  

There were surprises.
Because I have so many decks, I don't know them all, and have formed some half-baked opinions about the usefulness of many of them. In general I learned that some I didn't expect to like, I did. And vice-versa. For instance:
1) Some decks which I'd judged as lightweights thought-wise were the most evocative: Badgers Forest in particular.
2)  A few whose artwork I'd dismissed as too pale or too tiny were consistent favourites: notably the Celtic Dragon. (The colours appear to have been punched up a bit in this link.)
3) I expected some to grow on me as the weeks went by. They had nice art, but didn't speak to me. The Tarot of Trees is one example. Perhaps this is a deck that needs to be alone when one is working with it. 

On Winter Solstice December 21, I put away these 23 decks and chose a new group of 21. More about them in later posts. 

This recipe is thrown in as a reward for reading about what I've learned, because really, who except me cares? So thank you!

When my German Grandmother made these crescent-shaped almond cookies every Christmas, she weighed everything out in decagrams on her old scale. Which didn't help me one bit. So I went over to watch her bake, a long long time ago, and remeasured the flour, almonds, and sugar with my Canadian cups and half-cups.
Another difference between Gram's long-ago method and mine is that I've not the patience to put the almonds through the hopper of a rickety nut-grinder to get the light fluffy consistency of hers (even though I have her old grinder, the kind that clamps onto the kitchen table).

Gram's Kipfels

In processor:
1 1/2 cups raw almonds
3/4 cup sugar
Run until there aren't any big chunks of almonds. (The sugar stops them from turning into nut butter.)

In mixer: (Gram did this by hand.)
1 pound (2 cups) unsalted butter at room temp (salted just won't do)
the almond/sugar mixture
4 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp vanilla (I use real)

When it's all mixed together, form the dough into 2 square logs about 2 inches round and wrap in plastic wrap. This just makes it easier to cut off uniform pieces and form into crescents.  You can bake now, or keep in the fridge or a cold basement for a few days. Bring to room temp on baking day.
Slice the logs about 1 inch thick, cut in half, and form into rolls about 2 1/2 inches x 3/4 inch. Bend slightly to make crescents. It's a fairly dry dough, so if you try to bend them too much, they'll crack.

350 F, parchment-lined or ungreased cookie sheets. Baking 2 sheets at a time, rotate the pans and switch oven shelves at 11-12 minutes, bake another 11-12 minutes. They'll be quite brown on the bottom and a bit browned around the edges. After they're rolled in sugar, they'll look a lot whiter.
Let cool on the pans, roll in fruit sugar, store in tins. They keep for ages. (Fruit sugar is just extra-fine plain old sugar. You can make it by buzzing regular sugar in your processor.)

This makes 13 -14 dozen cookies. You can halve the recipe if you want!


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Pages of Wands on Retirement

This is my last year of teaching piano. And it's the last week working with this particular set of 23 decks; on December 21st a new batch come out for Winter.

Last Friday I hosted my final students' Christmas Party. I've been whittling down the numbers in my piano studio for several years now, and the gathering would be a small one. So I issued invitations to some past graduates and their families. Throughout the evening, several groups arrived, gifts in tow, and the most wonderful babble ensued!
Cries of delight and surprise, hugs, catching up, comparing notes on university classes and exams, parents reminiscing on years gone by. 

As I watched them all interact, so happy to see each other, a great warmth and thankfulness enveloped me, and is still with me today. I feel incredibly blessed to have had so many beautiful families as a part of my life these many years.

I'm looking at endings - bittersweet - and the card that arrived to speak this week is the Page of Wands. A newbie to the court, who hasn't yet experienced many endings in life. What can s/he share with me, when our life stages are so different?

Quite a lot, as it turns out.

On the one extreme we have the "toughen up, cookie" group.
Change takes guts. There's no backing down. Moving on is not for sissies.
Daughters of the Moon Tarot

Celtic Tarot

Middle of the road is the "woo-hoo" group.
There are exciting new horizons out there! What an adventure! Think of the new friends you'll meet!
Glastonbury Tarot

Wicca Moon Tarot

Celtic Dragon Tarot

And then there are the sweet ones, looking back with fondness and delight on the good times past.
Tarot of the Hidden Realm

Badgers Forest Tarot

I shall endeavour to heed all their advices! 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas instructions from the Whimsical Tarot

Truth be told, I'd rather be curled up by the tree with its lights aglow, reading The Cricket on the Hearth or When Santa Fell to Earth, or watching a Christmas movie. Or cooking up the filling for a couple of tourtiere. Or digging through boxes of decorations and picking out my favourites. Or slicing into this year's fruitcake (oh, the anticipation!).

