Monday, July 27, 2015

Daily Draw -

The Chronicles of Destiny Fortune Cards
This week I will be working with The Chronicles of Destiny Fortune Cards by Joseph Ellershaw and Emily Ellershaw, with artwork by Claudia McKinney, published by Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.

I drew an apt pair of cards to begin working with this non-traditional deck, which is neither a tarot nor a Lenormand, and which follows a unique to itself system.  Heroine II and The Call -

When we are called to our destiny, or even just our duty, it is always up to us to take up our weapon of choice and accept it.  We can choose to be a part of history or we can watch it happen.  Time passes either way, and we have to make the choice that will leave us with the least regret and which will make our tomorrows look the way we wish.

The imagery in these cards strike me on a deep and personal level.  Once a story, fully formed and perfect already, popped into my head, and I began to record it.  The opening lines spoke of of a steel grey sky and the bony fingers of weathered trees reaching towards the wan sunlight in homage.  I loved the story, and it was not so much mine as I was its' keeper and caregiver.  Spoiler alert, I did not write a heartbreaking work of staggering genius that took the lists by storm and deeply touched the souls of my readers.  What I did do was get scared, get timid, and let my ex tell me that writing is stupid and I needed to spend my time doing something that would actually yield results.  And that story, it is gone.  It is a few pages scrawled in a now tattered notebook, which fills me with grief when I see it.  That is the end of the story in its' incarnation as my story, but I certainly do hope it moved along to someone who was ready and willing to excavate it bravely and with the respect it deserved.  As for me, I can only regret my choice to not honor that call and vow to do better next time.  Which, as it happens, is today.  And again every day after that.

Some of my big, grand work has to do with developing and valuing my own creativity, and I know that, but sometimes our callings are things we may think are smaller, but they are no less worthy.  Some of my small callings are to make meals for my family, to provide opportunities to create memories, to love on my pets and love on my man.  And to master winged eyeliner.  These are small things which will not change the world, except that maybe the only way the world changes is via these small things which shape lives and hopefully human compassion.

Not Bad For a Monday - The Empress

Sacred Isle Tarot - The Empress
Summer is in full bloom here in the Rocky Mountains, and thanks to El Niño it has been mild, leaving us with lush grass and gorgeous sunsets.  Much like this card.

The Empress is a card of grace and abundance, or rampant growth and creative expression with tangible results.  For me, I have to remember that all my ideas are only as good as the effort which I put behind them in order to to see them grow.  The Empress does al of what she does from a place of love and surety that growth is inevitable.

My boy recently looked through some shaky amateur footage of his basketball games, and while he found plenty of great things to feature in his video, he lamented the lack of the things he wished he could showcase that were not there.  "If you want to see it on film, you have to do it.  I can only film what you do," I told him in the semi-sarcastic way I sometimes have, and the same is true for me.  If I want to see my garden grow, I have to plant the seeds.  If I want to see my dreams bloom in the full glory of their potential, I have to nurture them and take the steps.  It's that simple.  And that hard.

This image is from The Sacred Isle Tarot, available from the creators' site here.  I waited years for the full deck to be finished and I enjoy the deck in my collection a great deal.  This image, however, is courtesy of The Fool's Dog Sacred Isle Tarot App.  Please visit them here and know they make unparallelled apps for iOs.  I can't recommend them enough for beautiful, functional and well priced apps!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Daily Draw - A Pair of Aces!

Fenestra Tarot - Ace of Wands, Ace of Pentacles, King of Cups

This draw is an exciting one, including two dynamic Aces.  The creative fire of the Ace of Wands leads to the prosperous promise of the well rounded Ace of Pentacles, culminated by the master of his art, the King of Cups.

This is such an auspicious pairing that I can't help but feel maybe this is the day I manifest my million dollar idea, or begin the project that will be my breakthrough.  Aces are all raw potential and energy, and of course they require attention, feeding and care.  The King of Cups is a fully actualized manifestation of sensitive creativity combined with masterful execution.  The Aces represent a male and female energy, and this King holds both energy in his being as well.  It's perfectly balanced.

To bring this reading back to reality, I note that every figure in it is facing left.  I draw my cards with my left hand, using the philosophy that the left hand is most likely to be connected to the subconscious place of dreaming from which tarot reading, and all the art I create, come.  This energy is largely under the current and may not be the Boom! firework in your face undeniablity that I sometimes prefer to reading more subtle signs.  The intuitive King of Cups shows me I need to be deep in the flow, or at least willing to partake in order to reap the harvest these Aces promise.

