Monday, December 19, 2011

Deck Review - Crystal Visions Tarot

Crystal Visions Tarot- Nine of Wands
The Crystal Visions Tarot by Jennifer Galasso and published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc is a lush new deck inhabited by angels, fairies, dragons, unicorns, and all sorts of fanciful creatures.  Even so, it is a great working deck for people who are drawn to those types of images, and anyone who loves twilight colors.

I recently used the deck in my Daily Draws, which you can find here, and for an intense tarot class given locally, Journey to the Ultimate Boon, by Joy Vernon, which really is the best praise I can give a deck.  Using it in the class required a commitment to the deck, and it's not just any deck I want to tell me about my personal issues and deep shadow things.

Crystal Visions Tarot- The Unknown Card
The Major Arcana are traditionally named, with Strength at trump VIII and Justice XI.  The four suits are named Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles, with court cards assigned traditionally to Page, Knight, Queen, King.  The cards are glossy and sturdy, as it appears U.S. Games has returned to publishing in Italy with a shiny lamination.  The cards are approximately 2.75" x 4.75", easily shuffled, and packaged in a tuckbox with a Little White Book written by the artist.  The Major Arcana feature an extra card, labelled The Unknown Card, which represents the things that we cannot yet know.  It did not appear for me in my readings, and I think that is likely because I often see the High Priestess as the guardian of deep secrets.  If it does appear for me I will have to give some thought to how the cards differ and how they are alike so I can make a distinction, but the deck seemed to realize I was not ready to deal with the card, so it never came up.

The images largely follow Waite Smith interpretations of the cards, with some twists, and there are plenty of places in the imagery to assign your own meanings and symbolism to the cards.  The colors are rich and deep, and if flying creatures speak to you there is much for this deck to say.  My particular favorite suit is the snowy Swords.  I think this deck would be great for lovers of fantasy, and the cards are likely suitable for all ages, with no nudity or gratuitous violence.  They would probably be good cards to read for people who are new to tarot or nervous about getting a reading.  Tarot is a visual language, and when we find the ones that speak to us we know we are on the right track.

Here are several images from Crystal Visions Tarot, which is available wherever you usually purchase your decks.  Enjoy!

Crystal Visions Tarot

Crystal Visions Tarot

Crystal Visions Tarot

These cards are from Crystal Visions Tarot by Jennifer Galasso and published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Daily Draw - Empress, Two of Wands, King of Swords

Universal Transparent Tarot
This week brings the Universal Transparent Tarot from Lo Scarabeo publishers.  For me, this deck can't be used without acknowledging that Emily Carding's fantastic Transparent Tarot and later Transparent Oracle, published by Schiffer Books, were the first, innovative decks to use the concept of clear cards with images that could be layered.  These decks are simply astounding in use, but I am eager to try some more traditional images as they come together in composite pictures.

Today, I have the nurturing Empress, the mother in the tarot deck, and mother is probably my most important role today.  The kidkins are officially on winter break and I have a house full today!  I think the stern King of Swords on the bottom represents the dentist we will be seeing today.  Although I find him to be a kindly man, and gentle, too, at least one of the kids is terrified of the dentist and is likely to see him as an opposing figure.  I think that child is represented by the dark haired figure in the Two of Wands, with the tooth being held in his hands as he examines it.  Unfortunately, the terrified child seems to have a tooth that has gone bad, and that is always a scary place to be.  The good news I am trying to get him to focus on is that it seems to be a baby tooth, so if it has to go another, healthy tooth should soon appear.  Gladly, it does not seem to be causing him pain at the moment, but I think the fear of pain is a great motivator to him to not be in this position again.  With  the child figure placed between the opposing energies of the soft Empress and the harder King of Swords, I think we can see that he needs both the healthy fear of losing a tooth or going through pain and gentle, consistent reminders to properly care for his teeth.  Some kids only need one, but this child probably needs both, and part of the trick of parenting is figuring out what each individual responds to, and as I take part in raising five individual people I have come to understand that no one thing works for all kids, or for any child throughout their growth.  It's constantly changing, and being a mom requires creativity and willingness to go with the flow, which is probably partly how we come to associate the Empress with creative projects.

Happily, I do not see any tears or pain, and I do think the cards are positive, and point to an experience that will not be as bad as anyone fears.  The Two of Wands gives me the feeling that we will go forth into a new era, one where this child cares for his teeth better and gets his regular check ups without further incident.  And if he doe snot choose to willingly, there I will be, brandishing brush and floss and gently reminding until it becomes a habit.