But, it's blogging time. And the only deck I own that has a Santa Claus card is the Whimsical Tarot drawn by Mary Hanson-Roberts. Father Christmas appears as card IV, the Emperor. Since Santa arrives on Christmas Eve, then the four preceding cards must have something helpful to say about the days leading up to it, right? That is my rationalization for this abbreviated post!
(Note: my deck has been cropped.)

Card 0 ~ the Fool


There are baskets to fill
and errands to run,
Nog and cider to swill,
Oh the fun! Oh the fun!

Card 1 ~ the Magician

I agree with you ~ Christmas is magical!
Here's what to do:
(start top left, read clockwise)
1. Wands ~ let loose your creative energy.
2. Swords ~ plan well, make lists.
3. Cups ~ take time to enjoy the prep.
4. Pents ~ budget, but not too much!

Card 2 ~ the High Priestess

Try not to get carried away.
Be a little sensible about what you can do.
Keep your expectations realistic.
Find some quiet time for your mind.
Christmas is more than a day ~ it bubbles inside you.

Card 3 ~ the Empress

Enjoy the people you have around you.
Some loved ones will be with you, others will not.
Let memories of Christmases past bring you a smile.

When your ideal does not come to fruition, shrug and let it go.
Be thankful for small things; you don't need a Norman Rockwell scene to be blessed!

Card 4 ~ the Emperor

Is Christmas just for kids?
Do you believe in Santa Claus?
Did you remember to water the tree?
Does this card make you smile?
Do you know the names of all my reindeer
Only if I sing Rudolph.
Do you remember where you've hidden all the gifts you bought? 
Well, maybe not all of them...

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Testing, Testing: Modern SPellCaSterR'S Tarot

I don't know why the title on the box is a mix of upper and lower case letters. SPellCaSterR'S.
My first thought was that the CAPS would spell something, or be an anagram. SPCSRS. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Seniors? Somehow, I don't think so.
The lower case letters? ellate. Well, I am sort of elated to be interviewing this deck...

Note: Air and Fire are switched in this deck, which is always discombobulating to me; Swords are Fire, Wands are Air. Looking in the accompanying book by Melanie Marquis unfortunately added to my confusion. Attributes that I would consider part of Air's list were given to Fire, and vice-versa.
Oh dear, that means that I have to address it in my questions for the deck, and I don't want to. But I will, because testing this deck's usability is what this post is about.

Here we go, with the Modern Spellcaster's Tarot.

1. I'm confused. Your book mixes some of the traditional elements of Fire (swiftness, change, movement) in with Air, and includes some of the usual Air ideas (strife, conflict, and fear) with the definition of Fire. How on earth am I to read with these?
Eight of Pentacles
Well, right off the bat, I see that this deck has a sense of humour! I asked 'how on earth?' and up came Earth!
You're correct - two of our elements have been reversed. I think the answer lies in this image, where a shelter has been built one stone at a time. Read one card at a time and try not to worry about the whole deck!
If you draw a Wand or Sword, read what you see there. If you detect a blend of Fire and Air elements in a single card, then incorporate that into your interpretation of that particular card. Take it one card at a time, and remember to breathe!
As you can see, there are diverse creatures and such in the shelter. A dog, a squirrel, a couple of bags, some coins, nuts, a large green stone. All are welcome, as are all types and levels of readers. We are a friendly, easy to read, fully pictorial deck. Let go of your anxiety, and enjoy!

2. I'm not a witch or a spell-caster, and I don't work with magick. Is your deck for me too?
Seven of Pentacles
Definitely! Our images are crystal-clear (a small spellcasting joke!). We've sent you another Earth card to emphasize how down-to-earth this deck is. Water, plants, paving stones, pets, taking care - these are all part of a regular life, and not intrinsically magical. If you work with crystals - wonderful! If not...well, the image of crystals will serve your reading in a different way.  Of course this deck is for you!