Fenestra Tarot - Empress
If we were trying for such a thing, I could read this spread, especially with the Empress appearing as the Shadow energy, as a happy pregnancy.  The life force energy of those particular Aces is strong, and indicates growth from an initial burst of energy (I'd like extra credit for having originally typed "spurt" and thought better of it).  The Empress governs creativity and growth, overseeing her fruitful garden, a metaphor for both our earthly wealth and the inexhaustible wealth of our inner landscape.  The shadow energy of that is she can also hold our insecurities and doubts, and she can appear poorly aspected when we are creatively blocked, which like depression acts in such a way as to protect itself by preventing us from taking the steps we need to alleviate it.

The day is ripe and juicy!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Daily Draw - When Strength Isn't Enough

Fenestra Tarot - Two of Cups, Strength, King of Cups

For this week I have picked a deck that is easy, in that it is largely a Waite Smith clone deck, meaning that it almost perfectly mirrors the art of Pamela Colman Smith under the instruction of Arthur Waite, done in one artists' particular style.  The earth tone colors and androgynous figures of the Fenestra Tarot by Thai artist Chatriya Hemharnvibul and published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. is just what I need to kick off a new year of blogging.  Familiar enough to be comforting, but with a fresh set of eyes for me.  I have had this deck for quite a few years, but have rarely done more than glance at it.  Let's get to know it together.

Today I am using a Daily Spread which I attribute to a member of a forum I no longer frequent, Thorhammer.  It is an introspective spread which allows for examination of the day just passed rather than making a prediction of the future, and this is one of the best uses of reading tarot for myself.  The positions are "What I did well today"  "What I need to leave behind from today" and "What I need to carry forward into tomorrow".

What I Did Well Today - Two of Cups.  I'm very lucky.  I know what I am supposed to be doing with my life, at least most of it.  This family first and foremost.  Writing.  Tarot.  I am also very lucky because this is a quiet moment of life which allows for time for all those things.  I made a deal with myself, which was that if I was given this time I would honor and I would do my work.  The Two of Cups is a card that signifies sacred contracts to me.  Sometimes that includes a lover, and it becomes a miniature Lovers card.  In this case, for me today, it is the sacred contract I made with myself and the one I have with God.  I'm doing my work.

What I Need To Leave Behind From Today - Strength.  This fiery card nestled between two Cups has been weakened, and with the positional meaning of the spread I can see that I am reading the shadow energy of this card.  I am Taurus, through and through, and most of us are not known for our subtlety and nuance.  I power through most issues, demanding that everything be on the table.  I expect me to pull my own bootstraps up, hitch up my big girl pants, and buckle down to make things happen, and by and large that is what I expect from my family and loved ones, too.  Some situations call for a little more finesse and a finer eye to the shifting shades of grey that exist in life.  There are some things that cannot be powered through, and as I do my work, internal and external, I need to be more sensitive to the particular energy of the situation rather than having a one size fits all mentality.

What I Need To Carry Forward Into Tomorrow - King of Cups.  Again, we are looking at a softness of attitude that I sometimes lack.  Like the figures that populate our dreams, Court Cards often indicate aspects of our own personalities, and in this spread I see no other options for this tender and compassionate King.  I need to be gentle with myself and with my loved ones tomorrow too, because that will get results where the bullheaded stubbornness I am prone to will only cause damage.  And wine.  I should definitely have a glass of wine.

Fenestra Tarot - The Star
Shadow Card energy - The Star.  I read the bottom card of my shuffle as a little extra tidbit of knowledge, something that will add to the spread or that I need to know in my reading.  The Star is so many things- Hope, most of all, wishes granted, healing, a promise of dawn soon coming.  I often read The Star as a Sun-ish energy, bright and bringing great blessings, because our Sun is also a Star, but The Star is further away.  It's still a wish unfulfilled, but it is a promise that the Sun always rises.  We just have to hold on.  For me today, I relate to the healing energy of the water bearer, and I see myself in the card, with the keys to my own healing, as long as I accept the flow and not try to impose my own will and understanding.  It can be so hard to let go and just let things happen as they are meant to, but the struggle for control is an even bigger illusion anyway.