These cards are from Universal Transparent Tarot by Roberto De Angelis for Lo Scarabeo.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Book Review - Easy Tarot Reading (And A Contest!)

Easy Tarot Reading by Josephine Ellershaw certainly lives up to the promise of the front cover: The Process Revealed In Ten True Readings.

There are many great books for beginning tarot readers, one of which has been written by Josephine Ellershaw and is packaged with the gorgeous Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti, but there are many fewer for intermediate to advanced readers.  I feel this is likely because like Othello and the guitar, tarot is quite easy to pick up, satisfying to do so from Day One, but takes a lifetime to master.  Everyone learns differently, and the myriad books on the market offer great starts, but very few books cover what happens after you know what the Four of Cups means to you.  This book begins to fill that gap quite neatly.

The author writes from the perspective of a working tarot professional, and professional she is as she takes us step by step through readings with her clients (all of whom knew they were going to be included as case studies in this book).  It is actually not that difficult to learn some meanings for seventy eight tarot cards, in my experience, but the magic lies in learning to combine them into a reading that paints a story.  Josephine Ellershaw shows how to take the multiple cards of her particularly used spreads and weave them into a story to which the sitter can relate, and that is a truly wise thing.

The spreads the author uses are large, but she breaks them down into small groupings so that they are easily strung together into a relevant story, and while she makes it look deceptively simple as a long time reader I can assure you it is not always.  Even so, by following her sage and easily read advice, anyone can learn to make their readings flow as well.  As someone who mentors new readers and teaches tarot, I feel as frustrated as my students do when they come to me with large spreads that are not clearly labelled and separated, but that is not an issue with these spreads at all.  If I had learned nothing else from this book, the price would have been justified in learning these spreads alone, as within them is a potential mine of information for the reader to relay to the client.

My one complaint with the book is that there are no pictures to illustrate the spreads given, only diagrams, as tarot is a visual art, with the pictures on the cards being cues to the reader and jogs for the sitters' mind, but once I took the author's advice to lay out my own cards to reflect the reading I was studying with her, everything became quite clear.  By the time I had gotten through a couple of her readings, I actually saw using my own cards as a positive feature because my own speak to me, just as yours should speak to you.

Josephine Ellershaw has written a tarot book worthy to grace every readers' shelf, and has done so with grace, wit, and honesty.  She offers excellent advice that pertains to both the art and business side of tarot reading, for students of any level.  You won't find a list of what she thinks each card means, since the book assumes the reader to have a working knowledge of their cards, but you will find new and deceptively simple ways to read for yourself and others in this book.  I give it glowing praise!

I take tarot reading seriously, as a deep pleasure, and I do not endorse books or decks I find less than brilliant.  Because I think this book is so great and I believe all my tarot reading buddies could probably benefit from it, I am offering a free book to the winner of the contest.  To enter, just leave a comment on this post.  I'll draw a winner on Monday, January 2, 2012.  Good luck!

Update:  Congratulations to Josephine Robin Dalton, who wins a copy of  this great book, also by a Josephine.  Please contact me with your address so I can get the book on its' way to you, and big thanks and hugs to everyone for stopping by!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Daily Draw- Judgment, Five of Swords, Empress

Deirdre of the Sorrows Tarot- Judgement, Five of Swords, The Empress

Today I am using a spread I have often used called Thorhammer's Daily Spread, which was crafted by someone I knew on a forum, a lovely Australian lady named Kat.  The positions are "What I Did Well Today", "What to Leave Behind From Today" and "What to Carry Forward From Today".

What I did well today- Judgment:  Generally speaking, Judgment is a card that urges me to spiritual self care, to listening to the call I am hearing, so that I am not left behind as others move forward.  That is a kind of generic meaning for that card, for me.  This one features a lightning bolt bearing god and a more distant angel, supplicants offering what they may have, and one soul turning away, choosing to remain a dessicated corpse.  It's a heavy card, deep with meaning.  Today, I made a vat of chili, wrote a little, and laid about, resting up from some sleepless nights and the rock concert last night.  In that way, I cared for myself, gave myself a respite I really needed, so I followed the meaning of the card I have, but the imagery of this card is not necessarily restful or of a calling nature.  I did not have any great epiphanies, except to not rub one's eyes immediately after dicing jalapenos, so I struggled a bit for the meaning of this card for me today.

I think today, this card is more about forgiveness, and the proper dispensing of Judgment.  And the person I forgave was me.  Usually I am very hard on myself, and while I work at home, discipline is a part of getting that work done.  In most circumstances, had I essentially taken the day off work, I would have beaten myself up terribly for that, but today I just went with it.  The little nap and the mindless tv watching has left me refreshed.