3. The last word goes to you, deck. What say you?
Empress 3
Your tarot friends will be green with envy that you get to work with me! Ha! Now, let's get serious.
You initially asked a question about Wands and Swords (Fire and Air) being switched. And here we are with your final card, another Earth-based one. Not a single Wand or Sword showed up to talk to you. Are they too shy? No. Are they ignoring you? No. Do they consider your question to be silly? No. Did they stay away because they know that the Earth cards can handle it? Yes!
First of all, look at my card. I know you don't know anything about magical symbols, so I'll be straightforward with my answer.
I'm green and sitting on a rock, I have a crown made of hay or some kind of dried grass, my shield is heart-shaped, my bull has stars decorating his stomach, and he wears a necklace of flowers. There are stone archways, and fields of flowers, and a city in the misty distance.
Lots to look at, and think about, right?
Well, that's our deck exactly. Down to earth, with enough to chew on in every card just by looking at the pictures. If you want more, think about the elements and wrestle that around a bit. Magick? Check the book for ideas.

Thank you, Modern Spellcaster Tarot. I have a feeling that we'll have a fertile reading relationship!

Monday, November 28, 2016

What do you do when you purge the wrong stuff? Consult the Hanged Man, of course!

11:02 pm on Thursday, November 24
Since about 1987 I've kept an accordion file with Christmas recipes, clippings to try, who came to dinner or brunch and what was the menu, experiments and tweakings on family favourites. It's green. And I've lost it. Did I throw it into the massive piles of recycling that I've chucked out since the summer? I don't know.
At first this caused a MASSIVE AMOUNT OF PANIC, and scurrying through old emails and computer files in case my beloved recipes might be there. A few are - thank heavens. But most aren't. 

Some I can sort of almost reconstruct. But what about the rest? Well, here's the miracle...
I don't care! It feels kind of good! Freeing! I can start a new Christmas file. This one will be red. All those old ideas, things I meant to try year after year...GONE! Clean slate. I LIKE IT!

So how can I tie this clean slate thing to the new batch of Hanged Man cards that arrived this week? I don't know yet. But it will be fun!

1:46 pm, Sunday November 27
Here's what all the hanged people are telling me right now:
What are you hanging around for? Get cracking, have a look at all of us, and write this damn blog!

6:10 pm on Sunday, November 27
These 3 are upside-down, or rather right side-up, so you can see their faces as you read their comments.

No problem! Be happy!             Breathe, enjoy this pause.            Just chill. No big deal, man.       
Halloween Tarot (trimmed), Wicca Moon Tarot, All Hallows Tarot

Your Christmas folder will be reborn, fresh and new!
But this time with all the ancient experience of the dragons alongside and behind you.
Ancestral Path Tarot (trimmed), Celtic Dragon Tarot

Yeah, yeah, this is all very nice, but TICK-TOCK, you don't have forever to get this done!
Deviant Moon Tarot

No offense, but getting hung up on this problem is your own doing! You're the one who lost the folder.
Badgers Forest Tarot, Llewellyn Tarot (cropped), Silver Witchcraft Tarot

10:16 am, Monday November 28
This gorgeous painting sent me to the guidebook for the Wildwood Tarot. I can't do it justice here, so will only include a few ideas from the card's description. The Dark Woman of Knowledge (aka the Lady of the Lake in Arthurian legend) advises patience and "a surrender of will". She holds the "mirror of reflection" and the "orb of seeing", and sends us on our journey of the soul to "awaken afresh and full of energy".

Upon reflection, you will find some solutions that make you smile.
Note: do not try this at home, especially in the winter.
Daughters of the Moon Tarot

And that's it! I'm off to dive into some more holiday magazines...

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Knights of Swords, running off in all directions

Things have been pretty serious around here for the last couple of weeks, what with the state of the world's politics, the protests, and general lack of peacefulness. Today I'm changing it up, with the help of a phalanx of crazy Knights!

All the Knights have more energy than they know what to do with. And maybe not enough focus and experience to make their forays very effective, or productive, or positive. They're like puppies. Enthusiastic and wiggly, sharp little teeth chewing up stuff (some of it valuable), but we love them anyway and make allowances. Because we know they'll grow out of it.