Friday, January 2, 2015

My Anti-Bucket List, Tarot Edition

Today I am blogging at Thematic Tarot.  The New Year is all shiny and most of our good intentions and big dreams for the year are still hopefully earnest and intact.  I'm not going to take away from any of those, but I am going to tell what all I am not going to do with my tarot cards this year.  Come visit us at Thematic Tarot.  Nobody bites, just whisper your safe word in someone's ear.  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Favorite Decks of 2014

Happy New Year!

You may have noticed that this has been a sparse year for posts at 78 Whispers.  Or maybe you didn't notice because you have your own things to think about, but it was.  My health issues, with my murderous back, and my deep sadness at the loss of a friend, coupled with feeling forced into ridiculous superficial battles in my personal life, left me with little energy or will to give my new decks the attention I usually would, but I am feeling much better now.  And attention given or not, the decks keep on coming, and my will to buy rarely wanes with my will to use.

The following are a list of my favorite decks published in 2014.  I do not own every deck ever published, and this is all completely based on my personal preferences in reading and collecting, so let's see if we share a deck or two in common!  I've placed them in alphabetical order, rather than an order of preference, because I could spend all day arranging and rearranging that list, and never quite be satisfied!

(You can click on any card to bring a larger image to examine up.  If you use these images, please please please give proper credit to the artists and publishers who  enrich our lives with their work.)

Alice Tarot
 Alice Tarot by Baba Studio.  Everything Baba Studio produces, from textiles to various bags to tarot decks and accoutrements is stunningly beautiful and a collectors' dream.  The long anticipated photo manipulation deck The Alice Tarot was no exception.  Bright colors, elegant styling, and a classic tale make this a deck that I will surely reach for again and again.  It doesn't hurt that Karen Mahony offers up a delicious dose of tarot styling in her well written companion book, not at all.  There is no scanner or camera around that are capable of capturing the overlaid, almost holographic effect the cards possess, and they really are a work of art in their own right.

Cheimonette Tarot
 Cheimonette Tarot by Eden Gallanter.  Funded on Kickstarter, the graceful lines and watercolor dream world of the Cheimonette Tarot came to life this year.  In the creators' words, "I created the Cheimonette Tarot because I wanted to use a deck that welcomed personal interpretation.  I use a technique when reading the cards I like to call 'educated free-association'- it's not some fancy thing I made up, it's just a name for using intuition, really.  How it works is, you learn about a subject, while at the same time acting as a practitioner.  Soon enough, you find yourself making excellent judgments without thinking much about them."  This is one of the most beautiful exercises in judgment I have made all year, so I would say the technique works just fine!

Chrysalis Tarot
 Chrysalis Tarot by Holly Sierra and Toney Brooks, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.  Another brightly colored beauty with a whimsical sensibility to grace my tarot reading table this year was The Chrysalis Tarot.  There is a feeling when looking through the Chrysalis Tarot that the creators live in an enchanted world, and they have managed to pull back the curtains for us to take a peek as well.  This is my childhood home, where fairies and sprites and elementals danced just out of my sight, where a patch of mushrooms sprouted overnight was evidence of their visit and not a mere damp evening passing, and where all possibilities exist.

Japardize Tarot
 Japardize Tarot by Nino Japardize, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. The beautiful and distinctive art of Nino Japardize came to life in this sumptuously produced deck this year.  The production value of this set has been kicked up by about a thousand percent, which is saying a lot when the publisher already does a top notch job.  This is a fully functioning tarot deck that is also an art deck which would be right at home gracing museum halls and huge, glossy coffee table books.  The surrealistic styling is perfect for the dreamy nature of reading tarot, and the beauty of the deck never gets old for me.  The Star card has graced my iPhone wallpaper since I received my copy, which I consider high praise for an image I want to look at several times a day.

Kabbalstic Visions
 Kabbalstic Visions: The Marini-Scapini Tarot by Marco Marini and Luigi Scapini, published by Schiffer Books, Ltd. I did not hear much about this deck in production, and I neglected to look closely at the creators, so imagine my delighted surprise when I was expecting a dry but scholarly deck and text and was instead rewarded with bursts of color and an intelligent and fun companion book.  Oh, and did I mention the deck is gilded with silver?  I have been drooling all over this baby and its' riot of color.  I was wrong, so wrong, to assume I knew what I was getting with this deck, and I am always happy to see the great tarot and art mind of Scapini put through his paces.