What I need to leave behind from today- Five of Swords:  I don't need to fight, and I don't need to "win".  I experienced a bit of a bump in the road of a longtime friendship today, and this particular person and I are notorious for bumping heads, and hard.  I could very clearly see where I thought he was in the wrong today in our conversation, but I decided to just let it go, because it's his life to lead, not mine, and his lesson to learn, if it is his time, and even assuming that I am right where I think I am.  I don't need to win at any cost, and people's feelings matter more to me than being right.  At least that is what I am working on.

What to carry forward from today- Empress:  More cooking tomorrow, more cleaning and laundry, because when you have five kids that never ends.  I take extreme delight in the small pleasures of home and hearth, and I enjoy making my home pleasant, so this card is not a surprise.  After finishing NaNoWriMo about a week ago, I have found the habit of writing at l east 1,667 words is sticking, so that creativity, at a good clip even, continues to flow, and the Empress is all about nurturing the creative aspect of ourselves, as well as others.  And incidentally, I find it far easier to write with a full and warm belly at a clean desk without chores weighing on my mind, so by taking care of those things I am freeing myself for other work I like more.

Deirdre of the Sorrows Tarot- Knight of Coins
The shadow card of this reading is the Knight of Coins, slow and steady wins the race.  Energy to get projects started, that I have in spades, but what really determines success is not so much that we can start things, but that we can see them through.  Writing books, building a business, nurturing a marriage, raising kids, these are all long haul, big picture concepts, and I am working on being consistent in my efforts with each rather than the explosive surges of energy I have at various times.  I need to utilize those, as well, but I need to build a life of good habits, because how we spend our days becomes how we spend our lives, and we see more return for the little consistencies than for the sun spark burst method of reaching goals.

These cards are from The Deirdre of the Sorrows Tarot Deck by Deirdre O'Donaghue and Wayne McGuire, available from her website, Tarot Unlocked.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Daily Draw - Eight of Swords, Queen of Cups, Knight of Cups

Deirdre of the Sorrows Tarot- Eight of Swords, Queen of Cups, Knight of Cups
These are a melancholy set of cards today, or maybe it is just me.

I don't generally air a lot of my dirty laundry on my blog, although I am pretty open when I write.  Mainly I think if you just don't have any dirty laundry to air you don't have to worry about it, and I work very hard on living my life in such a way I would have no issues with anyone seeing the way I live, truly, even when no one is watching.

Even so, no one gets out of any relationship alive, not wholly as they were before, and I understand that my perspective is only one when I discuss these relationships.  If the other people want to share they should write a blog.

Currently we are dealing with a set of custody orders that is very old and extends back to when my stepkids were toddlers, over ten years ago.  At one time, their mother was a little more lenient about allowing extra time with their father, my husband, when his schedule allowed for it.  I was not around for the breakdown of this situation and I cannot comment as to why it may have happened, but I just know that now it is a holy living terror to try to adjust anything about the scheduling, and since we have a houseful of teenagers and almost teens, scheduling is a big deal and changes every week for them.  It seems like the only solution is to go to court and ask for an amendment, which makes me sad for the kids.  Going to court will put the kids in a position of feeling like they have to choose, and that should not at all be the case.  They should get both parents equally, without any guilt being laid upon them, and although I can't claim to be unbiased, I feel they are being pressured and made to feel guilty.  I also know that getting the court to say the kids go here at blah blah blah time and here at blah blah blah time will not address the changing needs of teenagers and all of us, including their mother, as a changing family, and I really just wish the adults would make a commitment to parent the kids where the kids need it, and not where the parents feel their rights are.

These are excellent young men, who love their mama, and who love their dad.  I know both of their parents love them.  I see my husband in the first card, worried and brooding, looking towards the broken part of his family, with the kids' mom in the second card, who the Queen resembles on her good days, and my younger stepson, with the tousle of dark hair, who plays at his mother's feet, the two of them taking delight in each other, which they should, but leaving my husband and other stepson out of their exchange.  Far off, in the third card, is my older stepson who is turned away from everyone in the picture and possibly only going further, because he does not feel he has a safe place to voice his true feelings.  There is a lotus, a symbol for beautiful things that grow out of muck and ugliness, so all is not lost for him.