Knight-ful energy combined with the budding intellectualism of the airy Swords is quite the combination! Working on being rational - making good progress - but there are still all those hormones at work.
This is what I've decided and I'm going for it!
Llewellyn Tarot (cropped)

Today I'm taking a tongue-in-cheek look at the Knights of Swords arrayed on my tarot table. While any one of these could take a serious place in an actual reading, today they've galloped over for a bit of fun!

First, we have the group pointing their swords, hollering THIS WAY! C'MON! CHARGE!
Celtic Dragon, Silver Witchcraft, Celtic, All Hallows, Fairy Lights (sides cropped)

Halloween, Mibramig Magical, Moon Garden, Witches, Deviant Moon

Then there are the cautious ones, who stop for a breather.
Badgers Forest, Arthurian, Wicca Moon

And these two are still looking for their horses...
Hidden Realm, Glastonbury

You know what I'm realizing, as I'm poking fun at these disorganized Knights of the realm of the mind? They're ME! And my late-November, pre-Christmas scatterbrained-ness! Ha!

Do the outside lights. No, it's raining - do them another day.
Find the folder of Christmas recipes. Where the heck did I put it? Start looking! What colour is it?
No. Start the shopping list. Didn't I already buy something for somebody? I think it's for Emily. Is it in my closet? Behind the bookshelves? I know it's here somewhere!

Get out the Christmas CDs. Where's Handel's Messiah? No, not that one. The newer version.
Hey, it's stopped raining. Do the outside lights...


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Two of Pentacles speaks to the US election results

Well, we all know what happened last Monday. Whether we're jeering or rejoicing, thrilled or terrified, the fact remains that the same people are still living on the same patch of ground that they were before voting on November 8, 2016.

Which means that there's a WHOLE LOT of divisiveness and derision and disagreement still at work on this side of the world (yes, this all spilled itself up into Canada too). Did we know HOW MUCH one half disagreed with the other? I don't think so.
But now we do. Much ugliness has surfaced and it can't be stuffed back into its hidey-hole.

Isn't it perfect that one of the Twos came up this week? Yes, it stands for teamwork and other good stuff. But it also brings in the polar opposites. Either/or. Night and day. Us versus them. Black and white.   

Our job?
To try really hard to find some sort of balance between these disparate points of view, and with each other. Like we find in the Two of Pentacles.

Pentacles, in conjunction with their element, Earth, involve our material lives. Money, jobs, security, health and health care. Definitely some key factors in the switch at the White House. And I suspect that some larger emotional issues, unspoken and perhaps even unacknowledged because they're buried so deep and are politically so unacceptable, reared up in this election.
Feelings about women and non-whites.

The giant strides we thought we'd made
Toward equal love for race and gender
Were, it seems, not big enough.                                              Tolerance runs, not deep, but thin as skin.
Service from the lips but not the heart.

I have 23 Twos of Pents on my tarot table this week. They appear also as Stones, Pumpkins, Crows, Discs, Vesicas, Sacred Circles, and Knowledge. Many show the expected image of a person juggling two discs within an infinity sign or lemniscate. 
And some stood out as cards that might take me through this challenging time of shifting alliances and wary friendships. I'm struggling with two such relationships in the aftermath of this election, and am shaken to my core. I'm sorely tempted to write off these two long-time friends, but I'm fighting it. Are they as disappointed in me, I wonder?

It IS tempting to throw down the gauntlet and duke it out. It IS a challenge. Especially since it feels like we are two entirely different species.
Wildwood Tarot (cropped), Ancestral Path Tarot (cropped)

Be wary of mischief-makers who will speak just to stir things up. Many lives have been lost in wars fought over small incidents which spun out of control into unspeakable horrors. This is even more poignant, coming as it does during the week of Remembrance Day here in Canada. when we honour our veterans and war dead.
Celtic Tarot, Ghosts and Spirits Tarot

So what are we to do? Talk to each other. Keep a dialogue going. Discuss without ranting. Hard stuff.
Celtic Wisdom Tarot

What else?
Come out of the safe caves of our own deeply held beliefs, be curious about the the 'others'. Come down from our lofty heights, and meet somewhere in the middle. Find some common ground.
Fairy Lights Tarot (sides trimmed), Celtic Dragon Tarot

Help to build something new, like the crow with her twigs. Plant new seeds; sow some harmony.
Badgers Forest Tarot, Tarot of the Hidden Realm

We're all in this together, and like it or not, we're stuck with each other!
The Tarot of Trees

This week's world commentary was brought to you by the Two of Pentacles.