Legend of Tarot
 Legend of Tarot by Deosil Designs.  Another Kickstarter baby, this one holds a fond place in my heart for capturing the video game of my youth (and not so youth) and filling me with nostalgia.  A good reading deck with an impeccable theme will get me every time, so consider me gotten.  For many people, video games will become the storytelling method of our time, where our myths and secret dreams and fondest fantasies reside, so to have a tarot deck which honors that is fulfilling a need I did not even know I had.  When we enter Hyrule, we are heroes and masters of our own destiny, and we can try over and over until we finally get it all right.  This is important play at any age, and dreamers will always be needed.

Nicoletta Ceccoli Tarot
 Nicoletta Ceccoli Tarot by Nicoletta Ceccoli, published by Lo Scarabeo. This dark and quirky and haunting style of art is easily one of my favorites.  This non-traditional deck was one of my most anticipated of the year, it has not disappointed me at all.  Big eyed sad girls, misty atmosphere, surrealistic dreams, a quirky, whimsical, slightly dark, humor- I'm in.  This was also my childhood world, the dolls that I just knew had a whole life they lived while I was asleep, and the secrets that I could almost, but not quite divine.  Here in my tarot deck, they hold still for me, and if I am patient they can share everything they know, because time is the same for them.

Tarot of Delphi
 Tarot of Delphi by J.D. Hildegard Hinkel.  On a completely personal note, this Kickstarter funded deck will always hold a special place in my heart.  The creator needed to speak with me in order to fulfill my reward, and I was 100% out of pocket, as if I had stepped into a giant black hole.  That sweet woman deserves a medal for the way she managed to track me down, and I am deeply sorry for the extra work I put her through.  Apart from that, the deck is gorgeous.  There is no shortage of decks which take art from great works of art and manipulate them into tarot imagery, but it takes a skillful touch and a deep regard for both tarot and the source art to make one forget the original paintings and be able to enjoy the deck solely on its' own merits.  That happens here.

Tarot of the Zirkus Magi
 Mme. Loviise's Tarot of the Zirkus Magi by Douglas Thornsjo.  Previously released in a Major Arcana edition, this fun house circus themed tarot made its' full debut this year.  It has been my American Horror Story: Freakshow companion, but my deck has not murdered anyone, nor do I expect it will.  The retro camp of this deck is good clean fun, but it has a dark side, as well.  Step right up, under the big top, and enjoy an afternoon, or an evening, or a blissful morning, or even a bumpy bus ride with this one of a kind deck.  This deck was also funded on Kickstarter.

Sacred Isle Tarot
 Sacred Isle Tarot by David Higgins.  Years in the realization, this deck has also debuted its' full version this year, and was well worth the wait!  The gorgeous, saturated tones and the crisp lines make it a true pleasure to look at and hold.  It's just so pretty, with jewel tone colors and skillfully rendered art.  This medieval world holds the promise of magic, fantasy, and a sumptuously done tarot experience.

Honorable mention goes to two decks, because a Top Ten is traditional, but I do what I want.

Gorgons Tarot
Gorgons Tarot by Dolores Fitchie, published by Schiffer Books, Ltd. Black and white, stylized, boundary pushing meanings- this innovative deck pushed all my tarot lust buttons, and while it does not shuffle like a dream, it sure reads like one.  And this baby is a biiiiggg girl, five and a half inches in diameter, which in this case definitely means more to love.  This is a larger than life deck that deserved larger than life treatment.  There is one reason she has been relegated to an Honorable Mention, and in this case, it really is me, not the deck.  The back is a twin serpent motif, and I have a paralyzing fear of snakes.  I know it is objectively silly, but I actually feel nauseous and get the shakes when I am forced to deal with the imagery of snakes.  In most decks, I can get the ones I find out of sight quickly enough, but in this deck I just can't get away from them.  I'm a work in progress, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't check out the deck.  It deserves more love than I can currently give.

Shadow of Oz Tarot
 Shadow of Oz - A Tarot Deck by Illogical Associates.  This deck evoked many happy memories of childhood reading adventures for me, and the skillful comic book style art is a joy to look at.  I really enjoyed working with this deck, and it sparked a desire in me to revisit my old friends in L. Frank Baum's imaginative world.  It is on the Honorable Mention list only because it seems to have not quite made it into the world in time to be a 2014 baby, but if you funded the Kickstarter you will see your deck soon, and if you didn't, it's okay- you can still get one by following the link above.  The comic book style art is killer, and the stories are timeless.  This deck outshines any other I have which tackles Oz, and it is a darling piece of Americana.

