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!

Deck Review - Tarot of the Absurd

Tarot of the Absurd
Today I have a cunning and adorable deck to review, The Tarot of the Absurd.  I previously posted about the deep and sweet joy I had experienced in receiving this deck, and now I am finally getting around to sharing it with all of you.

This another self published deck, by Jessica Rose Shanahan, printed in the USA in a totally black and white theme, with clean lines and her distinct style.  I hesitate to quirky, because I feel like I use that word a lot, but I have concluded that I am drawn to quirky decks, and that is why I review so many, and so it is just fine.

And this deck is quirky.  Shanahan's sparkling personality comes through in her chosen medium of black and white, art deco flavored cards.  The white figures against the black background creates negative space for the mind to fill with the readers own distinctive interpretation of the symbolism.

If you check out my previous post about the Tarot of the Absurd, you will see how delighted I was with every aspect of the deck the day it arrived, and it is still a joy to unwrap, hold, and use.  My deck came in a protective cardboard slide decorated with the same design as the backs of the deck, wrapped with black and white ribbon.  Every part of this deck has been considered and handled with care by the creator.

Tarot of the Absurd - Back
The cards are a thinnish matte stock with a light lamination, easily shuffled and easy to hol at 3 inches by 5 inches.  They lack a border altogether, and are backed with a beautiful striped design of mostly white.

Tarot of the Absurd - The Moon
The Major Arcana contains 22 numbered and labeled cards, including two versions of The Moon.  You will find Strength at 8, with Justice at 11, and The Magician has transformed into "Alchemist" in this whimsical version.  Most of the images frankly bear little resemblance to any tarot tradition I am aware of, yet you do not even have to squint to see familiar meanings.  These kinds of decks, which seem simple in theory but are apparently difficult to execute, which follow traditional tarot meanings but manage to convey them in a wholly new and unique way, tend to be my favorites.

The four suits are represented by Sticks, Cups, Blades, and Coins.  The Court Cards are Page, Knight, Queen and King.  Like the Majors, there are nods to more "traditional" tarot images, but they are rendered in the artists' own unique style and with her twist on the meanings, and they are easily readable by readers from many schools.  There are a few highly stylized breasts and buttocks, and the faint suggestion of mild violence that is common in some of the Wands and Swords cards, but nothing offensive or scary.  There has been a distillation of each card to the essential essence, but the images are all quite active and the artwork itself looks fluid, flowing, and elegant.
Tarot of the Absurd
This is a good deck for people who like black and white and borderless decks.  It is a good deck for intuitives who click with the art because they will not be fighting with words or forced symbolism.  It is a great deck for collectors, and perfect for people who prefer their decks not be straight clone decks of one of the major traditions.  It is not a great deck for people who prefer more traditional style imagery, or who want an in depth book to study or have clear answers provided for what each card means in context.  Some people may prefer to have more (or any) color or more going on in the pictures.
Tarot of the Absurd
At the Barefoot Fool website, Ms. Shanahan has provided more of her own insights and thoughts about the deck, including some of her process and some tidbits only the creator can provide.  This is also where you will find your own deck to bring home is a very sweet package to brighten your day.

Tarot of the Absurd

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Deck Review - Bonefire Tarot

 One of my most special pleasures is the self published tarot deck.  These come from the brave souls who were either rejected by mainstream publishers (often I don't know what the publishers were thinking, but tarot is an incredibly niche market even when it doesn't feel like it when the rest of you tarot-maniacs are running up my watched auctions and publishers run on a tighter budget than we might imagine), or more often, the artist wanted to see each detail come to life just as they saw in their dreams throughout the creation process.

Today's review is from one such self published deck, The Bonefire Tarot by Gabi West.  This colorful gem is loosely based on the Waite Smith system with its' own unique stylistic twist on traditional tattoo art.  The deck arrived in a handmade navy blue felt envelope style bag, with cord and a sweet heart wood detail accent.  It includes a handwritten LWB (Little White Book) by Gabi West entitled, "Bonefire Tarot - Plundering Space and Time for Truth and Meaning".  The LWB is a succinct set of keywords for each card as the artist envisioned them and a brief introduction to her artistic choices and views on art, symbolism, and tarot.  The decks ship from Australia, and unfortunately my first one went walkabout, but Gabi was quick to send me another, which arrived in good time and perfect condition.  I like to imagine that errant first deck made its' way to someone who needed it more than I did and is enriching their days with its' quirky voice.

The cards measure a chunky and squat 3 inches by 3.75 inches.  They feel good to hold.  The cardstock is some of my favorite ever, being thick and sturdy enough to handle rough treatment, but flexible and slippy enough to shuffle easily, with a matte finish light lamination.  The backs are a fully reversible black and white image featuring some bones on fire, which is of course the grey scale version of the title card, and the name of the deck.

There are 22 Major Arcana, who remain unnumbered, except for 13 in lieu of a title, and traditionally named, so they can be arranged in any fashion makes sense to the reader.  The suits consist of Wands, Cups, Swords, and Coins, with 14 cards in each.  The Court Cards are the familiar caste system of Page, Knight, Queen and King.
Bonefire Tarot
Some of the denizens of the deck are scantily clad, but nothing too scandalous.  There is no overt violence, and there should be very little to trigger sensitive individuals.  That being said, the imagery is somewhat surreal, which can be a disconcerting effect to gaze upon, and the dream landscape of the deck has an ethereal quality that leaves me slightly uncomfortable to look at.  By no means do I consider this to be a disadvantage, because I think it is good for us to be shaken up from time to time.  The images themselves are bright colors against a black background, and the very nature of the coloring can sometimes lend a darkness to the atmosphere of the deck.
Bonefire Tarot
I think intuitive readers will find many, many things to love about this deck, and it is also a good deck for people who like Waite Smith imagery with an edgy twist.  The cards are packed with symbolic images, and each time I pull one I find new things to focus on.  It is a collectors' dream and possesses an exceptional production value along with distinctive, cohesive art.  It is not the best deck for people who prefer a more straight forward approach to their readings, and while there is nothing offensive in the imagery, it is perhaps suited better to some audiences than others.
Bonefire Tarot
The Bonefire Tarot is a beautiful deck with a unique twist that reads like a literal dream.  The strange, and almost familiar but not quite landscape makes me feel like I am almost seeing something out of the corner of my eye, and it evokes a mysterious air that gives me insightful readings.  I am very happy to have this deck in my collection and I hope that you will take a moment to visit the website and consider all of the stunning images.