And by Remembrance Day.
Lest we forget.

For more about Remembrance Day, see this post from November, 2014.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

A Whole Day of Kings of Cups!

As I was setting out for Bookfest this morning (a good day to be leaving home - the neighbours are putting on a new roof - loud radio, guys yelling, hammering) I wondered what my latest 23-deck draw had to say about my day with books and authors.

The King of Cups has been out for a few days now; he's been re-arranged, sorted by mood and facial expression, played around with, scrutinized.

Here's how my Saturday November 5 played out, with illustrations courtesy of the Kings of Cups.

I set out in the morning, eager to meet authors and hear their work.
Celtic Wisdom Tarot

The venue was new this year, so it took some searching to hunt down my first event.
Daughters of the Moon Tarot

The visiting authors ranged from a wee bit shy, to comfortable and comical, to done-this-many-times.
Note: the centre deck, Wicca Moon, combines the Queen and King into a single card.
Mibramig Magical Tarot, Wicca Moon Tarot, Ancestral Path Tarot

I listened with interest.
Badgers Forest Tarot

One panel chatted about their magical worlds and horror plots; another was all about ancestry.
Celtic Dragon, Fairy Lights (sides trimmed), Ghosts & Spirits, Halloween (cropped)

I rode home content and full of new ideas.
Glastonbury Tarot, Tarot of the Hidden Realm

Final comments:
Bringing home an armload of books is a beautiful thing, but did you intend to buy so MANY?
Arthurian Tarot, Celtic Tarot

There you have it. A day fit for Kings!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Co-operation vs Competition

The news here in North America is rife with all the unhealthy aspects of competition. It's been this way for many months and will continue in this sooty vein until the US election is over in early November. I've had my fill of one-upmanship, insults, digging for dirt, if-I'm-up-you-must-be-down, and all that nasty crap.

Last week I began an experiment with 23 cards-of-the-day, not because my days are so crammed that I need one card per hour to represent them (ha!), but in an attempt to get acquainted with WAY more of my decks. These 23 packs will be on the table until December 21, when the new crop'll swing in for the winter.

The Six of Wands appeared; it's been a visual and conceptual pleasure to drink in 23 versions of this celebratory image.

This morning, preparing to pick a new card, I was having a last look at the sixes and was struck by something. Victory, congratulations, adulation: there were many variations on this common theme. But two decks stood out for their co-operative feel, probably because I'm up to here with victor vs vanquished!

The Halloween Tarot has ALL the imps sharing in the victory. That looks like much more fun than the solitary conqueror in the Llewellyn Tarot below. (Don't get me wrong; I love the soft artwork of the Llewellyn. It's only one of many examples of an all hail the conquering hero view of the Six of Wands.)
And, even more shocking in our world of I win, you lose? The Badgers Forest Tarot shows the other creatures actually coming together to help the rabbit make the giant leap. This makes my heart sing! (I know, it could be interpreted very differently - but today, this week, this month, I want the singing version!)

Llewellyn Tarot (cropped), Halloween Tarot (cropped), Badgers Forest Tarot


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Twenty-three decks made the cut for the Autumn Card-of-the-Day!

Guess I'm not very good at whittling. Last week the list sat at 28, and the great cull knocked out a whole 6! Some were eliminated and others added. They look gorgeous laid out on the table, don't they?

These are all the Six of Wands, or its equivalent in each of the decks. I shuffled the Halloween Tarot and pulled the Six of Imps (bottom left), dug through the other 22 decks and found the same card.
In the sometimes-exactly-the-right-card-shows-up department, this celebratory image came up on a day when there was a big something to celebrate in my family life. Woo-hoo!