It was so much fun to share my favorite decks of the year with you, so I hope you will share yours with me, even if they did not come out in 2014.  Many blessings for the happiest and most prosperous of New Years to all of you!

Deck Review - Wickwillow Tarot

The Wickwillow Tarot by Hal Weeks, available at The Gamecrafter, is another self published deck (do you see a theme here, ya'all?) and my last review of 2014.  Happy New Year!

If you have not purchased decks at The Gamecrafter before, I want to explain a little bit about how they work.  They primarily print card and paper based games by independent creators who may not otherwise find a venue for their creation.  Our ever crafty deck creators have discovered it makes a great way to make their work available to the masses without the commitment of finances and energy that a mass printing takes, and it works great!  I tend to buy more than one deck at a time from The Gamecrafter to make the reasonable shipping worthwhile, and since they are a print on demand company my order gets in line and I wait, usually for two weeks or so.  I have ordered many decks from them, and each one is great quality.  I have not created any decks, but this seems like a great option for people who are having trouble getting a mainstream publisher, don't want to invest the time and money into self publishing, or who need to create prototype decks to help bring their vision to life.

The Wickwillow Tarot is a gem of a deck that goes much further down the Thoth based road than most currently published decks do, and it is quite refreshing!  It will arrive from The Gamecrafter in a cardboard tuckbox, and mine came with a typwritten instruction sheet.  I did receive mine directly from the creator, so I am not sure if each deck includes that, but the images fall into one of two categories- easily recognizable and readable on an intuitive level, or distinctly Thoth based, for which a plethora of really good reading exists.

The cards are a very handy size, 2.5 inches by 3.5 inches.  This printer knows what they are doing when talking about cards for shuffling, and these are quite easy to manipulate, with that cushiony and slidey feeling that the best playing cards give, while remaining easy to hold and use.  The backs are a lovely design that is ever so slightly off center, which will only affect the most discerning of readers when reading reversals.  Subsequent versions have had this corrected and should not affect a new deck at all.

There are 22 Major Arcana who are completely devoid of numbers or words.  Most are instantly recognizable, but a few take on the creators' own vision for the meaning of the card, as when The Empress becomes an elegant green lady playing her harp in the woods, and The Hierophant is depicted as a sage crone in her warm digs.  Despite my earlier promise of a Thoth based offering, the remaining Majors seem to nod to Waite Smith tradition when they bother to nod at all, and when they do not, they have a unique take that certainly adds to my understanding of the card.
Wickwillow Tarot
The Minors are also not named, but are easily recognizable in their resemblance to their Thoth counterpart, or in the simple matter of a quick counting of the Wands, Cups, Wands, or Disks presented in the card.  Most of the Minors also include the astrological symbols with which they are paired in the Golden Dawn system, something which many scholars and students will appreciate.  The Court Cards are labeled with a simple letter in their left hand corner, Page, Knight (with an H to depict it), Queen and King.  Most of the cards are borderless, and all are saturated with rich jewel tones.
Wickwillow Tarot
People who enjoy the Thoth system will like this deck.  The artwork is skillfully rendered, but it is a distinct style that will appeal to some more than others.  People who like to study will enjoy this deck, with its' strong Golden Dawn associations.  The twists are more than enough to keep it interesting while adhering to a structure that most readers will find familiar and comforting.  The colors and symbols should offer a lot for intuitive readers to use.  You may not care for this deck if you want a deck to follow only one system, because this deck does some picking and choosing.
Wickwillow Tarot
And so concludes the last deck review of  2014.  This is one of the most fun parts of this blog for me, because I love to collect decks and then get to share them with all of you.  I remember when I had one deck, and wanted more, but was fearful to spend my pinched pennies on a deck I was not sure would work for me.  Some of the hard working deck reviewers out there were incredibly helpful to me, and if I can pay the smallest bit of that help forward I am very happy indeed.  Tomorrow's post will be a few of my favorite decks of the year, and then we are off to new and even greater things!  Thank you for making 2014 such a fulfilling and great year at 78 Whispers!