I hate even saying this, but I am so pissed at the adults in the cards.  I hate saying it because I love my husband and want to always be his staunchest supporter.  I hate saying it because I want to respect and admire my stepsons mom, and I can't right now.  The man hurts, and he looks upon the pain of the sons, but does nothing because he feels like he can't affect any real change, which is the message of the Eight of Swords.  The mother as Queen of Cups is not truly engaged with her child, but just holds him there as an emotional lever, one of the lowest expressions of the energy of this court card.  The getting older by the moment older son as Knight of Cups has no place for all his water to flow, and so he heads anywhere he can dump that Cup, and in this instance it is clearly away from his parents.  The Knight is full of emotions and he has no voice.

Deirdre of the Sorrows Tarot- Justice
As the shadow card of this reading, Justice makes her solemn appearance.  She is the underlying reason for all of this.  Both adults think they have the right of it, and neither is going to budge without intervention from the court.  Justice is a great thing, and one we should strive for, but sometimes the need for justice outweighs the compassion we should be feeling for other people, and in this case it truly is innocents who are suffering, kids who should be worried about getting their homework done and who they want to ask to the next dance, thinking about Magic cards and getting their license, not worrying about if their mother is going to lose her shit if they express a desire to see their dad more.  The kids need fluidity and a schedule that adjusts to their needs, and they are not going to get it as long as lady Justice has to dispense her specialty ala King Solomon and the baby has to be cut in half to ensure each parent gets their ever so precious rights.  One thing most people don't consider is this- there are times when gaining your rights keeps someone else from having theirs.  This is such a time.  The boys' mom is technically within her rights to deny extra time with their father, but in doing so she is infringing on the boys' right to see their father and their fathers' right to equally parent the children.  And it appears court, because apparently her compassion and common sense have to be court mandated, is the only option.  Justice is usually a card we want to see in readings that have anything to do with legal proceedings, since it offers promise of a just reward, but here she is cold, and I do not want coldness to touch my family.

Deirdre of the Sorrows Tarot- Temperance
Because this is not my situation to affect, only to deal with the aftermath when I see my husband and kids hurting, I feel like I need another card to offer me advice.  What is the best thing I can do to help a positive outcome for everyone?  Temperance, the angel of mercy, the card of git 'er done, and doing so with a deft touch and a light hand.  I see both sides of this situation, because I have custody issues of my own to contend with, and I also understand why the boys' mom holds such animosity for my husband.  I don't condone it or agree with it, but I do understand her.  I also see my husband, and how much he wants to be there for his kids as much as he can, and how much he has both not been allowed to and not pushed for it.  And most of all, I see my stepsons, who are in the middle.  They are young men, and young men benefit so much from strong father figures as they learn to become strong men themselves.  They are young men who love their mama, and are highly aware of how they affect her emotions.  They are young men who are not always sure of their place in this family, and who I want to be assured of it.  My place in this situation is to lightly tread, to offer healing where it is accepted, to continuously be calm and steady and light.  Keep the love and compassion flowing from one cup to the other.  It's all I can do.

The Majors are the most important aspects of this reading.  The man can stop brooding and start taking action, the woman can shift her emotions to the most positive side of the Queen of Cups, empathic and nurturing, and the Knight of Cups can turn around and find his place.  The Minors are not set in stone.  What is troubling is that it seems the need for Justice may not ever trump the need for peace for these two, and that will extend to me, as well as my children, all of them, those I birthed and those I chose, so I have to become the creatrix of peace within my own domain and where I can affect change.  I will love my husband and I will love our kids, and I will love the baby mama, and to the extent she will allow me to she can experience that love and compassion.  I am aware that my husband is not able to extend it, but I am, so I do.  I can create a home that is fragrant with the love he and I share, the love we have for the kids, with gratitude for their mother, with desire to all live to highest potential and be the best we can be.

My biggest reason for posting so sporadically has been that most of my readings are along this line, too personal, which I do not want to foist upon my readers, but I am coming to believe that tarot is intensely personal, and if I want to write about tarot I am going to expose myself at times.  I don't intend to monger drama, and I have said everything I wrote in this post to my husband and to his ex, who truth be known was once a close friend, via the friendship with my now husband.  She has access to this post, though I won't draw her attention to it I don't hide what I do either.  I do not intend to down on her, because in every relationship, including the one she and I shared, and share now, both parties have responsibilities and both do both good and wrong.  I really, truly hold no animosity for her, as our friendship reached its' natural conclusion so many years ago, and I hold nothing but fondness for what good times there were, gratitude for the gift of that friendship, and the wish that she always be joyful.  Life is so short, and focusing on what brings us happiness is the only thing that makes that short time worthwhile.

And, living well is ALWAYS the best revenge.

These cards are from The Deirdre of the Sorrows Tarot Deck by Deirdre O'Donoghue and Wayne McGuire, available from her website Tarot Unlocked.