Top row of cards, L to R
Deviant Moon (borderless edition)
   Badgers Forest
      Tarot of a Moon Garden
         Wicca Moon
            Daughters of the Moon (circular)
                     Celtic Wisdom
                           Tarot of the Old Path
                              Ghosts and Spirits

Bottom row, L to R
Halloween (cropped)
   All Hallows
      Mibramig Magical
         Silver Witchcraft
            Witches Tarot (Dugan)
                  Celtic Dragon
                     Llewellyn (cropped)
                        Fairy Lights
                           Tarot of the Hidden Realm
                              Tarot Leaves
                                 Tarot of Trees

Hi ho hi ho, it's off to work I go...

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Getting to all my decks in turn. Impossible?

There's been a thread on Aecletic Tarot recently, asking people which decks they use in the winter. I had a look, and to me, most of those mentioned weren't particularly wintery, although I didn't give it much thought at the time.

In keeping with my current house-tidying theme, however, I began (or more accurately re-began) thinking about how one (me) can possibly do justice to (as in: become thoroughly acquainted with) over 200 decks. Those that I bought early on and used as daily draws are like old friends. A handful are my go-to decks reading for TABI. The majority, however, have been briefly perused at their arrival, and shelved.

Does this mean I need to cull them to a manageable number? I don't know yet; current purging involves piano books to give away or sell (300 and counting...).
Would some type of seasonal (or other) rotation bring each of them in turn to the tarot worktable? This idea feels worth pursuing.

From this point on, I'm thinking/typing outloud and subjecting you to it. Sorry about that.

OK, Autumn decks. Halloween ones, of course. Are there any particularly Thanksgiving-y decks? None come to mind.
Well, what do I love about the Fall?
Changing trees. Cool crisp weather. Re-energizing for a new school year, and with that - paper, pens, rulers, books. The foods of fall - apples, squash, and for some reason roast pork, which goes so well with apples and squash. The end of the air-conditioning season, but not yet the furnace season. Start-ups of activities that cease over the summer: choir, Scottish Country Dancing. Low season for travel pricing. Late-blooming roses and the colours of mums. Spectacular moons.

That's a good start. What decks?
All Hallows and Halloween Tarot* for sure.
A few whose names are ghostly or spirit-filled, for this time of the year when the spirit realm seems closer:

  • Ghosts and Spirits
  • New Orleans Voodoo
  • Tarot of the Dead
  • Tarot of the Hidden Realm
  • Ancestral Path

The moon figures in a lot of skyscapes at this time of year:

  • Wicca Moon
  • Deviant Moon
  • Daughters of the Moon
  • Tarot of a Moon Garden

Magic, forests, fairies
I have many fairy decks, but Fairy Lights seems more connected to Autumn, for some reason. (Hang on, it's my list - I don't have to justify anything!)
  • Mibramig Magical Tarot
  • Badgers Forest
  • Fairy Lights

Changing leaves, trees
  • Tarot Leaves
  • Tarot of Trees

Fall foods
  • The Cook's Tarot

Changing seasons
(There are so many of these - I don't know which ones feel like they belong to a particular season.)
  • Wheel of Change
  • Wheel of the Year
  • Victorian Fairy*

Travel (low season pricing begins - I'm contemplating a trip to the UK or Ireland next fall). This brings in all the Celtic decks, British fiction and lore. Heavens!
  • Celtic Dragon
  • Celtic Wisdom
  • Druidcraft*
  • Glastonbury
  • The Hobbit
  • Tarot of Jane Austen
  • The Shakespeare Tarot
  • Legend - Arthurian Tarot
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Tarot of the Sidhe*
  • Wildwood Tarot

Holy black cats! 31 decks!
The 3 marked with an * are already in use all the time, so I won't have to include them. Well then, a mere 28. My daily draw would look something like this:

Bit daunting. It would take all my allotted tarot time just to pull the cards!

A few years ago, when I first started to dig seriously into tarot, I wanted to learn what the differences were between decks. So every day (well, most every) for a few months I shuffled one deck, pulled a card, and found the same card in 20 or so other decks. How did the 5 of Wands, say, differ from one deck to another? What did most have in common? Which decks stood out from the crowd? Was one deck always different? Were the colours ever similar? That kind of stuff...

I think I'll try that again, with a whittled-down list of the above decks, and see how it feels. There! I have a plan. I'll report back with pix of my chosen decks.

P.S. If you love this time of year, you might like this post from October 2013.